Qvale HistorySource: QvaleKjell Qvale
The forefather. In 1947 Kjell (pronounced Shell) Qvale helped trigger a nation-wide craze for exotic machinery with his West-Coast USA MG dealership, and at a time when most Americans wouldn't event consider a foreign car. Other British, German and Italian marques followed. Kjell also found time to found the Sports Car Club of America and collaborate in the design of the Laguna Seca racetrack.
Bought Jensen Motors in 1970 and worked with Donald Healey, designer of the Austin-Healey, on the Jensen-Healey. Still active in a company that is half as old as motoring itself.
President / CEO
Bruce Qvale has been involved in a variety of facets of the motor industry since attending the University of Oregon. Working in a family's vehicle import and distribution business, Bruce started the distribution of British Leyland vehicles in 1976. From 1980 he headed West Coast Maserati distribution, as well as running retail outlets in San Francisco and Beverly Hills.
In addition to his responsibilities as President and CEO of the Qvale Automotive Group, Bruce is Vice-President and CEO of San Francisco-based British Motor Car Distributors, where the retail operation sells more than 3000 vehicles annually.
Production Manager / Chief Engineer
A true product of Italian supercar fraternity, Casarini discusses car-making with traditional arm-waving enthusiasm. Has an impressive pedigree, having worked at Ferrari, Maserati, De Tomaso and in Formula 5000. Now production manager and chief engineer of Qvale Modena and the man who has made the Mangusta such as innovative production reality. Often found on the factory floor in an animated discussion.
A half-century of heritage
Qvale is the name of one of America's most distinguished automotive dynasties. The family began work in 1947 importing MG sports cars to the US, later adding Rolls-Royce, Jaguar, Lotus, Bentley, Porsche, De Tomaso and Maserati to its portfolio. It has been involved in manufacturing, importing, distributing and retailing cars through two generations. It falls to Bruce Qvale, son of the founder, to manage Qvale Modena, home of the Mangusta.
Huge Stateside enthusiasm for British cars sees British Motor Car Distributors (BMCD), as the Qvale business is now named, becoming the largest single American distributor of them. The company's portfolio expands to include Austin Healey, Triumph, Jaguar, Jensen, Lotus, Bentley and Rolls-Royce.
Qvale looks to Germany for new and innovative cars to import. He established a new concern, Riviera Motors, to distribute the VW Beetle. The Beetle is a gamble in the US, but one that pays off and leads to much wider American distribution rights being granted by the German company. Beginning with the humble Beetle, selling less than $1600, Riviera eventually handles over 425,000 VWs.
Qvale enters the Indy 500, banking on a handling advantage for its cars through the use of MG's Liquid Suspension, of which Kjell Qvale is a great advocate. His cars prove to be the best handling of the race, narrowly missing out on a top five finish.
BMCD is awarded wide-ranging American distribution rights by the newly formed nationalized British Leyland, thus continuing the company's reputation for specialist knowledge in British cars and confirming it as the country's biggest importer of them. At the same time, Qvale begins importing a specialist small-volume De Tomaso from Italy. It is called the Mangusta.
Jensen motors of West Bromwich, England, one of England's most specialized and revered marques, is bought by Kjell Qvale. He then oversees the introduction of the Jensen Interceptor III, a much improved car. But he has a hidden agenda for the factory, which is revealed two years later...
The launch of the all-new Jensen-Healey sports car, developed by Kjell Qvale and Donald Healey. The car is a success in Britain and America, where it is distributed by Jensen Motors Inc, a subsidiary of BMCD. Qvale also establishes a network of 45 Jensen dealers throughout the US and Canada. 11,000 are sold world-wide before the factory closes in 1976.
Qvale looks to Italy again and sets up a new business to import Maserati's to an enthusiastic American market. Eventually, over 60 dealers are established to sell over 5000 of the Bora, Merak, Quattroporte and BiTurbo.
Though the Jensen factory is closed, Qvale maintains a spin-off business, Jensen Parts and Service, to look after existing owners of the cars. From this company springs International Motors, which later obtains UK distribution rights for Subaru and Hyundai.
American enthusiasm for exotic European cars is unabated, and Qvale continues to be hugely successful with Porsche, Audi and Maserati. But in 1986 Porsche and Audi, recognizing the strength of the US market, set up their own distribution networks.
The recurring theme of expensive and exclusive Italian supercars reasserts itself, as Qvale sells the Lamborghini Countach and Diablo through its Beverly Hills dealership. The re-establishment of the Italian connection becomes hugely significant in the new century...