UKD Auto – The Young Disruptors

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By Chris Pollitt

The classic car is always welcoming of fresh, young faces that can take the industry forward. Imagine our joy when we stumbled upon UKD Auto, a Bristol-based outfit run by a brother and sister team who have a keen eye for finding, restoring and selling the finest German machinery they can. 

While the business has been in operation since 2015, the journey for Holly and Luke Arnold actually began way before that. The love for ‘80s Volkswagens was present, care of their dad, some years prior. Luke in particular would spend time in a rented unit helping his father work on cars, restoring them, maintaining them, and then eventually selling them. Seeing the obvious popularity for the VWs of the ‘80s and early ‘90s, the realisation was one day made that this had the legs to be a full-time business.

UKD Auto, Bristol, Volkswagen, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Golf GTi

The UKD Auto workshop is a clean-cut and orderly affair. This, for us, reflects the sharp-edged nature of the cars being maintained and sold here. There is obvious pride in how the building and consequently, the business looks to the outsider. That’s refreshing to see, as too many seem more than happy to operate in oily, greasy chaos. Not here though. 

In the office, complete with a Volkswagen Golf mural on the wall, Holly can be found taking care of the customer-facing side of things. Not only that, she keeps the business ticking over from an administrative point of view. But don’t think Holly is just admin. She knows her cars inside and out, and when she’s not speaking to customers in great detail about a car that’s for sale, she can be found negotiating deals to acquire new stock for the business.

UKD Auto, Bristol, Volkswagen, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Golf GTi

In the workshop, we find Luke. The space available is full to the brim with cars, mostly Mk2 Volkswagen Golfs, though there are some exceptions such as a ‘70s Audi 100 and a W126 S Class Benz. It’s here that Luke works on the cars, be that prep in readiness for sale or perhaps something more involved – UKD Auto is keen to undertake restoration works either for customers, on their own cars such as the Oak Green MK2 Golf GTi that will be available for sale once it’s been restored.

UKD Auto, Bristol, Volkswagen, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Golf GTi

A business in its infancy, UKD Auto is most definitely one to watch. It has already expanded over the last few years, but there are plans to expand yet further, with a full paintshop on the cards. It has become a respected hub for people looking to fulfill their motoring dreams, especially if those dreams feature VW’s greatest hits. And given that Holly and Luke are still young, we can’t help but see a bright and long future ahead of them for UKD Auto. 

Nine questions with UKD Auto…

1) Who are you, and where did it all start?

We are brother and sister who started the business in 2015 at the ages of 18 and 20. We have always had a passion for cars, especially VWs, as our father has always involved us in his VW camper restorations and vehicle detailing since we were young.

We decided to turn Luke’s hobby into a business when Holly decided to end her insurance career and take a completely new direction. We began by detailing and selling classic VWs and other German vehicles, and this organically grew into full restoration for clients, selling and restoring our own stock and servicing and detailing of vehicles too. We now have a 20-vehicle warehouse full of various, interesting classics which we are restoring and selling.

UKD Auto, Bristol, Volkswagen, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Golf GTi

2) What fires you up about classic cars?

We love everything classic and especially all things German. There is not much that our team don’t know about the mechanics and history of these vehicles and we live and breathe it. The quality of these cars is what we love, as they don’t make cars like they did 30 years ago. We also exhibit at different car shows every year which we find really enjoyable.

UKD Auto, Bristol, Volkswagen, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Golf GTi

3) What makes you different?

We like to think we are bringing a new, young and energetic feel to an industry that can be quite dated. Quality is what we deliver to our customers and they are at the heart of every car we sell and every service we provide. Every car which comes into our warehouse undergoes a full inspection and the utmost care is delivered in our workshop to give our vehicles a second lease of life. 

4) How do your source your cars?

Now that we are more well known within the industry, we get many offers of fantastic vehicles from enthusiast as they know we will be selling them on to a very good home. We also search high and low for vehicles which have the potential to be restored in our workshop.

5) What prep goes into them before sale?

We take on anything from full restorations to show-winning examples. We have a very stringent in-house inspection and preparation system which every vehicle goes through, so our technicians how much work the vehicle needs prior to sale.

UKD Auto, Bristol, Volkswagen, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Golf GTi

6) What’s a really hot car right now?

The Golf Mk2 GTI 16v has to be the best all-round classic to own. It has everything including the style, performance and reliability. They are becoming a really sound investment too.

7) What’s a car to watch for the future?

We think the Golf Mk4 is a future classic investment. VW brought it back with this model with the engineering and reliability and you can pick up a really good example at the moment for next to nothing.

UKD Auto, Bristol, Volkswagen, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Golf GTi

8) What are your plans for the future?

We are currently expanding into a larger unit in which we are installing a body shop and spray booth. This is going to really help us grow by offering all of our services in-house.

9) If you could keep a car from your current stock, what would it be and why?

We would love to keep all of them if we could! But the Audi 100 has got to be the one, as you just don’t see them anymore.

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