A multi-million pound investment in state-of-the-art motor retailing is taking shape in Oxfordshire.

Five dealers have each invested millions of pounds in creating gleaming new dealerships at the Oxford Motor Park, off Langford Lane Kidlington -- one of the largest motor parks in the country.

Late last year, Hartwell, one of Oxfordshire's major motor retailers uprooted two of its largest dealerships for Vauxhall and Ford operations to the new Motor Park.

Both occupy newly-designed, purpose built showroom and service centres, which took about a year to build.

Hartwell Vauxhall general manager Mark Gayton said: "After Hartwell took over the City Motors Vauxhall dealership at Wolvercote roundabout in January last year, we set about plans to move to a brand new -- but nearby -- location. We wanted a better, more modern retail site, with easier access for customers.

"Our new site is just a few minutes away from Wolvercote roundabout and offers bigger, better facilities as well as all the benefits of a completely modern building."

The new Hartwell Vauxhall boasts a nine-car showroom and 75-vehicle used car area. Hartwell Ford has moved from Seacourt Tower, West Way, Botley.

General manager Kevin Godfrey said: "Ford has a great heritage in Oxford -- it's been here for nearly 80 years -- and over 35 of those have been at our Seacourt Tower premises.

"Our new Hartwell Ford site is an important step in our history and in our future."

The new premises has an eight-car showroom and space for more than 100 used cars. The Hartwell dealerships join the first occupants of the park, Motorworld Volkswagen and Johnsons Honda, as well as another newcomer, Inchcape Toyota.

Meanwhile BMW dealer North Oxford Garage is to move out of its Banbury Road site and into new purpose-built premises on the Wolvercote roundabout -- vacated by Hartwell Vauxhall -- by the end of the year.

Managing director Robert Buckingham said that he expected to pump about £5.5m into the new showrooms. But he added: "The Mini will continue to be sold from our branch in Long Hanborough for the foreseeable future. BMW consider it to be so important that it should be marketed as a separate brand completely."

Over at Aylesbury, Sportif Citroen in Park Street, Stocklake, which covers the Oxfordshire area, is undertaking a £300,000 refurbishment of the dealership.

The re-development will result in a ten-car showroom with integral service and parts receptions, a comfortable and spacious customer waiting area with complimentary tea and coffee, TV and a children's play area. The service workshop will be greatly improved with a new floor and refurbishment to create a more comfortable working environment.

John Miskin, managing director of Sportif Citroen, said: "We are experiencing a huge growth in demand for Citroen cars. Citroen's market share in Britain has gone from three per cent to almost six per cent this year, and sales are expected to leap nationally from last year's record of 84,491 cars and light commercials to 150,000 by the end of the year.

"Locally we are experiencing similar growth patterns. The refurbishment programme will provide our customers with the environment to enjoy the new Citroen range. The refurbishment will also benefit local residents, as the dealership will look more modern and inviting."

He added: "We're also looking to the future with this investment. There is an exciting range of new Citroen cars coming on line, following the huge success of the Xsara Picasso.

"A new model, the Citroen C3, will be launched next spring providing a platform for future expansion of the model range. It is a distinctive and innovative design that will create a standard for future car design in this sector."

The redevelopment has already started and the service reception has moved into a temporary area in the showroom while work continues on the building. The dealership says all work will be completed in February 2002.

The architect of the new look is Richard Potter, of Upton, Oxfordshire, and builders Smith and Latimer of Hemel Hempstead are undertaking the work.