CITY Motors Group was formed in 1963 when Datuk Dr Foo Wan Kien was just 22 years old.
With help from his elder sister Foo Meow Lan, he first ventured into the hire purchase and used-car business under Shoon Sen Sdn Bhd, the parent company of City Motors.
“In 1964, we were appointed as dealers of BMW, Mazda, Lancia and Rambler for Perak.
“We did exceptionally well and was later appointed sole distributor of Alfa Romeo cars in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.
“We also had very good results selling the Alfa Romeo but when the Italian car maker wanted me to assemble its smaller cars in Malaysia, I refused,” saidFoo, explaining that with the introduction of Proton cars at the time, the price of Alfa Romeo cars would no longer be competitive.
The businessman’s far-sightedness was proven right for after that, no other dealers could match Foo’s results when it came to selling the popular Italian car.
“An Alfa Romeo is a car for enthusiasts.
“Those who love the Alfa Romeo have a playful personality and the most effective way of promoting the car is by organising events.
“I had an interest in doing all this and I organised many events to promote the Alfa Romeo as a household name and we won many fans along the way,” he said.
Foo was the man behind the 1976 Asean Rally, Ipoh’s first Motor Fair in 1978 where Bond girl Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh was crowned Miss Lion’s Club, and the 1985 Pesta Perak that attracted 700,000 people to Ipoh.
“Many ask why I take so much trouble in organising such events.
“The reason is simple — it is my interest,” said Foo, who at just 15, was already making big bucks by organising events at school.
“After Form Three, I formed a photography club and organised events every week.
“My father used to take me around on his motorcycle to take photographs and I was making $300 every month, more than what some salaried workers were being paid at the time,” he said.
Until now, Foo continues to organise mega events that would make Ipoh proud.
Only recently, City Motors celebrated Chap Goh Meh and Valentine’s Day by hosting the country’s first fire dragon dance at the Kinta Riverwalk.
“When I first started out, I never expected my business to grow so big.
“I like to make money with pleasure, not under pressure.
“Therefore, my business is never too aggressive. That is why my companies are not even public listed and our loans are marginal,” he said.
City Motors also owns about 2,144ha of oil palm in Perak, and during the 1990s, was the biggest prawn dealer in the country.