Jack Tordoff, JCT600 founder and chairman, dies aged 86

The founder and chairman of car retail giant JCT600 Jack Tordoff has died at the age of 86.

Jack Tordoff, pictured winning the YP Excellence in Business Award's Lifetime Award in 2016.

The Tordoff family released a short statement today confirming the businessman had passed away following a lengthy illness.

Referring to him a "a very proud Bradfordian and Yorkshireman" , the family paid tribute to his lengthy career which saw him build the JCT600 business from a single workshop and petrol filling station in Bradford, into one of Yorkshire’s greatest business success stories.

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Today JCT600 has 54 dealerships representing 25 of the world’s leading car marques and employing a team of 2,300 people from the North East through Yorkshire and into Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire.

Jack Tordoff

Mr Tordoff was married to Jean for 66 years and had three children – Lesley (deceased), Ian and John, the latter of whom is JCT600's current chief executive.

He also had 10 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.

A statement from the family read: "Now with a turnover of over £1.3 billion, the company this year celebrated its 75th birthday and Jack was immensely proud of having helped to create one of the largest and most highly respected privately owned motor groups in the UK and the largest private company in Yorkshire.

"He saw the continuation of JCT600 as a family business as one of his greatest achievements, with his youngest son, John, leading the company as chief executive, his eldest son Ian also being a director and seven grandchildren all working within the business."

Jack’s father Edward started the business, originally called Tordoff Motors, in 1946 along with two other partners, but he passed away at a relatively early age in 1950 when Jack was just 14 years old, resulting in him leaving school at the age of 15 to start work as an apprentice motor mechanic in the business. At 21, he completed his National Service in the Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, achieving the rank of corporal.

After leaving the army, Jack returned to the business, borrowed £1,000 from his mother to buy out the remaining two original partners and began selling cars.

In the late 1950s, Jack bought a Mercedes-Benz 600 with the registration plate JCT600 on – his full name being Jack Crossley Tordoff - and he proudly wore the number plate ‘JCT600’ on all his rally cars as he competed in Britain and Europe during the 1960s and 1970s with considerable success, including a victory in the International Circuit of Ireland Rally in 1973 driving a Porsche 2.7RS, the first international rally win for this iconic car.

Jack’s grandson, Sam, has continued Jack’s motor racing tradition in later years with many race wins in a number of disciplines, including the Porsche Carrera Cup and the British Touring Car Championship.

The family added: "Jack was passionate about the importance of always putting the customer first and providing the best possible shopping experience. The business has continued to invest in its physical dealerships, but also embraced technology and innovation, developing a successful digital offering as well as establishing its own training programmes to ensure colleagues provide outstanding service. As a result, generations of car buyers in Yorkshire and beyond trust the brand he helped to create."

As well as JCT600’s success being recognised with a host of awards, Jack was awarded an MBE in 2007/2008 and an OBE in 2018. He was also an honorary Life President at Bradford City Football Club.

Jack and JCT600 have contributed much to Bradford. Jack took Bradford City Football Club out of administration in 1983 and was chairman for four years, helping to rebuild the stadium after the fire. The company has been the main sponsor for Bradford City for the last 10 years.

When receiving his OBE three years ago, Jack commented: “I’m fortunate to have enjoyed a fantastic career and I am tremendously proud of what we have created at JCT600. To have now been given this award by Her Majesty is the ultimate honour and I believe testament to the hard work, grit and enterprise for which Yorkshire is famous.

“I am very grateful to the people who work with me every day, both past and present, and who have helped me to grow JCT600 into Yorkshire’s biggest private company and to achieve this honour. From the bottom of my heart, I thank them all – they are the best.

“I am Bradford born and bred and have never lost sight of my roots or how important it is for successful companies to give back to their local communities. With my children and grandchildren now working in the business, I know that we will stick to the values which have set us apart and continue to always put the customer first. I remain a proud Yorkshireman, and never more so than today.”