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Kjell Qvale

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Kjell Qvale

Distinguished as a leading automobile importer, Kjell Qvale has experienced success as the owner of British Motor Cars Distributors for more than 60 years. However, his auto dealership is just one aspect of his professional life; Kjell Qvale has also been a part of impressive endeavors in track and field, auto racing, and thoroughbred horse racing championships.

Moving from Norway to America at age 10, Kjell Qvale surpassed his classmates at skiing and foot races. Kjell Qvale joined the Varsity Men's Track Team at the University of Washington, where he won the 100-yard dash during the 1941 Pacific Coast Conference Championships. With the onset of World War II, Kjell Qvale opted out of formal Olympic training in favor of flying planes as a Captain in the Navy.

Stationed out of the Alameda Naval Base, Kjell Qvale became acquainted with two professional opportunities that are now synonymous with his name. Kjell Qvale and fellow Naval officers received an open invitation to Bay Meadows racetrack. A trainer promised Kjell Qvale a quality thoroughbred horse, and since that time, Kjell Qvale has been owner to several competition-winning horses, including Silveyville, winner of 19 races and purses of $1.3 million. Kjell Qvale also owned a majority interest in Golden Gate Fields and chaired the California Jockey Club board.

Kjell Qvale's other career-making move came from the California distributor for Willys Jeeps, who offered him an Alameda dealership, renamed Qvale Motors. In 1948, Kjell Qvale came across an MG-TC sports car in New Orleans and decided to shift his focus to imported auto sales. Kjell Qvale became the California distributor for MG and established British Motor Car Distributors, Ltd. in 1949. Since then, Kjell Qvale has opened several dealerships along the Pacific coast, created his own namesake Mangusta, and developed performance racecars for the Indianapolis 500, among several other accomplishments. Kjell Qvale still serves his community and imported auto enthusiasts at British Motor Car Distributors on Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco.

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