THE BACK STORY OF OTTO'S IMPORTED CARS
 
 
 
Officially, this dealership came to life with the signing of its BMW franchise agreement in October 1968. But the real story began twelve years earlier when Otto and his young family walked to freedom across the briefly unguarded border separating Soviet- occupied Hungary and Austria. It was a moment of opportunity made possible by the short-lived and ill-fated uprising in the fall of 1956, and Otto made the most of it.

 

It was a bold move, one that required leaving everything – and everyone – behind. It meant living in a Red Cross refugee camp until the day arrived when they were flown by military transport to an airfield just north of New York City. There they were met by an Indian chief in full regalia who presented the émigrés with a ceremonial offering of corn. The symbolism was auspicious and appropriate, for like millions before and since, Otto and his family had come to this country to make a new start.

 

Their first step into American life was made possible by a generous Hungarian businessman from Philadelphia, who arranged for temporary housing for ten families in nearby Upland and got a job for Otto in a machine shop in Brookhaven. After a few years and a brief partnership operating a two-bay garage in Chester, Otto moved to Eddystone to open his own repair facility in the lower level of a building that ultimately became his first dealership.

 

It was a fortunate day when a representative from Hoffman Motors, the sole U.S. importer for BMW, walked into Otto’s shop and offered him a franchise. With the encouragement of his daughter, Lisa, who was helping with the business, financing was arranged and the deal was signed. Life as a BMW dealership had begun.

 

The next pivot point occurred in 1969 when Lisa married Michael Vadasz, a childhood friend who had escaped from Hungary the previous year. Upon arriving in the United States, Michael utilized his training by taking a position as a mechanical engineer – and, in the process, learning English. In January 1972, he joined Otto’s as its first and only Sales Advisor, while Lisa worked in the office and her brother, John, partnered with Otto on the service and repair side of the operation. It was a modest undertaking at that point, but filled with promise. BMWs were becoming noticed, and Otto’s was quickly developing a reputation as the dealer of choice for the high performance enthusiasts who loved these amazing machines.

 

As time passed, the popularity of BMWs soared and Otto’s cadre of loyal customers continued to grow – to the point where a new facility was the only option. That prompted the purchase of the four-acre tract on Rt. 202, site of the current West Chester dealership, which opened in 1978. Significant expansion and upgrades to the building occurred in 1984 and 2002, including the introduction of a MINI franchise. In March 2008, Otto’s grew its operation once again by opening a BMW dealership on Rt. 30 (Lancaster Pike) in Exton. It wasn’t long, however, before a dramatic increase in MINI sales and service made it clear that more space was needed. As a result, the Exton property was completely renovated from the ground up, and in November 2011, opened as a dedicated MINI dealership serving clients throughout the region.

 

With the third generation now actively involved in its operation and management, Otto’s MINI continues to build on the dream of its founder.