Autohorn Celebrates 25th Birthday

Autohorn Celebrates 25th Birthday

19, 145 hours, 35,000 cars, 2 million days’ of rental and 770 million miles later…

..and we’re ready to do it all over again.


Our story began in August 1995 as a British Car Rental Franchise ran by Richard and Frances Baines. Working out of a tiny office at Queen Street, York and armed with a wall-paper paste table acting as our front desk and just 6 Rover 400s, they had a dream to bring a positive change to the rental industry.

Richard had previously worked the car rental industry and was shocked by the service offered by numerous operators and grew tired of saying ‘no’. Determined to change this, he borrowed money from friends and family and decided to create a business that focused on customer experience and with a ‘YES’ mentality.

Shortly after setting up in York, our popularity quickly grew and we expanded our offices and started to set up shop in Hull.


A couple of years later, around the same sort of time, the world was due to end with the millennium bug, British Car Rental was bought by the Europcar Group. We were then offered to run the Bradford and Leeds territories on top of our existing sites.

With offices now in Leeds, Bradford, Hull and York we were basically running Yorkshire (well in a car rental sense). We desperately needed a co-captain to run our ‘metaphoric ship’ and this is when our Sales Manager – Lee Underwood joined.


Lee had been promoted to Managing Director and we had 100 cars and 16 members of staff and the wall-paper paste table was in storage somewhere.

Whilst we very much enjoyed running multiple sites through Yorkshire, we felt that we couldn’t deliver the service our customers had deserved. We, therefore, sold our Bradford, Leeds and Hull sites and returned home to York.

We then rented an office from Platform 1 of the York Station, an office unloved from its previous occupancies and was home to multiple breeds of pigeons and began to start work.

Frustrated by the lack of leasing options available, we wanted to create our own product and something which the UK hasn’t seen before. We wanted all the flexibility of daily rental, but cheaper, with more choice and easier than your standard lease.

This is where Easilease was born (now A subscription-style lease whereby your contract will only exist for as long as you wanted to and you had plenty of different makes and models on demand.


Coming out of the banking crisis, Easilease started to pick up.

We had 300-400 cars on lease, but only had a handful of people to manage our contracts, dispose of our vehicles and invoice our customers. In what felt like an overnight change, we quadrupled our team within a couple of months.

However, what quickly became apparent was that we had more people than desks! This meant we were on the hunt for a new permanent home. One where we could park our cars!


Was the ‘boom year’ year for us. We appointed a new board of directors, Fraser Maclean, Scott Jenkins to join Lee and moved to our current address at Leeman Road.

This was the largest office we had been in so far and those working remotely finally had a permanent desk, a phone and a headset. Colleagues who also worked alongside each other finally got to meet face to face!

This was also the year that came into fruition and has since become one of the largest websites for short term, flexible leasing.

Our fleet grew rapidly hitting 1,000 vehicles for the first time in 5 years!


Our biggest year to date as we achieved so many different milestones within the space of twelve months.

We gained approval for work to start at our new headquarters – at Clifton Moor and employed over 75 members of staff of which we had 13 new starters joining our ranks!

We bought vehicles to the value of £75M and bringing up our fleet total just shy of 2,000 vehicles. Our vehicles also travelled over 31 million miles, the equivalent of just driving around the world 1,240 times.

Our daily rental branch provided us with over 85,000 days of vehicle rental and on the flexible leasing side, we welcomed 1,500 new customers!


This year is far from over yet, but reflecting on our journey so far, we’re tremendously excited to see where our journey takes us next. We cannot thank our colleagues, customers and suppliers for supporting us throughout the years and we raise a virtual toast to those we’ve had the pleasure of meeting.

It’s now time for us to focus on the road ahead and we may even bring the wall-paper paste table out from storage just for old times sake.


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by Mark Williams

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