The Citroën scene seemed pretty quiet in 1963 and 1964, when we believe only Sargent Sales & Service was selling new Citroëns in BC. Remember that Regal Motors, LeMans, Double Nine, Clarke Simpkins, Docksteaders, Broadway Motors, and Caledonia Motors had by now all tried......and failed.
FRANCE AUTO LTD.
After a relatively stable year or two, a new dealer showed up in Vancouver in late 1964 at 1383 Hornby Street; France Auto Ltd. So by early 1965, there were two horses (so to speak) in the race for BC sales; Sargent Sales and France Auto Ltd. Precious little information was found for France Auto Ltd. but they did advertise a few times (see example below).
CITROEN's OWN SHOWROOM IN VANCOUVER
By July, 1965 the cat was out-of-the-bag with the following announcement by Citroën:
“…Citroën of Canada Ltd has established its Western Canada headquarters in Vancouver and will build a $250,000 showroom and service department here next year. The building, to be located at Drake and Burrard, will occupy a quarter of a block, and space will be provided for used cars on a lot at the rear facing Hornby. Construction of the one-story building, designed by Gerald Hamilton and Associates, is scheduled for completion in November or early December. George Benson has been appointed sales manager at the new Vancouver headquarters and Andre Milaire service manager. Jean Huyghues-Despointes, a director of the Citroën company of France for many years, is in Vancouver to make final arrangements for the new facilities...”
It looks to me that the corporate Citroën Canada Ltd. initially took over France Auto Ltd.'s facility as both listed 1383 Hornby as their location. A few years later, Citroën would open their brand new showroom of their own on Burrard Street. We will cover this new location more in the '1966' section.
Remember the name Andre Milaire? He was the guy who used the old Docksteaders building at 2030 W. Broadway to work on Citroëns in 1962. Now in 1965, he landed a job as Service Manager at the Citroën Canada Ltd.’s newly set-up headquarters in 1965 (see articles below).
A couple days after the big announcement of a new fancy headquarters, a startling headline in the Vancouver Sun appeared:
“…Docker Struggles from Dunked Car… a longshoreman kicked and struggled to safety today after he plunged into 60 feet of water off Lapointe pier trapped inside a car… he said he was steering an imported Citroën car to a waterfront compound after it was unloaded from the French freighter Chili. “The brakes didn’t work and the next thing I knew I was in the water and sinking in the car.” He said he managed to get a window open as the car was sinking and when it came to rest on the mud on the bottom he forced the door open. “I swam up to the surface but my lungs nearly broke,” he said. “I must have been a good 2 minutes under water.” Police said the car jumped an 8 inch guard rail and sank immediately. “When we arrived, we found a half-dressed longshoreman gasping for breath on a pier,” a constable said. He said a lifeboat from a neighbouring ship picked him up…”
So did he jump in a DS and drive off before sufficient hydraulic pressure had built up after its’ long boat ride from Paris? Scary!