HORWOOD BROTHERS MOTORS LTD.
Back to Victoria BC....remember previous attempts in Victoria (Regal Motors and Caledonia Motors) had both tried and failed. In July of 1967, a new dealership appeared; Horwood Brothers Motors Ltd. on 810 Johnson Street. This is the dealership NWCOC member Greg Long's second DS came from. Greg Long bought a Rouge Corsaire 1968 DS in 1978 from its original owner, Dr. Friedmann. Greg remembered this car as a young student at Frank Hobbs Elementary School when Dr. Freidmann was dropping his daughter off as he drove to the University of Victoria as a Physics professor. It was the first DS Greg had ever seen. Frankly, Greg thought it was pretty weird and perhaps somewhat ugly especially as Greg's friend Rick was riding in a Camaro Pace Car in bright white with orange stripes that his dad had just bought for his mum. Peer pressure and ‘fitting-in’ were certainly high on Greg's list as a 9 year old, but thankfully that clearly didn't last long and he became ‘enlightened’!
DR. FREIDMAN’S ROUGE CORSAIRE ’68 DS19
As long as we are on the topic of the rouge corsaire 1968 DS19 that Greg bought from Dr. Freidman, here’s more Long Family BC content: The photo below is the car at their family cabin at Green Lake in the Cariboo, December 1978. It was an honest -58F degrees BELOW ZERO (-50C)! There was no way the old girl (who actually wasn’t that old) was going to start. Our friend’s brand new Chevy wouldn’t start either. They manually jacked the DS up enough to slide a Coleman stove under the oil pan and put these blankets and insulation in and around to keep the heat in. Yes, it was dangerous. Yes, they were stupid. But it still wouldn’t start so they called a tow truck and he quickly zapped it with 24 volts and she started right up. But that was not the end of the affair: Greg had bought new spheres from NORI, a Citroën parts catalogue of the era, and their sphere diaphragms were clearly not made to withstand these temperatures. The rubber disintegrated and sent little rubber particles throughout the hydraulic system. Then Greg noticed that the car wouldn’t shift properly — 1st was 3rd, 2nd was 1st: something like that. We had the car towed the 2 hours to Kamloops to a Renault dealer who figured out that the connector from the ‘shifting wand’ to the brain had become out of adjustment because the fluid, we assume, was so thick and they had pulled the gearshift wand too quickly. Where is the car today? The Longs drove it across Canada to Ontario to go to Queen’s University in 1984 and, even though they religiously oiled the frame, it didn’t make it: Rust eventually destroyed it, and another wonderful DS was gone.
In the early 1980’s someone mentioned to me that Horwood Bros. stopped selling Citroëns because the brothers were both killed in a DS. We had never confirmed this claim until researching for this history and came across an article in the Victoria Colonist in April, 1968:
“...Formal committal of a 28 year old man charged with criminal negligence causing death Feb 17th of Victoria businessman Clifford Horwood will be made Wednesday in central magistrate’s court. Mr. Horwood, 61, was killed in a two-car collision on the Malahat (Highway), along with his wife Pearl, 63, and Mrs. Eleanor Tait, 66, and Mrs. Martha Bannerman, 74. Richard Bradley, a truck driver, said he was driving north on Trans-Canada Highway near Goldstream Shell service station when he noticed car approaching him from the rear. The car finally passed him without incident in a passing zone near Goldstream Park. “When this car didn’t seem to slow down very much, my impression was that he didn’t know the road because he didn’t exercise caution,” Mr. Bradley said. “In my opinion, the car was going too fast for these turns. As I looked down a straight stretch approaching a turn, I noticed the car drifting over the white line. My impression was that he was in trouble. Then I noticed a set of headlights approaching southbound... and they collided.” He estimated the car that passed him, a 1968 Chrysler, was traveling at no less than 60 miles an hour in the turn. He said to defense counsel he was unable to say which side of the road the 1968 Citroën being driven by Mr. Horwood was on. The constable who arrived at the scene said he saw the driver of the Chrysler seated in the front seat and he detected a strong odor of alcohol from the driver’s mouth...”
Clearly a horrendous event that proved the story was partially true. Again, a massive loss of human life due to drinking and driving. As for giving up their Citroën dealership that doesn’t seem correct as they carried on with limited Citroën newspaper ads until mid-’69 when they became a Mazda dealer. Late December 1966, an ad appeared in Victoria for European Car Centre which serviced Citroën among other European marques. And the fact Horwood’s couldn’t sell their ’69 Pallas demonstrator until sometime after April, 1970, says volumes about how difficult it was to sell Citroëns on Vancouver Island (see ad right). Horwood lasted as a Citroën dealer until mid-1969. The Horwood Brothers building at 810 Johnson Street is long gone, but we were able to find a photo of the original building at this address, taken in 1949 when it was a Kaiser Frazer dealership (below).
EUROPEAN CAR CENTRE
In late December 1966, an ad appeared in Victoria for European Car Centre which serviced Citroën among other European marques (repairs only, not a new car dealership). They were located at 949 View Street. Nothing else is known about European Car Center.
Another example of how sales may not have been meeting quota is the inclusion of Fiat into the new Citroën flagship dealership in Vancouver in April of 1967. This same thing occurred in Seattle in 1964 when Automobiles Internationales included the Fiat line.
We have absolutely no idea what is behind these ads we found in the Vancouver Sun in 1967. Somehow, a company called Rotary Motors ended up with a large stock of Citroën parts that they were trying to sell in the local newspaper. Undoubtedly, this is left-over stock of parts from one of the many failed Vancouver dealerships.
Any readers know anything about Rotary Motors?
An interesting but dubious article showed up in a Vancouver newspaper in 1967, Titled, “Special Assembly Line Set Up.”
The smaller print declares that the Citroën (DS) has been redesigned to meet the demands of the Canadian market on a special assembly line. This is something we have never heard about:
“...Last year Citroën met their shortcomings head-on and obligated them completely with bodies specifically designed to cope with Canadian climatic conditions. Two heater-defrosters are standard and the body is fully rust-proofed...” (Editor: Ahem...)
One last thing from 1967....Citroën Canada Ltd. apparently had a DS convertible for sale in Vancouver. We wonder what happened to it? Anyone know? Is this the same car as shown in the photo in the '1966' section? It is likely.
The year 1967 was Canada’s Centennial year. As part of the centennial festivities, a Trans-Canada Helicopter Trip was announced:
“...The helicopter will land in cities across Canada and take people who are 100 or older for a ride.”
How does this relate to Citroëns you ask?
“...The ground control unit consisting of a Citroën limousine and a mobile trailer will work along side the helicopter on each stage of the flight. These vehicles will be equipped with radio contact with the helicopter and with one another at all times...”
We sure would love to see a photo of that!
JOHN & MURRAY MOTORS
Colleagues John Zlindra and Murray Zylstra initially worked for a Studebaker dealership in Vancouver between the late 1950’s to the mid-1960’s. John Zlindra’s son (also named John) remembers that in about 1960, the owner of this dealership decided to take on the Citroën marque, in addition to Studebaker. We believe that this dealership may have been Broadway motors (see the 1961 section for information on Broadway Motors).
John Zlindra also remembers that the dealership’s owner imported Citroëns on his own, outside of any formal factory support. We believe he was one of the people behind the independent company, Citroën Cars Distributors BC Ltd. that was housed in the glorious Seymour building. Citroën Cars Distributors BC Ltd. evaporated about the same time Citroën themselves decided to come into Vancouver in the form of Citroën Canada Ltd.
John and Murray were among the few mechanics of the era that enjoyed working on Citroëns. So in 1967, they came together and formed John and Murray Motors, specializing in off-beat cars, such as Citroën. (See period advertisement below).
Their business was originally located at 3386 Fraser Street in Vancouver, but moved to 1911 Quebec Street in 1974, where the business is still located.
For many years, there had been an old un-used house on the property adjacent to John & Murray motors’ Quebec street address. They were using it to store car parts, including a large number of Citroën parts. In 2006 the house burned to the ground, taking all of the Citroën parts with it. The suspicion was that homeless people had broken into the house and somehow a fire broke out.
In 1985, Murray Zylstra left the business, leaving John Zlindra and his son John (junior) to continue running the business.
2019 PHOTO OF JOHN & MURRAY MOTORS AT 1911 QUEBEC STREET IN VANCOUVER
1970’S PHOTO OF MURRAY ZYLSTRA’S PERSONAL CARS