Another independent shop that performed many of Vancouver’s Citroën repairs in the 1970’s and 1980’s was Omega Motors, located at 1420 Howe Street.
Before we get to Omega motors, lets spool back to 1968, when a Swiss man named Walter Zell arrived in Canada from Zurich with experience working on DS’s and 2CV’s. He started out in Calgary, but ended up moving to BC. Walter worked for a while at Castor Motors, a Renault dealer in Richmond BC, but he left Castor Motors in about 1973 and started working on Citroëns out of his house in Richmond (see photo below). When Gary Cullen snapped this photo, he remembers seeing an SM engine sprawled out on Walter’s kitchen table!
In about 1977, Walter Zell ended up owning and operating Omega Motors in Vancouver, initially with a partner named Paul Staals. Paul eventually left the company, leaving Walter to continue on his own.
Walter retired and closed the business in 1998, but still dabbles with Citroëns and still lives in the Vancouver area. Some photos of Walter Zell follow.
The Omega Motors building has now been torn down and has been replaced with condominiums.
MARC’S IMPORT CAR REPAIR
Marc’s Import Car Repair was started by Marc Palay. Marc immigrated to Canada after training at Citroën in France. Starting out in Montreal, he made his way to Vancouver where he worked at Parthenon Motors until the mid-1970’s when he started his own repair facility focussing on Citroën, Peugeot, Renault and now other foreign cars. We are estimating that Marc’s Import Car Repair started in or about 1977.
There have been several moves for Marc’s business. One of the earlier locations was 5542 Mavis Street in Burnaby, and another location was around the corner from the first at 6841 Palm Avenue, but there have been other locations as well. Recently Marc sold the business and another move occurred in early 2019.
On rare occasion, a Citroën can still be seen being worked on at Marc’s.
Things were pretty quiet for a few years until Marcel Pare arrived in Vancouver to shake things up. Marcel Pare started advertising prolifically in 1980 that he had new Citroëns for sale at his showroom at 60 W. Broadway in Vancouver. They even advertised in the Seattle newspapers, nearly every day, between June of 1980 and November of 1980 (see typical ads, below).
At the same time, they were populating their used car lot with DS’s and other imported cars. In 1980, Greg Long sold a blue 1970 DS Safari Break to Marcel Pare as they were looking to have some Citroëns on their lot.
It is not fully clear what Marcel Pare was trying accomplish, but we presume that he tried to have new CX’s Canadian certified, but found it too difficult, too expensive, or perhaps impossible. Marcel Pare disappeared in 1981. Their showroom is gone now, having been replaced with Condominiums.