There was a quiet period between 1981 and 1986 when only two notable things happened; The demise of Marcel Pare’s brief Citroën blitz in 1981 and of course Parthenon Motors closed their doors for good in 1984.
In 1986, a terrific international Citroën event occurred; Raid Canada 1986. Raid Canada was a Cross-Canada adventure from Montreal to Vancouver in Citroën cars from all over the world. Following is a quote from the citroenvie.com website that was written as the raid was passing through Peachland, BC:
“…This is a very long day driving (535 km) so get an early start from Castle Mountain. This turned out for me to be the best single day’s drive. The gradual change of scenery made it a most rewarding day via #1 to Revelstoke (with its impressive Hydro Dam Project) and #97 south through the Okanagon. Yes, we did stop to do some wine tasting and fruit buying. During the nights in Peachland we were visited by 2CV owners, Tom Anderson from Summerland, and Thijs Dohnt from Peachland. Two beautiful Charlestons from Washington state joined us for the final drive to Vancouver. Water-skiing, swimming and Andre’s birthday were enjoyed along with gallons of ice cream, cake and local wine at the last night of camping’s “bring-your-own-meat BBQ”. Lots of fun!
Finally the last day on the road into Vancouver back on home turf. Sad? A little. Fun? You bet. For me the holiday ended at this point but for the others it was a chance to explore the world’s most beautiful city (just a little prejudice, you say?) and Expo 86. The last Hurrah was a banquet at the International Plaza with prizes, gifts for some, an excellent dinner and dancing. Adam had his leg pulled by Albi, Uli and Beat with the presentation of a special tree as a memento of “Raid Elliot Lake”. It was also a time for frantically swapping addresses, saying goodbyes, and the evening ended when Henri led us all in a song, which naturally flowed into Auld Lang Syne in 3 languages.”
On Friday morning before people dispersed and went their separate ways there was a final chance to be on TV with CBC in Stanley Park…”
For those going to Expo ’86, the star of the show must have been the brand new CX GTI at the French exhibit. It was eventually sold directly from the exhibit (!) and airlifted (!) to Ontario: Now don’t ask me how that happened!
In 1989-90 NWCOC member Greg Long's own company, Escargot Motorcars, imported ‘almost’ new 2CV’s from France and sold them across the USA and Canada. Escargot’s Worldwide Headquarters was in Toronto where Greg had his own office in brother John’s communications company Quadravision right on Lake Ontario overlooking the city and Toronto Island. Greg loved every minute of it. Greg had gone to Queen’s University, received an MBA, but resigned from his fancy job in international banking with the Bank of Nova Scotia to import Citroëns. Follow your heart they say and, 30 plus years later, it worked!
But how does Escargot Motorcars connect with BC? Well… South Coast Ford in Sechelt on the Sunshine Coast of BC became an enthusiast dealer. What, you may wonder, was the lengthy legal procedure one had to complete to become an Unofficial Authorized Dealer?
You had to ask, and
Buy at least one car.
South Coast Ford secured a ton of cool publicity including a lengthy road test on a local TV station. Search for “Escargot Motorcars” on YouTube to watch it.
Escargot Motors also had a dealer called Akos Motors in Kelowna, BC. I won’t tell you how many 2CV’s they sold but it was less than two - We told you selling Citroëns in BC wasn’t easy!
Escargot Motorcars morphed into Eclectic Motorcars when 2CV’s went out of production in 1990 so we did the same ‘procedure’ to new Beetles in Mexico. And, bizarrely, we sold a gaggle to the Canadian Skoda importer Skocars who actually marketed them! Escargot came to an end in the early 1990’s.
A highly memorable Citroën gathering was held in BC in 1989; the Citroën Autoclub Canada’s Whistler Meet.
The meeting was held right in Whistler Village. Dozens of Citroëns, mainly from BC and Washington State, attended.
We encourage you to search YouTube for Gary Cullen’s video of this meet.
FRENCH AND ITALIAN CAR SHOW
The year 1989 was also the first year of the French and Italian Car Show in North Vancouver. This event has gradually gained steam and is now clearly the biggest and most impressive annual gathering of French or Italian cars in BC.
BC’s super-Citroën-enthusiast, Johnny MacGregor, has been the catalyst that has kept the momentum going for this event. In fact, Johnny has “almost” managed to increase participation each year of the event. In 2016, 51 French cars attended. In 2017, the number rose to 63. When you look at the statistics of how few Citroëns were sold in BC (refer to the 1974 section), and how old the cars are, numbers like this are pretty amazing.
The event, held on Father’s Day each year, has traditionally been at Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver. Go sometime. It is a great event.
JOHNNY MACGREGOR IN 2019