2000 and Beyond
As mentioned earlier, Kenji and Marion Yoshino took over operation of Ben Morse's Seattle-area 2CV parts business in 2002. The business was renamed FPS West, a variation of the original French Parts Servicename.
Kenji and Marion continued the tradition of excellent customer service that was started by Ben and expanded the business to include internet sales (see www.2cvsource.com). As the stocks of factory 2CV parts dwindled, FPS West started seeking out reproduction parts being built in various parts of the world. FPS West has a very large stock of parts and is by far the leading 2CV part supplier in North America.
Following is a brief history of Kenji and Marion from their FPS website:
“...Kenji, who is native Japanese, owned his first Citroën in Japan as a teenager. Kenji still remembers walking into the car dealership with only two thousand dollars in his pocket at age 19, asking what might be available in his price range. In the far back corner of the lot was an older red CX - it was love at first sight. “It was original, foreign, exotic – as a kid I thought that was just my style.” His love for Citroëns has never died.
Marion met Kenji in Japan in 1987, while she was working for an advertising company. She remembers their first date in the CX, and the fun road trips that they took, touring Japan in the Citroën. She was impressed that Kenji maintained and repaired the car himself, even though the French language repair manual should have been completely indecipherable to him. “Sometimes it would break down, and my brother and his friend would shake their heads and say “He’ll never get it running,” but he always did.
Marion had studied and traveled in France while in college. Visiting foreign countries was high on Kenji’s wish list, and after a year of marriage, they decided to move to the U.S. Marion began graduate school, and Kenji got a job as an assistant manager of the Benihana restaurant in downtown Seattle in the year 1990.
One day, Kenji was surprised to see a DS for sale in the newspaper. They bought it and joined the Northwest Citroën Owners’ Club. Marion remembers Kenji spending hours and hours polishing up the car for the first club Rendezvous.
In 1994, Kenji began working for the car products catalog company Griot’s Garage. It was an introduction to the mail order business. In 2002, Ben Morse approached Marion with the idea of taking over FPS. For the next three years, Kenji continued his full-time job while Marion ran FPS from the large basement of their home in Seattle....”
KENJI, MARION, AND HENRI-JACQUES CITROEN - ANDRE’S GREAT GRANDSON
FPS West is operated out of the Yoshino's house in the Normandy Park neighborhood of Seattle, and is still going strong despite a major setback in 2007 when a devastating fire severely damaged their house, their belongings and destroyed several of their Citroëns. Fortunately, Kenji only suffered minor burns and the rest of his fantastic family was unhurt. Oddly, one thing that survived the fire unscathed was their stock of 2CV parts!
Kenji's family and the business operated from a rental house while the burned house was being rebuilt, but the original Yoshino house has been repaired and is housing FPS West once again.
YOSHINO HOUSE FIRE IN 2007
KENJI NEXT TO HIS STOCK OF PARTS
MARION YOSHINO MANNING THE DESK AT FPS WEST
AXEL AND USCHI
A great addition to the Seattle Citroën scene arrived in October, 2001, when Axel Kaliske and Uschi Walter moved to Seattle from Germany. Axel and Uschi brought with them their unparalleled enthusiasm for 2CV's.
Axel and Uschi have been importing, restoring, and repairing 2CV's for local owners since the day they arrived in Seattle. They are operating their business under the name 2CVsRus. (See www. 2CVsRus.com.)
Tucked away in Axel and Uschi’s personal collection is a ‘new’ 1955 British built 2CV that was lost in a Thai warehouse for over 3 decades! Remember that story?
Axel and Uschi hold an annual Citroën event at their house in South Seattle every August called Cit-Chat. Cit-Chat has become one of the most relaxed and beloved club events held in Seattle and we look forward to it every year.
Axel and Uschi have been a great boost to local Citroën enthusiasm and we are very fortunate to have 2CVsRus here in Seattle.
AXEL's 2CV GARAGE
AMAZING "NEW" THAI 2CV
Starting in the 1990’s, a local club member named Paul Joos started amassing a collection of Citroëns as well as other European cars, such as Fiat, Alfa, BMW, SAAB, and Messerschmitt. But as usual with car collections, storage soon becomes a major problem. Paul had cars stashed in garages and basements all over the Seattle area.
By 2002, he had enough of the storage problems and started construction of a building to house his collection. The original concept for the building was just a big metal box to store the cars. But the original vision morphed into something that is hard to describe; it is a cross between a house, man- cave, and a garage. Paul and his wife Desnee decided to simply call it, The Facility.
Located in Bellevue at the intersection of Coal Creek Parkway and Interstate 405, construction of the facility started in 2003. Lots of metal, concrete, and sweat later, the first car rolled into the Facility on new year’s day, 2004. It was a red and black 2CV Charleston. Several photos of the interior of the Facility are on the following page. But in addition to the upstairs that is shown in the photos, there is a basement, also full of cars!
CONSTRUCTION OF THE FACILITY IN 2003
FIRST CAR BEING ROLLED INTO THE FACILITY ON JANUARY 1, 2004
In 2012, a major Citroën enthusiast named Greg Long moved to the Seattle area. Greg recently established a vintage car storage facility in Kirkland that he calls the FOUNDry. But before we get to the FOUNDry, let's look at some of Greg’s background.
We have already discussed Barclay Stuart’s importation of Michel Fournet’s 2CV’s into North America. There was another importer of 2CV’s in the late 1980’s called Escargot Motorcars, based in Toronto, Canada. Escargot was the product of brothers Greg and John Long. Both Greg and brother John had bought 2CV’s from Andre Pol in Holland in the mid-1980’s and the love of these cars sparked the notion of creating a business to import them.
Escargot used the same importation method that Fournet used (restoring the ‘frame' from an older 2CV and installing it on what otherwise was a brand new 2CV). Each Escargot 2CV received a dashboard plaque indicating that it had been restored by Escargot Motorcars.
Escargot imported 2CV’s from 1988-1991, right up to the end of 2CV production. Escargot then branched into Mexican-built VW Beetles and Intermeccanica Porsche 356 replicas, but neither had the success of the 2CV. They soon closed up shop and brothers Greg and John Long went on to other career pursuits. It is not clear how many 2CV’s Escargot ultimately imported, but it is estimated to be somewhere between 50 and 100 cars.
Fast forward 25 years and Greg Long ended up moving to Kirkland, a suburb of Seattle. Greg’s stable of cars started to grow as soon as he moved here. Among Greg’s many cars is a very early 1956 DS19, a Traction Avant convertible, and a perfectly original, un-molested 1971 DS21 Pallas, that was originally sold by Kolar’s in Seattle.
ESCARGOT PUBLICITY PHOTO
THE FOUNDry IN 2018