Foreign car concessionaires (part 1)

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With the widespread discussion now in progress as to whether Britain should or should not enter the European Common Market interest of British motorists in Continental cars is greater than ever. Consequently we present the following feature which covers those foreign invaders which can be bought in this country. Each make is dealt with separately and brief details are given of the facilities of the British importer with particular emphasis on service and spares availability. The feature covers all foreign makes, some of which, such as the Swedish, Russian and American vehicles would not receive lower import duty should we enter the Common Market, although Swedish cars already pay only 18% import duty compared with 30% for other countries, because of our joint membership of the European Free Trade Area.

Peugeot

Distributors Peugeot Ltd., Connaught House, 127, High Street, Croydon.

Although the Peugeot was imported into Britain before the war its sale was not put on to a commercial footing until the 203 model was introduced and Distributors Peugeot Ltd., an entirely British company, was formed in February 1955. The Managing Director is A. B. Harris, Sales Manager D. R. Lauder, Technical Manager J. R. Graham, Customer Relations D. Stewart, Spares Manager F. A. Webber, and Service Manager N. V. Chappell.

An accurate estimate of the number of Peugeots in this country cannot be made as a number of cars are brought into the country by servicemen and owners returning from such areas as Africa where the car is very popular. The present total must be around 6,000 to 6,500, with annual import figures running at nearly 1,000 at the present time.

All cars for Britain are put on a train from the factory at Sochaux in South-East France near the Swiss border. The wagons are owned by a Peugeot subsidiary and cars are railed to Le Touquet, from where they are flown by Silver City Airways to Lydd. After Customs clearance the cars are delivered to Croydon on transporters. All vehicles for the U.K. are sprayed with a protective coating at Sochaux. At Croydon the cars are cleaned and a schedule inspection and service is carried out. No British-made parts are used in the Peugeot range, which are assembled completely at Sochaux. All models which are available with right-hand drive are sold in the United Kingdom.

A fully-equipped Service Station is situated at Croydon which is capable of undertaking all repairs on the Peugeot range. All the necessary tools are available and factory body jigs are available for dealing with major body damage. Comprehensive technical publications are produced for the Peugeot range and in addition to the normal Service Bulletins from the factory, Distributors Peugeot Ltd. supply circulars to dealers on aspects peculiar to the British market, Service courses arc held at Croydon as well as at various other centres throughout the U.K. Dealers’ personnel can also work within the Croydon Service Department to gain experience.

Under construction at the moment is an entirely new building on the Croydon By-Pass to house the whole organisation. With approximately 35,000 sq. ft. it will house workshops, spares departments, showrooms and offices, but will not be ready until October next year. Approximately 70 people are employed at Croydon and distributors and dealers number about 80.

Spare parts are held in stock at Croydon for the three post-war models, the 203, 403 and 404, including all major assemblies and body parts. Very limited supplies of spares are held for the older 402 model but parts for pre-war models can be obtained from France against a special order. Spares are obtained from the Parts Centre at La Garenne near Paris and are flown in on the Silver City Roadair Service. Certain of the major assemblies which are built at Sochaux are railed to Le Touquet along with the cars.

With regard to future prospects, Peugeot feel that they have a very bright future in Britain as it is an economical, reliable, family car renowned for its road ability, and has many features normally associated with more specialised vehicles which often have restricted carrying capacity.

Volvo

Volvo Concessionaires Ltd., 28, Albemarle Street, London, W. 1.

The Volvo was not imported until late into the 1950s, when they were imported by Brooklands Motor Company Ltd. The increasing volume of business caused rapid expansion and last year Volvo Concessionaires was formed, being a subsidiary of the Lex Group of Companies, with a service station near Regent’s Park. Managing Director is C. H. Singer, Sales Manager I. P. Ratcliff, Service Manager H. K. Burr, and Public Relations Officer Michael Sharpin.

At present there are approximately 3,000 Volvos registered in Britain and in 1961 over 1000 Volvos were registered. They cannot disclose import figures for 1962 but they are expected to be considerably in excess of the 1961 figures.

The saloon models, the 121 and 122, are assembled completely in Sweden then shipped to the port of Felixstowe on a weekly basis. The sporting P1800 model is assembled at the Jensen Motors factory at West Bromwich, using a small proportion of Swedish parts, the major portion being British.

Approximately 10% of the parts of the 121 and 122 models are British made and include the wheels, door locks, engine bearings, rear axle propeller-shaft and a number of smaller items. On the P1800 the body is British and all the assembling, trimming, painting and instrumentation is British, amounting to perhaps.70% of the total. On the 121/122 series all the British parts are fitted at the factory in Sweden. The PV544 model is the only Volvo model not sold in Britain, because it is made only with lefthand drive.

On arrival at Volvo’s Service Station in London a thorough pre-delivery check is made, and Distributors and Dealers have only to check such items as oil levels before handing the car over to the customer. All servicing for the London area is carried out at the main Volvo Service Centre in Grosvenor Avenue. Approximately 5o people are employed on Volvo work and a network of 25 Distributors and 50 Dealers is provided throughout the U.K.

As Volvo sales in this country only commenced in 1958 the range of cars has changed little since then and spare parts are available for all cars on British roads. Spares are imported through the Port of London and, in emergency, parts can be flown from Sweden within a few hours, either to London Airport or Southend.

Mr. I P. Ratcliff, the Volvo Sales Manager, considers that the future prospects for Volvo in this country are tremendous as the car is already the third highest selling imported car in Britain behind Volkswagen and Renault, which he feels is a success story in itself, bearing in mind that there is no Volvo model below £1,500 and that the British public were introduced to the car only four years ago.

Sweden is a member of the European Free Trade Area along with Britain, and the Volvo therefore enjoys an import duty of 18% compared with the 30% payable by countries outside the E.F.T.A. It is probable that in two or three years’ time Swedish cars will carry no import duty and then the Volvo will be even more competitive. If Britain joins the European Common Market other European cars will eventually have the same advantages as Volvo as it is improbable that the obligations of the E.F.T.A. will be set aside by Britain.

Ferrari

Maranello Concessionaires Ltd., 18 St. Swithin’s Lane, London, E.C.4.

Ferrari were not represented in Britain until Mike Hawthorn joined Scuderia Ferrari and eventually took up the British Agency for his garage the Tourist Trophy garage at Farnham, Surrey, who are still Ferrari agents. After Mike’s death the Ferrari agency languished for awhile until taken over by Maranello Concessionaires Ltd. in 1960.

Maranello Concessionaires Ltd. is a separate British company and is not part of the Ferrari organisation. The Managing Director is A. R. A. Towner, the Sales and Service Manager D. Berridge, and Public Relations Officer Miss P. O’Mahony. They estimate that between 60 and 70 Ferraris of various types are on the roads in Britain. Imports of new Ferraris are running at an average of 25 to 30 per year.

New cars are delivered to Britain by one of three methods. They are sometimes driven by road, which has the advantage of putting approximately 1,000 miles on the speedometer and partially running-in the car before it is handed over. Some cars are flown direct from Milan to London, while on other occasions cars are taken by truck to Cherbourg or Le Touquet from Modena and then flown to the U.K. by Silver City Airways.

A number of British components are used in current Ferrari production cars, including Dunlop disc brakes, Vandervell bearings for main and big-end bearings, Lucas windscreen-wiper motor and mechanism, Connolly leather upholstery, and on the Ferrari 2 plus 2 the Laycock de Normanville overdrive is fitted.

A pre-delivery check of all components on the car is carried out in Britain before cars are handed over to customers. In addition, a factory-trained staff of three mechanics is available at all times for after-sales service, and these mechanics can carry out work at the customer’s home if required, at the customer’s local garage, or at Maranello Concessionaires’ service depot. Facilities are made available for customers to have their chauffeurs or mechanics given instruction in the servicing and maintenance of Ferrari cars.

A comprehensive range of spare parts for all 250GT models is held in this country and this includes complete spare engines, gearboxes; rear axles, etc. Spares for most types of Ferrari V12 engines are available either in this country or at the factory.

With regard to the sales position of Ferrari in this country, the majority of sales are made by direct contact with the customer, the only authorised Ferrari agent being the Tourist Trophy garage at Farnham, Surrey. They estimate that under present conditions of import duty and purchase tax the market for the existing range of Ferrari cars is approximately 25 to 40 units per year. This figure is likely to be increased if import duty is reduced, should Britain enter the Common Market or, of-course, if Ferrari introduced a cheaper model such as the Mille model, which seems to have been abandoned.

Maserati

Maserati Concession Ltd., 42a, South Audley Street, Adams Row, London, W.1>

The Maserati 3500GT model was initially imported by Colin Murray Ltd., of Fleetwood, and when this company went into liquidation the Agency was taken up by Maserati Concession Ltd., with Managing Director A. C. Taylor, Sales Directors Mario Tozzi Condivi and ex-racing driver Michael Taylor. The Company was _founded in October 1961.

There are about 30 Maseratis in the country at present, with annual imports running at approximately 24 vehicles. The prospects for the sale of the 3500GT are limited by its high price, if nothing else, and Michael Taylor feels that they will never rise above the rate of around 30 cars per year, although if we enter the Common Market he feels that this might rise to about the 50 to 75 mark.

The cars incorporate about 30% of British parts which are all fitted at the factory. These include the Salisbury rear axle, Burman steering gear, Dunlop tyres, Borg and Beck clutch, Girling disc brakes, Lucas fuel injection, Lodge plugs, Connolly leather, and a number of smaller items.

There are no dealers appointed to handle Maserati sales, although trade terms are available for any dealer who has a customer, and all pre-delivery checks are made at the two service stations in London. There is also an arrangement for cars to be serviced in Scotland. A total of 26 mechanics are employed but they are not all 100% employed on Maserati work as many other delectable cars are sold through associated companies. Spare parts are available for all Current models but a 24-hour service by air is available for any parts required for older cars.

Saab

Saab (Great Britain) Ltd., 207-209, Regent Street, London, W.1>

Saab of Sweden was founded in 1937 but arrangements were not made to sell the car in the U.K. until 1960 when Saab (Great Britain) Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Saab, Sweden, was formed. Managing Director is A. R. Moore, and Sales and Service Director J. M. Burn.

At the moment there are 1,200 cars in the country and they are being imported at the rate of 2,000 per year. All cars are shipped to England by sea from the west coast of Sweden to Felixstowe. On arrival in Britain any shipping damage is eradicated and an extensive pre-delivery inspection is carried out before the car is passed to the distributor. All models in the Saab range are considered suitable for sale in this country.

Approximately 30% of the parts of the Saab are British made, including the E.N.V. gearbox, Lockheed brakes, S.U. petrol pump, Solex carburetter, etc. All these parts are shipped to Sweden and fitted at the factory.

Just on 100 distributors and dealers are engaged in selling and servicing Saab cars at present. Before being appointed each dealer is required to send a mechanic to the Saab service course, and in addition each distributor and dealer must hold a minimum stock of spares and special tools as laid down by Saab.

Spares are available for all models back to circa four years ago in this country. Saab (Great Britain) Ltd. have never sold anything but the present Saab 96 model in the U.K. and for the few Saab 93 models in this country spares may have to he obtained from Sweden. In cases of real urgency spares can be obtained from Sweden by air within 12 hours of ordering.

Managing Director A. R. Moore feels that the prospects for the Saab are excellent in this country. It Should be remembered that Swedish cars, having the benefit of the European Free Trade Area, bear a lower import duty than other foreign cars, and therefore have a distinct advantage at present.

Simca

Simca Motors (Great Britain) Ltd., Oxgate Lane, London, N.W.2.

The Simca was originally imported by Fiat into this country but Chrysler took over distribution in 1959 and continued doing so from their premises at Kew until earlier this year, when Simca Motors (Great Britain) Ltd., a British company, was formed, with Managing Director B. Combet, Sales Manager W. P. Clarke, Publicity Manager A. Valletta, and Service Manager F. Bailie. The Company was founded on May 1st, 1962.

It is estimated that approximately 8,000 Simcas have come into this country since importation commenced in 1952. Simca did not wish to reveal present import figures.

All Simcas arc brought to this country by sea, spares being imported in the same way. A number of British-made parts are used in the Simca, including Vandervell bearings, Armstrong shock-absorbers, while Dunlop tyres are made in France by a French subsidiary. All parts are fitted at the factory at Poissy.

Vehicle preparation is carried out entirely in France, the only operations necessary when the cars arrive at Oxgate Lane being the removal of the protective film of wax which is sprayed on all cars shipped by sea.

The sales and service organisation is based on a network of over 150 distributors and dealers. Training courses for distributors and dealers are carried out at the Oxgate Lane premises and refresher courses are carried out by field service instructors who tour the country in mobile training units which are fitted with all the necessary apparatus and equipment necessary for any overhaul job on any Simca model. Stocks of spares for all models back to 1952 are kept at the Cricklewood headquarters, and distributors and dealers are bound by contract to hold substantial stocks of parts.

All models in the existing Simca range are considered suitable for sale in Britain and Simca hope that the new organisation will prove beneficial to British customers, especially with the increased sales expected should we enter the Common Market.

N.S.U.

N.S.U. (Great Britain) Ltd., 134, King Street, Hammersmith, London, W.6.

N.S.U. began importing motorcycles into Britain in 1955 and cars in 1958 on the introduction of the Prinz II, the company being a British company with one German Director, Dr. von Heydekampf, who is also Managing Director of the N.S.U. Motorenwerke A.G. in Germany. Joint Managing Directors are Sir Lacey E. Vincent, Bt., and M. A. Bunford, the Sales Manager is P. T’. Bolton, the Service Manager is A. J. Morris, and the Public Relations Officer is D. A. Redgrave.

At the moment there are between 4,000 and 5,000 N.S.U.s in this country. It is not possible to give an exact figure as a number of cars have been brought in by returning servicemen. The present annual import figure is in the region of 1,500 to 2,000 cars, depending upon availability, but N.S.U. point out that the car is becoming more popular in this country and since the introduction of the Prinz 4 in February this year sales have climbed to a far higher level than previously and they feel that the figure for a year, commencing with the introduction of the Prinz 4, could well be in excess of 2,000 cars, All models manufactured by N.S.U. are sold in this country.

For export to Britain the cars are loaded on railway wagons at the factory and railed to Zeebrugge, where they are shipped to Harwich, spares being imported in similar fashion. No British parts are used in N.S.U. models and on arrival at Hammersmith a pre-delivery check is carried out before being released to distributors.

N.S.U. (Great Britain) Ltd. has a staff of approximately 150. The sales organisation consists of a Sales Manager and six Area Representatives, and the service organisation consists of a Service Manager, his Assistant, two outside Service Engineers, and the Service and Spares Departments. In addition there is a Publicity Department and a Technical Literature Department. There are approximately 75 distributors and 100 dealers in the U.K. All distributors must keep full stocks of .spares and have all the special tools for all overhaul operations, and the fitters must have attended the N.S.U. service training school. Many dealers are also in this position although they may be appointed otherwise provided they meet certain basic requirements. Spare parts are available for all models past and present. With regard to future prospects, N.S.U. feel they are in a good position as they have a good quality product available now at a reasonable price and also have the Wankel engine under development.

To be continued

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