Norman Agate
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Thread: Norman Agate

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    Default Norman Agate

    Norman Agate was one of the most important people in the history of Peugeot in NSW. As in all history stories abound that decline in accuracy in the telling. Recently a club magazine published a piece of inaccurate rambling that referenced Agate. I submitted a correction but the editor declined to publish so here it is.
    Peugeot in NSW had gone through a turbulent period after the collapse of A.W.B. Mathers's French Auto Company. The agency had passed to Deluxe Motors who committed fraud, then the supposedly large Consolidated Motors but it collapsed taking its investors money with it. So in 1927 the agency moved to Norman Agate of Summer Hill.
    Norman was partner in his father Ernst's bodyworks. Ernst had built the second car body constructed in NSW.
    This was a good fit as Agates bodied many of the larger Peugeots they sold.
    Agate established a " Peugeot service station" in Parramatta Road, Ashfield. This was the second car yard in Ashfield. As a gimmick Agate had a small Peugeot placed "eighty feet up a tree".
    Although the car market was booming continental car sales were in serious decline because of tariffs and price competition from American and British makers. The price of a Chevrolet halved in Australia between 1919 and 1928. The market for the once popular small Peugeots had declined in favour of larger cars. When the Great Depression hit in 1929, the car market collapsed and with it Peugeot sales. By 1930 Agate was the only Peugeot dealer left in Australia.
    Peugeot was reluctant to let the Australian market go and sent two people. Hillare Gillares was a top sales executive, travelled first class, talked like French car executives always do about the importance of the Australian market, was going to build an assembly plant in Sydney and did nothing.
    Ernst Menard was a practical man who was remarkably vigorous in trying to save the Peugeot position in Australia. He got Agate to register as a car importer, brought in two examples of the new 201 and personally took a stand at the Sydney Motor Show in 1930. He also advertised for an agent for Peugeot bicycles. Menard then took the 201 to Melbourne, showed it around the press, got favourable reviews and tried to find new dealers. The last heard of Menard he was off to Adelaide in the 201 to find dealers there. A great advocate for Peugeot in Australia who PSA has forgotten.
    The 201 was too dear, probably 375 pounds, the price of a full sized American car. In June 1930 Agate was advertising the show 201 for 275 pounds, A year later he was running the same ad. Was it the same car?
    Agate remained a Peugeot dealer until mid 1932, after that he was advertising as a parts agent. It is likely the last imports were 1931. Agate continued to sell used Peugeots and at one time was selling small 7hp Peugeots with original duco for 50 pounds. He was also advertising for Peugeots to wreck but did not run a wrecking yard. The Ashfield site (next to an Indian motorbike dealership today) was a modest size.
    Agate was selling used Peugeots in 1935, some with Agate bodies, but after that took up an Austin dealership. By 1939 he had the largest selling Austin dealership in NSW. After the war Agate had nothing to do with Peugeot and did not take up a dealership. In 1954 he changed to a Ford agency and retired after 1956. The Peugeot up the tree was recovered and replaced by an Austin 7 at some stage and the Austin was itself eventually reclaimed.

    Last edited by Russell Hall; 10th November 2019 at 02:46 PM.
    Beano, pugmachine, Dano and 3 others like this.

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