203 sites

Not a lot of 203 discussion sites about. Thought the Amoureux 203 site might be a good source of information on the factory processes of the early 1950's. Always looking for hard info on the way the early RHD cars for Australia were handled. And their pricing. The Museum is no help and denies records of the early period. Sometimes it's possible to find a gem of information. But very much a French language only site, posts by an Australian treated rather rudely because they weren't in French. The registration process offers the option of English but then cuts back to French. From reading the translated version of the posts I don't think there is much info to be gleaned there. Or interest in Peugeot in Australia. When this site goes there will not be much 203 material of any value left online.
 
Lot of questions still be looked into around the import of the first 203's, their pricing and marketing and the actual production of the RHD models. I'll put up some of the unanswered questions. There are still little pieces on the 203 that turn up in odd places often written by people who should know better but I'm pleased to say people have stopped saying the 203 came to Australia in 1948. The old eleven cars starting and finishing the Redex is still around. I wonder what E.W. Grey thought about being cancelled? The number of people interested in old Peugeots is much in decline. There would be little point in a new book solely on the 203 although there is some new material. I have considered it but the market is tiny and a print run of less than a hundred is uneconomic, that is the higher price further reduces the market. Peugeot Australia is not interested at all in the history of the make in Australia so the support that Ewan Kennedy had for his book is non-existent. Indeed Dommerson paid Kennedy to write the book and for its printing. A print run in the thousands compared to my 220 and they were given away free as promotions. Co-incidence or not reviving memories of the great cars of the past resulted in the highest sales ever. But those days are over, Peugeot sales are waning and there are clouds over 2030. I don't see the point in an unpublished manuscript so I'll probably gracefully retire from the field. Unanswered questions will be left unanswered and the question forgotten.
 
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fnqvmuch

1000+ Posts
Pete‘s recent acquisition has us in the dark as to its history while he’s inclined to believe the ( incredible, I thought ) mileage after going under it would be nice to get some more answers yet ...
 
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If the original registration number is known quite a lot can be found out. Except in Victoria where the registration records have been emasculated in the interests of "privacy". There are clues - the distinctive Canada Cycle front number plate frame, the brass under bonnet plate from Regans - but not many. In an original car it's interesting how many clues can be found under the back seat. But in a car without a good history so many things can be done over the years. The sales books and serial numbers have not been kept but every so often an interesting box is found in an attic or garage. I was able to trace the previous owner of my 203 from a slip of paper left behind and we enjoyed a rewarding correspondence until her death.
 

GRAHAM WALLIS

1000+ Posts
Lot of questions still be looked into around the import of the first 203's, their pricing and marketing and the actual production of the RHD models. I'll put up some of the unanswered questions. There are still little pieces on the 203 that turn up in odd places often written by people who should know better but I'm pleased to say people have stopped saying the 203 came to Australia in 1948. The old eleven cars starting and finishing the Redex is still around. I wonder what E.W. Grey thought about being cancelled? The number of people interested in old Peugeots is much in decline. There would be little point in a new book solely on the 203 although there is some new material. I have considered it but the market is tiny and a print run of less than a hundred is uneconomic, that is the higher price further reduces the market. Peugeot Australia is not interested at all in the history of the make in Australia so the support that Ewan Kennedy had for his book is non-existent. Indeed Dommerson paid Kennedy to write the book and for its printing. A print run in the thousands compared to my 220 and they were given away free as promotions. Co-incidence or not reviving memories of the great cars of the past resulted in the highest sales ever. But those days are over, Peugeot sales are waning and there are clouds over 2030. I don't see the point in an unpublished manuscript so I'll probably gracefully retire from the field. Unanswered questions will be left unanswered and the question forgotten.
The Kennedy book was full of errors.
 
So the first of the unanswered questions. How large was the December 1949 shipment and did they have the N3 body? Were any actually registered in 1949?
The first right hand drive run by Peugeot I know of was around April 1949. The three cars Canada Cycle landed in June 1949 were from that run. Most cars seem to have been sent to British Africa. The earliest RHD 203 I know of is a June registration in Sth Africa.
The 203 was released in Melbourne in Sept 1949 with a promise of December delivery. How many did CCM order? There were several factors that point towards a modest order in the 25 to 50 car range. CCM hadn't survived so long by taking risks. They had a very conservative management style. Although the three pre sale cars had met the approval of the board, they were not going to be stuck with unsold stock. The 202 had been a slow seller and they no doubt remembered their less than successful agency for AJS. Demand certainly took them by surprise and a shipment of 500 cars was quickly ordered for early January arrival.
The shipment really did arrive in Melbourne in late December. Dealers were receiving cars in the last week of December. Were any registered in 1949? Peugeot registrations for 1949 were 45. The 202 was still on sale and had only been released in WA early in the year. There has always been a figure around for Australian 202 sales of 90 cars. That would fit with the 45 cars in 1949 and 47 in 1948. Everyone seems to ignore the six cars sold by Sporting Cars in 1947. So not much room for 203 registrations.
Were they N3 bodied cars with two rear boot handles? Shipping times from France were all over the place. Slow old stopping all ports steamers laboring along at 8 knots could take three months or more, more modern ships could have the cars there in eight weeks. So there is plenty of time for early October build N3Y cars to get here. There just don't seem to be any of the N3 cars about. I was shown a car in a farm shed that had an early October serial number and may have been part of the first shipment. I will return to document it sometime.
Apart from the three July reg N3 cars has anyone seen one? The first of them sold lived in Ballarat and was wrecked in the 1960's.
 
Other questions I'm still looking into - the economics of importation, the original deal with the factory, the fitting of local parts and the effect they had on the tariff bill, how the factory handled the RHD car assembly for Australia and the production of CKD kits for assembly, were any high geared 21 diff wheel cars imported, the pricing structure of the cars and the dealer list. Further details and photos of the assembly at Adelaide, Roseberry, Tottenham and Moorabbin are sought. The inter related ownership of the businesses involved is also of interest. Business records are not kept but some early documentation passed through C&G to Renault Australia.
Already interest is very low and the future is possibly the Museum of Victoria approach of disinterested curators mislabeling material. The National Motor Museum will hopefully develop its library and research along the pattern of Baullieu but is very bureaucratic to deal with and perhaps the grand plans of the Motor Heritage Foundation will be realised. But the time of the motor enthusiast, of individual car makers producing distinctive vehicles that inspired owners, is going, replaced by a few large corporations making remarkably similar designs in international factories. The modern car is competent, does its job well and is quickly recycled without regret by the owner who has no particular interest in which make it is. Electronically stored information is amorphous. But the printed word persists.
 

Mike Tippett

1000+ Posts
I swear one of these days I'm going to head to Terre Blanche archives, get a few days in there and find everything we're all dreaming of. I do speak French so it's just a question of getting the commitment of a time to do research and a helpful archivist or two.
 
Peugeot is not a company that threw away anything although Dumont says the Germans went through the archives and took away a lot of material. I think you'd find the agreement to import the 203 all safely tied up with string sitting in its proper box.
 
There used to be a column in The Autocar called Disconnected Jottings. As it seems this forum has an uncertain future, I'll use this thread to post various disconnected posts about early Peugeots in Australia.
First off. There is an almost total disconnection between the various Australian Peugeot operations of the past. The Lion Peugeot dealers never handled the make again. The dealers of the first agency period, 1915 to 1932, again never handled Peugeot after the war. The last importer Norman Agate became the largest Austin dealer in NSW and a Ford dealer after BMC took over. He could have had a Peugeot agency but didn't. The French Auto Company period of the 1920's left behind one of their mechanics who was the sole service and parts representative until the war. One of the young mechanics at the Horsham agent seems to have been with Wilson Bolton when the 203 arrived. None of the 202 dealers of 1948 took up the 203. Gives the impression the dealerships were low profit. Must have been hard to keep an early car on the road.
 
The West Heidelberg assembly plant was built by an Ausdis subsidiary Northern Engineering to assemble 3000 Simcas per year with 40% Australian content. As the name implies they were Austin distributors left out when BMC was formed. The plant was opened late 1955 and the sales manager of Simca came out for the opening. Which is more support than the Australian Peugeot operations ever got from France. It replaced an assembly plant in North Melbourne. The only Simca assembly plant ever in Moorabbin exists in the minds of the curators of the Museum of Victoria. Another Ausdis subsidiary was Continental and General Distributors that handled used cars.
When Chrysler bought Simca assembly was moved to Adelaide in 1959. Peugeot was being assembled in two separate plants, the Harden and Johnston plant in Roseberry NSW and the Canada Cycle and Motor Company plant in Keys Road Moorabbin. This was an expensive and inefficient operation. There was no Peugeot importer for Australia but separate state arrangements. CCM had Victoria and the Riverina. Ausdis negotiated a sole Australian importation agreement with Peugeot and Studebaker and moved assembly to West Heidelberg under the control of their Continental and General subsidiary. What Harden & Johnston and Canada Cycle thought of the new arrangements is not recorded but there seems to have been co-operation. The last manager of the plant in 1966 was Tas Smith, sales manager of Canada Cycle and founder of the Peugeot Car Club.
Price of the 403 was reduced to 1218 pounds and it sold its highest ever figure of 2379 in 1960. It had been 1450 pounds in 1956 and reduced in price over the years. The Government or at least Treasury seemed to have it in for Peugeot because every time the sun was shining and sales booming they came down hard with a fiscal change that knocked sales as in 1956. This time it was the Credit Squeeze in 1961 that put an extra sixty pounds of tax on a 403 but also made money hard to get. Companies laid off staff, unemployment shot up and the Government held power in the general election that year by 120 votes.
Under capacity remained a problem for the Heidelberg operation. They took up NSU Prinz and Citroen ID19 assembly but they weren't big sellers. The situation was made worse by the failure to launch the 404 until late 1962 and at too high a price. In 1964 Peugeot sales were 632 and the 403 outsold the 404. It took substantial price reductions in 1965 to get 404 sales moving again. The bright spot was Studebaker. In America the company made production of police cruisers something of a specialty and Victoria Police bought numbers of them. By 1966 they were assembling 1100 Studebakers a year at Heidelberg. When Studebaker closed down that destroyed the viability of the Heidelberg operation. A buyer was sought and that was Renault. The existing Studebaker stock was dumped on the market at huge discounts.
 

fnqvmuch

1000+ Posts
elsewhere ( i need to collate your various ) i think you say the CKD process involved assembly and disassembly in france - did i get that wrong?
 
According to Harden & Johnston when the body kits were sent from France the bodies had been assembled and knocked down. Most likely talking about the 1952 assembly by Chrysler. It was the first time Peugeot had sent assembly kits out. It's likely there were quite a few adjustments to the sections and the factory didn't trust the foreign assemblers. Unknown how long the practice went on. Quoted in Sydney Sun, early 1954.
There was some rough assembly at Heidelberg. Sometimes the 403 roof rack mounts wouldn't all line up with a rack. The trapezoid lights on the 504 were sometimes forced into the out of spec openings. Could get away with a lot on a 403, get the frame too far out on an 04 and you'll never get the front camber right. There was a Peugeot engineer from Paris at the plant but he seemed disinterested in the poor assembly going on. But in defence some other Australian plants were worse. Ex Citroen quality control man from Slough gave the opinion the cars were beyond the ability of the workforce.
 
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Peugeots were assembled from high quality pre-assembled engines, transmissions and suspensions. They were better. The problems of local assembly weren't so great until the more complex 504 came along. Heidelberg assembly was in no way inferior to GMH or Ford assembly but that's not saying much. They tried to do a quality job but didn't always succeed. A small assembly operation with different makes and models of car and a transient workforce presented problems. With the 504 you could have some really tiresome collections of faults the dealers quickly tired of. As an old workshop supervisor told me, there weren't many problems with the 203 and 403. Faults in French components were rare.
The finish on locally assembled cars was considered satisfactory without being exceptional. Rust proofing was not a major consideration. Australian upholstery was, until the Renault upholstered 404, inferior to the French. The Australian seats in 1960 were covered by a durable but unwelcoming vinyl used for kitchen chairs. Back in the 1920's the comment was always made on fully imported Peugeots that the upholstery and bodywork were a lesson for Australian coachbuilders.
In the 1960's and 1970's the quality and the management philosophy of GMH was terrible. No point in trotting out the real problems with Heidelberg assembly, overall it was a good period for Peugeot we all enjoyed.
 
For the record, Renault Australia was a top company that tried to do things properly. They would lose money on a car if needed to rectify it properly. People like Ian Ansing would take the side of owners over dealers and tried very hard to maintain standards in the dealerships. If all else failed they would take the car back to their workshop to rectify it. I certainly don't want to leave the impression the cars were troublesome because they weren't, more annoyance level faults. There were those in the dealerships who needed a swift kick.
Assembly faults with 203, 403 and 404 weren't a problem because they were less complex and weren't line assembled in Australia.
French built cars had a low incidence of faults. The 403 tested by Which in 1962 over 10000 miles in the UK was delivered with no real faults and was extremely reliable.
The Renault period was probably the peak for Peugeot in Australia.
 
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