The decade of the 1960's was pulling to a close, when an already established Seattle business, Kolar's, took on the Citroën line to follow up where Automobiles Internationales had left off.
As early as 1957 I found an advertisement for Kolar's. Their advertisement described themselves as "a complete automotive service," and shows their address as 1205 E. Pine. As noted earlier, a small neighborhood on Capital Hill served as home for many automobile dealerships throughout Seattle automotive history. The Kolar's building on Pine is right in the heart of this neighborhood, and was located diagonally across the street from another once popular French Car dealership; L.E. Belcourt.
Over the years, L.E. Belcourt sold many marques, including Studebaker, Desoto, Peugeot, Renault, and BMW. Look closely at the following advertisement from 1965. Notice that L.E. Belcourt felt it necessary to phonetically spell PEUGEOT! Is that how Peugeot is pronounced?
Back to the Kolar's story. Strangely, after the 1957 Kolar's ad, I could find no further ads or City Directory listings for Kolar's for another 14 years. Finally, in 1971, the Seattle phone books again listed Kolar's, this time with the motto, "Kolar's Precision Auto Repair," but with no mention of Citroën! The lack of the word "Citroën" in the Kolar's ads was very strange since by 1971, Kolars was bustling in the business of Citroën as well as the Jeep line!
The Kolar building is a large, somewhat stylish building, with its main entrance on 12th Avenue. On the main floor was the showroom, but there was also a large upstairs room where many new and used cars were parked. In the mid-to-late 1970's, I remember looking around upstairs and routinely seeing three or four Meharis, an SM or two, several DS's and an occasional 2CV mixed in with a contingent of Jeeps. On more than one occasion, I pestered the salesmen into letting me go for a test drive in a used Mehari or DS that was for sale (never to buy one from them). This second floor was accessible only by a steep ramp off of Pine Street. Inside the main floor was another ramp, this one leading down to the basement. I remember the parts department to be in the basement.
From about 1971 to 1976, C.J. Felt worked at Kolar's as service manager. C.J. originally operated a Citroën dealership in the 1960's in Berkley, California, called C.J. Motors located at 2566 Telegraph Avenue. C.J. then moved to Oregon where he put in a short stint at Roger Sagner's Citroën dealership in Portland, called Sagner's Motor Mart. In about 1971, C.J. moved to Seattle and became Kolar's Service Manager for Jeep and Citroën as well as handled the parts department for the Citroën line.
C.J. Felt and his wife Carmine still live in the Seattle area and still own Citroëns. Their daughter (Pam) has been very active in our club and currently owns several Peugeots.
Kolar's sold DS's and SM's right up until Citroën stopped importing cars to the United States in 1973. Kolar's continued to supply parts and to repair Citroëns up to 1979, much of the time under C.J.'s leadership. However, by the end of the 1970's, Kolar's occupation of the building at 1205 E. Pine was coming to an end. Kolar's sold off all of their Citroën parts and moved their Jeep business to Aurora Avenue in North Seattle. This author remembers buying boxes full of new-old-stock Citroën parts for pennies on the dollar. In the last few years before Otto Kolar's death in the early 1980's, Kolar's was still selling Jeeps, but also handled the American Motors (AMC) Concord line and Renault R5's (the latter of which was the result of the ill-fated Renault/AMC alliance). Shortly after Otto Kolar died, Kolar's closed their doors altogether. Today, the Kolar building has been attractively restored and is occupied by a furniture store and a sign company.
Among the independent shops who have worked on Citroëns as well as other foreign cars is Ralli-Round. Ralli-Round, founded in 1965 and specializing in Alfa Romeo, is a small shop located at 1512 Fairview Ave. East, near Lake Union in Seattle. Romi Lucas (remember this name?) was a founder of Ralli-Round and worked on DS's on?and?off for several years. There were even brief periods of time in the late '70's and early '80's when Ralli-Round ran advertisements in the Seattle Times, seeking Citroën repair work (that was no longer being performed by Kolar's).
Ralli-Round has changed ownership at least twice since the days they would work on Citroën's, but is still in business, working on Alfa Romeo cars. It is rumored that there once was a fairly good stock of Citroën parts and special tools at Ralli-Round, but these seemed to have disappeared with time and multiple changes of ownership.