The 1980's was the first decade with no authorized Citroën sales or parts outlets in the Seattle area. However, several independent shops performed repairs on the remaining and aging DS's and SM's, including the previously mentioned Ralli-Round.
THE CITROEN WAREHOUSE
This author, along with Jens Vik, performed much of the Citroën maintenance in the 1980's, originally from a very large and very old warehouse on Harbor Island, near downtown Seattle. Part of the warehouse was a roofing company owned by Citroën owner Bob Norson (Bob and his wife Donna still own Citroëns and are NWCOC club members). The larger half of the warehouse was empty for several years and evolved into a fabulous DS repair facility, courtesy of the Norsons. The "Citroën" side of the warehouse was so large; one could perform test drives inside! The warehouse eventually became well known as, "The Citroën Warehouse" by many of the local Citroën owners. Eventually, the large part of the warehouse was leased to another company, and thus "The Citroën Warehouse" had to move.
The warehouse was incredibly useful for the type of work being performed there, and even had machine-shop capabilities. Boeing tooling machinist and long time Citroën owner Harry Figg operated the machine shop. Harry passed away a few years ago. Today, the warehouse has been demolished and there is no trace of it left at all.
A small two-stall workshop in Issaquah, Washington was chosen as the replacement for the warehouse. This small shop in (then) rural Issaquah, was quite a contrast to the huge warehouse near downtown Seattle. The location in Issaquah was at the corner of Interstate 90 and Highway 900, in an anonymous industrial building. Unfortunately, zoning laws for these buildings prohibited certain types of activities. Therefore, the Citroën work had to be performed 'discreetly.'
After the demise of Kolar's in the late 1970's, there were no parts available at all in the Seattle area. DS parts were also just starting to become difficult to obtain and so it became necessary to start stockpiling DS parts. These parts were purchased from many sources, including a new business in Santa Cruz, California called "Western Hemispheres." By the mid 1980's, the parts stock at Issaquah had grown quite large. This author still has much of this stock of DS parts, and still has several Citroëns.
BARCLAY STUART AND FOURNET 2CV's
Another Citroën chapter in the Seattle area was Barclay Stuart's sales of Michel Fournet's "new" pre-1967 2CV's on Mercer Island. In 1986, Barclay began importing new 2CV's that had been assembled on pre-1967 frames by Fournet in France. The old frames allowed the cars to be imported legally as old cars.
About a dozen Fournet 2CV's were sold by Barclay. These cars were shipped by Fournet to a port in Canada and then imported across the US/Canada border into Washington. Barclay imported the cars legally with full support from US Customs officials by performing a meticulous advance preparation with US Customs. Most of these cars are still running around Seattle, and in the rare case any of these cars are for sale, they tend to bring significantly more than their original purchase price!
The first Fournet 2CV sold by Barclay was a maroon and black Charleston sold to Peter and Linda Deboldt of Kirkland, Washington for US$6900 on December 10, 1986. Peter still owns this car and has used it as daily transportation for nearly 15 years! Barclay's personal car, a beautiful 1987 Rouge Vallelunga 2CV Club, was sold to Paul and Desnee Joos of Bellevue, Washington. Robert and Carol May (former NWCOC editors) also purchased a 2CV from Barclay and have it lovingly stored away for use in the summer sunshine!
FRENCH PARTS SERVICE
During the 1980's, most of the 2CV parts in the USA were supplied by either Michel Fournet from his business in Glen Burnie, Maryland or from Western Hemispheres in Santa Cruz, California. But in 1986, Fournet closed his doors and sold the parts business to Moran Antique Citroën in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
While Fournet managed to do well selling 2CV parts, the Moran operation only lasted about a year.
Fortune soon reigned for North American 2CV owners when Ben Morse started up a 2CV parts business out of his house on Bainbridge Island, Washington (Bainbridge Island is a just quick and beautiful ferry ride from downtown Seattle). The business, initially called Island Auto Parts, quickly grew. In 1991, Ben moved the business to Poulsbo, Washington and changed the name to French Parts Service.
During the first five years Ben advertised in various club newsletters, but after that he simply relied on repeat business and word-of-mouth. Naomi Saunders joined the company as an employee in 1993, and stayed for about five years. During that time Ben had a chance to develop a nicely organized catalog with clear illustrations of the parts. Eventually, Ben started to focus primarily on the 2-cylinder Citroens and began tapering off his sales of DS/CX/GS parts.
Ben's business philosophy has been to keep overhead low and to deliberately price below the competition. We seem to remember that the original business was operated from a chicken coup! But as the business grew, Ben gravitated to proper warehouse space in Poulsbo, WA. Over the sixteen years that Ben ran the business, he has had thousands of customers all over North America and Asia. Business in Japan was particularly strong in the early 90's, and even though the faltering Japanese economy hit the car market hard in recent years, FPS still has some customers there.
In 2001, Ben began dropping hints that he planned to sell French Parts Service. After several aborted attempts at selling the company, Ben asked Kenji and Marion Yoshino of Seattle if they were interested and Kenji and Marion said, "Yes!" Kenji and Marion have been members of the NWCOC for many years and have been very active in the club. Kenji owned a CX as a teenager in Japan, and was still driving it when he met Marion there in 1988. At that time Kenji had a small cafe in Kobe, while Marion was teaching English. Kenji and Marion moved to Seattle in 1990 so that Marion could go to graduate school at the University of Washington. Kenji bought a Seattle-native D-SPECIAL in 1992, which became his daily driver. Kenji joined the NWCOC at about the same time and served as treasurer for about three years.
Kenji and Marion are dedicated to bring the same high quality parts and service with low pricing to the business that Ben did. They slightly changed the name of the business from French Parts Service (FPS) to FPS West.