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Don Hadfield’s 1st encounter

I started playing around with cars before I left school and got a driver’s licence in 1951, learning on a Citroen Light 15. I acquired my licence in a Morris Minor High Light which belonged to Len Adams in Whangarei and was the first High LIght to be had, an absolute breeze to drive after the Citroen L15.
I moved to Auckland after that and in 1954 started selling car from Cantral Car Sales 329 Queen St opposite Campbell Motors
My most memorable encoounter with Peugeot was with a 403 in Thames in about 1963, when I was employed at the local agent for Austin, a marque I had a grat deal of success with.
A loclal Paeroa resident came to us to look at an Austin A99 Westminster, which he and his wife subsequently ended up buying. They traded in a Peugeot 403 that had been used as a taxi and although it had done over 200,000 miles, it was superb in every respect; not a rattle or squeak could be found.
Now the management did not want a bar of this strange French car, and this was before the days when Campbell Tube Products started the assembly of Peugeot, Renault, Hino etc in the soon to be new factory in Thames whiich is still in action today, although not now assembling cars. Anyway, I digress.
In this era you had no trouble selling cars; the main problem was buying them and so I got around both the North and South Islands buying cars.
During this time I made a lot of contacts and one of them was Grant Chappell of Federal Motors in Christchurch. They were agents for both Peugeot and Renault and would buy any of them sight unseen – but they must be accurately described. So this ois where the 403 went. I drove it to Wellington and they had it picked up from there whil I bought another car in Wellington to retun to Thames. I used to travel about 40,000 miles a year through the 1960s and ‘70s. In later years we would put them on a transporter, though I do remember once taking down a 404 and passing the Cambridge Golf Club on the way to Christchurch, I lost a windscreen. This was not a stone from a passing car or truck but a small hole on both sides of the screen suggested a bullet. Fortunately I was able to source a new screen in Cambridge.
As you will gather, the thread of Peugeot, renault & Citroen was about to gather momentum.
This was a time when most dealers only wanted to buy & sell Auston, Morris, Ford, Vauxhall etc, so we found a market most dealers did not want, so almost any trader was looking for a buyer for “foreign!!” cars. Again we were happy till the time came and dealers became short of stock and so retained most of the trade ins, and lo and behold they managed to retail them without the world collapsing around their ears. That made life a not more difficult, althogh we now have a similar scenario between automatics & manuals & high mileage cars.
For the past 64 years I have bought, sold, traded, cleaned and repaired many different cars and trialled and raced some of thme also. Many of them were Peugeots, Citroens and Renaults and since about 1977 I have specialized in these French cars. Not all of them were great, but you needed to drive them to find out.
I had an interesting ownership of a Peugeot 604 – but that and some of the others will keep for another day.




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