Paarl’s first car dealerships

Repair shop

© Gribble Collection, Drakenstein Heemkring

EJ Lawton Ltd was one of the first motorcar dealerships in Paarl. The company was based in Cape Town and advertised the opening of its Paarl branch on 22 July 1918. From the advertisement it was possible to deduce that they had bought up Mr GK Briers’ Elite Motor Works opposite the Royal Hotel in Main Street. The hotel was situated between Zeederburg Square and Zion Street. According to the advertisement, Nico Decker had been placed in charge of the dealership’s financial department. Lawton also had cars for hire.

In 1918 JN Hogkins, a mechanical engineering and motorcycle building company – “motor cycle repairs and pram wheels retyred while you wait” – ran an advertisement for a 1918 model “Indian”. The “Indian” was a motorcycle with a sidecar, and the new model’s arrival was described as “the event of the year” (PP 30.03.1918). A few months later Hogkins demonstrated the motorcycle’s ability, and proudly announced that it had successfully negotiated the Franschhoek Pass on the 3 February 1919 (PP 15.02.1919). The driver on this occasion was Mr N Decker, with Mr Curtis in the sidecar. Hogkins was situated in Lady Grey Street.

What is particularly interesting about the post WWI advertisements is the observation that a number of Paarl’s old wagon building firms had reinvented themselves as motorcar dealerships or were in related businesses. In 1929 Solomon, Reyneke & Kie in Main Street advertised themselves as wagon builders and undertakers (PP 13.04.1929), also see Carson & Co and Retief De Ville & Co listed below.

HP08888B Cyberne Motors

© Gribble Collection, Drakenstein Heemkring

We would like to appeal to readers to help us complete this list of dealerships, or share any memories of some of the older dealerships. So far we have been able to make the following list based on advertisements in the Paarl Post:

  • Briers Motor Garages: In 1922 you could by a Studebaker for £460 from GK Briers Motor Garages in Main Street (PP 22.10.1922)
  • Carson & Co: In 1939 you could buy a Chrysler Plymouth at Carson & Co in Fabriek Street, Paarl (PP 24.03.1939).
  • Case Motors: Case Motors were in Breda Street, and on 26 November 1932 were selling the new Essex Terraplane, a car with a fuel efficiency of under 23 miles per gallon.
  • Cross Service Station: This service station owned by Jas (Jason?) A Cross was on Main Street, and on 4 April 1931 they were selling Morris Minors.
  • Cyberne Motors: Situated on the corner of Lady Grey and Breda Streets (PP 11.01.1930).
  • Dreyers Garage: TD Dreyer owned a garage on the corner of Lady Grey and Main Street, and place an advertisement in the Paarl Post of 11 July 1924. In the advertisement he said that they would be demonstrating 3 and 4 cylinder Hupmobiles on Wednesday, 15 July at 3pm. The Hupmobile was manufactured by the Hupp Motor Company (1909-1940) in Detroit, Michigan.
  • Good Hope Garages: In 1933 JH Husselmann, the owner of Good Hope Garages in Main Street, placed an advertisement to announce that Carl Weitmann, a master mechanic from Stuttgart, Germany and an engineering certificate from Roberts Heights, Pretoria  had been appointed as a mechanic.
  • Holmes Motor Co: In 1933 the Holmes Motor Co opened a service station in Paarl with Mr Sykes as its branch manager (PP 01.09.1933).
  • Huguenot Garage: The owners Hamilton and Siebrits had mechanics to service cars, trucks and motorbikes (PP 18.01.1934).
  • Paarl Motor Garages: In 1921 Paarl Motor Garages was situated opposite the Royal Hotel in Main Street, Paarl (PP 01.01.1921), and also had cars for hire. In 1924 it advertised the 6-cylinder Hudson for £525 (PP 12.04.1924).
  • Retief De Ville & Co: In 1926 this well known wagon building company – in the late 19th century it was one of the largest in the country – were the agents for the famous Hupmobile cars (PP 04.12.1926).
  • Webster Motors: In February 1933 Webster Motors in Main Street, had a Minx on display in their showrooms. In the advertisement the place in the Paarl Post On 25 February 1933 they described the Minx as “the car that swept the board at the Royal Automobile Club’s Rally”.
  • Williams Hunt & Johnston: In 1930 the motor dealership placed a number of advertisements in the Paarl Post. On the 30 July 1930 Williams Hunt & Johnston in Lady Grey Street, had 30,000th Chevrolet in South Africa, on display in their showroom. Based on the advertisements we also know that Mr J Albertyn was the local representative for the Commercial Union Assurance Co of Cape Town (PP 14.06.1930).
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