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. Continue reading

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