We featured an article about Escargot Motorcars back in the spring of 2003 (you can read it here) — a company based in Toronto, Ontario Canada operated by brothers John and Greg Long. They figured out a way to sell 2CVs over here in the late 1980s by taking a rather clever (and very unorthodox) approach.
Although you couldn’t then, and still can’t today, buy a new car in Europe and import it into Canada or the US, they came up with a clever workaround to that regulation by searching for 2CV’s in Europe that were over 25 years of age (15 years or older) and purchasing those for the registration (VIN) plate, paperwork indicating their age, and, most importantly, their original rust-free Southern European frames. Then they also bought a brand new 2CV (they were still in production) and “technically” restored the old 2CV to the standard of a new car.
(We also posted an article about the process Escargot and another fellow in the USA, Michel Fournet in Glen Burnie, Maryland undertook to make them “street legal”. That can be found here.)
When the 2CV went out of production in July of 1990, John and Greg were faced with somewhat of a dilemma — no readily available cars to convert, unless they could find very lightly-used late-model ones in Europe.
They ordered a few dozen new 2CVs as production wound down and to supplement what they knew would become dwindling sales, became Ontario distributors for Intermeccanica Roadsters in British Columbia, who manufactured replica Porsche speedsters (technically,1959 Convertible D models — one year only Speedster bodies with wind-up windows, higher, more usable roof and windscreen, and padded seats versus what were basically racing seats in Speedsters).
As the Escargot name, cute as it was, clearly didn’t fit with Intermeccanica, they renamed their company Eclectic Motorcars.
With the 2CV out of production resulting in dwindling stock at hand, and only a few Intermeccanica Roadster sales (Greg recalls that they sold only 3) they decided to bring in Volkswagon Beetles that were still in production and manufactured in Mexico.
To make a new Mexican Beetle marketable, they used the same tried and true concept they had with the 2CV. This time they sourced old rust free Beetles from Southern California, shipped them to Mexicali Mexico where they had new Beetles basically transferred to the restored frames (called ‘pans’ in Beetle parlance). And with that — Eclectic Motorcars was renamed ‘The Beetles’.
Greg recalls that even though the VW Beetles had the big sunroofs installed in most of them, people wanted the convertibles but VW Mexico didn’t build them. They ended up selling a bunch to the Skoda importers ScoCar who offered them through their dealer network and that was the end of The Beetles.
John and Greg moved on to more stable revenue producing incomes in both finance and software development. Over the years both have kept their passion for Citroëns alive; Greg now with his Found Motorcars — a small dealership just outside of Seattle focusing on finding cool cars and completing the necessary work to bring them back to reliable, thrilling rides, and John who uses his 1961 ID19 as his daily driver in Oxnard, CA while manufacturing Bowlus Road Chief — the ultimate in RV travel trailers.