Thailand
Page creation 04/02/2010, revision 05/07/2015
All rights reserved DSinAsia 2006-2016, except otherwise indicated
Two pictures of the Paris-Bangkok garage in the '70s. At
left, Jacques Nabart, who worked there as an
accountant for about ten years, takes the pose next to a
superb "Citroen Service" wagon ID (June 1976, courtesy
J. Nabart).

Above pic is dated November 1972 and shows both an
ID and a 2CV in "estate" versions (doc. Th. Hannoi)    
Top: Bara-Windsor's show-room, situated in Suan Mali, Bamrung Muang  
Road, hosted both the Citroen and GMC Group (Austin etc) brands
(Bangkok Post, 27 October 1967).

Below: Bara-Windsor shows two DS, including an estate version, in the
French pavillion of the Asian Fair held in Bangkok. Says the legend :
"Modern and elegant, a French-made car is a symbol of French
sophistication" (Bangkok Post, 25 Nov. 1966).
Bara-Windsor continued for a while
with another car company it started to
represent in 1967, the BMC Group
(Austin, Morris, Vanden Plas etc), and
today still manages a small network of
Toyota dealerships. Khun Yodjin
nevertheless still thinks the DS was a
great car, with an outstanding
suspension, and a design that is still
modern by today's standards. In fact,
he owned and drove his own DS at
the time, and he liked it. But apart
from that unfortunate clause in the
contract, he regrets that the dusty
roads were not good for the hydraulic
system, and concludes that the
problems were just too many for him
to turn the DS into a success story in
Thailand.
Khun Yodjin continues: "Sales never really picked up, and in the end, it was a complete
failure, and a financial loss. We bitterly complained to Citroen many times, and asked to
have that clause removed from the contract, without success. In the end, we just gave up,
and Mr. Paris took over again." (Khun Yodjin does not remember the precise timing; it
must have been in 1969).
"The idea to start the import and
sales of Citroen cars came from
Khun Aree, who was working
with me, and who was
acquainted with Khun Paris."
Khun Yodjin evidently thought
the automotive market could be
a good growth and
diversification opportunity for
his company, which was already
representing several foreign
groups in Thailand. The Citroen
headquarters were in favour,
seemingly because it was
obvious that Mr Paris did not
have the financial capacity to
expand the business by himself.

"But there was one condition:
the service and repair had to
be handed solely by
Paris-Bangkok, the garage
started in the meantime by
Jacques Paris, and that
proved fatal."

Khun Yodjin explains that
customers were "overcharged"
for maintenance and repairs, if
not "screwed", and because of
that, angry customers quickly
turned away from the brand.
Some of them were so upset
that they refused to repay the
loans extended to them by
Bara-Windsor for the purchase
of the car...
Above: in March, 1966, Bara-Windsor, "one of Bangkok's oldest and most reputable firms", splashes on the eight
pages of a supplement to the Bangkok Post its pride to be appointed the exclusive agent for Citroen cars in Thailand.
The legend of this illustration identifies the young lady as "Bangkok artist Mary Cavacos"; right: then Deputy General
Manager of Bara-Windsor, Yodjin Uahwatanasakul (left), and Aree Suntanaphan, "Head of the firm's car division", in
front of advertising signs for two European brands they were already representing : German companies Hoechst and
BASF (Bangkok Post, 27 March 1966).

Below: Bara-Windsor spent significantly more than Siam Motor Supplies in advertising for the DS,"the car for the
connoisseur" (Bangkok Post, 28 October and 24 November 1967).
But let's hear from Dr. Yodjin Uahwatanasakul, Chairman of the Bara-Windsor Group, one
of the most famous trading companies in Thailand, whom I could also meet, last November,
2009. Khun Yodjin is the heir of a respected sino-thai family, well-known for its business
and its charity endeavours.
But things were not so simple of course. Jacques Paris does not remember having had
conflictual relations with Bara-Windsor, while admitting that repairs and maintenance were
expensive, mostly due to the high cost of parts shipped by Citroen. When Bara-Windsor
eventually gave up, alongside his "Paris-Bangkok" workshop, he set up a new company called
Thai Inter Motors, who became the sole importer of the brand.   
Both companies were
relocated on Bangkok's
northern outskirts, on the
way to Don Muang airport.
The road was then called
"Super Highway",
corresponding to today's
Viphavadi Rangsit Road.
This photo probably
shows the first building,
next to the "Thai Rat"
newspaper
headquarters; all
activities then moved
again, just on the other
side of the road, Soi
Chokchai, where they
were to remain up to the
closure in the years
2000. (doc. Th. Hannoi)    
Above left: In this July 1968 ad the Paris-Bangkok garage, still at its first address on Wireless Road, not far from the
former Siam Motor Supplies agency, was not authorized to sell in Thailand, and could thus only advertise for sales for
"Home Delivery" (for expats returning home in Europe for instance). Right:  On this advertisement dated 13 December
1969 (Thai Rat), Thai Inter Motors is now the "sole agent" for Citroen; Maserati, Auto Bianchi and Berliet trucks have been
added to the brand portfolio (docs. Th. Hannoi).
Above left: the DS is exhibited at the First Motor Show organized in Thailand, in December 1971. Second from left is a
"celeb" of the time, Mom Kobkaew Apakorn, surnamed "The Lady of 2,000 Years" for her beauty (?). Second from right is
Poon Polasit, the Sales Manager for Thai Inter Motors at the time. This was to be the first and last participation of a DS to
a motor show in Thailand (doc. P. Polasit)
Left: "Available here, now - The
Citroen DS21" (Bangkok Post, 2
June 1966).

Above: the facelifted DS ("1968
model"), in this ad dated 25 March
1968, doc. Th. Hannoi)
In October 1993, the Thai-language magazine "Auto-Mag" published a report
on Paris-Bangkok, which had just been taken over by a new owner, Khun
Prinya. These pictures come from that article, with the exception of Kh Prinya's
picture on the bottom right (July 1993, doc. Th. Hannoi)
Above: Duty free ? Maybe for
diplomats and other privileged
buyers ? (Bangkok Post, 26 July
1970)

Left: Thai Inter Motors proposes a
test drive for the Citroen range in
1971: SM, GS and DS21 (Grand
Prix, April 1971). "Smooth.
Comfortable drive. Safe. Most
suitable for the most refined
driver", says the legend.

Right: the DS starts to appear in
ads for second-hand cars...
(Bangkok Post, 27 March 1971)  

Below:  this namecard of
Paris-Bangkok shows how to find
the garage's location on Soi
Chokchai, near the "Super
Highway" road (a.k.a. Viphavadi
Rangsit Road, linking downtown
Bangkok to the Don Muang
airport).
Citroen signs formerly
used in the Paris-Bangkok
garage.

Left: "Quality Service
Guaranteed" and Right:
"Original Parts" (courtesy
Passporn Savetchati)
By 1966 it became clear that Siam Motor Supplies did not have the financial means to
develop the Citroen business by itself. Another local trading company, Bara Windsor, gave it
a try; but finally Jacques Paris took over again, starting new companies for that purpose.
Bangkok's roads and dust have not been very kind to the
Citroen's delicate systems. Above is a view of the new Rama 4
Avenue under construction in Bangkok. But wait... What can we
see in the lower right corner ? Yessss ! (Bangkok Post, 4
September 1969)
All in all, even if Jacques Paris does not remember
much detail, it seems that the Sales part of the
business had peaked by the early '70s. Advertising
shows that the effort turned its focus to the GS, then
to the CX, without forgetting the SM. In 1977, facing
increasing import duties and a need to assemble
vehicles locally to avoid them, Citroen agreed to
transfer the representation rights to the local
automotive group Yontrakit, who assembled locally
3 models: CX, GS and BX, and who still distributes
the PSA Group cars in Thailand today.

Meanwhile, the Paris-Bangkok garage continued to
maintain Citroen cars, until very recently, even
though it changed owners in the meantime.
Below are two pics which I took myself of the Paris-Bangkok garage back in December 2001. It was then owned and
managed by Khun Passporn Savetchati, its former accountant, who took over in 1999. The name "Paris-Bangkok" was
still regularly mentioned then, when enquiries were made for a place to repair an old Citroen in Bangkok.  
Right: for this ad dated 1984, a CX is shot in the
"Ancient City" park, in Bang Pu near Bangkok (doc.
Cholatee Pornrojnangkool, Citroen Club of Thailand)
Above: from family photo albums... no date, no place, but
so much charm in these pictures. On the left one can
recognize Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. The photo
above comes from an ad for an air-conditioning company
(Grand Prix, June 1975).