Ensign Chrysler - Your Downtown Dodge Dealer

History

How It All Began

The 1964 Valiant.
John George Diefenbaker was the Prime Minister of Canada while John F. Kennedy was enjoying unprecedented popularity as President of the United States and transistor radios everywhere were playing hits like Alley-Oop by the Hollywood Argyles. The year was 1960. Peter Dixon and his partner Eric Lewis had been in business for three years. They called the company Ensign Motors Ltd. Peter's idea was to have a regal, British sounding name to suit the Victoria community. The Canadian Navy had their official flag, the White Ensign and the most significant landmark in Victoria at the time was the Empress Hotel (more British heritage). In 1957 Peter and Eric set up business on Quadra Street at Jimmy Little's parking lot for two hundred dollars a month in rent with a portable office and a selection of quality used cars. One year later they took on the Lloyd Wagon and Borg Ward franchises. (Dr.Carl Borg Ward originally built the factory for the German war effort). The partnership continued to grow and in 1960 they proudly became Victoria's Renault dealership moving to a new location at the corner of Quadra and Pandora in down town Victoria. Their new facilities boasted a showroom, parts department and two busy mechanics.

^top

Victoria's Newest Chrysler Plymouth Dealer

The V-8 Style Valiant.
During the early sixties Peter saw a need to take on a North American franchise and in 1963 Ensign Motors Ltd. became Victoria's newest Chrysler Plymouth dealer. The timing was significant. Chrysler was introducing the all-new 1964 Valiant and the Barracuda, which was in direct competition with Ford's introduction of the Mustang line.

^top

The Big Sign

Ensign's carousel sign was taken down on April 22, 1999 after more than thirty years as a Victoria landmark.
Shortly after, came another move to even better facilities and so during the year 1964 Ensign Motors moved to the corner of Yates and Cook Streets. Just two years later, in an effort to promote their new facilities, the partners built what was to become another Victoria landmark. The huge carousel sign was hard to miss at the corner of Yates and Cook and continued to revolve and promote the dealership for more than thirty years. The slogan used in many ads read "Come and see us under the big sign".

^top

Ensign And The Music Of Mitch Miller

Ensign used the image of the carousel sign in many of their ads.
To supplement the selection, in 1967 they took on the Root's franchise which included popular models like the Sunbeam Alpine, the Sunbeam Tiger and the Sunbeam Imp. Also included in the line up was the Hillman Minx matching the Chrysler warranty of five years or 50,000 miles. Ensign Motors Ltd. continued to expand and in 1967 Chrysler bought out Roots and Simca, which they continued to sell under the Chrysler nameplate. The two partners had been together now for more than ten years and in 1967 Eric decided that it was time to retire from the car business. In the late seventies Ensign embarked on a major promotion with the Symphony of Victoria playing the hits of Mitch Miller.

^top

Lee Iacoca Becomes New Chief Operating Officer At Chrysler

Ensign has many long time employees among their staff of 56 people. One of their dedicated employees has 38 years of service and there are 11 others with more than 25 years of service with the dealership truly making Ensign a family affair.
In 1978 Lee Iacoca came from President of the Ford Motor Company to be the new Chief Operating Officer at Chrysler. He introduced the Plymouth Horizon that same year bringing the beginning of front wheel drive vehicles to Chrysler and paving the way for the future Chrysler K Car and the revolutionary Chrysler Minivan. Chrysler Corporation would feel the effects of the innovative Iacoca management style until 1992 resulting in new dynamics in design and sales. The Ensign Lease Company was formed in 1979 and expanded to include a branch in Vancouver and Ensign Lease continues to do business today.

^top

"The Captain Is You"

Chrysler's K Car.
During the early eighties Gilligan's Island was a very popular TV series and Peter thought that this would make an effective promotion. Allan Hale "Skipper" of Gilligan's Island fame made a series of commercials for Ensign with the message "The Captain Is You", which was run on local television stations. Peter says, "This was one of our best promotions".

^top

Ensign Chrysler Is Sold

Chrysler Introduces the Minivan in the fall of 1983 as the new Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager for 1984.
In 1991 Peter Dixon sold the dealership in order to concentrate on his other business, Ensign Travel where he continues to work today. Later that summer Ensign launched the Stanley Cup Promotion attracting thousands of people to the dealership and promoting the slogan "Team Ensign". This promotion was part of Ensign's continuing commitment to customer loyalty and satisfaction. In June 1996 Pete Kulyk partnered with Judd Buchanan moving Ensign into a new era.

^top

Jeep Owners And Enthusiasts

1997 Jeep Cherokee.
Adding the Jeep franchise in 1997 expanded Ensign's product line and opened up the dealership to sports enthusiasts and the increasing popularity of the Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV). The dealership is involved with the Walter P. Chrysler Club and held Victoria's First Annual PT Cruiser Tailgate Party this year. The Jeep Jamboree is held annually at different locations in British Columbia and Ensign provides information on upcoming events to it's many Jeep owners and enthusiasts.

^top

The Retro Look

The PT Cruiser is a real attention getter and is being used as a promotional vehicle for radio and television stations and other businesses across North America.
The year 2000 was the year of the dreaded Y2K Bug and it was the year for looking back on a century past. The result was "retro look" everything including appliances, furniture and cars. Volkswagen had great success with the introduction of the New Beetle and soon after Chrysler introduced the PT Cruiser (PT is for Personal Transportation). The length of the waiting list may be a measure of the PT's success.

^top

Ensign's Leading Edge Attitude

The 2002 Prowler.
Ensign has a leading edge attitude and was among the first in Western Canada to have Chrysler's new limited edition Prowler on display in their showroom. Ensign Chrysler Ltd. has been serving Victoria and Southern Vancouver Island from the same location at Yates Street and Cook Street in downtown Victoria since 1963.

^top

Ensign Chrysler Today

Ensign Chrysler today at Yates and Cook.
Ensign Chrysler is a Five Star Certified Dealer. The dealership's prominent downtown location has 22 service bays with 10 factory trained service technicians and state of the art diagnostic equipment assuring customers the very best in service and turnaround time. For customer convenience they have two indoor showrooms and a wide selection of new and pre-owned Island vehicles. Ensign has 12 experienced full time sales people and is a parts wholesaler and retailer serving the Lower Island.

^top