Capetonians will be quite familiar with the famous Shell Garage landmark, called Vic Procter Motors situated underneath what was known as Geldenhuys Mansions, but is now called Bay Point.
Located at Three Anchor Bay, between Sea Point and the V&A Waterfront, it has been operating as a Shell Fuel Station since the 50s, when the petroleum company bought the ground floor of the building that was zoned for retail.
With its location along the famous Sea Point coastline, it withstood the test of time and it has the unique distinction of being flooded by the sea on three occasions during storms in 2001, 2017 and in June this year.
Also remarkable is the Art Deco building has remained unchanged. In an era that saw old buildings being knocked down and new skyscrapers changing the landscape, this building seems to have escaped virtually unscathed.
And of course, the building has had the name “Vic Proctor Motors” on it since 1953 with the business remaining in the hands of the Proctor family for nearly seven decades. Unfortunately, the era of Procter ownership will come to an end soon when new owners will take over.
“My grandfather, Vic Procter, started the business way back in 1953. He was a famous Springbok racing driver and was passionate about cars and motorcycles. There was never a vehicle dealership at the premises, but he had a workshop at the back which was operational until he passed away,” says Craig Procter, one of the current owners and manager.
“My grandfather could not afford to buy the complete building for back then for its hefty price tag of 16 000 Pounds, so he rented the ground floor and the filling station and the family later added a convenience store and a coffee shop in store.”
Craig says his grandfather attempted to set a new World Land Speed Record on a motorcycle in 1950 at Kaalpan in the Northern Cape, close to Verneukpan where a new World Land Speed Record attempt will be held in near future.
“The record attempt was done on a bike. For the record to be recognised, it had to be done in both directions within an hour. His first run went well, he just managed to beat the record but on the second one in the opposite direction, he came off his bike at 173 miles per hour or 278 km/h. Fortunately he survived and was fine,” says Craig.
Craig says his father and father’s sister took over from his grandfather in 1984 and he and his cousin joined the business some 20 odd years ago. His cousin immigrated to Portugal earlier this year and although his dad is still alive, Craig runs the business today.
Asked about the reason why the layout at Vic Procter Motors never changed while everything else around them transformed, Craig says the layout for the filling station and the underground fuel tanks are probably the reason why it has stayed the same.
“There is not really room for expansion. We are on a busy corner on the famous Sea Point coastline road. We have three pumps and six pumping positions if you use both sides and that’s about it.”
Craig says he should have kept a diary of all the strange things that he has seen in his many years on this busy corner and he suggested just that to the new owners. “I would have been able to write an best-selling book on everything that happened here over many decades.
“One incident that springs to mind happened a couple of years ago on Christmas eve. A man was too drunk to drive his vehicle and asked his girlfriend to take the wheel. She did not have a driver’s licence and could not really handle a vehicle.
“She drove over one of the pumps, demolishing it and leaving an opening leading to the underground tank. The Fire Department had to come and seal the area around the pump until we could have it fixed two days later,” says Craig.
As the most awarded Volvo dealership in South Africa, TCM is the current South African Volvo Car Dealer of The Year as well as Service Dealer of the Year. Their secret? Making sure their focus is on their people.
Mitsubishi Motors has expanded its footprint in Africa with the opening of a new dealership in the capital of Botswana.
Creating a strong customer base in your ‘own backyard’ so to speak, remains the best possible path to survival.