Katya Knyazeva (avezink) wrote,
Katya Knyazeva

Triangle Motors (1931–1949), the creation of Lazarus Zigalnitsky

Some time ago I posted about auto services and garages in Shanghai. Today I was flipping through an issue of Le journal de Shanghai and came across the caption that confirmed that the Triangle Motors auto dealership and service station was operated by a Russian expatriate Lazarus Zigalnitsky, who sometimes shortened his surname to Zigal:

Image: Le journal de Shanghai, July 1934.

Zigalnitsky claimed 18 years of experience in the industry prior to the opening of the Triangle Motors in 1931. His name first hit the newspaper pages in 1921, when he charged with reckless driving and smashing into a tram! Zigalnitsky worked at Hartzenbusch Motor Co. dealership on Avenue Foch, whose image graces the top of this page.

In June 1931, the Triangle Motors opened with much fanfare:

Map from 1939: Virtual Shanghai.

The stylish auto salon with its distinct stepped facade opened in May 1931 at 99 Route Cardinal Mercier, north of Rue Bourgeat, next to the recently built Lyceum Theatre. I've seen the store described as a "white house with a pitched roof" in a Russian-language memoir. Unfortunately, I've not found any information on the architects or the interior decorators yet.

[Continue reading...]
The triangle of principles – "Sales, service, satisfaction" – formed the motto of the Triangle Motors 合众汽车公司 (合衆汽車公司). The company was an agent for Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Opel, Oakland and Blitz. On the photo below, the driveway leading in is on the left; the one leading out is on the right (all the following images, taken in 1931, are from Virtual Shanghai):

Upon driving in, you find yourself in this garage and service station, with cleverly designed skylights. The total square area of the building was 8,800 square meters:

The showroom was located in the front, between the driveways. As it turns out, the interior was not only angular, but also brightly colored: "Triangle Motors are to be congratulated on the distinctive manner in which they have completed the interior decoration and furnishing of the new showrooms. Comfortable armchairs and brightly designed basket work tables are placed in convenient positions, and the great show window, of exceptional size 30 feet in height and 35 feet long, provides excellent lighting facilities, setting off the models displayed on the floor. The cheerful aspect of the Triangle Motors is enhanced by a multitude of flowering roses and shrubs planted in large brightly hued porcelain pots." (The China Press, June 1931)

The machine shop was in the back of the building:

In December 1931, the Triangle Motors salesman Nick Y. Yappo became the first motorist in Shanghai to install a radio in his car, which prompted The China Press staff reporter Jack Darcy to pen this verse:

No-one in sight for almost eighty mow,
A lof of bread, a jug of wine and thou
Beside me, listening to the radio –
Ah, Hungjao Road were paradise enow.

In March 1932 Triangle Motors opened another sales room and garage at 310 Bubbling Well Road, opposite the Race Club, but that branch closed soon. Instead, the company opened a service station on the motorway leading to Hangzhou.

"Go-Getters at Triangle Motors." Image: The China Press, April 1934.

Triangle Motors was still operational as late as 1947, but I have no doubt that Lazarus E. Zigal, his wife and their daughter Eleonora safely pulled out of China before 1949. In their absence, the building continued to serve as a garage and an auto repair shop until it was torn down in the late 1990s to make room for a high-rise compound.

Tags: 1930s, 1931, auto industry, mercier, route cardinal mercier, rue bourgeat, russians, shanghai, 茂名南路, 长乐路

Posts from This Journal “auto industry” Tag

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