All things old China - books, anecdotes, stories, podcasts, factoids & ramblings from the author Paul French

Bills Motors Shanghai

Posted: April 19th, 2016 | 2 Comments »

Remarking yesterday on the foiled 1935 kidnapping of K.A.L. Suez in Shanghai, I noted that he was employed by Bills Motors, a Ford, Lincoln-Zephyr and Mercury dealership in the city who also dealt in Fiat trucks. So perhaps a little more…they were headquartered at 615 Avenue Foch (now Yanan Road) but with a branch in Frenchtown too. they were pretty swank with nice showrooms and fancy offices. As I’m away from Shanghai perhaps some flaneuring Shanghailander type can track the building down from the below and see if it still stands. The picture at bottom is after the war when the place appears to be shuttered and closed. The company was run by Freddie P. Bills. Bills, I think, returned to the USA during World War Two and shortly after the liberation of the city the company was looked after by a certain George Bourne. I believe Bourne was ex US Navy and treasurer of the American Legion in Shanghai but had been secretary and treasurer of the firm before the war. Bourne was married to Maurine and they lived in the French Concession where their kids attended the American School. Bourne’s wife and children left Shanghai for Berkeley in 1941.

The Bills Motors staff were an interesting bunch apart from Bills, Bourne and Suez, C. R. Shekury ran XU8CR, a ham radio station that allowed people to keep in touch in Shanghai. Shekury was praised for keeping the station up and running allowing people to get messages to loved ones and relatives in Shanghai after the Japanese invasion. Charitable chaps too, they made a regular donation to the Red Cross in Shanghai. Chester V. Manney was also a veteran executive of the firm, who had worked for Shanghai’s Hudford Motors in the 1920s, and an active mason in Shanghai. Manney married Mary A. Selezneff of Manila on New Year’s Eve 1929 and also worked in Hong Kong for Dodge & Seymour, a New York firm that sold cars and trucks all over Asia.



2 Comments on “Bills Motors Shanghai”

  1. 1 Elizabeth Bills said at 11:42 am on August 2nd, 2020:

    I came across your blog while searching for pictures relating to my family history. I am one of Frederick P. Bills 17 grandchildren. If you would like to fill in more details about him, I would be happy to help. I didn’t realize that there is still a car dealership on that site. I assumed it had all disappeared. I know that my grandparents lived at 464 Rue La Fayette in Shanghai.
    — Elizabeth Bills

  2. 2 Rain said at 10:58 am on September 26th, 2020:

    Hi Elizabeth, yes there is still a car dealership on this site for now. But can’t find 464 Rue La Fayette (now Fuxing Zhong Road)

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