Saturday, February 09, 2008

2CV at RetroMobile

I like cars. I like looking at cool cars. I like driving cars. I love purring along the winding routes départementales in France, shifting gears and accelerating into the curves, seeing the countryside roll by. Cars? Super! Just don't ever, ever ask me to look under the hood. I don't even want to peek. Don't even think of talking pistons and carburetors with me; I'll fall asleep in my soup. Call me a sissy female, call me ignorant or whatever you want, I just don't want to know how the damn motor works, capische? Some things are better left a mystery; it adds to the romance. If you want to compare miles per gallon, or kilometers per liter, fine. I can handle that discussion for a few seconds. RPMs? On the border. Spark plugs? Ix-nay.

Still, I like cars.

That's why I went to the salon Retromobile, which opened its doors yesterday morning for a nine-day extravaganza. I know that the theme is supposedly La femme et l'auto but well, you know. Engines and all.

Anyway, in order to compensate for all those frilly fashion and lingerie posts I've written this year, this one is dedicated to cars. Mostly to the Citroen 2CV at the RetroMobile.

Needless to say, when it comes to cool antique French cars, my affaire de coeur is the 2CV. How do I love thee? Let me show the ways.

Denis Huille, the "Responsable du Patrimoine" at Citroen, helped me understand a bit about 2CV history. There was some reason for the nun in this photo. I forget what he said, but I love the wimple and sneakers.

I love La Deuche because she's older than I am! This 1950 model shows the early 2CV which had canvas all the way down her back.

Not exactly a grease-monkey's show, this is high-brow vintage car gawking at its best.

There were Deux Chevaux of all sorts on hand. I had to include one interior shot of the gear shift.

Retromobile also has lots of vintage car parts. Turn signals and gas caps.

Antique speedometers. I'm particularly fond of the one that goes counter-clockwise.

All sorts of antique-car paraphernalia, from magazines to models to neon signs.

If you're going to drive an antique car, might as well do it in style. There are several booths selling driving apparel. Apparently tweed and elbow-patches are de rigueur.

I strayed for a moment from my Deux-Chevaux devotion to be smitten with this Austin Mini wagon. Be still my heart!

There was a lot of interest in the 60th anniversary celebration of La Deuche, to be held in Paris at La Villette from April to November..

To commemorate the 60th birthday of this legend, I am collecting everyone's tales of their rides in a 2CV. For more info or to submit your stories, contact me at pollyvousfrancais at yahoo dot com.


Autolycus said...

I have no great story of riding in a 2CV, except that in 1965 I had an extended stay in France, which included staying with a family that had both a 2CV and a DS. To go from the experience of being asked to operate the windscreen wipers manually (with a little handle on the inside) to finding oneself slowly elevated to grandeur as the DS's suspension set itself in motion.....

I felt rather as though I was Fernandel turning into Le Grand Charles himself.

Later, when I learnt to drive, my first car was a Renault 4. Perhaps I shouldn't mention it in this context, but it was aimed at the same market and shared the same quirky sort of practicality (I loved its relatively long wheelbase, since I could put a sculling-boat on the roof) - chiefly, it had that strange sort of umbrella-handle gear-shift, for which the movements were the exact reverse of what you would normally expect. I rather thought the 2CV had the same sort of thing - a rod that ran through the dashboard and over the top of the engine, and down through a connecting rod to the gearbox - in front of the engine.

Now, about the Vélo-Solex.....

blueVicar said...

You do get around, chérie! Live TV, car shows, burned, oh my. I love to go around Paris with you. I see things with you that I would never see on my own. And your stories always give me a good giggle.

Meilleurs voeux!!

Polly-Vous Francais said...

Aren't the DS soo cool? True goddesses. I drove one for a month and flipped the first time it sank down at a stop light. (No one warned me). I don't think there were any DS at RetroMobile; maybe I'll go back to check.

Was your first car a Renault 4L (shh -- my other secret favorite car)?

There is something so endearing about these classics.

Chere BV,

I'm glad you like to travel virtually 'round Paree with me -- next time you're in France, maybe we'll have a chance to take a spin around the City together! And honestly, I spend most of my day cocooning in my apt in a bulky sweater, long calecon, and thick socks, a slave to my computer.

Geoff Wulff said...

I can think of two reasons why the nun was next to the 2cv.

The first is that in days gone by, priests or nuns were often to be seen in these inexpensive cars, only last year, a party of friends and myself

[all baby boomers!]

were having a convivial drink and watching the passing show outside a cafe in Bellac near Limoge & who had their 3 2cvs parked on the pavement were amazed to see a white 2cv zip past with no less than FOUR nuns inside!

The second and I guess, spawned by the first were the Sister Clothilde
does it again series of mad antics by a nun[plus some doubles] as she creates mayhem driving through the French country roads...see them on youtube

cheers, and this is getting to be a habit!


anna said...

If we left a story in your comments box a few days ago - do we have to resubmit it?

Polly-Vous Francais said...

Anna-- no need to re-submit, and thanks for the story!

Geoff -- Thanks for the story and I'll definitely check out the escapades of Sister Clothilde. I am a nun-0-maniac!

Panic in New York said...

Polly, I went to the RetroMoblie show today and really enjoyed it. Thanks for the tip.

maitresse said...

I don't have a story, but I'd love to know where to buy one-- my boyfriend wants one so badly! he has so much emotionally invested in this car!

Polly-Vous Francais said...

So glad you enjoyed RetroMobile. I may go back, because when I was there a bunch of the booths weren't open yet.


There is a 2CV magazine which might list 2CVs for sale, but it's mostly for 2CV buffs. Often the local newspapers in other departements have petites annonces. When I was in the Dordogne this summer I drove pas a garage that had about 4 in the parking lot, in various states of disrepair (or in pieces!) all for sale. Waah, I had to keep driving, and didn't even take down the name of the place.

Geoff Wulff said...

Hi Polly

There are about three "cv mags in france, available from any newsagent, Planet 2cv is one of them, look amongst the matoring titles, anybody serious about buying a 2cv really needs to join a local 2cv club...if in France they are all over the country, and preferably ask a friendly expert to come with you if you see one for sale that you have set your heart on.

Of the later models you can go for a single colour Speciale red white & blue are your options.

Then there are the Dollies, white body and red or green wings were the last made but there are some earier ones such as a blue berry and custard or plums 'n custard

top of the range were the three Charleston types Delage red body & black wings yellow body and black wings or dark grey wings with light grey bodies all with Art Deco swirls on the side panels...

then a whole raft of special editions...the rare Spot the Cocorico and the France 3 Beachcomer are all charming cars!

Best of luck


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