A drive back in time

A friend had been promising me for years to take me out in his old cars, and finally, in the summer, we both managed to have a free day at the same time.

Camille is over 70 years old, still in rude health and spends his retirement helping on various committees in his village and restoring anything mechanical.

He has many different things in his treasure trove (he says its a garage but I know different) and I’d been wanting a good rummage round for ages.

The day dawned bright and sunny and I was a happy man. On arrival he’d already pulled a couple of the cars out. He has 2CV’s everywhere, one from every decade of their production. The first trip out was in a 1950’s (I think) model. It was fantastic, sat in a car older than me pootling around the French countryside.

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Then, on passing a field, he exclaimed “Ah yes, I need to talk to Pierre” so we turned left. Into the field.

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I couldn’t stop laughing as we bounced around the field heading up to the combine you can see at the top of the picture, whereas Camille couldn’t understand my giggles.

We went out in a Trabby, the ubiquitous piece of German engineering. The story of his ownership is very unusual. Remember this is France and Camille is over 70. His best friend in the village is a German man, married to a French woman, a vestige of WW2. Although the man left France in 1944, he came back as soon as the war was finished and married his sweetheart. Around 20 years ago, the man was contacted by his family (who’d ostracised him as soon as he left Germany) and said that he’d been left a Trabant in a will. He asked Camille if he wanted it, and the two of them took a flight to Germany and then drove it back, where Camille then stripped it down and rebuilt it.

But this was the one that I was waiting for:

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A 1939 Renault Novaquatre.

A stunning piece of motoring history, totally stripped down and rebuilt. As we walked round it and I admired its beauty, Camille was showing me all the defects and the faulty bits that needed replaced or refettling. I could only see a thing of wonder, but ever the perfectionist, Camille wasn’t happy.

I opened the door:

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None of this forwards opening rubbish, and got in. It started on the first turn of the key, and the engine, although noisy, wasn’t uncomfortably so. He moved off, selecting one of only three forward gears, and a half hour drive around the narrow lanes ensued. He laughed as I looked round for my seatbelt (Haha, none of that rubbish here my English friend) and we moved away. The dashboard of the day is a little different than todays computer equipped cars.

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Almost without fail as a car came past the other way, everyone looked, and a hand was raised, acknowledging this beautiful piece of French history. We pulled back into his drive, and I got out of the car like a child on Christmas morning after the presents had been opened.

Just the most wonderful day.

 

 

 

 

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About bobleponge216

Elderly rotund toothless male seeks wilderness to travel to.
This entry was posted in Living In France and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to A drive back in time

  1. Sounds like a lot of fun. The oldest car I can recall going out in was a 1947 (I think) Ford V8 Pilot. My father’s first car was a 1953 Austin A40 Devon, and my driving instructor’s car was a split-windscreen Morris Minor of 1958 vintage. They don’t make them like that any more – thank goodness!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nikki says:

    I can understand your delight in that day! Was that gorgeous burled-wood dashboard original, although obviously lovingly restored, on this Renault?
    I would have loved to have had touches like that on my Spitfire, but alas, it was not to be as I didn’t own my little wonder until 1976.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was a wonderful day, spent in the company of a total car fanatic.
      The walnut dash is original, the finish (in my eyes) was perfect but Camille told me he’s going to have it out and do it again as he’s not happy with it.
      Which Spitty do/did you have? I had a mark 2 and a mark 3 at different times, fun little cars.

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  3. Nikki says:

    In going back to file articles, I found that I hadn’t responded to this one… sorry!
    I recall my owner’s manual only saying Triumph Spitfire, no “marks” mentioned. 😉 Here in the Northwest, I only recall seeing Spitfires and TR6s, although not too many 6s survived… too much power for chassis weight. But I digress. I drove my Spitfire for twenty years (’76-’96) and the hardest thing I’ve ever done, aside from burying my husband, was selling it… even though he had plans to restore it. That car could turn on a dime and give you back nine cents change, not to mention accelerate on hills without downshifting… all on four cylinders. Lord, I loved that car! Thanks for giving me a chance to reminisce.

    Liked by 1 person

    • No apologies necessary at all, I’m glad the post gave you some happy (if not bittersweet perhaps) memories. From memory, the majority of Spittys that went across the Atlantic were the Mark 4/1500’s, a fun car, a great drive and capable of good speeds both up and down hill, and all with the roof down. I had a TR6 as well, back in the day, great fun too.

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  4. Nikki says:

    You’re right… Mark 4/1500… that was it. For the winter, living in the rain-drenched NW, I had a hardtop as well as my ragtop… that way I only had to replace the ragtop once during those 20 years. Great memories… thanks again.

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