I like to think it was organised as a farewell party just for me. As I finish my last week of work in France and slowly finish packing my things for my big move to China, I am thankful that I got one last (actually it was a first as well!) auto show in... and believe it or not, it was in my tiny village of Abbécourt!
It was a few weekends ago; just after breakfast on the Sunday morning I heard the distinct sound of old cars sputtering up the street. I live on a very tiny street with no through traffic, and hearing old car after old car make its way up the street really caught my attention. I ran to the window just in time to see the last of the old relics head up out of view. Assuming they were gone, I got on with my morning.
A short time later my visitor (a Canadian friend who was visiting) and I headed out. On a whim I drove up the street to in front of the Mairie (the town hall), and lo and behold, the cars had all stopped for a mini show and shine! I was in heaven! We jumped out of the car and joined the handful of people looking over the hardware. As an anecdote, the owners heard us speaking English, and when they tried their best to talk to me about their old cars in broken English I didn't have the heart to tell them I spoke French, so I played along! It's amazing how you can make yourself understood when you're passionate about something...
In total there were 10 cars: certainly not an international auto show, but still worth a peek for a couple of old car fans. There was a customized yellow Beetle, and a tidy Renault 4L, and a nifty Renault Rodéo 4x4 buggy. There was also a very clean and original Simca 1300 sedan in green with a tasteful black vinyl roof. On the more eccentric side there was a Mega Convertible, which the owner told me was a plastic-bodied, partly take-apart-able beach bomber based on a Citroen Ax platform. I had never seen one before, and probably won't again!
The three most interesting cars were also amongst the oldest. First there was the Panhard CD coupé. This long, wide and low sports car had a Jaguar feel to it, but with some touches all its own. To be sure I wouldn't call it downright beautiful, but it certainly had a charm to it! The protruding front bumper and oddly square headlights (relative to the curves of the body) spoiled the look bit, but when viewed the rear the Panhard was every bit a sleek road machine. Built from 1963 to 1966, only 159 copies were built, making it one truly rare car!
Another beauty was a big black Panhard-Levasseur 6CS. This massive closed-carriage, produced from 1930 until the end of the decade, represented the peak of production and success for Panhard, which wouldn't last past the 1960s as an automotive manufacturer. This lovely 6-cylinder coach remains as a pristine example of one of the most storied French luxury brands.
And the best for last! My absolute favourite of the little mobile troupe was a cute little Simca 5 from 1937. The curvaceous blue and black coupé had just the right lines. The long sloping hood and massive fenders, grille and headlights made the small car look bigger than it was. The two doors opened suicide-style, allowing easy access into the cramped cabin. Car fans will know that this car was perhaps better known as the Fiat 500 Topolino, but it also had a succesful career under the Simca name, the French outlet for Fiat back in the day.
The front-opening hood, inboard radiator at the firewall, brake light with 'Stop' script, manually operated side marker lights, and rear deck spare tire cover were all interesting and unique features that caught my attention on this beautiful little car.
Quite the nice send-off if you ask me! I'm very excited about my opportunity in China, and am sure that I will find a whole new bunch of cars to drool over (and blog about), but I am already feeling nostalgic about all the fantastic automotive adventures I've had in France. Luckily I have a folder full of photos that I will pull out from time to time to remind me of all there is to see here!