|Not long married, and in
the early 80's whilst battling our way home from work in the
Birmingham rush hour, sitting comfortably in my
Renault 30 2.7v6 and following one of those funny French "upside
down pram" jobbies - the ones with the bicycle wheels - my
life was about to be shattered! A voice beside me
blurts out...... "we could sell this car, pocket the cash,
buy a new 2CV, borrow the money, and with what we would save on fuel
and insurance still be better off each month. WHAT!, I cant remember
what she wanted to spend "the cash" on, but surely nothing
was worth that sacrifice.
Somehow, and I cant remember
how, we both ended up in a Citroen dealership. I found
myself pawing all over a 2CV Charleston, and within minutes
ridicule was turning into sheer fascination. This little car
was about to turn everything I new about cars....... upside
down! Now I was seeing the "pram" the "right way up", it all
started making a lot of sense - and more like the work of
true artist than a product from Mothercare.
So, it was
ordered, a two tone grey Charleston, B60 AON - better known
as Charlie, (I hadn't quite got the hang of being original
at that point), arrived on 1st August 1984 and the love
affair started in earnest. I will never forget "the
first time", but unlike most new experiences it never became
boring just because it became routine. So many memories, so
many laughs. This was something else altogether, and I was
loving every moment of it.
Most, but NOT all good things
come to an end, so I traded the wife in for a newer model in
1987 - A Bamboo, "Hugo", E678 UGO. Yes, Charlie had
become my wife after the Homo Sapien version had decided a
guy at work had more to offer than I did - still
don't know what it was, but I had my new
mistress (the name was just to confuse people - I'm
about as gay as I am black, not that I object to
either, you understand) - and didn't care!
and I had some great times together, but less than 12 months
later I did the dirty on her - and dumped her for "Ava" -
E940 AVO, a maroon and black Charleston. Ava featured the
"hatchback" option enabling her to better look after our new
arrival Ben. Ben was a St. Bernard puppy, and Ava's back
seat lived in the garage!
I didn't feel too bad about Hugo
though, I sold her at less than 12 months old, but shortly
afterwards saw her driving around in a nice shiny black
paint job. I reckoned that anyone who resprayed a nearly new
car was probably going to have done a good job and intending
looking after her!
The three of us, Ava, Ben and I,
were all getting on great, but I was in my late 20's by now
and things were progressing at work. this was a double edged
sword, because I was rewarded with............ a brand
new Volvo Estate in August 1989 (G110 CUY - don't think it
had a name, cant think why). Four times the price of a new
2CV, but it still felt like losing your best friend.
Never mind, things move on - the divorce had left me tight
for cash and I couldn't justify running Ava as a second car
and pay the dreaded taxes on the company car.
Not to worry
I think, in a couple of years time I can take on
a mistress again. Instead I found a Wife, Lynn,
and Citroen stopped producing the 2CV. Lynn
was neither French nor particularly keen on
taking Ben out in the countryside, but we got
married in '92 and found a new passion - travel.
The States, the Caribbean, India, Sri Lanka,
Nepal, Burma, Thailand, Kenya, South Africa,
Tanzania, Hong Kong, China, Peru, Bolivia,
Vietnam the list goes on - not to mention the
honeymoon in ICELAND!
Ever felt you were being followed?
Well I think that in all but two of these countries we saw
at least one 2CV, and every sighting brought back the
In the last throws of 90's Lynn and I gave up
our jobs and set up our own business - a big step after just
moving house and taking on a large mortgage, but things have
been reasonably kind to us and we have both changed our cars
regularly. We now have three "new" cars between us, a BMW
730d, a Nissan 350z Roadster and a 4x4 with a big engine
that does about 17mpg and I shouldn't really admit to (but
it only done 2000 miles a year guv, honest).
none of these cars has ever come close to
replacing my 2CV's. By now (2005) I was
starting to look at Ebay now and again, hoping I
might see a decent 2CV - and knowing that if I
did, Lynn would not be too keen on
the idea - but then, I had converted her to Bob
Dylan, real Cider and a few other things I
should keep secret, so may be, just may be, I
had a chance.
In November 2005 we took over a business in
Lancaster, and I was due to visit the following day from our
base in Worcestershire. I stole just a few minutes that
evening on Ebay, searched for 2CV's, and took a casual look
down the listings and what do I see?................
Ava! Ava!! Ava!!!
- E940 AVO........ no it cant be it is! it
is!! it is!!! ......
And in PRESTON - not far from Lancaster!
good but the auction was very close to the end and I know
NOTHING about the costs and practicalities of bring her back
to her former glory. Never mind, I WAS going to see
her - and Lynn was coming with me! As we approached
the address the butterflies started, all quite
surreal, how can a car do this? But then, all who have
owned 2CV's know that they are real - yes they live, love,
and cry when you leave them. Would she forgive me. Time
heals after all, doesn't it - and it is 16 years. It was
like going back to see an old lover, with the wife in tow
and keen to know what could hold such a tie on my
Ava was great, well, OK, not quite
so great. What do I do, no time to find out if I can give
her the love and attention she needs. In the end I
didn't do anything - and spent months regretting it. Not
only could I have had a 2CV, but I could have had my Ava
What a missed chance, and I really was kicking
myself - I should have bought her and if the practicalities
of a rebuild were out of the question, I could always have
sold her again, and evens chance of getting same sort of
money back. Why hadn't I though of that instead of simply
"all or nothing", fool, fool!!.
I gave up looking on Ebay
for a 2CV. For months it was just ink cartridges and other
boring essentials. Then one evening in May 2006, again
before a scheduled trip up to Lancaster, and with nothing
better to do I decide to try again. It wouldn't be like getting
my Ava back - but I couldn't live without a 2CV any longer!
I dare not hope to find Charlie or Hugo, or Ava up for sale
again - but why let that stop me re-living the dream.
of the list was a Red Special - with a registration number
just a handful away form Hugo's - not E678 UGO but E6?? UGO
- cant remember the exact number but just a SMALL difference
in the number. I read the listing time and time again - it
looked a decent motor, and it was the nearest I would get to
my Hugo - a car supplied by same dealer, on the same day,
with registration numbers just a handful apart.
I was tempted to bid, but think, there is
plenty of time, lets see what else there is and watch the
bids - and return to the main listings. There were
several other 2CV's newly listed, and a nice shiny black one
located in Stoke looked interesting, so I read the full
Interesting! - under statement of the century - Hugo! Hugo!! Hugo!!!
Life cant get this good - can it? Two of my old 2CV's
on Ebay within months of each other, both the better part of
20 years and and 16 years after parting!
Do you think I
was going to make the same mistake again, no chance!!
OK. OK, OK, what do I do. Plenty of time left on the auction
- so first things first, go and see her. Left
Lancaster a little earlier than usual next day and called in
to see her. looked pretty good - some untidy welding
and a bit tatty round the edges, but looking better than Ava
- probably because of the extra coats of paint!.
Replacement galvanised chassis and an new MOT.
Now, got to
get this right - where are the specialists, who can I talk
to? A quick Google search found The 2CV Shop in Somerset.
This is getting exciting now, I have the bit between my
teeth and I am going to pull those two horses back to where
they belong!. Got chatting to Darren at The 2CV Shop and
went straight down to see him Darren told me how much
he though that the car was worth, but was well aware that
there was an element of "value added" to me! This is
all getting very real...... I have to have her! I HAVE
to have her!
Darren gave me the low down on prices for a
complete rebuild, and I was going to accept nothing less. I
knew where I stood - except there were no guarantees of
winning the auction without bidding silly money, it's sure
going to be a nail biting finish to the auction!
How do I
play this? bid silly money now and risk others pushing
me up more than necessary because they are tempted to bid
again when outbid - or leave it to the last few seconds and
then bid a little more than I expect it to go for and hope!
Second option seems better, I reckon I can play this one
right - as long as my broadband connection holds up!
Darren had suggested top price is £1200, the bidding was at
£900 with seconds to go but I had to assume someone else was
doing the same as me - so with less than 10 seconds to go I
bid £1471, thinking (HOPING!) no one else is going to put in
a figure almost £500 above the current price with seconds to
go! the gamble pays off - I win at just over the £1200
mark, and Hugo is coming home for some well deserved
I am not going to go on and on about the work
that Frome have done, just look at her picture! She is
more beautiful than she ever was, and you know, she is with
me for life.
I cant say that I had no niggling worries whilst the
rebuild was underway, had I forgotten the bad bits and
were all my great memories artificially inflated. What
was it really going to be like to drive a 2CV again?
Of course, the first few hundred yards put these worries
well and truly to bed.
Hugo now has a friend, well
more of a much loved Granny really, in the name Flusie - FSL
952, a 1960 425cc Ripple Bonnet. Not many men go out with a
girl and her granny, but I don't think any one objects, and
you know what, I don't care if they do!