Elly goes to France: Part Trois

After landing back in the UK, the truth was that we we still had plenty of miles to cover. We’d clocked up around 300 miles getting to Dover, then another 200 in France itself. We still had another 300 odd miles to go. I couldn’t waste the opportunity of being in the South East, so our drive home would involved a couple of business meetings. The first was with this rather special Jaguar Mk1 for an upcoming feature in Classic Jaguar magazine. A thoroughly fascinating visit, and one which should make for a very interesting feature.

Elly seems somewhat daunted by this race-prepped Jaguar Mk1 – yes those are Lister colours.

Again, we broke up the journey home with an overnight stay in Sussex. I managed to distract my train-obsessed nephew enough for him to help me check over the car (oil level fine, lights all working).

All ok! The thumbs-up of approval.

In truth, all really was pretty much ok. There had been a build up of some sort of substance on the windscreen, either fumes from a leaky head joint or mist from a mild oil leak. Nothing I could do about these things now other than push on home.

I had another quick meeting with another editor in Shoreham, which meant when we finally started heading home, we were dangerously close to the south coast. I say dangerously, because we have previous experience of the horrors of the south coast – we’ve never been to Bournemouth again since experiencing absolute traffic chaos there (in the 2CV) in 2008. Sure enough, the roads were somewhat sticky, this being a bank holiday week. It seemed to take forever to reach a decent, open stretch of road. In fact, the A419 from Swindon to Cirencester was about the first time we managed to settle down to a cruise. Even then, there was still the horror of Air Balloon roundabout, where some old lady in a Honda Jazz was amusingly unfriendly at a traffic merge. The plus side of the 2CV is that I could simply  turn the engine off going downhill, as the brakes, brake lights and steering all work without it being on.

There was the usual frantic blat around Gloucester before the roads became rural once more. We had one stop for tea and cake, getting our foot through the door just before the restaurant closed at this garden centre.

Thanks Trioscape! Just in time for much-needed tea and cake.

Then it was the final push home, which had very little in the way of peril or jeopardy, unless you include my cornering style. I must have been pushing a bit as my unflappable wife actually made comment. Sure enough, the car that had been tailgating me uphill decided to hang back by some distance…

I’m surprised I had the energy for such antics, as hooning a 2CV is hard work. My shoulders and arms were certainly starting to ache, as were my fingers. Clearly, driving cars with power assisted steering has made me rather soft.

Eventually, we did make it home of course. I expressed some satisfaction with that – 900 miles in five days and no breakdowns. Others wondered what the fuss was about, and I guess that’s fair comment. I had no doubts the car would reach its next 3000-mile service interval, so what does it matter if some of those miles were done quite quickly, and in a different country?

But, I guess it was proof that Elly is functioning pretty much correctly again after a major rebuild, and that’s always nice. Sure, there’s a fair snagging list from the trip, but most of these minor gremlins existed before we set off. The kingpins do have a bit of play in them, the rear wheel bearings do seem to be a little noisy, the handbrake really does need adjusting properly (I think I’ve managed to make it worse in fact) and noise really is still an issue! I’m not sure what we can do about wind noise, which is a large part of it – especially when you need the windows open for ventilation!

Nonetheless, I was pleased to have encountered so few issues on so major a trip. Now, when’s the next adventure?

Elly back home again, after 900 miles in five days.


Elly goes to France: Part Deux

The reason for being in France was that some dear friends of ours were getting married. Several other friends brought classic Citroens, and we had our own parking area at the wedding venue. 

Yes, that is a pair of RHD Ami 8 saloons. The groom owns one of them. The gorgeous orange GS estate is a car I did a photoshoot on for Classic Car Weekly eight or nine years ago. It now belongs to Darrin of Citroen Classics, which is where the groom works these days, handling parts. 

Following the wedding service, there was a very enjoyable hoon convoy, which saw the fleet of Citroens take to the streets of Saint-Amand-Les-Eaux, with much bodyroll and horn tooting. Marvellous. 

We certainly created quite a scene, with our British Citroens and 1960s dress code! There were many bowler hats. 

The rest of the day felt like a 2CV camp indoors, with much merriment and silliness. 

The following day, we discovered that there was a classic car meet in the Centre Ville. Excellent! Elly met an elderly relative. 

Trying to pick my favourite car was not easy. I adored this Vespa very much, and the Mustang was not without appeal. 

But this Alpine 310 has wacky wipers, and is oh so French. The Renault Floride behind it was nice too. 

Sadly, no Ami 6 saloons were present, but this Break was very pleasant. 

Finally, this shabby-chic GS estate was absolutely delightful. I would love to own one. 

After returning to the wedding venue for a lunch of leftovers, we began our gentle drive northwards to Dunkerque. I didn’t crack much above 90kmh on the autoroute.  There was no rush, and my passenger may have been a bit fragile… 

We booked into our Ibis Budget hotel, and immediately ran away from the horrid, chemical smell in our room. We left the window open in the hope that the smell might dissipate somewhat. 

An amble along Dunkerque’s long prom was pleasant enough, with an entertaining mix of architectural styles and lots of cafes. We chose one for a spot of dinner and blistered our way through an embarrassing failure of our feeble French… 

However, we did some sightseeing before we ate, with beauties such as this nice Renault 5 ‘supercinq’ not far from Elly. 

We thought that this shambolic C6 might be the most hopeless car we would see, but we were wrong. Check out those gaffer tape repairs though!

That turned out to be a mere starter though. The main course of pure Autoshite was this C15. The tinworm had left holes in the roof! 

Generally though, France was disappointingly bereft of old tat. This is a country where people would only buy a new one once the old one had finally fallen apart completely. Either more modern cars just don’t soldier on regardless, or consumerism has finally taken hold here. It’s a bit disappointing either way. 
But, holiday time is over. We’re now back on the boat, heading back to Kent, where a spell of work awaits. There will be another part to this tale though, as we still need to get back to Wales! 

For now, here’s our last photo in France. 

Elly goes to France

After the success of the recent trip to Birmingham, it was time for a rather larger adventure. France! A 2CVing chum is, today, marrying His French love (a lady, not any of his Citroens) so several of us have driven to the Continent in our 2CVs. 

Our trip began on Thursday, when we drove from Wales to Sussex. Here we are lunching in Crickhowell. 

Earplugs were very necessary, but Elly lapped up the miles with no bother. Motorways can be scary places in a 2CV. The legal limit is your top speed and actually passing people can be annoying if they speed up. Sometimes, they look in the mirror and refuse to let you past. I just assume these people have a need to compensate… 

After a pleasant stop over with Rachel’s family, we headed to Dover. Three miles from the port, a collision up ahead brought everything to a halt. We had a nervous wait while the emergency crews did their thing. 

We were very glad to reach the ferry port in time! 

We were even more glad to find friends that would be on the same boat. Yes, the yellow one is a 4×4. It was on Top Gear a LONG time ago, driven by Kate Humble. 

The crossing itself was undramatic, and some friends in an Ami joined our happy convoy. 

Then we pushed on for Saint-Amand-Les-Eaux. This is a town tucked near the Belgian border, and is suitably French. We even found a Renault 4!

There are two minor problems with Elly. One is that the speedometer bulb has stopped working, which made driving around last night entertaining. The other is that oil seems to be misting on the inside of the windscreen. There must be a mild leak on the offside cylinder. Hopefully not a major one. We need to get back home yet! 

More in the next post. 

Video! VW Caravelle

I’m really trying to clear my backlog of videos. Here’s another! A road test of the Volkswagen Caravelle (née Transporter) T25 (or T3 anywhere else in the world). This wasn’t just a quick test: I ended up covering around 150 miles in this vehicle, and managed to sell it! Here’s what I thought of it.

Change is coming…

It will be of no surprise to anyone to learn that fleet changes are afoot. I have a reputation to maintain!

The obvious candidate for the chop is the Omega I’m afraid. I can’t explain why I find the Honda a much better car – it’s dynamically inferior in at least seven ways – but I do. This is the thing. Attraction doesn’t always make sense. I married a woman who loves vegetables and eating leaves.

The simple truth is that the Omega has failed to grab me. It’s ok. It does a job. Really quite well. But that isn’t enough. The Honda is a muse. I can write about it in one of my magazines. I can’t write about the Omega. It’s still a bit new, a bit bland for classic car titles (though it has appeared in Classic Car Buyer), and it certainly doesn’t fit the bill at sister title Performance Vauxhall either! I got out accelerated by a startled rabbit the other day.

Omegawd Force Ale

So, it’s up for sale, with that sale hopefully raising another £100 for the charity linked to the original owner.

In the meantime, I’m utterly failing to service the Nippa, utterly failing to prepare the 2CV for its upcoming trip to France and not doing a very good job of getting the Honda ready for Japfest – or even just sorting out the leaky tailgate. I think the bonding on the glass has broken down. Really, against this, the Omega stands no chance. It is some way down the pecking order.

Tiny car needs big love. Or at least some new oil and filters.

So, I guess the last thing I should do is go out and buy a ropey old car that needs work. Er, well. I haven’t actually bought anything yet, but let’s just say I have my eye on a few options…

Video: Honda S-MX update

So, I finally managed to get a video together! That’s despite various technical failures and almost zero spare time – thank new magazine Rolls-Royce and Bentley Driver for that. Sure, I recorded it a few weeks ago, but hey, it’s live. Right here! Enjoy. Stick with it. Contains snow.