Wednesday, 20 July 2011
If I am going to buy a car in France then the only one that will do is a Citroën 2CV. They’re cheap, chic and well, not 100 per cent reliable, but I don’t care.
When I was little my mother had a bright green 2CV, which we drove through the Dorset lanes with the wind in our hair and Dory Previn singing Lemon Haired Ladies on the ropey old tape machine. My dad loathed the car because it was noisy and shockingly slow and my mum went off it after the canvas roof came adrift and knocked her half-unconscious as she drove along.
But my sister and I adored it and once my mother got a swankier car she gave it to us. I’d just started training as a reporter on the Mid-Devon Advertiser and when I set off for work at the crack of dawn every Monday morning me and my mum had to push it down the road for a quarter of a mile to get it started. My friends likened the car to “a deckchair on wheels,” but within a few weeks my fellow trainee and spin-doctor-to-be Alastair Campbell bought a Citroën Dyane (the slightly more sophisticated version of the 2CV) in exactly the same colour.
On a good day my top speed was 60mph but on bad days lorries and caravans whizzed past me with ease. I was still so entranced that when it finally gave up the ghost I bought an identical Deux Chevaux in a shade of pale blue Cath Kidston would give her eye-teeth for.
Twenty-five years on I’m still hankering after another 2CV – and my teenagers are egging me on in my quest. Even though 2CVs went out of production in 1990, you can still pick them up for a song in France. Last summer my daughter spotted a beaten-up turquoise 2CV for sale for three hundred euros outside a garage in Dieulefit and campaigned for days to make me buy it. I admit I was half-tempted but luckily someone else snapped it up before I could do something even sillier than usual.
But hmmm, this year I just might...