mortagne ‘65 Jam­ming in style

Classic Cars (UK) - - Month In Cars -

Only the French would com­mem­o­rate a traf­fic jam. Bastille Day had the steep, nar­row main street of Mortagne-sur-sèvre, once the RN160 from Paris to the Atlantic Coast, crowded with slow-mov­ing post-war ve­hi­cles.

They were re-en­act­ing the huge holiday sea­son bou­chons of the Fifties, Six­ties and Seven­ties as a piece of street the­atre – staged break­downs; driv­ers beg­ging wa­ter for over­heated en­gines; oth­ers stand­ing through sun­roofs ar­gu­ing pri­or­ity at pinch points; cars aban­doned on pave­ments.

tri­umph tr2

Mortagne ‘65’s traf­fic saw this rare ‘short-door’ TR2 run for the first time in 45 years.

Said re­storer Eric Clenet, ‘We’d known of the car for years. It was im­ported new into France in 1955 and its last owner bought it in 1958. He pre­pared it for ral­ly­ing and ran it un­til 1972 when it suf­fered a bro­ken drive­shaft and was laid up un­der a tar­pau­lin in his gar­den in Nantes. He wouldn’t part with it un­til last year when he gave it to us, con­di­tional on us restor­ing it.’

Co-re­storer Pierre Grois­ard con­tin­ued, ‘Our ob­jec­tive was to have the TR2 run­ning at Mortagne ‘65. De­spite not hav­ing turned for nearly half a cen­tury, the engine hadn’t seized. It was soon run­ning.’

simca 5 dé­cou­vrable

This 1938 Simca was a holiday pur­chase, and is run­ning for the first time af­ter a ten-year restora­tion.

‘I’m pas­sion­ate about Simca 5s – I have three of them, and bought this in Puy-l’evêque in 2001,’ said owner Chris­tian Fon­te­neau. ‘I was on holiday and dis­cov­ered it by chance in a col­lec­tion of 30 old cars. Its engine was dis­man­tled and in a box – but not seized. It was ba­si­cally sound and a good project. I bought a sec­ond Simca 5 as a donor.

‘The restora­tion was nearly all con­sum­ing I did ev­ery­thing my­self. It took ten years and many thou­sands of hours, but I’m pretty sat­is­fied with the re­sult.’

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