Citroens circling North Island in raid
Next month 20 little French cars will raid the North Island — and they’ll be coming through Stratford.
The cars are Citroen 2CVs and David Gerrie and two friends have organised the driving trip with other enthusiasts to coincide with the first public release of the car 70 years ago.
Of the 20 cars making the trip, which starts on October 5 and ends on October 9, one of them was made in 1956 and a couple of others are from the 70s.
The 2CV fans refer to it as a raid because of its use as a French term for a motoring tour.
David says the car was made to help motorise the large number of farmers still using horses and carts in 1930s France.
“It’s a very comfortable and easy car to drive. It’s basic. Not much can go wrong with it.
“The features of the car — how did they advertise it? They used to say it had central locking [because] you can reach all the doors from the driver’s seat.
“Four perfectly round wheels — one on each corner. It’s air cooled — there’s no radiator and no worries about running out of radiator water.”
The raiders will kick things off with a dinner at the Grand Hotel on the night of October 5.
The group then leave Whanganui the next day at 9.30am and head towards Stratford. David says the group plan to stop at Taranaki Pioneer Village for lunch around 1pm, before driving on to Waitara for an overnight stop. They then travel to Tokaanu where they will celebrate the make’s 70th birthday.
The following day they head south to Raetihi and then a little farther south turning east to travel the Whangaehu River road then the Turakina river road to Papanui Junction School.
The group then heads east to Mangaweka for their penultimate stop. On their final day of driving the little Citroens wil travel Peep O’Day Rd down to Hunterville, then across to Whanganui. They will mostly take back roads — something David says the cars were especially made for.
“It was designed for the peasantry of France over roads that were really horse and cart roads.
“It’s got a very high clearance. It’s got an extremely long suspension movement. The jack to jack it up is nearly a metre long. It’s perfect for the back roads, the bumpy roads, the rutted roads — it can go anywhere that a four-wheeled drive would go except of course up slippery, steep slopes. In terms of clearance and bumps . . . it’s pretty good.”
David says while they didn’t have a formal club — there is a great 2CV community.
“It leads to lots of friends. It’s not just the car I suppose — it’s the people that sort of hold it together. The 2CV owners, we don’t actually have a club, we just know each other and keep in touch.”
A 2CV in the Rangitikei area last year on the rally