by George Dyke…..
ICCCR was a surreal experience among a world of Citroën fanatics who literally came out of the woodwork to make this a delight for those 6,500 of us fortunate enough to attend. This trip was in the making for myself and Marijke for over 2 years! Other than the 12th ICCCR in Amherst MA in 2001, we had never partaken in the deluge of Citroëns that descend on a chosen location for this major Citroën event that occurs once every 4 years.
A few in the Toronto chapter of Citroën Autoclub Canada said this would be the event to attend, and so began the planning for our group. Jeff Teerlinck’s parents and his brother Bjorn live in Belgium. Jeff’s mom, Denise, loves to organize. She took the initiative to be super pro-active and not only booked us all in for the event, but got us hotel accommodation as close to the show as possible, which ended up being right next door.
This year the location was the Netherlands. More specifically on grounds of the Middachten castle in the village De Steeg located in the province of Gelderland. Because classic Citroëns are loved and many well preserved in that country, the turnout was exceptional. What stuck me though, particularly from a perspective of nearby hotel accommodation, was how many people made it a camping holiday. There were five huge fields of campsites where virtually every type of Citroën languished beside a tent (and in a few cases, – trailers). There were even over 200 H Vans with many making them their habitat for the event.
Jeff’s parents own a Traction Avant, one they installed a 4 speed ID gearbox into after we went to the 80th Anniversary of the Traction Avant at La Ferté-Vidame France back in 2014.
Marijke and I drove with them in their Traction. Quite the experience driving on the express highway from Bruge. We cruised at 110 km/h and were turning over the engine at just 2,000 rpm. Very relaxed and super fuel economy. Bjorn owns two Citroëns; a 1989 2CV and a lovely unrestored 1942 U23 Truck, the very one that was used in the Dutch movie The Black Book. And it is drive-able, though not practically for the distance we needed go to ICCCR from Bruges. So Bjorn bought a trailer and towed the U23 behind his Toyota pick-up with his 9 year old son Lawrence along for the ride.
Meanwhile Jeff and his girlfriend Davey drove Bjorn’s 2CV.
But what about Jim you ask? Turns out Jim wanted a father-son bonding experience so he and Teague flew to London where they bought bicycles and headed across the channel by ferry and pedalled to ICCCR from the coast. They met us at the hotel.
We also met up with a few other Canadians; Sietse Elsinga from Beamsville Ontario came over with his son and Coor Bars and his wife made it from Ottawa. Low and behold I finally got a chance to actually meet face to face for the first time with the western Citroën AutoClub Canada leader Johnny Mac (John MacGregor) from Vancouver. There’s a whole story on how we share the name Citroën AutoClub Canada for 2 clubs in Canada that can be found here.
In spite of the huge crowds and over 3000 registered cars, everyone was in a jovial mood and ICCCR unfolded as planned.
There were vendors galore and and assortments of Citroëns everywhere you looked; a display of Citroën ambulances, modern C6’s, electric Citroëns, half-track Kegresse, and one-off Citroën based off road contraptions.
One of the most interesting cars for me was the first year (1961) of Ami 6 production on display in the Ami Club of The Netherlands tent. It belonged to Patrick Van Griethuysen who pointed out a unique feature, or rather lack thereof. There was no key hole or means to get into the trunk on the outside rear of the car! Instead Citroën designed a mechanical cable release that was operated by a cable (like a choke able) tucked behind the vertical seat cushion accessible from the right rear passenger door.
You had to be a psychic to be able to open the trunk (if you didn’t manage to read the manual). The Ami 6 was designed for ladies who would presumably go shopping in France. Imagine them reaching in behind the seat to pull the cable each time they wanted to open the trunk. Why Citroën would go the trouble to engineer something as obscure as this when they could have used a trunk lock from a DS or 2CV begs to be pondered. My theory is that it was so easy to insert keys that were common into Citroën locks in those days that they wanted to make the trunk more secure from vandals. But then once crooks knew of the cable, they could easily use common keys to open the Ami’s doors as they were like a DS. In any case, the mystery trunk access only lasted for the 1961 model year. After that, and no doubt from an outcry of frustrated customers and dealers that got calls wondering how to get into Ami 6 trunks, Citroën offered an external trunk lock.
We visited the Gallery Aaldering in and the Burton Car Company in Zutphen, both in villages that were close by. Gallery Aaldering specializes in the sale of exotics cars. In their exquisite building, while they had few premium priced Citroëns on display, we got to drool over an assortment of over a hundred classics such as a Bentley Blower, Ferrari 330 GT 2 + 2, Mercedes 300SL, Lamborghini 400 GT 2+2, Rolls-Royce Phantom II Boat-Tail Cabriolet, 2 Maserati 3500 GT’s and Maserati Ghibli SS Coupé to name but a few!
Then it was on to Burton where co-owner Iwan Göbel gave us a fascinating tour of their operation and explained how they are committed to keeping 2CV’s on the road with superior parts they engineer and offering their really cool Burton sports car that is based on the 2CV chassis and mechanicals. Quite the operation with 33 full time people!
Was ICCCR a successful event? Other than the parking confusion and lack of organization to keep models together in designated areas, the only thing I found disappointing was the lack interest by Citroën (the Company, or what’s left of it) in the event itself. Sure they had a display pavilion but in the staff were all but oblivious to the 4 current models; two C4 Cactus, a C4 and a SpaceTourer mini-van they had on display. They set up a green screen camera with compositing software that let you be in the middle of an image of a C4 Cactus and a 2CV, supposedly in an attempt to tie the two and you together in the evolutionary spirit of the company. Interesting that the compositing software had a partial transparency setting to it that had people superimposed in a somewhat ghost-like manner if you happened to obscure the vehicles. Anyway, you gave them your email address and they printed out a photo for you on site and sent the image to your email address.
To try to awe the crowd at the Citroën pavilion they rolled out the GTbyCitroën supercar from 2008. Designed by Takumi Yamamoto, a Japanese designer from PSA’s chief designer, Jean-Pierre Ploué’s Style Citroën design team, it was virtually created for the video game Gran Turismo 5. A full-scale running concept car (the one on display) was produced. Ploué, hinted back in 2008 that the GTbyCitroën concept could be produced. A limited number of actual cars were to be built (6) stuffed with a Ford V8 engine. Alas in the summer of 2010 Citroën decided the limited production run of six units wouldn’t be worth the engineering and developments costs to bring the GT to market. Instead, the company decided to focus on developing sporty small cars. The GTbyCitroën’s style was avant grade then and remains so to this day, but in my mind I couldn’t help but think that its design was inspired by a molting cockroach as it sheds its outer skin. I’ll take the purity of style and flowing lines that grace the SM and the DS. By the way, I questioned one of the Citroën booth people about why they are not touting their DS or the SM heritage. She said that the DS and the SM are now part of a different brand for a different market than Citroën. She said their big focus with the “DS brand” was markets like China. I knew that but it was sad to hear that corporate marketing strategy directly from a Citroën employee there at ICCCR.
With news that La Ferté-Vidame, the Citroën development and test track facility has been sold, and rumours that cars are quietly being moved from Le Conservatiore, it was heartening to see such dedication to the marque by all the attendeees. There is little doubt that enthusiasm for Citroëns will continue even if PSA Group Peugeot Citroën decide to shorten the name by eliminating the latter. Whatever the future of Citroën, the next ICCCR was announced for 2020 in Tourin Poland, a city that also hosted last year’s meeting of the World Meeting of 2CV Friends. I would wholeheartedly suggest that you start making plans to attend!
We had a great time and stayed right to the end. One of the best moments was just sitting by the side of the road and watching and endless stream of Citroens drive by as they departed ICCCR. We waved, they waved back and often touted their horns as we bid adieu, jusqu’à la prochaine fois.
Here are over 550 photos I took of our ICCCR adventure: https://www.flickr.com/gp/62790594@N03/4vywBV
Still not seen enough? Then take a look at these photos from other people that attended ICCCR.
And be sure to read David Cossitt-Levy’s impressions of ICCCR here.