– by George Dyke
The Salbris meet proved to be a 2CV mecca. 7,034 vehicles attended. (See the charts below showing Slabris attendance breakdown by model and by country.) There were probably 20,000 2CV fanatics, all in a small town about 150 KM south of Paris. We met up with CAC members Bob and Rita Larouche and drove a 2CV onto the site. We lined up early in the morning in Salbris to get into event. Turned out that we weren’t the only ones. The streets of the village were clogged with over 1,000 2CV’s in a spider web pattern as we converged to the pre-registration field that served as a holding area to the venue itself. That was nothing! There was a line up behind us going out of town that was over 14 kms long! 2CVs, Amis, Dyanes, Meharis as well as H-van campers and a smattering of DSs and CXs all trying to get into the event.
As we converged near the entrance, two cars behind us were Axel Kaliske and Ursula Walter in their 2CV that they drove from Germany (interestingly fitted with a USA Washington state license plate). As we were herded on the holding field, our friends Quentin Renaud and Tristan Villemain, who visited us in Toronto with Bucephale, the 2CV they drove from Cambodia to Paris, pulled up along side us. And Martin Gambony from the USA appeared in a brand new C3 that he rented at the Paris airport.
The Salbris meet organizers made an impressive effort to stage the event. Sure it had it’s foibles because of the sheer number of attendees; (Some in the registration line up were there for 2 days and those who were camping were eventually stuffed into meadows where cows had tread a few days before. We played it safe and made arrangements a year ago for hotel accommodations in a village about 8 km west of the event), but overall if you just took a laid back attitude and enjoyed the moment, it was a very surreal experience. Citroën (the company) were very supportive of the event. With a budget that reportedly approached 900,000.00 euro, the organizers set out a phenomenal museum display in a building the size of two tennis courts. On display were all four of the original TPV’s (the original 2CV prototypes), the last 2Cv built in Paris, notable 2CV rally cars and a 1949 2CV that is reputed to be the oldest surviving production model. They also dug deep in their historical artifacts to show the various iterations or early carburetors and manifolds, even headlights they developed for the prototypes. (In 1935 they made a special headlight with a plastic lens to save weight!)
The 2CV clubs complemented this with a massive display of every configuration of production items for the 2CV; engines, suspension variances, headlights, taillights, seats, brakes, fuel pumps, you name it, it was all there for people to reference. And there was elaborate documentation and a display with virtually every scale model of a 2CV that has ever been produced. One of the organizers, Didier Magne, who drove a 2CV in the Paris to Persepolis, Iran rally in 1971, gave us a personal tour of the Museum exhibits. Truly a Herculean effort that would be applauded for a permanent display let alone one that was only operating for 3 days at the meet!
Attendance breakdown by country:
Attendance breakdown by vehicle type: