– by George Dyke
In May, Roland Voegele and I travelled across the USA, each driving our own 2CV. We went from Toronto, to Detroit, onto Denver, then stopped in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Santa Fe, Austin, and new New Orleans. And not direct route driving. We took lots of side trips and interesting routes such as the original Pony Express Route 36 across the midwest. We went through Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Grand Canyon, National Monument and Carlsbad Caverns National Parks. Overall I racked up more than 14,500 kms in 29 days. Roland did even more. He was able to take another week and continue onto Florida and then up the east coast to meet up at Rendezvous in Saratoga Springs, New York. (I had to head back to Toronto and prepare a few things for our CITROËNVIE vendor booth at Rendezvous, and a special tribute we organized for John Mazmanian.) Roland managed more than 20,000 kms in his 2CV!
Yes, there were a few mechanical problems we encountered along the way, but that gave us the opportunity to meet old friends and make new acquaintances that we never would have discovered if not for being spontaneous and inventive. Roland managed to have the fan pulley break on his 2CV near Savannah, Georgia. He found a small shop with a colorful guy wielding a spot welder who managed to tack it back together long enough to make it to New York. I had a engine issue in Lake Tahoe that was unforeseen. It died as I was driving by Lake Tahoe leaving me stranded on the side of the road right where the Godfather II movie scene where Freddie gets shot was filmed. Fortunately, Lake Tahoe is about 115 miles from Sacramento and I gave Richard Bonfond a call. He was just unloading a D-wagon that was giving him trouble on a weekend outing to Reno. Richard suggested that we get the 2CV over to him to give the car a look and determine the extent of the problem. Turned out that one of the two gear disks on the crankshaft that drives the pushrods had given up the ghost, breaking apart and rendering the engine useless. (That wasn’t related to the type of driving we were doing. I spoke about this with Axel Kaliske and he confirmed that it can go anytime. In fact, it has happened to him. According to Axel, the 2CV engine is vulnerable in two areas; the front oil seal bearing that can become scored and grind away, and the gear disks on the crankshaft.) In my case, with the gear shattered, we didn’t know if the metal fragments from it may have damaged the engine. We decided to call Miles Potter at Western Hemispheres in Santa Cruz and see if they had a complete engine in stock. Luckily they did and Miles shipped to us to us next day. Within 48 hours I was back on the road, running with a “new” engine. Not that I enjoyed breaking down, but it gave me a chance to see Richard and his wife Lynne again, spend some time socially and see Richard’s amazing DS21 that he has been invited to show at the Carmel Concours Auto Show this summer. And in the long run I got a repair done by Richard who knows 2CVs inside out and for less than the cost I would have incurred if I had to ship the new engine to Canada. All in all the 2CV tour of the USA was fantastic. Awesome geographical changes, varied roads that were incredible to drive, and people that were quite in awe that we were doing it in such odd looking little cars.
I had to head back to Toronto from New Orleans as my trip to Rendezvous involved driving John Mazmanian’s Citroën Visa as a special tribute to his unfortunate passing back in January. We got permission from Maz’s family and arranged with Robert Monteleone and Kim Walter to display Maz’s Visa Rendezvous, parking it in a special section of the show field. (More about that in our Rendezvous 2011 article).