We are saddened to announce the passing of a Toronto Citroën original – John (Jonas) Nesukaitis on January 22nd, 2020. John will be remembered for his knowledge, can-do attitude, and strength. He was always working on a project, and thankfully he’d actually finish and drive them.
John’s romance with Citroëns dates back to the late 1950’s / early 1960’s. He used to drive Studebakers. One day, he saw a DS on a car lot and fell in love. He managed to negotiate an even-trade for his Studebaker. The rest is history. He’s owned many Citroëns; numerous Ds, a few SMs, a GS, an AMI 6 Berline, and a 425 cc 2CV.
He also re-sparked his interest with Studebakers driving an Avanti after his SM quit. All of John’s Citroëns were his daily drivers, even through winters. While that may make a collector cringe, John’s belief was that Citroëns were meant to be driven, and were excellent winter cars.
One of John’s more notable Citroëns was a shortened D Coupe. John’s inspiration was the ice racers and rally cars that had been shortened. John drove the D Coupe for many years and many miles before selling it to past Citroën Autoclub Canada president Victor Alksnis. After few years of struggling with hydraulic line failures, Victor sold the D Coupe to a to a restaurant owner in Yorkville who was upset with Bistro 999 on Bay Street. The Bistro had a 2CV Charleston and everybody knew about it. This new restaurateur wanted the same fame. But alas the D Coupe sat in a mechanic’s shop for years and the restaurant went bankrupt. The D Coupe was spotted by another enthusiast who thought it was an ultra-rare car built by Henri Chapron or Ricou. At least John’s work was being compared to some of the best. (The fate of the D Coupe was covered in the Winter 2010 issue of Citroënvie).
John was always a very handy guy. He would do all his own work, including rebuilding an automatic transmission on his bed, which really impressed his wife when she got home. When John got stuck, he would call Henri Saulus, a well-respected Citroën mechanic who used to work at Raymond Motors in Toronto. John lived in a house that he built in The Beaches neighbourhood. He was married to Helen, who pre-deceased him, and had three daughters – each of them Canadian table tennis champions from the 1960’s.
John was the new owner (sight-unseen) of the 2CV that was the focus of the Great 2CV Retrieval Adventure back in 1996.
In the video, you can see John hauling a heavy piece of steel out of the trunk of the 2CV and toss it over 5 feet! (View it at the 16:30 mark).
John was a Citroën pioneer in Toronto and will be greatly missed.