Looking Back at Rendezvous 42 Years Ago…

by George Dyke…..

I was doing research the other day about a Citroën DS Cabriolet that was once owned in the Toronto area and dug into our archives — checking out the Citroën Autoclub Canada newsletter/roster from the Fall of 1978.

While I was not able to find info on John Ord, who once lived at 35 High Park Rd. (if you have info on him please let me know), two tidbits of information that I did not know regarding two Canadians that drove to the Citroën Rendezvous that year at Cummington, MA came to light;

  • John Mazmanian owned a Panhard PL-17 and drove it to the event. John passed away in 2011, but even before then, when he had a number of cars strewn about his property in Ft. Erie, ON, there were many Citroëns but no sign of a Panhard.

  • Citroënvie member Gerald Punnett drove from Guelph, ON with his wife, in his SM — and he still drives an SM to this day!

This would have been the first year that Rendezvous was held.

Rendezvous History (edited from content provided by Lance Hellman):

The very first Citroën Rendezvous occurred at Cummington Farms, MA, in 1978. It was organized by three people:  Robert Buchanan of the Citroën Autoclub Canada, Al Smollen, and Lance Hellman. With Citroën having recently exited the North American market, devoted owners were looking for a way to keep their cars on the road.

Each of the organizers made efforts to advertise this first in the region event with Lance mailing copies of his fledgling Citroën newsletter “Chevrons” to all of the Hollywood, Citroën Car Club members who resided in the North East.  So new was the event that it was not actually called a “Rendezvous”, but…indicative of that era, it was termed it a “Cit In”.  

Not knowing quite what to expect, the organizers were delighted to have eighty or so Citroën owners from the North East and Canada motor to Cummington Farms and eagerly participate. It was like a gathering, or reunion, of long lost family members. 

Folks were excited to have the opportunity to attend and were hopeful for another “Cit In” the following year.  Way back then as well as now, there’s tremendous enthusiasm for attending and continuing this event. But after that first event, Don’s wife forbade his further Citroën involvement. Luckily, Michael Cox stepped in and collected from Don a shoebox containing file cards with each participant’s address. If he had not, the “Cit In” may not have continued.  

Michael and his wife, Cherise, spearheaded the Rendezvous for the next 25 years or so every Father’s Day weekend. The second year, Citroën owners gathered at Cummington Farms, and thereafter the Rendezvous moved to Northfield Mountain near South Deerfield MA.  In addition to the Citroën Rendezvous, Michael started the Citroën Quarterly newsletter as a way to keep owners connected throughout the year and to share maintenance tips & tricks.

In 2002, Michael and Cherise capped off their 25 years run by hosting the 12th ICCCR in Amherst MA. This is the only time the ICCCR has been held outside of Europe. With the help of many, they were able to arrange overseas shipping so that folks from Europe could send their cars over for the party. All in all, nearly 1,000 cars were there. Simply awesome!

Having given notice at the Rendezvous in 2001 that the ICCCR would be their capstone, Michael & Cherise handed the reins over to a group called Drive She Said lead by Robert Monteleone & Kim Walter.  For 2003, the Rendezvous moved to Saratoga Springs, NY, a city that has a multitude of shops, restaurants and motel accommodations and the party got even bigger. Northfield was a very affordable location to gather, but the location was isolated and lacked amenities…having only a snack bar and bathrooms.

Kim and Robert encouraged all to contribute to the Rendezvous in new ways. New events were added to the weekend, like the silent auction & roving accordion players. Friends old & new continued to gather over Father’s Day weekend to drive, talk, & enjoy Citroëns.

The last remaining large club, Citroënvie, keeps folks connected digitally now and helps keeps attendance at over 100 cars every year. Local groups, too, play a role in maintaining the vibe all year. And Citroën parts and service vendors continue to support owners throughout North America.

Beginning in 2016, a new group of chauffeurs, David Cossitt-Levy, Michaela Hellman, Tim Kinnel and Christopher Westfal, stepped in to keep Rendezvous going. Each year, Citroën enthusiasts continue to meet over Father’s Day weekend in Saratoga Springs, NY, (except for 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic curtailed all public gatherings in the spring.)

If you are passionate about Citroëns or just old cars in general, make plans to attend Rendezvous. Citroën ownership is not required, but, be warned, it is contagious!

2 comments

  1. Reading that article, I was reminded that Cummington is where I got the engine that I put into my Traction 11B in the late 1980s. There were four in a barn, two with balancers on the crankshaft, two without. I took one of the engines without the balancer. I wonder if the other 3 are still there? The place was overgrown, long grass everywhere. I don’t recall just how I found the guy there. I do recall the engine was $200.00 and when I got it home I found out it was rebuilt. It needed the usual work to put it into the Traction.

    I tried selling the ID head at the Rhinebeck car show when I had a vendors booth there but had no takers so I threw it in a dumpster at the show. The D flywheel I threw into the bushes at the back of my yard- it is likely still there.

    Cummington was in far west Massachusetts off route 20 as I recall. Near North Adams I think. I wonder whatever other Citroen stuff might have been there?

  2. This ad was published in the NY Times 43 years ago today.
    May 1—Citroen Car Owners Eastern regional rendezvous at Cummington Farm, Cummington, Mass. (second Northampton/Amherst exit on Route 91). Information: Al Smollin, phone 1‐(401)‐333–0069.
    Al always called it a Rendezvous.

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