by George Dyke….
It appears that I made an error in the initial article “Le Béliveau DS” that was published in the Summer 2009 edition of Citroënvie. In it I stated; “Close scrutiny of the photo reveals that it was a 1970 DS21.” (At the time I looked for differences in the car from a 1972 model and based on the door handles being the protruding type and the rear turn signals being the recessed European type. For whatever reason, I thought backwards in time rather than looking forward to when the dual headlights with glass covers were introduced into Canada, which was for the 1968 model year.)
Thanks to Yves Boulanger, who did some further research and came across a photo of the car in the April 5, 1968 edition of the Montreal Gazette newspaper and an ad placed in the in the Ottawa Citizen newspaper on April 19, 1968, the car must have been a 1968 model.
In the Ottawa Citizen ad, Béliveau is seen posing beside a stock DS and not the car with the Montreal Canadians paint motif. The ad, for two Ottawa region dealers, is to encourage readers to take a Free 100 mile test drive in a Citroën, a strategy touted at the time by Citroën Canada to convince people used to conventional North American cars, to appreciate the virtues of Citroën’s D model range and covert them to be customers. The ad states that Béliveau came into a Citroën dealer (presumably in Montreal) took a test drive and purchased a car.
Assuming what the ad states to be true, it would be the basis of this purchase, (quite possibly at quite a discount and most likely with a spokesperson fee) that Citroën Canada’s advertising agency got Jean Béliveau to agree to promote the car.
At some point shortly after the 1968 model DS was brought Canada the ad was produced that appeared in the Ottawa Citizen and in that same timeframe Citroën Canada’s advertising agency came up with the idea to paint an actual DS in “Montreal Canadians” colours. The result was shown in the April 5, 1968 Montreal Gazette article. After that car was shown around the province of Quebec promoting Citroën Canada’s kinship with Béliveau and he was then given that car to to drive.
Yves also found two other ads from that time that were published in Montreal’s Le Devoir French newspaper:
Citroënvie member Gérard Larochelle, who owned a Citroën dealership near Quebec City at the time, recalls that Jean Béliveau only kept the car for about two weeks. It was a DS21 manual, and there never was a second one. He confirms that Béliveau was a very humble fellow and he found the attention the car attracted overwhelming. When I interviewed Jean, he said that he had the car for about a year though when recalling that far back in time, its quite possible that he had it for a much shorter period — perhaps only a couple of months. And it would appear, if what the ad states is true, that Jean Béliveau bought a factory painted original colour DS that he also drove. Perhaps it was that one that he refers to having for about a year.
In any event, the timeframe in the article should have stated 1968 and not 1970 and that car was a 1968 model year. And thanks to Yves’ efforts, we now know that Jean Béliveau was an active spokesperson for Citroën Canada at the time.