Reuniting with an old friend and my DS21

By Gord Coulman…..

In the Citroënvie article about Pioneer Automotive in Edmonton, Alberta, I mentioned that I worked there in my youth and rebuilt a 1971 DS21 “project” car that I ultimately drove more than 100,000 miles and all the way to Prince Edward Island and back.

My daughter Kyla and my wife Laurie beside the 1971 DS21 when we lived at Fort Simpson in the Northwest Territories during the early 1980’s. Note the plexiglass rock guards stuck to the glass headlight covers with blobs of adhesive. Although the highway was gravel, there was almost no traffic, so rock chips were not as big an issue as I feared.

Laurie and I returned to Alberta in 1985 to settle in Cold Lake, where I worked in flight test for the Department of National Defense. Needing a larger and more practical vehicle, we sold the DS21 in 1988 to Gary Ranger, a former mechanic at Pioneer, who was then living in nearby Bonnyville.

Pioneer Automotive in the early 1980s.

That was the end of our Citroën story until November of 2023, when I happened upon a shiny mimosa yellow 2CV on the marketplace pages of Citroënvie. Laurie and I have always wanted a 2CV, having seen them on our travels in Europe. We specifically wanted a mimosa yellow car, and since this car was the right colour and located in Edmonton, it was too perfect to pass up.

After buying the car, I joined Citroënvie and was pouring through the rich pages of the website when I noticed a history of Pioneer Automotive written by one of the principal owners, Richard Jentner and so I decided to look him up.

When I worked at Pioneer, Richard was more than a boss, he was a mentor, master mechanic, and generous with his time and knowledge, even though I wasn’t an apprentice. When Laurie and I were married in 1981, Richard drove the wedding car, a brand new CX, the first to be imported to Canada.

On February 1 of this year, Laurie and I had a nice visit with Richard and his wife Muriel at their house east of Edmonton. It was the first time we had seen each other in over 36 years! Needless to say, we had a lot of catching up to do.

Richard showed me his workshop, which is very well equipped and of course immaculately clean, just like Pioneer always was.

I also experienced an interesting “full circle” coincidence: When I mentioned that I had sold my DS21 to Gary Ranger, Richard said “I’ve got that car out back”.  Sure enough, it was my old car!  In the rear window there is still a sticker from the Aerospace Engineering Test Establishment where I worked. I didn’t look underneath, but I’m sure there is still some red PEI mud stuck there!

Unfortunately,  the DS21 is now a rusted out parts car, having been exposed to the elements for too many years. The stainless steel bumpers are in great shape, but the rest of the car is starting to merge with the landscape…

Richard and me with the remnants of my DS21. 

Note: I have also been in touch with Gerard Texiera, “Doctor Tex” who worked as a body mechanic at Pioneer and helped me fix the bodywork of the DS21. Tex is now retired and living in Edmonton.


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