Great is the excitement at the Chateau and in the UK, as one of the young masters has recently taken delivery of his first car. Naturally, it is French – a Citroën C4 – yet I cannot help but think we could have been bolder in our choice of vehicle. And any of these five splendid machines would look quite at home on the driveway:


1948 2CV

Pros: Not much to go wrong, and even the boot lid in the early models is made from fabric. Plus, it can safely transport four occupants and a basket of eggs over a ploughed field.

Against: 0-60 mph on the first 2CVs is actually non-existent. And, for some strange reason, our novice motorist has little interest in driving across a ploughed field, with or without eggs.

1954 15/6H Traction Avant

Pros: It looks magnificent, and a car favoured by les Flics and Jules Maigret in the 1960-1963 BBC Television adaptation has to be worth considering,.

Against: Not many seventeen-year-olds want a car with a 46-foot turning circle, no power steering, and an opening windscreen for demisting/air conditioning.

1955 DS 19

Pros: To quote The New Citroen by Roland Barthes –

It is obvious that the new Citroen has fallen from the sky inasmuch as it appears at first sight as a superlative object. We must not forget that an object is the best messenger of a world above that of nature: one can easily see in an object at once a perfection and an absence of origin, a closure and a brilliance, a transformation of life into matter (matter is much more magical than life), and in a word a silence which belongs to the realm of fairy-tales. The D.S. – the “Goddess” – has all the features (or at least the public is unanimous in attributing them to it at first sight) of one of those objects from another universe which have supplied fuel for the neomania of the eighteenth century and that of our own science-fiction: the Deesse is first and foremost a new Nautilus.

Against: “Who’s Roland Barthes?”


1955 403

Pros: Beautifull engineered and the star of many black & white 1950s and 1960s French crime dramas.

Against: “Black and white films are rank”.(Not a compliment).


1961 R3

Pros: As with the 2CV, there is almost nothing to go wrong. And who needs a fuel gauge, heading and an adjustable front passenger seat anyway?

Against: Apparently our young motorist, for one.