Episode 2

75955km on the counter

Babette, my refurbished 1964 2cv AZAM was delivered to our Dorset home on the 19th of November at 1pm. It feels like to me like the birth of my mechanical child although in reality she’s a historic vehicle and a bit of a movie star since she was driven by James May on television back in 2008.

My beautiful wife Chrystall and I live and work in London but with my side of the family living in Dorset, we always grab the first opportunity to escape the city on weekends.

We arrived in Dorset in the morning and were very keen to take her out for a drive. But first a warm cup of tea, a little rest, a quick lunch and then we’d be ready.

Babette’s little garage is hidden away in the woods.

Opening the lock with a lot of anticipation and excitement, I look at my wife and we smile at each other.

And there she is. We’re hit by the distinctive and quite enjoyable smell of oil and petrol before even seeing her.

2cv-azam-1963
1963-azam-2cv

The smell brings back childhood memories in just the same way (although maybe slightly more toxic) smelling an apple pie right out of the oven would.

It’s the first time Chrystall sees Babette aside from photos. She’s immediately in love and it’d be hard not to be. Citroen 2cvs have nothing aggressive about them, just two eyes and a smile which is certain to make anyone smile right back.

We walk around it a couple of times, admiring its simplicity and perfect example of automotive minimalism. Everything has a purpose in a 2cv, everything has been designed in the most logical way and the whole design revolves around the simple idea that less is more, fewer gadgets mean fewer things likely to break.

We open the suicide doors (they open the “wrong” way round) and sink in to our seats, both of us carrying a smile we won’t let go for as long as we’re near her.

The 51 year old 425cc engine starts nearly immediately… just after two attempts. It’s cold after all for this old lady.

I’ve always thought the engine sounds more like a gentle whistle, very kind to anyone’s ears.

We drove a 20km loop to the beautiful town of Sherborne first and then to our favourite countryside pub where Babette got lots of attention.

2cv-azam-photo

What I love about driving a 2cv, especially Babette with her humble 425cc engine, is that you have to constantly pay attention to what you are doing. For example if you approach a hill in 4th instead of 3rd gear this will affect the next two miles of your journey. If you brake in a bend where you needn’t it will result in a considerable loss of speed, etc…

Chrystall was smiling the entire 20km and so was I.

We took her back to her garage, carefully wiping off any dirt with a dry cloth.

With now 75975km on the counter, let’s see where Babette will take us next!