How did YOU get into French Cars?

This is the place for posts that don't fit into any other category.

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Post by Natasha »

My story is not as good as that one!!
I have one word that can sum it up...."Cheap"!!

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Post by FFX-DM »

My VW owning friends were most scathing when I sold the Polo and got a Citroen AX or 'sardine tin' as they called it. Some g*t driving a F**d wrote off my Polo by using it as a bonnet ornament for his vehicle. I used to enjoy my Polo list and they were helpful and friendly in a very similar manner to this forum.
I got a Cit because I wanted to go diesel and that really only meant Peugeot/Citroen. And then there was this little used car garage next door to my office that had a black shiney Citroen AX 1.4D with electric everything and were prepared to give me part exchange value for the VW banana (renamed after mods) so I was helplessly sucked in.
I was not unware of Citroens as my friends have had them for years, including some BX's, which I always thought were FUN. I was offered a 2CV for nothing but at the time I had nowhere to put it and I tried to find a Citroen list at the time to find it a good home, but it got scrapped in the end. Sad!
I have driven my AX out of muddy fields which 4x4's were getting stuck in and filled it up with ludicrous amounts of gear when going camping (including a fridge!). I got up to 72mpg out of it and even though it would only do 10mph fully laden up Streatly Hill (steep!) I always knew it was going to get there in the end, unlike that horrible running out of power and gears feeling you get in a small petrol engined car.
I fancied something a bit newer with a bit more power a few less miles and a bit bigger, so I was watching out for a ZX to come along and got a 96 ZX 1.9D for £1K (FSH, 71K miles) which was a bit of a bargain. Especially as I then sold the AX for £600!! :-)
I really like the look of C3's so I can forsee me going that way in the future, so I can see me sticking to very unfashionable French diesels for a while. My French customers were suitably impressed (or stunned, not sure which) when I drove to their site in my sardine tin.

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Post by RichardW »

Another topic for the anoraks, Jon!
So here goes....
My parents got married in 1971 and bought a BMC 1100 off my Grandad who was friends with a guy that ran a BMC garage at the time. By the time they'd had it about 6 years, and my dad had rebuilt the engine (twice) and the gearbox, and replaced the rear subframe that had rotted out, a replacement car was needed. By this time the BMC garage had gone to Citroen, so an Ami 8 estate arrived. The quirkyness suited our outlook on life, and the rest, as they say, is history. I cannot remember anything except Citroens (apart from a short spell with an Allegro when a GS gave out on us!) and they have always been reliable, cheap, and different. I simply cannot imagine buying anything else (well, maybe a Lots Elise....!). All my friends think I'm bonkers (apart from one who also runs a Xantia TD), but I don't care - I enjoy it!
I was thinking the other day, what must it have been like to have that first hydropneumatic car (a very rusty GS estate in our case in the late 70's) after only ever having driven 'ordinary' cars?? My Dad has now had some 15 Citroens, culminating in him buying a new (the first new car, let alone Citroen!) Xsara HDi in July.
My only quandry now is that there are no more LHM cars - what am I to do????? I will have to get a good Xantia and just keep it going for ever. HDi 110 with 1,000,000 miles????
Oh boy, I've got it bad.....

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Post by allmond »

OK, here's a different one.
I can certainly remember looking at a DS Safari as a boy in the sixties and thinking it was the coolest thing I'd ever seen. (That's when the word cool was cool first time around!)
Time went on, and I bought whatever I could afford. I had a slight hankering for Citroens, because I didn't want to buy the same car as everyone else, I wanted to be a little bit different. However, finances dictated that I buy whatever I could afford and was available, with choice not really coming into it.
Meanwhile, to apparently change the subject, my wife was growing up. Her father liked all things French, and they used to take in French students in the summer. Boy did they have the luck! eg They went to stay with one family in their home in France. It didn't dawn on them that the name of the family was the same as the name of the town! Not until they got there and saw the chateau. They were introduced to the family, and then their valet and maid for the weekend!! Still, that's another story.
Later, after we were married, we got Freddie the Hypochondriac Frog, and the Shoplifting Italian! No, we didn't share the luck.
One of my wife's parent's students was a lovely girl from a lovely family. We all got very friendly with all of her family and visits were made to each other's homes. Her father (now retired) took some of us (not me, I didn't go that year - aaagh!) on a trip round the Citroen factory in Rennes. He was treated like a god. He had always told us he "worked for Citroen." He never told us he was on the board of directors!
Anyway, one time he came over he brought a brand new DS (Just before the CX came out) with him and invited me to have a drive. As he was in the car, I drove it very gently, but he soon told me off for not giving it enough welly (rough translation!!) I was hooked!
Just as an aside, we went over to France for his daughter's wedding, the celebrations for which lasted all weekend and involved hiring an entire chateau. The French know how to celebrate. The bride insisted on a 2CV, simply because she could have had any car in the range. (First time I drove one of those too.)
Eventually I managed to move from my F**d Escort (reliable but totally boring) to a Visa GT. What a fun car. Always started dead easy but wouldn't tick over when cold. Other than that, brilliant.
Then I moved to hydraulic cars. BX GTi in black. Cheap to buy 'cos everyone's frightened of the hydraulics (long may that be the case) but loaded with electric everything, aircon etc. My son hero worshipped me!
I keep my cars for about eight years, so eventually changed to a black Xantia 2.0 8v. That didn't last long, losing the aircon was a big mistake, especially in the south of France.
Now it's a facelift Xantia 2.0 16v Exclusive. Leather heated seats, electric everything, aircon, CD changer, etc etc. Where else could you get all that for what I paid? (Oh, it's blue by the way, moved away from black!)
Well, a bit of a marathon reply but basically the answer to the question is, "Because my wife's family were dead lucky with their French students." Oh, and I don't like to be the same as the crowd.
Merry Christmas everybody,

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Post by tomsheppard »

Had a 2CV. It was awful. Sold it at a profit though, to my great surprise. Had a Visa diesel. Almost lasted until I got it home.
Always wanted a DS or a CX safari. Fantasised about an SM when they were relatively cheap but common sense prevailed. Think I had a 205 for a week or two but I didn't fancy the thought of fixing the gearbox. House purchase in France necessitated suitable estate car for lugging stuff. The requirement: French for political correctness (a Merc probably wouldn't have the social cachet it enjoys here) Diesel for frugality and cheap fuel over there. Three choices then: Savanna-dull; 405-dear; BX-dodgy. CX was ruled out due to insurance costs and the extreme unlikelihood of finding a good one. The BX was a fifth of the price of a Pug, looks crazy, rides better and is a real enthusiast's car. Altogether the ideal shooting brake for a bourgeois eccentric, then. SOLD!

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Post by JohnW »

From JohnW to Jon Wood.
"Am I beyond hope?"
(It happened to me in 1966 when I realised suddenly that I really wanted a Renault 750 (Adelaide, South Australia, this was). Our neighbour was a retired Latvian mechanic and had one in which he and his wife had travelled 110,000 miles in 8 years. Their greatest trip was Adelaide to Port Douglas in Far North Queensland (and back) in about 1967, when Q'ld roads weren't the best...... That is, believe me, a long drive.
I still have the 750. And an R8 and an R16TS. Very hard to kick this habit. But after 30 years+ I'm convinced it is addictive but harmless. In fact, I think it is good for you, great for stress relief and allows me, at any rate, to commute with a smile - doesn't get much better than that. We've had the R8 for nearly 30 years now and I still enjoy it.)

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Post by hippy »

Jon, you still have the renault 16? you got a picture you could email? My father always had Renaults - 3 16s, 2 20's and then he switched to a BX, had 3 (all diesel of course) and now has an XM. I was only about 11 when the my dad got the bx but it the best car ever - the first one I could read in with out getting car sick (oh LHM we salute you)
Anyhoo, I then got a BX, then another - which I still have and I then pursuaded my girlfriend to get rid of her shocking polo for something I was hankering after since they came out...a Xantia face lift and its a great car (2.1td Exc) you CANNOT buy a better car for the money. Seriously want a DS tho' but I am poor and have no spare mortgages to run the thing. Also, if I had the money and space I would love to get a Renault16 - cool 70s motor

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Post by kevin »

Here's my story on how I discovered the pleasures and pains of french cars.
In the mid to late eighties I owned a 1.9 Mk1 cavalier rotbox. The car failed the MOT and was going to cost over £700 to weld back together. My local garage has this Mk1 1981 305Gls they were using as a school taxi, which they sold me for £500 with years tax and MOT.
This was one of the first peugeot vehicles in the area, every one else owned Vauxhall's Fords, or Leylands - remember them!, the only dealer was over 35 miles away in Blyth, Northumberland, or Kelso in the Borders, 45 miles away.
Luckily the only spares I required in 18 month's of hard driving, apart from brakes and service items was a fuel tank!!
I was pleased with the reliability, performance, although I converted it to twin carbs from the single to match the SR spec and the comfort.
I have owned a prescession of Alpines, 309's and now a 306. I tried every way to break the engine on the alpine, bought for £100 as a replacement when the 305 rusted away. The engine sounded like a chainsaw but ran like the preverbial.
French cars do have the best suspension set up. I once drove over some cobbles in by brothers Astra and felt every bump, in the 306 you just hear the rumble!!
I must agree the Renault 16 is a cool car, especially in the TX version, but what about the 15 and 17 Coupe, even cooler??

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Post by Dave Bamber »

Bit of a late starter on the Citroen job me. It happenend in the early 90's when my sister bought a Dyanne for £25 and asked me if I could get it on the road for her. I dragged it back from Leeds to Fleetwood on an A frame and set to. It needed an ignition switch and a boot lock, amongst other jobs, so I bought a scrap one for £20 and fixed the Sisters. Back it went to Leeds to give her 3 years good service. I was left with the £20 scrapper from which I built a Lomax A succession of 2CV's followed, then the BX phase, and now I'm in the Berlingo zone. Which is nice.....
Berlingo HDI Wicked<img src=icon_smile_evil.gif border=0 align=middle>Red
Youth and talent are no match for age and treachery.......

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Post by chizzy »

It all started at university - a friend bought a white continental convertible,2CV to everybody else! Not qite the babe magnet your initial thoughts conjure!
My girlfriend got a new job involving regular expenses paid travel, which over the term of her contract would easily reimburse all purchase and running costs of a suitably economical car (and some eventually!). Local garage was selling a 5 yr old BX TZD estate for £1700, and this was probably negotiable!(p/ex MG Maestro?) Other half not interested - must be reliable, safe, etc (i.e.normal) Personally I thought that OPEC had started sabbotaging BX's looking at the state of every oil seal on it. I did a bit of research and the zx seemed to fit the bill in almost every department. As Jon has said elsewhere in this forum, you cannot get a better package for the money.I want a ZXTD estate now.
Since then I have acquired a C15D from a business acquaintance who bought it new. 3 probs: rear axle (see recent posts re: handbrake cables); air filter housing rubbing through electrics over top of gearbox- AA man- errrrmmmm?! looks like your glow plug relay needs replacing-yeah right!-while I'm doing 50+ minding my own business!
Throttle cable snapped on M54 on a Friday night, fixed it with some garden wire I had in van and one of those screw cable connectors from the back of the radio. Connector block limited me to 50 mph but I left it on for 2 months before it started to bug me.
All in we are chuffed to bits- Vive la France. I still want a 5dr Impreza Turbo though.........!25mpg - thanks, I'll walk!