JOUJOU S’EN VA-T-EN FRANCE
READERS of Mtrwit ‘vloo
have indulged this addiaion since 1947 nifty rementher that in July of that year I recorded my early experieneeS I if a 1914 (the pundits now tell no that I should pr(lbably reckon it 1010) ifeb(?. Peugeot., kinfwn, for reasons. outlined in detail on that occasion, Os Jonjou. At Iluot time Joujou belonged to me ; since then he has passed into the ownership of a syndicate, of which I am a member ; but it happens, for reasons whieh, to readers of motoring literatirre, okay or ntity not appear sufficient, that all the members of the syndivale are lawn with really too many 1r0115 ill the fire, and during the last three years Jonjou has made regrettably few public appearances. Indeed, before this summer he load hardly been out since 1918.
flow long this state of affairs might have lasted I really do not know, had it not been for the fact that early this year the Veteran Car Club announced its intention of Organising it Rally to France. This news stirred even syndieate-member Nevil Lloyd and myself from our lethargy or, as we should prefer to say, from our distractions. The t bought of Jonjou. who looks nmeh too small to be allowed out by himself even in England, scurrying along the long straight roads of France was too much, for us ; we entered him for the Rally forthwith. The motoring year, it scents to me, is most unevenly divided by the weather. From November to March the weeks sueeted each other with a leaden tread, each scarcely distinguishable (Yon), its predecessor. Then comes the season, and
by KENT KARSLAKE 4}.11111!11111111111110111111111111VM4411111111!Ii11111110?111111101111111i0IfiritInifIll0 4}.11111!11111111111110111111111111VM4411111111!Ii11111110?111111101111111i0IfiritInifIll0 the weeks go flitting by until one is left almost breathless. and can hardly cope with one activity before the next event is upon one. •loujou was in Berkshire, bill it seemed impossible for us to find tinte to go down and bring Ithn up to London. At last: we accepted the good offices of a lorry which, was coming up empty, and thus.. shockingly unprepared, Joujou came In Hampstead,
An evening or two later we went to visit him in the yard of’ a friendly inn, and fill hint up for t lw journey. The engine started with its usual uncanny promptitude. lint after a separation of two years, one found that the gears engaged very oddly, the clutch ttlmost more oddly, and the steering, with three-quarters of a turn from lock to lock and pritetically no self-centreing aetion, scented like something out of this world. We drove round to a garage to fill up with rietrol and oil, and after ” once round the block ” Joujou was emitting the rudest possible smells. Tlie prospects of travelling in hint from London to le TOuquet seemed, to Say -the least of it, to be extremely doubtful. As a matter of fact we reached Dover with the minimum of difficulty, in spite of !he terrors a the south London trams Ill d the steep hill whielo child is out a Folkestone ani I Dover, we found, had
a I l’ead?,beell invaded lf,y a considerable comfiany of .hatjon’s aneestors. Joujou, in fact. was the youngest. car in the flatly, fond certainly does nol, look very gr(ftvio-up. The oldest was E. R. Goodey•s 1890 Luxwerke. an ancient German of a make which was, I mist adlltit., 110familiar to me, and of such, an aspect that one might. he excused for mistaking it for the 1899 Bens which was also present, and which in turn almost exactly resembled the 1898 Star. There was an 1899 1)ceauville ” Voiturelle ” wIdelo looks 00 num. like a car than does the 1902 Arr4d-Johnston dog-cart (whieh the program tine called all AlT01,10h11:+011) ; tlua-e Were three de Dion Muttons and a couple of genuine Baby Peugeots : and the rest of the true ” veterans ” consisted of a Renault, a Lanchester, a Napier, a Clement., Ow Presidential Mercedes, a Panhard et Levassor, W. ‘I’. Grose’s. Wolseley with its unbelievably loigh and narrow-roofed wagonette b(aly, a Darriteq, a Humber, a Spyker and a Tony Hillier. The Edwardians, thmigh. fewer, VCR’ almost. more impressive. They included a 1900 Darracq, 1Muglas FitzPatriek’s marvellously restored 1Volseley-Siddeley, a 1908 Lagonda, which looked exactly like it Lagonda but not in the least like 1908, a coup& of 6-hp. Renaults, a 1010 Mercedes, S. J. Skinner’s superb Silver Ghost, Erie Miler’s staggering Blitzen
I e117, (MC FratleiS II at:Oil-Stott ‘S luxurious .I ane lest ers-and ..looljou. Not all were actually gathered together at Dover, for some were late and some had gone on on an earlier boat to Calais, but all of their crews who were present were most hospitably entertained at a cocktail party in the Town Hall by the Mayor of Dover, who being himself an enthusiast, proposed, it was announced, to iiceompany us on our journey in a Nineteeid Ii Century Daimler. I wonder in how many other mayoral parlours there is so mouth right thinking,
After the cocktail party, Si) that the drivers Os well as their cars could display their stamina, we proceeded around the town in procession, to the cheers of the assembled multitude. Behind Joujou. as if in search of business, drove a breakdown van. It was, however, baulked of its prey : the veterans alld Edwardians continued serenely on their way, even when they met a rival breakdown van towing a 4i-litre Bentley. At. two o’clock the next morning, Douglas FitzPatriek arrived in Dover in the Wolseley-Siddeley. When about to start. from Norfolk he load discovered that the oil seals ill the gearbox were leaking, and that oil was dripping (01 to the spare tyre, which is carried horizontally below tloe car. The WolseleySiddeley is not kept in such !riot that that sort of thing can be tolerated, ;mid 10-fore starting he load set to and replaced the oil seals. A few hours later we all set sail for Calais, inssimpanied by fair boat-load of fellow-passengeis and a normal complement of normally depressing modern ears. Our sentiments with regard to the latter appeared to be itluially reetignised. On landing,” we Were requested, ” will the Rally people please not. mix with the passengers whose
car:-; are on board.” Personally, I was rather sorry for these pariahs. Dere they were, setting out on (he Great Adventure, in I heir carefully-prepared Family Tens. And the Great Adventure. a Continental Tour, proved to be only something which could be faced by the 890 Latxwerke.
Soine people lunched on board, Ina we were determined to breakfast in France. NVe were quickly through the Customs at.
Joujou started with Ins usual promptitade. and we were away from the docks along that road which :lever quite loses its thrill, marked “routes Direrlions,” and leading perhaps to Gibraltar or Athens. –even to Vladivostriek. All the sauw, as we bumped and bashed over the Calais pave we inarvelled somewhat at the intrepidity of the solidtyred veterans.
At St. Inglevert, 13 kilometres from Calais, we espied exactly what, we had been looking for, a roadside cafe, with a petrol pump outside. and inside, no doubt., a plaee where one could eat. We entered, had some drinks, and ordered some food. _But. for better or Worse we had left Joujou outside, and, as if he acted as a magnet, one after another the other ancients drew up at the door. Never had St.. Inglevert seen such a sight. Madame of the cafe, importuned with a flood of orders for omelettes, beetune slightly flustered. As for Monsieur, Who had fetched our wine from the cellar, he disappeared altogether. Finding himself thus suddenly in the limelight, it. transpired, he had retired hastily, to put on a clean shirt.
By a sort of what Sir Stafford Cripps would doubtless call ” rough justice,” we, the first to arrive, were the last to get our omelette. By the time we had finished it all the others had gone, and, the last: of the Rallyists. we set out again along the route mdionale. We were now truly on our own. Tune was when Joujou possessed a fairly comprehensive if somewhat. unconventional set of tools, which I had collected by devious Means over a quarter of a century. But having a year or so ago acquired another vintage car without such refinements which was going into daily use, I had robbed donjon of his tools for its benefit. We were left with one Whitworth spanner which fitted nothing, no jack and no puncture outfit. But there is something intoxicating about the long roads of France : when we reflected on our friendless. helpless Sibilltit?11, we laid back our heads and roared with laughter. Up and down the hills between Calais and Boulogne Joujou scuttled in exemplary style, and as a matter of fact we did not long remain at the tail of the provession. 13y the early evening we AVOT once more drinking cocktails with a mayor in a town hall, this lime with the Mayor of le Touquet, and the first stage of our adventure was Ol’et.. Ail the ancients had sinieessfully reached theIr goal, with the sole exception of R. C. Porter’s 4i-h.p. de Dion 11outon, which, !laving previously Sailed unscathed through untiild numliers of V.C.C. events, had evidently become so intoxicated by the return to its native France that. it
laud smashed a piston in its ecstasies. And when a single-cylinder de Dion does that, it’s a case, as the Guide Michelin very nearly_ says, of “pas de piston, pas de pot de Dion.” The next afternoon there was a procession round the town again, followed by a Concours d’Eleganee. We did not somehow think that Joujou would win the latter, in Spite of his coat of sky-blue paint, with which, as promised at. the end of my 1947 article, he was decked out soon after we acqinEC(1 !lila. Bat in the procession we were sure that we were the most popular car. You see, if’ you have a superb Silver Ghost, then a staggering 131itzen Benz, then a luxurious Lanchester–and then Joujou, what else can you expect? At any rate, such charming ladies threw such beautiful flowers at us that we were not a bit jealous when Douglas FitsPatrick’s Wolseley-Siddeley won the Prix d’Honneur–as it richly deserved to do, seeing that its gleaming paintWork is all original, even though by most standards Skinner’s Silver Ghost might easily have been accounted ” the finest car present, irrespective of class.” As it was, the Rolla liad to be eontent with the prize in the Edwardian class. Then, within all hour or Imo of its triumph, the NVolseley-Siddeley was in collision with what. I gather was a heap of a modern car. This accident is, I
hope, sub puttee 311(1 I will therefore make no comment, except to say that it seems obvious that the WolseleySiddeley was struck on the left side, which is awkward for the striker to explain away on the Continent, where, unlike this country, the Right has priority. Externally the damage appears to be confined to a front wing, but alas ! the radiator, when I last saw it,: was leaking painfully and the eluissis, I fear, was bent. I hope Die Prix d’llonnetn. remains some consillatitat. On Monday some of the older ears set off for home on lorries, and on Tuesday morning the Rolls and the limehester, with their fortunate occupants, set out on an extended Continental tour. But for most of’ us. Tuesday meant an early start in order to drive to Calais in time to catch the boat. In spite of the fact. that we were going home, the road had lost none of its charm. At Boulogne, it climbs excessively steeply from the town to the level of die cliffs above, with a hideous right-hand bend at, the top of the ascent, and at the bottom of the hill Messrs Antochequea had thoughtfully placed a break-down van to give assistance to those who needed it. With two up and luggage, however, .loujou romped up the incline with never a falter. On the next steep hill, however, WI! came upon N. .1 Smith’s veritable Baby Peugeot of 1902 at a standstill, and stopped to see if we could render assistance. So did A. W. Li’. Smith, with the paternal 1903 Clement, and so did the representatives of Autoeheques, in their 19311 car. None of us, however, were needed, for with remarkable
the driver of Joujou’s ancestor turned his little car round, and went up in reverie’, traversing as he did so from one side to the other Of the broad straight road. We saw him safely to the top and then the Clement got away on the steep gradient with constumnate ease. Joujou with the aid of six-horse power and about half a rather feeble man-power. But our 1.936 companion, we heard afterwards, had stalled twice before it finally consented to make the grade !
We stopped again at. St.. Inglevert, to fill up with Ditbonnet, water, oil and petrol and to bid farewell to ‘Madame and to Monsieur, whose shirt. was still really very clean. Then on into Calais, where calm: again we humped over the murderous pave, until suddenly there was an extra bad crash, and poor Joujim broke a front spring. At that stage we really hardly cared. Our French tour was over, and Joujou, we knew, iii spite of this mishap whieli might. have happened to anyone, was by no means the toy for which people so often mistake him. He was, and is. Ulle voiture pour he grand ionrime.