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Citroën collectors in Canada: The indomitable Gauls in Canada

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Actually, somewhere in John McCulloch's T raction Avant another old baguette or at least one a bit of flour dust. Because the jewel of the Citroën lover has had an unusual career behind it, which does not fit the reputation of the Traction Avant as a gangster car.


Starts after 18 years of idle time the Citroën problem-free

A baker from Valence, France bought the Citroën in 1956. The' 11 B Normal 'later made it across the pond to Florida, where it also belonged to a baker. As a result of standing in the blazing sun, the paint became pale and dull over time. Finally the Citroën went to Toronto sold in Canada - and the new owner earned his bread by baking them. But the master baker was not exactly careful with the French exotic. 'When I bought the car for $ 14,000 in 2005, it hadn't been driven in 18 years,' recalls John McCulloch. He installed a new battery, filled up with fresh gas and replaced the fuel filter. 'The car started immediately,' the Canadian says proudly.

After the third baker at the wheel, the Traction Avant really deserved a change. As a retired high school teacher of Latin and Ancient Greek, McCulloch is more inclined to the muse than to the craft. The love for French cars began when he was a student: 'Our French professor sometimes took me and a few fellow students with him in his car, a Citroën DS,' says John. 'We used it to collect wine crates. The whole trunk was full, but the hydropneumatic suspension kept the car upright. I was absolutely thrilled with this technology,' he recalls. But it wasn't until 1999 that the tall Canadian with the white beard treated himself to his first own Citroën - a duck built in 1985.

John's pride and joy is the Traction Avant

Today, McCulloch owns one, among other things Citroën Ami, a light blue DS and a 2CV Fourgonette, the transporter version of the duck with the characteristicCorrugated iron body. But John's pride and joy is the Traction Avant. The timeless classic with the typical 'suicide doors', which came onto the market for the first time 75 years ago and, thanks to its front-wheel drive, held an absolutely special position at the time, is now a rare sight not only in Canada. McCulloch gets behind the wheel and starts the 65 hp four-cylinder, which starts effortlessly. Except for new seats and headlights, McCulloch has not changed anything in the car. 35,000 kilometers are on the clock. Even the paint is still original, even if you can only guess at the dark blue color with the beautiful name 'Bleu Minuit'.

'The Traction Avant drives very nicely if you don't take it too fast,' says McCulloch, while the car rolls very comfortably on the country roads near Burlington, Canada. With a knob on the dashboard you can tilt the windshield forward a little - 'that's my air condition, so to speak,' grins John. He estimates that around 40 to 50 Traction Avants still exist across Canada. 'A collector from Montréal even owns 14 pieces. That's why we call him Louis XIV,' says McCulloch.

Most of the Citroën classics that still exist are of course called 2CV, DS or CX. French vehicles were exported to North America until the 1970s. The demand for non-American cars was great: In Québec, the Canadian province with the largest French influence, more and more European cars populated the streets in the 1950s. Starting with small triumphs and Austins, which were quickly nicknamed 'English puddle hops' in the vernacular, the palette ranged from DKW, Skoda, VW and NSU to the French Simca, Peugeot, Renault and of course Citroën. In 1962, a 2CV cost just $ 1,050, which was significantly cheaper than a Beetle or Mini. The hard Canadian winters, however, hit the import cars: 'You constantly froze your feet off and had to scrape the windshield free,' recalls the former Citroën dealer Gérard Larochelle in the magazine 'Citroënvie', the publication of the Citroën Autoclub Canada.

Duck and DS are not expensive hobbies

The club now has around 150 members and has its hands full. Since the French carmaker withdrew from North America in the 1970s, fans of the brand have been left to their own devices with the double angle. 'I can now repair some things on my vehicles myself, but of course you have to have a lot done', says John McCulloch. But the members of the well-organized club have not only acquired an enormous amount of specialist knowledge over the years, they have also spun a dense network of contacts. Even with old vehicles it is not a problem to get spare parts, says John. And compared to some other youngtimers is oneDuck and even a DS not even a particularly expensive hobby.

John would like to add a first series Austin Mini to his classic collection. But the French occupy the greatest place in his collector's heart, says the Canadian: 'When I am at classic car meetings with my Traction Avant and the people there drive their sparklingly polished Corvettes, spectators often come to me and say: Finally has once someone brought a car that is completely different. '

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