Citroën’s Ferté-Vidame Event Shows How To Celebrate A 100th Birthday, French Style
Citroën has been celebrating its centenary all year, starting with a special display at the Rétromobile show in February, but its main event was ‘The Gathering Of The Century” at La Ferté-Vidame in the Loire Valley. This is where the 2CV was tested in the late-1940s, and there’s been a test track there ever since, which is still used for current PSA Group car development.
Surrounding the test track at La Ferté-Vidame are the huge grounds of what was once an important chateau, now in ruins, and it was in this parkland that the event was held, with around 5000 cars and 20,000 visitors. Citroën owners were also able to drive around the usually top-secret test track in organised parades, trying out the bumpy pavé, the high-speed sections and the challenging corners – though at lower speeds than the track might be used to.
Citroën took along many of its most important cars from its Conservatoire collection, including three or the four known TPVs (Très Petite Voiture) in existence. These were the prototypes for the 2CV, of which around 250 were built just before World War 2. Just one was known to have survived, along with a pick-up version, but in 1995 three TPVs were discovered in the loft of a barn at La Ferté-Vidame.
Other highlights included French preseident Charles de Gaulle’s DS Chapron limousine, several concept cars, a line-up of ex-works rally cars and a display of the company’s rotary engined projects, including the M35 prototype, GS and even the RE-2 helicopter.
Each family of Citroën models were arranged in chevron formations in separate fields, with many rarities on display, including an SM Chapron Opera, lines of convertible DS Chaprons, and even the ultra-rare Chaptron Le Leman and Concorde coupés. The V8-engined SM prototype was displayed with a selection of SM and DS rally cars, and there were even a couple of hot rods and rat rods in amongst the hundreds of Traction Avants. Definitely the way to celebrate a Centenary!
Images courtesy of Citroën