sâmbătă, 21 mai 2016

French Cars – Vive La Voiture - World Of Classic Cars -

What have the French ever done for us? Apart from amazing pastries, existentialism, new wave cinema, fashion houses, absinthe, Gitanes, yellow headlights and a healthy dose of egalitarianism; the answer is not a whole lot. Oh, and cars. We just love French cars. In a tribute to all things French here are five of our favourite gallic motors.

1. The Citroën DS and SM

Okay, we’re cheating a bit because the sharp eyed among you will have noticed that we’ve picked out two cars here. Let’s start with the DS. It is widely regarded to be one of the most iconic and idiosyncratic cars to ever hit the road. It set about solving engineering problems that weren’t actually problems in the first place. Such as hydropneumatic self-levelling suspension, which was a wonder. Helping the car handle beautifully. The thing itself was designed by an Italian sculptor and a French aeronautical engineer. Nothing about it was traditional. But you almost don’t care about all the innovations because it looks simply sensational. DS, French word play on Goddess, is very apt. Almost impossible to improve on. Almost.

The leap ahead was the Maserati powered SM. It still looks like it arrived from the future, forty five years after it first hit the show rooms. This sporting update to the DS was the kind of car you enjoyed being in even if it was standing still. And to get a feel for the broad appeal of the car it was even reviewed by Popular Science magazine. It was and still is a wonder.

2. The Peugeot 504

The 504 was within the reach of the average man or woman. And yet it was the kind of car you could imagine picking up Jean Seberg in. Especially in the convertible format. Once you got married to her you could trade it in for a 504 saloon. And the Brake would be for when the kids arrived. Of course you could always have tackled the Paris Dakkar in the rally version if you were that way inclined. And you’d have looked cool every step of the way.

3. Bugatti. Take your pick.

France hasn’t always had the easiest of relationships with Germany and Italy, but when Italian born German based designer Ettore Bugatti decided to create racing cars he did it in France. Mr Bugatti saw himself as an artist as much as he did a car manufacturer. As such he went on to create some of the most breathtaking cars ever made (including an electric car in the 1930s). They were so beautiful that when he claimed Bentley made some of the “fastest lorries in the world”, you believed him. They simply didn’t compare to the elegance of his own creations. Check out Jay Leno as he takes a Type 51 for a drive. Sounds better than fairly much any car ever built. Life affirming stuff.

4. Renault 5 Turbo

When it comes to classic hatchbacks you can forget your Golfs, Suds and 205s (sorry Dave). The real action is with the Renault 5 Turbo. Distinct looking and fast as hell. The type two version hit 60mph in under 7 seconds which was impressive for the early eighties. Anything but understated which is exactly how we like our hot hatches.

5. The Delahaye 135

This car has shot to prominence again lately due to the fact that it featured in a whisky ad with Jude Law. A car so stunning you had to be reminded that Mr Law featured in the promo spot at all. It has pedigree too, with victories in F1 and at Le Mans.