Last year, we used my 1949 Paris-built Citroen 11B during the filming of a documentary on the Battle of Britain for BBC 2. Right now, I’m in the middle of making another film, this time about the Dambusters Raid, and once again, my litle old motor has been pressed into service.
Actually, I’ve been using it a hell of a lot recently. Back at the end of May, I had to drive from home in south-west Wiltshire to Hay-on-Wye (with it full to bursting with kit), then to Salcombe for my mother-in-law’s seventieth, then back again. It didn’t blink.
A couple of weeks ago, we had a big filming week in England. On the Monday, I drove from home to Middle Wallop, then up to Oxford for the launching of the Boultbee Flight Academy (more of which later), then on the Tuesday, I had just 3 hours 15 minutes to get to East Kirkby in Lincolnshire. Aaron, our director had pressed upon me the absolute importance of being by the Lancaster at 3pm and no later. I was driving up with my friend Nick Wharmby, instructor of instructors on Apache attack helicopters, and we made it with a minute to spare.
On the Wednesday and Thursday there was plenty more driving around and then on Thursday evening I drove from the centre of Nottingham back to home. Three and a half hours later I was walking through my front door.
In the seven years I’ve had this model, I’ve done just shy of 40,000 ams. Now, I’ll admit that last year it did have a new old engine put in, and I have had the gear ratio changed so that she will cruise at 70mph, but I reckon that’s pretty good going for a car that age. This year, I’ve not been let down once, and that’s despite having an ongoing rings or piston lining issue. This needs to be done, obviously, but I’m not letting anyone other than Andrew Galt touch the car. He’s got a workshop out at Rockbourne, a village just a few miles from me, specialises in old Citroens and I’ve known him for years. He’s a good mate and I trust him explicitly. More than that, he’s been with the car since I bought it and sold me my first Citroen some fifteen years ago. But he’s tied up on other projects at the moment, so I’m having to wait my turn.
It’s not too much of a drama, though. I check the oil and gearbox oil levels regularly and just keep driving. There’s a bit of oily smoke swirling around when I stop at traffic lights, but otherwise the car has been rock solid all the way. Frankly, she’s been a joy to drive.