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Surrey Vintage Vehicle Society caters for veteran cars, vintage cars & classic cars, as well as commercials and motorcycles.

:: [ A brief History of Andre Citroen and of the 5CV Citroen Model C ] ::
(Written in 2001)

Part 1/.  Brief History of Bozi Mohacek's 1921 Citroen 5CV " L'Escargot ".
Part 2/.  Andre Citroen and his introduction to double chevron gears.
Part 3/.  Andre Citroen and his connection with Mors and Munitions.
Part 4/.  Formation of the 'S.A. Andre Citroen' Car Company.
Part 5/.  Brief History of the Model C 5CV Citroen.

Part 1/.  Brief History of Bozi Mohacek's 1921 Citroen 5CV " L'Escargot "

My first and still my favourite vintage car is a 1921 Citroen Model C which I still own and will probably have great difficulty in ever parting with. The car was purchased in England from a Surrey vintage car dealer in November 1983 after it had been imported as part of a private collection of historic cars from a museum in Holland. The car was relatively inexpensive, dusty, brown and immobile, and was immediately given the nickname of L'Escargot. Although it was purchased and registered as being a 1921 5CV Citroen Model C Cabriolet, subsequent investigation of chassis and engine numbers established that the car was probably manufactured in June 1924 having the chassis number 37,600 and engine number V-A 38149.

It was obvious that the car had been very well looked after during its earlier working life. All body and chassis parts were very 'original' and generally undamaged and the bodywork was in very good un-rusty condition. The car had been subsequently very well restored externally to be 'dry stored' as part of the Dutch collection. The restoration, however, had not extended to the chassis, engine and transmission, which all required quite a lot of work to make it suitable for regular road use. This took some nine months and on completion the car was registered  in the UK with a 'period' unused Clackmannanshire registration.

The first UK vintage car outing for the car, and for me, was to the 6th International Citroen Car Clubs Rally meeting at Knebworth in England in August 1984 where on arrival it was suggested that the car should be entered into the concours competition. Not having any idea of what 'concours' was, I agreed. Eventually to my great surprise, and largely in my absence, the car was awarded the Cup for the 'Best Rear Drive Citroen' at the Show, and I was awarded the 'Certificate of Merit' for the work done !! The prizes were presented by the Managing Director of Citroen France.   -  I was hooked !

In view that the car still had on the dashboard the original 'owner nameplate' required during the 1920's by French law, it was known it had at one time belonged to a Mr. E Caurat, Controleur des Contributions Directes (Income Tax Inspector), at le Blanc in France. Early attempts to contact the Caurat Family were unsuccessful and it was not until 1999 that a French car enthusiast resident in England succeeded in contacting a descendant, the daughter, of the original owner.

It seems the original owner, Emmanuel Caurat, had served in the First World War where he was injured by poisoned gas and subsequently spent some time in hospital. He then became an Tax Inspector in Yvetor in Normandy and later moved to Le Blanc. The Model C was purchased in Le Blanc, probably new, in 1924. The car was then a 'military' green and had a black hood. Apparently he did not keep it very long because the daughter remembers as a child that they then purchased a bigger Citroen B2 4 seater which her mother hated because of the frequent breakdowns. The Model C was sold to his brother Marcel some time before 1929 because an aunt remembers that Marcel came to her wedding in 1929 in this car.

Marcel Caurat was also a Tax Inspector and lived in Bordeaux. The Model C, however, was kept in Limousin (Chateau Ponsac) where Marcel had a 'hunting cottage' and where the Model C was used only to go shooting. The car still owned by Marcel subsequently remained in Limousin sharing the barn with a 'Tilbury' horse carriage and many other interesting historical items. 

It was still there in 1972 when the original owner Emmanuel Caurat died, and it remained there for several more years. Marcel Caurat died in 1997 aged 95. The barn and its contents had been sold earlier, possibly as late as 1980. The history of the car between 1980 and 1983 is still a little vague and research continues. The investigation into the car's history led me deeper into finding out more about the Citroen company and its founder, Andre Citroen. The searches unearthed some fascinating facts which are well worth re-telling. The story may be a bit long but makes interesting reading.



(Written in 2001)

  Continue with Part 2/.

Copyright MMI, Bozi Mohacek.  Reproduction only by permission from the Author.

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