Ask Kevin Beeby why he’s been the owner of multiple models of Citroën over the years and his answer is that they are economical and comfortable. But the brand also holds sentimental value.
“I drove my wife, Bridgitte, in a Citroën on our first date decades ago,” the Aucklander says. He admits Bridgitte was a little embarrassed by the attention garnered sitting in the front seat of the Citroën Traction Avant Big 15; its eye-catching features caused stares from passers-by.
“Even in the 1970s the Citroën stood out as something a bit different,” Kevin says.
Years later, Kevin and Bridgitte searched online in the hope of repurchasing that car. Their search wasn’t successful but Kevin came across another gem in the process: a 1934 Citroën Traction Avant.
Heads turn when Kevin and Bridgitte hit the road in the vintage model with its stunning two-toned paint work. Conversation starters include details such as the ‘trafficators’ – mechanical indicators – jutting out above the front doors, the red leather interior and the wooden dashboard.
The gear shift lever sits high on the dash rather than low near the floor, allowing for uninterrupted interior space and there is no chassis, despite its age. “It was the first front-wheel drive car in production. The Citroën has always been very advanced,” Kevin says. It also drives “just like a modern car” although it lacks power steering.
Kevin added to his collection three years ago with a 2016 Citroën C4 Picasso. Physically, the bold SUV couldn’t be more different to its older cousin but the famous comfort remains, as well as quirks such as the gear shift on the dash.
The SUV is Kevin’s day-to-day ride; both cars are used on road trips around New Zealand and the couple has even hired Citroëns on holidays in Europe.
Bridgitte drives a Citroën as well and, despite the couple’s intentions to not upgrade or add to their collection any time soon, they do keep an eye on new model releases. They admit that the 2019 Citroën C5 Aircross has piqued their interest.
Meanwhile, the 1934 Citroën, affectionately known as Precious, has needed only a little bit of love from Kevin, including fixing the trafficators, air vent and clutch. Despite its age, Precious goes well and makes for a lovely, relaxed drive, including regularly to Hawke’s Bay where the couple participate in the annual Art Deco Festival.
While the days of courting may be in the past, they reckon there are many more adventures to be enjoyed together.
Reported by Monica Tischler for our AA Directions Autumn 2020 issue