As is true of many Sundays, coffee was first on the list. Our rendezvous was at a Starbucks in Newcastle Washington, where we would get our maps of the day’s tour. And though this was a Northwest Citroen Club meet, the parking lot soon filled up with Ferraris, MGs of all sorts, Porsches, and - most interesting to some - a Lada.
Following the Driver’s meeting, 26 cars left from the parking lot, eager to tour the area’s beautiful twisty roads. I accompanied the tour’s organizer, Paul, in his Panhard. Paul comes from a long line of Panhards, his father and grandfather collectively own eight. You’d be forgiven for drawing a blank on Panhard cars, but the bar they invented should ring a bell. Citroen dealers sold them in the US, albeit briefly.
Paul tells me that this 1960 PL17 has the 850cc 2 cylinder motor, so I figure we’ll be bringing up the rear. I’m completely wrong: three of us in the car don’t seem to phase it - the boxer motor growls with limitless ambition.
We quickly make our way through a nightmare of a suburban subdivision to the promised land of twisty roads. Paul doesn’t treat the car with kid gloves; immediately we’re zipping through the corners. There’s no tire squeal, TONS of body lean though. There are no seat belts in the rear - so I hold on. Paul is having a blast, so am I.
It’s clear that this car isn’t in concours condition, I ask Paul what his future plans are for the car: is he going to restore it? Certainly not, he replies, “Patina is nice.”
The tour pulls in for a break at Lake Wilderness Park in Maple Valley. It’s a perfect setting for photos of the Panhard.
Talking with the owner of the Lada, he tells me a collector in Germany posted pictures online which inspired the wishful email; ‘You want to sell the red one?’ A few thousand dollars and few weeks later, the Lada was on US soil. There’s a lot of Peugeot 505, Volvo 144, and other 80’s boxiness in it’s design, which is entirely Fiat 124. The Lada we’re looking at is a Riva, with a 1300cc motor.
The peaceful park makes a great backdrop for all the cars there.
The owner of a 1967 Ferrari 330 GT 2+2 invites me to join him on the next leg of our trip. It’s classy and far more masculine than the Dino parked next to us. It’s just a little more Clint Eastwood. I take a few photos, and notice I’m sweating a bit. Nerves? No - it’s the heat, pouring through the firewall. But it’s a “good heat,” as it comes from this elegant ship’s V12. Kerry, the owner, bought the car in boxes in 1980 for a pretty good price from a co-worker who got frustrated with the restoration he undertook.
Kerry took auto body classes at a community college, got the body prepped for paint, had the engine sorted and then reassembled the car. The investment of time and money paid off - these cars now go for six figures.
But Kerry’s not about the money, he’s about the car. He demonstrates a few times just how much torque this car has. Does it pull like a freight train? Maybe, I’ve never been in a freight train. It’s a low speed torque that I’ve only experienced in electric cars, and it’s absolutely magical, pulling us up sizable hills from 20mph or so, in fourth gear.
It’s hard not to love this car: it has the sound of power and speed that only exists in childhood imagination. I spent a bit of time considering selling my house, and everything I own, just to own a machine like this.
The tour makes a right, rejoins the world of suburban weekend traffic. Daydreams evaporate as I look from the back end of a Citroen DS-21 wagon over to the coarse, blunt plastic back end of a Chevy Colorado. It’s a bit saddening - why can’t new cars be more whimsical, delicate, and elegant? As everyone parks and heads in to have lunch at our final tour stop, a quick glance around the parking lot reveals that it’s an argument no one in this group would dispute.
it’s for sale:
You just wish it was for sale still, don’t you?