of Pacific Citroën News Number
001 of the Pacific Citroën News was published in September 2002.
This publication resulted from the merger of three Pacific Coast Citroën
- News by Citroën
Auto Club Canada Vancouver, BC
Communique by North West Citroën Owners Club Seattle, WA
Car Club Newsletter by Citroën Car Club Los Angeles, CA
by Citroën Auto
Club Canada Vancouver, BC
CANADA "THE WESTERN STORY"
by Chris Adshead (Vancouver, BC)
It's all Ralph Nader's fault; well at least that's whom many of us
blame. Simply put, Citroën effectively left the North American
market in 1972. Yes, they did sell a few SM's until 1975 but the last
batch of D Series came over in 1972. They were shipped without
headlights, and then were retrofitted with stationary buckets and
sealed beam headlights by the few remaining dealers... over here.
The summer of 1972 was an anxious time for companies and dealers who
had an investment in the Citroën brand. The factory was not being
supportive, and nor were they giving out much information on the
future of the marque in Canada or the USA.
Into this tense situation at the main Citroen office on Burrard
Street in Vancouver BC, arrived a group of keen young Citroën
enthusiasts from Victoria BC. Rupert Downing, John Long, and Stewart
Young were in Vancouver looking for advice and some funding to start a
new club. History proved that it would be a fruitless trip, with few
Citroën cars being imported by the factory, there was little
interest in club sponsorship.
Despite a lack of official support, Rupert and his friends published
the first newsletter of "Citroën Club Canada" in
February 1973 from John's bedroom. As John has told me it was a lot of
work especially as the only "model" they had for the
newsletter was the British "Citroenian." So based out of
Victoria BC, they covered all of Canada. In this early period of the
club's history, the main concern was that Citroën was giving up
on the North American market. Much lobbying and letter writing was
done. The following letter from the then Prime Minister of Canada,
sums it up:
"Dear Mr. Downing, Thank you for your letter of the 4th
telling me about the problems of Canadian Citroen Owners. Being
something of an automobile buff myself, I appreciate the technological
qualities of the Citroen, and sympathize with your feelings. However,
the Ministry of Transport has the responsibility and the obligation to
set safety standards for motor vehicles, and neither the Minister nor
his officials can ignore the laws passed by Parliament on the matter.
Whether the laws and regulations should be improved is always a good
question, and in the event that the Honourable Jean Marchand can give
me some helpful advice or guidance, I will forward your letter to his
office. After I have heard from him, I will write further.
With best regards,
Very sincerely, Pierre Elliott Trudeau"
It is not known if we ever did hear further from the Prime Minister!
In 1974, my late wife Monika and I had just arrived back in Canada,
after living in Germany. In Europe we had owned a Citroën AK van
(our second with the first being a delightful AK250 when we lived in
Winnipeg.) In May I was driving through Kitsilano and spotted a red
2CV, the owner Adrian Stott and I chatted about Citroëns and he
told me about the club. He was excited that a big meeting was planned
for the next month.
This first large gathering of the club was held at Rupert Downing's
home in Victoria on June 8th 1974. It was at this meeting that the
decision was made to change the clubs name from "Club Citroën
Canada" to a more fully bi-lingual one. So we became "Citroen
Autoclub Canada." At its height there were over 300 members. Over
the next couple of years the club spluttered on and it evolved from
being a lobby group to more of a social club. The newsletters we
produced at that time were very simple but they did the job.
Monika and I helped by other local enthusiasts put out a few issues
of the newsletter. Some of the founding members fell by the wayside,
and producing the newsletter was taken over by Robert Buchanan in
Montreal. He approached the project with a printer's zeal and provided
the most professional magazine up to that date. This was a long time
before the common use of computers and the Internet. Under Robert's
care, local representatives sent in stories from across the country,
and with Bernard Steinberg's help, the magazine was bi-lingual and
entertaining. But (there always seems to be a "but" doesn't
there!) this ended in early 1978. Robert felt that the membership was
dwindling due to the lack of new cars. He later published some mini
bulletins but by 1982 all Western Canadian contact was lost with this
After the demise of the Montreal based group, many of the original BC
members kept in contact. The local repair shops and the Hollywood
Citroën Car Club newsletter kept us up to date. Being gluttons
for punishment, Monika and I decided that we would try again. We knew
that Expo '86 was going to be a big event and that Adam Reif had
planned a RAID from Montreal to Vancouver. We wanted to ensure that
there was a decent sized reception when the Raiders arrived in BC.
We published our "first edition" in May 1985, and continued
to run the club until April 1990 when we published issue 50. At that
time there were well over 100 members, mostly in BC and Alberta.
Finding that the work of running the club and putting out ten
newsletters per year was getting to be too much, we looked for other
members to take on the responsibility. Not finding any volunteers, our
friends in Washington State agreed to merge their club with ours.
Monika and I continued to produce the newsletter for "a while".
That while became two years and our last issue was number 70 in April
Although we "ran" the club, it would not have been possible
without the help and support of many people. A few of those who helped
then, and continue enthusiastically now are Doreen Berrington, Richard
Caspersen, Gary & Karoline Cullen, Beth Lindsay, Brian Yates,
Walter Zell and (while he was not in on the beginnings of the club, he
sure has been a key player since 1986) John MacGregor. My thanks to
you all for your support and help. Today the Northwest Citroën
Owners Club/Citroën Autoclub Canada continues to thrive under the
direction of a dedicated group in Seattle.
In early 1986 we had discovered with great joy that there was another
offshoot of the original club based in Toronto. As I write I know that
club is still active and enjoys good membership. However, British
Columbia is not totally without a Citroën "club". On
Monika's birthday in 1993 we were talking to John MacGregor. We were
discussing Ralph Nader and his political career. I said that I felt
his book "Unsafe at any Speed" had not only killed off the
Corvair, but also had put the final nail in the coffin of Citroën's
sales in North America. There were two major concerns at the time. It
was considered by some that the turning headlights were dangerous, and
the factory believed that the cost of meeting the crash tests with
their varying bumper height made it too expensive for them to stay in
As we discussed this history, we realized that despite it all, there
was still a faithful following for the make over here. Enthusiasts
were importing older cars and interest in 2CV's especially was rising.
That day we started 2CVBC. Don't we ever learn!
Communique by North
West Citroën Owners Club Seattle, WA
Car Club Newsletter by
Citroën Car Club Los Angeles, CA
History of Citroën
Car Club Newsletter and Pacific Citroën News
by Allan Meyer, CCC Editor (Hollywood, CA)
The Citroën Car Club was started by Joe Bruman (see interview)
in 1956. Joe placed an ad in Road & Track magazine looking for
other Citroën owners for correspondence. On January 24, 1957 the
first "Southern California Citroën Club letter No. 1"
was mailed to twelve recipients. Of those 12, Don Runnalls and Joe
Bruman himself still attend club events on occasion. From the very
beginning, the club had a member in Vancouver, BC, one in Maryland,
and one in Minnesota.
Joe kept writing and mailing his letters to a steadily increasing
group of Citroën owners all over the USA. The club and Joe's
letters did not yet have an official name, so early issues were titled
"Un-Named Citroën Club Letter No. 3" and so forth.
After three letters, the publication was named "Citroën Car
Club Newsletter" starting with the 19 March, 1957 issue. The club
became official by incorporating in the state of California on May 15,
The club's secretary Lee O'Malley became responsible for creating the
Newsletter and took over as Editor in April 1960. The CCC Newsletter
had a wobbly history right from the beginning and gaffes like sending
the local membership to Carmel Valley, CA on the wrong weekend for a
club meeting resulted in an embarrassed Editor. The club was growing
steadily and work for the board members was increasing.
It was obvious from correspondence in the Newsletter that Citroën
dealers and staff, such as Bob Murphy were reading and keeping up with
CCC activities. Articles appeared concerning the history of
front-drive cars such as Cugnot's 1769 artillery carriage, the Phänomobil,
the experimental 1959 Kaiser Aluminum-2CV project, the German Ford
Taunus 12 M, the original Kaiser-Frazer design, the 1949 Gregory and
others. Technical extracts from Citroën's dealer bulletins
appeared regularly. CCC members took their Tractions and D models
racing in Southern California, only to be disqualified and reinstated
for an incorrect statement of horsepower.
June 9-10, 1962 marked the first joint Citroën Car Club-
Sacramento Valley Citroën Club Rally in Asilomar, CA. This event,
the "Rendezvous Rally" became an annual meet, which is still
held each year. The idea was first proposed by Lee Sargent, an SVCC
member. 104 people attended the event in 48 cars, some families
bringing two Citroëns. Photos from the event were problematic to
reproduce, but this did not stop the Editor from trying.
Hyman Rotkel took over the Newsletter in February 1963. CCC members
were tracking the personnel changes at Citroën Cars Corporation:
Rene France came from New York to handle West Coast sales, while
former local manager Armand Garnier went to South America, and Claude
Braux returned to France. A 1960 photo was published of CCC member Lee
O'Malley with his ripple-bonnet 2CV at Independence Pass (Hwy 82), the
Continental Divide, elevation 12,095 feet.
Don Black took over the Newsletter for seven issues, ceding to Jim
McKenzie for the next 11 issues, up to November 1965. Membership was
increasing rapidly, with 30 to 40 "Welcome to New Members"
entries each month. CCC member John Bagley was tracking the creation
of a Corvair-powered ID-19 Hotrod by Bud Winfield's Custom Shop in
Modesto, CA. It is believed this vehicle later appeared on television
Joe Werling took over in November 1965 becoming the longest running
Newsletter Editor in CCC history, producing 114 issues over 9 years.
Correspondence from around the USA was beginning to show that the
Citroën factory dealer network was not maintaining the standards
of service which American consumers expect. A full-page missive from a
CCC member in Iowa showed amply the lack of support which would help
doom Citroën sales in the USA in only seven years.
Joe Werling threw himself into the Editor's job, often personally
creating Newsletter cover illustrations in pen-and-ink, at a time when
photographs could be reproduced properly in print. The majority of
member letters concerned technical problems with the cars- and ideas
to fix them. New members were still arriving in bunches of 25 per
month. In the January 1970 issue Citroën Cars Corp announced the
opening of their new $750,000 West Coast facility at 12615 Beatrice
Street, near Marina Del Rey. Rumors circulated that the new GS would
be imported to the USA.
Joe Werling was the first Newsletter Editor take production out of
California when he moved to Cusick, WA on the Pend Oreille River, a
place so small he did not have a telephone. Werling presided over the
CCC Newsletter at a time when US bumper, headlight and emissions
regulations were making life difficult for foreign car importers. It
was not yet clear that Citroën would begin a slow death in North
America in the early 1970's. The 2CV had never been a showroom fixture
and the first round of US safety and emissions regulations in 1968
caused it to disappear. The Ami 6 was being phased out both in Europe
and the USA. Importation of Méharis ended in 1971. The D models
were stopped in August 1972. Citroën stated that because D model
production was moving to a new factory at Aulnay it was more
cost-effective to quit producing the US export version.
Citroën was considering opening separate dealerships to sell the
SM, which was doing "well" in the US market, with nearly
1000 cars sold by 1972. The NHTSA was debating granting a
bumper-height and 5-mph crashworthiness exemption for the Citroën
SM based on the low sales volume, docket EX73-3 in the Federal
Register vol. 38 no. 92. CCC members from Gesner's Foreign Car Service
in Fall River, MA organized "The Great Citroën Smash".
This was an empirical demonstration of crash performance using a 1962
ID 19, a 1966 ID 19 and a 1961 Oldsmobile F-85 as the subjects. Not
surprisingly, the Citroëns performed better due to the crumple
ability at both ends of the car.
Rendezvous 1973's featured speakers were Bob Murphy from Citroën
Cars Corp and designer Alex Tremulis, stylist of the 1948 Tucker. Talk
continued that Citroën would import the GS with either the
4-cylinder engine or with the planned Comotor Wankel engine by 1975.
NHTSA denied Citroën's SM exemption saying in so many words:
you're a grown up company, so quit whining and make the changes like
everyone else is. Sharp-eyed members suggested stockpiling parts since
Citroën was going the way of Hudson-Essex-Terraplane and other
orphan brands in the USA.
Tom Harper, who was also CCC President at the time became Newsletter
Editor in August 1975, for 85 issues. Indications were that Citroën
was still serious about importing cars in the future as they had again
petitioned the NHTSA to certify that the central hydraulic brake
system provided more reserve braking than the required split-circuit
system. NHTSA agreed for once. News circulated about the new CX 2000.
The January-February 1979 issue of the CCC Newsletter announced that
Citroën had returned to the US market through the efforts of
Trend Imports in Hermosa Beach, CA. The vehicles to be sold were the
GS, CX and CX Diesel. Several CCC members purchased and drove the
Trend cars for years. US enthusiasts had returned to the days before
1955 when Citroëns were not factory imports. The Citroën Car
Club put up a display alongside the Trend cars at the 1979 Los Angeles
Auto Expo. Jerry Hathaway and SM World prepared to take the Bonneville
land speed record in Class F/ Altered, which they did, beating the old
record by 11 mph. Welcome to New Members still averaged 30 per issue.
One of the first modern Citroën cross-country group trips "Raid
USA" arrived in Westminster, CA in August 1982. A presentation at
Rendezvous 1982 in Solvang convinced several members to participate in
future Raids. Sporadic small import ventures supplied just enough new
Citroëns to keep the members interested.
The CCC Newsletter from November 1983 marked the last locally
produced magazine, as Karl Petersen in Boise, ID became the publisher,
with Tom Harper remaining as Editor. The first announcement for Raid
Canada in 1986 appeared.
Rendezvous 1984 marked the first time the Citroën Car Club
raffled a car. Members Tom Harper, Pete Smay and Bill Heacox
reconditioned a 1961 2 CV. Heacox won the car by purchasing over $100
of raffle tickets. On view was an American-made Trihawk, a GSA-powered
three-wheel sports roadster and a French BFG motorcycle also
Karl Petersen took over as Editor starting January 1985 for 40
issues. The 1985 Calendar Issue had the first ad from World of Citroën
who were importing 2 CVs as kit cars. Under Petersen's stewardship,
the CCC Newsletter won several Golden Quill awards, and became
arguably the most professional-looking it had ever been. The CCC had
produced a 2 CV Charleston poster based on photography by Jeff Zwart
for Road & Track magazine. Rendezvous 1985 featured a visit by
Alain Chaix, who was circumnavigating the planet in a 2 CV AK400. Ads
for Target Imports touted another line of kit car 2 CV imports,
proposing full convertible and jeep-style bodies.
The Rendezvous issue, number 6, 1986 featured some of the Raid Canada
participants, and the appearance of 1956 DS 19 number 425, belonging
to Tom Behnfield. Jerry Hathaway brought his El Camino, an SM
beautifully remodeled into a pickup truck. Issue 2 for 1987 featured
the CCC's first All French Car Show, created as a counterbalance to
the exclusive local Le Cercle Concours. 1987 number 7 carried a story
about the upcoming Citroën DX (XM) replacement for the CX.
Membership had peaked and was beginning to fall off due to the age of
the cars and owners.
Allan Meyer took control of the CCC Newsletter in August 1989 for 52
issues. Meyer set a new production record, doing six issues in the
first three months to clear the backlog. At least one member wrote in
to call the publication "Citroën Daily". Stories
covered the life of the 2 CV, which had just ended production in
France. The only new 2 CVs would be produced in Portugal. Former CCC
President Lincoln Sarmanian continued his serialized adventures with
Talk of producing a collaborative magazine with other Citroën
clubs had been circulating since the late 1980's when the Citroën
Car Club of Ohio wanted to stop producing their own magazine. A
meeting at the Whistler Westcoast Weekend in 1991 resulted in the
Northwest Citroën Owners Club and Citroën Autoclub Canada
combining their clubs and newsletters to produce "Citroën
Communiqué". A proposal to combine magazines resulted, but
nothing resulted in the short term, likely due to the primitive state
of Internet communications.
August 1990 marked the end of 42 years of 2 CV production,
commemorated with the 2 CV Special Issue 363. The 2 CV issue was the
most expensive Newsletter ever produced, to the consternation of
everyone involved. November 1990 saw information about Citroën
planning to re-enter the US market with the XM alongside the Peugeot
605. Neither car was imported officially. Citroën was unhappy
with grey-market imports of CX models and made sure to disavow any
responsibility for the cars on US soil in a page-long letter.
Allan Meyer was the second Newsletter Editor who had moved production
to a small Washington town, Vashon, and did not have a telephone. CCC
Newsletters continued bring news from the membership and new cars like
the ZX. The membership decline had stabilized for the time being. June
1991 saw a story on making the movie "Killer Tomatoes Eat France"
using several CCC members' 2 CVs. The August 1991 issue revealed that
not only was Citroën not importing the XM, but that Peugeot
itself was quitting the US market. News of the Citroën Xantia
broke cover in 1993, while the story of Red Dellinger's 15-6 Cabriolet
was revealed in the next issue. A comparison of the Citroën DS
and the Tatra 603 appeared soon after.
John Spencer took on the CCC Newsletter for 9 issues beginning
December 1994. John commemorated the 40th Anniversary of the Citroën
Car Club by interviewing the founder Joe Bruman. The Xanae show car
from 1995 showed a return to radicalism by Citroën after ten
years of conservative models. The production version would be the
Jeff Savage, the publisher of AutoPhyle magazine, agreed to take over
the CCC Newsletter in 1996 for 7 issues. Savage, based in Santa Cruz
County, CA did more original writing per issue than any previous
Editor. One story was a comparison of a Panhard PL-17 to then
contemporary Mercury Mystique. Louisa Bergner became the publisher of
CCC Newsletter in March 1998, and the Board, interested in keeping
production of the Newsletter strictly local acted as committee
Allan Meyer came on for his second tour of duty in July 1999, for 22
issues. Stories covered the Car of the Century contest and the GS
Birotor in January 2000. The design history of the DS 19 was told when
the D won "Product of the Century". When the 12th ICCCR
event was announced for the USA in 1999, at first no one took it too
seriously. It quickly became apparent that the best time to combine
the various clubs' magazines would be the "review issue" for
the ICCCR which was shaping up to be the biggest Citroën
enthusiast event in North America. Discussions at Rendezvous 2001 in
Lompoc confirmed this theory. NWCOC President Lincoln Sarmanian
produced a sample copy of Pacific Citroën News and the title
stuck. Thus, the first issue of PCN was duly produced in September
Meyer saw the last official issue of the Citroën Car Club
Newsletter produced the day before leaving for the 12th ICCCR in
August 2002, and continues as the first Publication Coördinator
for PCN, while Chris Adshead of CAC, Chris Dubuque of NWCOC, and Meyer
of CCC act as Editors for their individual clubs.