GETTING more than 4,000 classic and heritage Citroen cars with their owners to a fairly remote village tucked away in the French countryside for a weekend celebrating 100 years of the car maker is a mammouth exercise.
Even more so when the whole three-day event was organised and run solely by hundreds of volunteers and Citroen aficionadoes and took over three years of planning.
It was certainly a unique occasion for the event which attracted both owners and car enthusiasts not only from across France but throughout Europe along with thousands of spectators who descended on the village of La Ferte Vidame, some 78 miles west of Paris.
Officially called the Citroen Collectors' Gathering it involved a weekend of celebrations of both historic Citroen cars but also a glimpse of Citroen cars of tomorrow.
The reason for the remote location was that it was in the old chateau grounds where Citroen had its original test track, still used today too, and where the iconic 2CV was first developed before the Scond World War broke out.
With many 2CVs on show plus a plethora of classic Citroen cars from over the years one of the stars of the show was the appearance of three pre-war 2CVs now fully renovated.
Xavier Crespin of Citroen Heritage who co-ordinated the event explained: "When war broke out Citroen had 250 2CVs here being tested but rather than let the advancing German army have them they were all destroyed except for five.
"Of those five just four remain and they were hidden away from the Germans in the roof of a local barn and were not discovered until 1994," he continued. "Once they were discovered extensive renovation was carried out and today they are in fine shape and just as they were back in 1939.
"I think they epitomise the really true emotional spirit that has for many years and will for many in future generations I'm sure always be associated with Citroen cars," he said. "To have hundreds of volunteers who have Citroen close to their heart to get together here and put on such a fantastic 100 years of celebration of the marque is testament to the quite unique following the name of Citroen has and long may it continue."
The test track, which has been at times been jointly owned by Michelin, is still active today and used by Citroen to test current and models of the future.
"It's a unique setting and so quiet and remote which of course was essential to help develop the 2CV cars in secret and over the weekend we have been able to use it to take guests on half hour drives in many of the classic Citroen cars on display," added Mr Crespin. "All the cars on display belong to their owners many of who will be going on to the annual Citroen owners' event which this year is being held in Croatia.
"We are grateful for not only all the hard work of the many volunteers involved in putting this event on but also for those owners who have brought their own cars to this event, which is well over 4,000 with a good 30 per cent of them coming here from all over Europe," he went on.
"It also gives the ordinary motorist a chance to see the continued evolution of Citroen cars over the years and how far advanced they were in their day," he said. "And this evolution continues today and perhaps in another 100 years' time we can hold another similar event here to celebrate."
He added: "Citroen has always had a unique place in the automotive industry and despite the ever changing world I am sure it will continue to have its own special niche."
Among the scores of classic Citroen cars on show there were models once owned and used by famous film stars, celebrities, royalty and world leaders including the first President of France, Charles de Gaulle.