6. Februar 2023
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Andrew Milne-Skinner presenting his Citroën Traction-Avant (1956)

Andrew with Daniel and Omar. Foto: privat
Lesedauer ca. 2 Minuten

The word ‘oldtimer’ in English refers to a man in his late 60s, 70s, 80, or even 90s! The German word ‘Oldtimer’ is usually translated as ‘classic car’.

Andrew Milne-Skinner (aged 74) and his Citroën Traction-Avant (aged 65): a ‘Self-Interview’

How long have you owned the car?

Since 1971, imported from St Omer in France to London, then brought to Tirol in 1972. Driven here in the 1980s, then dry-stored since then.

And the future?

We are now restoring the car here in Inzing, thanks to Daniel Hofmüller and Omar, our Syrian Kurd. The body is sound, thankfully, and we are doing a complete mechanical overhaul: steering, suspension, brakes, fuel and exhaust systems. We hope to have her back on the road in the spring of 2022! If the Inzinger Oldtimerclub manage to hold their annual show at the parking areas by the swimming-pool at the end of April, then she will appear there….

We will then drive her across Eastern France to Calais, then all the way up to Scotland, where she will live in a farm-barn, but be used in the summers.

How about spare parts?

From Detmold in Germany and Depanoto, near Chartres in France, costing quite a lot!  Many parts are newly made for members of various Traction clubs in Europe, for example, the Citroën-Veteranen-Club, based in Munich. I am a member of that club, and our main contact there, Josef, has been very helpful in lending us specialist tools, for example, the front-wheel hub-puller.

And the model itself?

She’s a 1956 Citroën  11 BN, 4-cylinder, 1911 cc, 56 bhp. The Traction-Avant was introduced in 1934…a revolutionary car! Front-wheel drive, complete body without a chassis, torsion-bar suspension…! New and radical. Our model is one of the very last! I have owned 5 Traction-Avants in my life.

Symbolfoto aus Wikipedia. File:Citroën Traction Avant 2.JPG – Wikimedia Commons

What is she like to drive?

A joy, when she is running well! Behind the wheel, looking out ahead over her large flaring wings, her thrusting bonnet and rounded chrome headlamps….she offers a new perspective, a trip down memory lane, as if we were driving down the old Route Nationale 7 in France to the Côte d’Azur.

What about the myths surrounding the Traction Citroën?

 What interests me is the cultural history of this model: used by the French Résistance in the 1940s, adopted by the German SS in Paris. She (the car is female!) gained a legendary reputation in the post-War period as the gangster’s getaway car….and here in Austria she is usually called the ‘Gangsterlimousine’!  The car starred in French crime films of the 1950s…and used  by Maigret! The French chanson singer Léo Ferré, in his song Paris Canaille, mentions the Traction-Avant:

‘Paris bandit/ Aux mains qui glissent/ T’as pas d’amis/ Dans la police/Hold-up savants/ Pour la chronique/ Traction-Avant/ Pour la tactique.’

 (for tactics when planning a bank hold-up)!

 Now the Traction-Avant, with its charismatic lines, and shield-shaped chevrons on the front radiator grill, is a cult car par excellence! She positively reeks of cultural history and nostalgia.

Bonne Route!

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Sandrew

Andrew and Sandra were both born in Scotland and both studied at the University of St Andrews, although they didn’t know each other then. Andrew is an English teaching professional with 40 years’ experience at school and University level. He has held seminars all over Europe and is still active in professional development for teachers and in related publishing. Andrew moved to Inzing from Innsbruck in 1998. He has worked in Austria for most of his working life. He is a great reader and has an impressive library. His other interests include classic cars and football. Sandra had a varied career as a manager in public services in the UK, finally specializing in Customer Service. She spent the last part of her working life as a freelance management consultant. She is also qualified to teach English and is a member of the Institute of Customer Service (UK). Her hobbies include gardening, hillwalking and cycling. She and Andrew married in August 2006 and Sandra moved to Inzing in 2011 when they built their house in Brechtenweg. Andrew and Sandra are members of the Inzing Freundeskreis für Integration and help to run a fortnightly Sprachcafé for newcomers. Andrew was a contributor to the Radio Enterbach project in 2009 and Andrew and Sandra now make two programmes for Freirad, Poetry Café and reading Circle (both in English). They are keen to ensure that the Dorfzeitung remains a meaningful and useful publication which offers something to everyone who lives in the village.

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