Pay Attention, It’s Time For A French Lesson

October 22nd, 2011 by Tim Grimley

The more – and almost certainly even the less – observant amongst you will have noticed that over the last few weeks there have been more than a few tenuous links made between rugby and motoring in this column. And as the biggest match in New Zealand rugby since 1987 is being played out in Auckland’s own theatre of dreams this weekend, it would be all too easy to find one more pretty loose tie-in between the unlikely bedfellows that are egg chasing and motoring.

And so, therefore, I will.

But rather than dwelling too heavily on the sport itself, my focus is rather more on one of the participants in Sunday night’s encounter – the French. As a previous inhabitant of the Northern shores of La Manche, I learned a long time ago that the only thing that could be expected from the French with any degree of certainty is the unexpected.

Ooh la la! Beauty........

Nowhere is this more certain than in the motoring world, where no-one could ever be sure if their next release was going to be a work of beauty, genius, madness or just plain badness. Sometimes, as was the case with the massively opinion polarising 2CV, they managed to do all four at once. Just for the sheer hell of it I suspect.
This is the nation that can give the Citroen DS with one hand – a vehicle of such unquestionable beauty that it makes you wonder why all cars cannot be styled in such a way – and then take it all back again with a monstrosity like the Renault Fuego with the other. But just to keep a sense of mystery, excitement and intrigue in the relationship, every so often they throw you a Peugeot 205 GTi. Followed rather quickly by a Renault Safrane.

Yet for all their little highs and lows, if you ever needed the ultimate proof that our garlic obsessed cousins are capable of crushing the world when it is least expected, look no further than the Bugatti Veyron. Yes, it sounds Italian and yes, a lot of the bits come from parent company VW, but hailing as it does from Molsheim in the Alsace, the Bugatti is every bit as French as impassive shrugging and baguettes. With its roots back in 2005, when the Gallic automotive output was typified by the blandest Peugeots in living memory, the Veyron was a stark reminder that when the Frenchies put their minds to it, they can not only take on the world, but simply blow it away with their effortless style. Continue reading “Pay Attention, It’s Time For A French Lesson” »