Friday August 23, 2019
‘The acceleration isn't her best asset, but it is fun to see a lot of modern cars stuck behind me. In modern traffic, I would advise no more than 60 mph - but on a flat road with the wind in my back I can drive up to 73 mph’.
Guylaine Bouriaud would be the first to say that few people brought a Citroën Dyane 6 for its blistering top speed, but then it is a car that offers so much else. There is the dashboard-mounted gear-lever, the full-length fabric sunroof, the fascia with a speedometer that looks as though it was adapted from a radiogram dial and the seats that could be removed for picnics or even a school sports day. And then there is the cry of the 602cc engine in full spate – ‘I have tested it once. It is like being in a washing machine’.
This splendid machine is a left-hand-drive model, and two years after Guylaine came by this fine car, she decided to embark on its refurbishment – ‘my French friend Gerard helped me to restore it. I knew little about mechanics and nothing about metal work - I had to learn everything’. The bodywork and sourcing parts were the most challenging aspects of returning the Dyane to full health, but the results were more than worth the efforts. ‘I finished the restoration of the Dyane in December 2013 15 days before my move to England. I moved it from Brest in Britany to Ashford at that time in April 2014; the best trip ever of my life’.
The background to the Dyane is well-known; by the mid-1960s Citroën believed that the 2CV formula could be re-defined for a new generation of motorists, as well as bridging the gap between the 1948 masterpiece and the Ami 6. There was the further issue of major competition from the Renault 4 plus the fact that La Regie was planning the slightly more refined 6. The Dyane was essentially the Deux Chevaux formula writ large, down to the 425cc engine, but with a fifth door and rather appealing “square-cut” bodywork.
Citroën launched the Dyane in August 1967, and by January of the following year the “6” version came with a 602cc motor, which meant for slightly better Autoroute performance. Sales initially outstripped the 2CV, but by 1970 the Deux Chevaux proved to be more commercially popular than this young up-start. Production of the Dyane ended in 1983 (the Acadiane light commercial ran until 1987), seven years before the demise of the 2CV.
But this is not to imply that the Dyane was inferior to its older stablemate, for it is a car with a most individual persona and it was also the first small post-war Citroën to appeal to the British motorists. Sales of the Slough-built 2CV and its Bijou successor were limited, and official Deux Chevaux imports would not commence until 1973. As for the Ami 6, that was available only ‘to special order’, but by the late 1960s the Dyane appealed to any number of art school lectures and weekend hippies whose group played numbers by The Pentangle in their local wine bar.
And of course, thousands of Dyanes were acquired by people who respected affordable transport with integrity, versatility, charm and quite incredible amounts of verve. By 1975 a UK-market cost a very reasonable £1,085, although any neighbour who regarded the Ford Cortina 2000E as the epitome of style would probably be confounded by the Citroën’s approach to interior décor. The front doors have sliding panes while the rear doors boasted fixed panes and starting involves a very 1950s procedure of pressing a button and then turning the key.
The array of “luxuries” included an ashtray, a hand wheel beneath the dashboard to adjust the headlamp beam, in the event of you having to carry several bushels of hay or crates of vin ordinaire. There is also include a starting handle which Guylaine has used ‘once after the restoration, - it was hard work but fun to start her like that’. Should you be feeling particularly extravagant, the optional extras included a rear parcel shelf, a folding back seat and separate front seats.
Guylaine wisely describes Dyane motoring thus: ‘it is un "art de vivre" to drive it. I have to confess I did struggle a lot with the gear-lever at the beginning, but cornering is the best part, it is when you become one with the car.’ For winter there is the plastic cover for the grille but ‘only if it is very cold because her engine can warm up very quickly’. By contrast, the heater (which is devoid of a fan,) is notoriously useless, and this writer will never forget travelling by 1972 Dyane 6 during the “Big Winter” of 1978 – 1979 when the cabin was assailed by jets of freezing air from what felt like every corner. Guylaine’s response to this issue is a highly practical one – ‘I always have a blanket in my car.’
For many years, this remarkable Citroën was an overlooked member of their “Flat Twin” family and even when Guylaine came by her 6 ‘a lot of 2CV enthusiasts told me I was ridiculous to have bought a Dyane’. However, when the restoration was complete ‘they all asked me about my contacts because they suddenly they realised how rare it was’. Naturally the Bouriaud Citroën attracts much public attention, as befitting one of the most delightful vehicle of its era, and as Guylaine puts it – ‘I love the Dyane's eccentricities, you live with this car’.
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With Thanks To: Guylaine Bouriaud