Northwest Citroen Owners Club
Northwest Citroen Owners Club
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Creation 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 Club Newsletters:

  • News by Citroën Auto Club Canada Vancouver, BC
  • Citroën Communique by North West Citroën Owners Club Seattle, WA
  • Citroën Car Club Newsletter by Citroën Car Club Los Angeles, CA

News by Citroën Auto Club Canada Vancouver, BC


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 group.

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 1992.

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 our market.

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!

Citroën Communique by North West Citroën Owners Club Seattle, WA

Citroën 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, 1958.

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 in "Bewitched".

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 GS-powered.

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 Raid Franco-Acadian.

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 Xsara Picasso.

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 Editors.

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 2002.

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.

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