behind the wrench, Helping a 4cv to race from Paris to Marseille

In 2014 i was asked to help for the support of a race car for the Tour Auto, a recreation of the original week long race across France.

We are in deep sh.t here


The first car is a mgb, build for race and frenquently used for that, but the other one is a fifty years old 4cv, stored in a museum for decades. It's the personnal race car of Adrien Maeght (i let you google but yes it's the Braque, Calder and Giacometti's Maeght).

The famous "pipe autobleu" and yes, no air filter

So One week before the race, i start to ask about the maintenance of the car. No worries, every thing is fine. 5 days before the race i ask to see the car and about the spare parts. 3 days before the race (the friday) i finally get to see the car and, oh god, the week-end is going to be short and the week very long.

In fact, Kurt Cobain was alive for the last oil change, there is a water leak, and something is terribly wrong with the first spark plug. It wriggle, a lot, and i giggle almost as much, it must be the nerves.


And that is were the fun began


To make it short, a fifty years old race car, with no maintenance for at least the two last decades, no spare parts, a water leak , and a lawn mower spark plug on the "every single thing inside is specific and F.......ing rare" engine. By a lot of chance the plug is too long but also too thin, so the piston hit it at each rotation but it have the place to move in the thread.

The lucky driver put the car back in the parking with only three cylinders and I take my motorcycle and head to Melun to get some spare parts from a specialist. Descision is taken to just change the oil, the spark plugs and to see what we can do for the water leak. No time for anything else and we don't want them not to take the departure because we broke something.

Let me be clear, even with the heavily tuned engine we are at best around 40hp. This car is going to be driven flat out for an entire week.

Jean Rocheford

Next day, two days before the race, we operate. Changing the failing durit, a double oil change in hope to get most of the mud out (quite cheap, the engine take only around two liters). The car is ready to head for the grand palais. Yep, it's Jean Rochefort, the french voice of Winnie the Pooh (among a lot of other things). It's quite something for me.

Picnic Bucolique. The slowest car of the race, but we still take our time.

The race week could be resumed like this: One liter of oil (half the capacity) twice a day, a lot of water and a spark plug change before bed.

Le vehicule d'assistance rapide

Le vehicule d'assistance rapide

With the knowlege of someone in the public in Valence we adjust the breaks (did i mention i'm absolutly not a mechanic?), the equipage get some help with the delco by an unknow good samaritan in the middle of the Alps while we are getting the other car ready for a special stage 3 hours ahead.

After 2000km of race the car stop burning all is oil by an unkown magic, but too late, we already are in Marseille. But it still spill water in the engine bay.

A last cluch adjusting before we head back to Paris

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