During the recent Retromobile in Paris a sad future for the combustion engine was predicted in an extraordinary visual way. Robbert Moree explains.
Thierry Farges, car enthousiast and event manager at Retromobile, takes us to the future, to 2085 to be precise, telling us a story of a legendary survivor. To an era where combustion engines have been prohibited for the last 20 odd years. Some cars, the most exquisite ones, are allowed to survive in museums, where they do exactly that what they weren’t made to do, sit put. All others are deconstructed and recycled. The story goes, so Farges tells us, that one little rebellious vehicle defies the driving ban. Officially this illustrious car has left the purified roads like all others, however recent sightings tell a different story. Eye witnesses claim it to be an early Citroën 2CV that is spotted every now and then in the remote departements of rural France.
Amongst the mountains and forest of rural France some small roads and muddy paths have survived that are hard to monitor. The lack of electronics onboard a such 2CV makes it invisible for modern scanning equipment. It’s vague, faded colour is hard to see on satellite pictures, it’s little engine to small to be picked up by thermal scans. The engineers and scientists are in a real state, all of their innovative techniques worthless in the battle against this little rebel. Their last straw is an old poacher. A man who spent his life catching the most difficult of preys. ‘To catch a simple car’, the old fellow states, ‘you need to have a simple trap’. Thus said, he went to work. This poacher knows his trade, goes back on the ancient inventions of James Henry Atkinson. Broods on his knowledge for a while and eventually constructs a mousetrap large enough to fit a car.
To catch a mouse, one needs cheese, but what do you catch a rogue car with? In the basement of some museum an old jerrycan filled with a highly flammable and stinky fluid is found, the weathered label says ‘petrol’. The malodorous though ever so familiar fumes of the stuff take our poacher back to times long gone. Second thoughts trouble his mind. Wouldn’t it be better to leave the poor thing in peace? It’s days are counted anyway, with rust and decay undoubtedly eating away at the bodywork of the battered old 2CV. The authorities are ruthless, the poacher should soldier on, do what he is told to do. There is not time left for nostalgia and sentimental journeys.
It’s early morning when at the crossroad of two derelict pathways in a hidden valley, where the rebel 2CV has allegedly been seen last, the trap is set. Not long after the typical snoring sound of the 2CV’s flat twin is heard for the first time in ages. It’s week yellow light beams vaguely present in the morning fog, trying to focus on the can of petrol. As if the little cars headlights can’t believe what they’ve just spotted! Petrol! For a brief moment the rebel car seems to hesitate, than the longing for petrol takes over and it races towards the jerrycan. Af awful sound of metal on metal screams through the silent morning, followed by a short, last cry of tearing sheet metal. The old poacher and the people representing the authorities are only just in time to witness the final convulsions of the rebel 2CV, the last of the fossil fueled automotive Mohicans. Quietly the headlights peter out, a drop of oil leaks from the little engine, a last puff in the battered exhaust. The last 2CV, a car that was thought to be immortal, has ceased to be. A legend is born. The very end of the last motorcar in the wild. The story goes that there was no-one behind the wheel of the 2CV…
To accompany his compelling story Thierry Farges had a life size copy made of these last few moments of the trusty motorcar. A sculpture situated in the middle of the floor at Retromobile 2019. A harsh though fitting tribute to the combustion engine. To freedom. To the survivors.