For the love of French cars.

I called her Claudette. She was straightforward, confusing, quirky and not too fast on the uptake. She was a strange choice yet she had something about her that made me smile.

Claudette

It was said that the car was unencumbered by an excess of power. The simple act of putting the pedal to the mettle resulted in little more than a gentle increase in velocity. Yet fondness for the car runs deep amongst the millions of drivers who have ever owned it. First introduced in 1961, it became a favourite in over a hundred countries. Along the way, it became one of the most popular French cars of all time and one of the bestselling vehicles of all time. All in all, over eight million models were sold, and it was produced in 28 different countries. It was the type of car that I would have imagined Inspector Clouseau to have driven. I followed in his tyre steps.

The 4L (Quatrelle) was a ubiquitous vehicle that was practical and easy to maintain. The boss of Renault, Pierre Dreyfus (another coincidence) demands that his company was to produce a vehicle that would match the classless appeal of blue jeans. It was such a car and it appealed to motorists of all ages. Although I was a serving police officer with the Metropolitan Police, I found some solace in owning and driving such a car of the people.

It pulled me away from the fact that I was serving in a sector of public control which was well known for its institutionalised racism and right-wing beliefs. My Quatrelle was literally my way out, if a little tardy one.

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