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A Private Collection


Mike Meakin

Having hosted 2 delightful people in 2015 under the "jumelage" (twinning arrangements) locally, it was our turn this year, to visit them. Transport was the ubiquitous "coach" (all 16.5 tonnes, 14m length, 55 seats and rear axle-steering, of it). Curiously, it was actually limited to 100kph (about 62 mph). Inevitably, I bagged the seat behind (and above!) the driver – everyone sits "en haut", roughly 1.3/4 off the bottom – the ground floor contains the luggage and the downstairs loos. The "bus" (the French call it ‘the car’) quickly reached 100 kph at 1,600 rpm even on small local, Norfolk roads. Front wheels set well back, the front "overhang" and rear wheel steer makes for tight corner negotiating, rather scary manoeuvres.

Anyway, that’s all by-the-by, except for on the periphérique in rush hour, the idiot in a new Golf decided that he would "squeeze in to the 3m gap between our bus and a lorry" (clearly expecting the LHD driver to see him and let him in). Unfortunately, our UK driver was on the right, so delete much of the right hand side of the Golf and scratch some decals on the 16.5 tonne coach.

Purpose of the message is that our host, a recently retired "speciality chauffeur" (Patrick speaks no English and doesn’t want to – we got on famously!) has a friend, Gerard Veignal, who "has some cars".

La Grange Retro, is Gerrard’s collection of cars, bicycles, velos, scooters and automotive ephemera in an unlikely storage facility in a modern housing edevelopement. Patrick’s mother-in-law lives next door. Over the road, in Gerard’s house garage is a 1950’s Renault "Fluidrive" and an unrestored 1970’s Simca 1200 Coupé. Gerard is a retired coachbuilder, passionate about cars – his collection is those cars etc he has not sold on.

Gerard was extremely interested in pictures of the Pembleton. Usually, he only opens the Museum at weekends, during "the season", but if a Pembleton happened to be passing by, he would welcome a phone call and would "open up" specially.

Unlike most museum collections, he is keen to give "hands-on" experience of his cars and other exhibits. I had never seen a Vespa 2 seater car before! All of Gerard’s cars are "on the road".

If you’re passing through "la Ferte St Aubin" ( south of Orleans ) I’d recommend spending an hour or two with Gerard at la Grange Retro.


(PS There was a neat piece of kit in one car – an oval "footwarmer", paraffin –powered device, of possible Pembleton interest?

vintage car
vintage car
vintage car
vintage car
vintage car
vintage car

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