La Vie en Bleu – Prescott – May 2008

So: “La Pluie en Bleu”, or what can upstage 5 Veyrons?
La Vie en Bleu 2007 was the largest gathering of the Forum that we had ever managed, with 15 people in attendance on the second day of the event. It was also memorable for the truly appalling weather that was so bad that the event had to be called off during the mid afternoon of the Sunday. Surely, we all thought, we could not be so unlucky with the weather again…………. well, in 2008, the event was not actually called off, but the weather was at least as terrible, with cold winds and non-stop driving rain almost all day. However, Forummers are generally made of sturdy stuff, and so there’s lots that’s good to report on the weekend’s activities.

The Forum Rendezvous and the Forum Car Park
Those of you who followed the logistics discussions on the Forum Diary thread will know that there was a significant logistics exercise involved in trying to get a special reserved area for the Forum cars, and in making sure that all attendees – 12 forummers in attendance on Saturday, and 21 on Sunday – had the relevant parking pass. Rewardingly, we managed it, although none of the car park staff seemed to know where we were supposed to be, so on the first day there was something of a lap of the Orchard, and in fact we parked up, only to discover a discrete roped off area, on a slight incline was intended for us. So as not to appear ungrateful, we decided to move all the assembled cars there, and had the first interesting reminders that rwd cars (well, BMWs) and reversing up a wet slope are an interesting combination! Anyway, we parked all the cars up. Whenever we returned anywhere near the cars, we were pleased to see that several of them (I’m not naming them; but you can guess!) were attracting lots of interest from other people…………. and who can wonder with these on display?

On the second day, with more people in attendance, even the rendez-vous at The Shutter Inn presented a tantalising sight…….
Oh, and I suppose I should mention here that I sprung the biggest surprise on everyone, as I had managed to collect my new car just the afternoon before this event, so the Sprint Blue S6 that is mine (between rental car sojourns while abroad!) was the object of nearly as much interest as Nick’s 911 GT3.
We did manage to squeeze all the cars into our allotted area, and although the grass was now wetter, the only challenge was in trying to get Andy’s Punto out, where we had to resort to a gentle push. He had the good sense to close his window, and he managed to avoid splattering us all with mud, too!
The Veyrons
Highlight of last year’s event had been the Veyron, and its frequent demo runs up the hill. We knew that the event organisers had planned initially to have 2 Veyrons in attendance this year, but as the event had drawn nearer, were delighted to learn that in fact more than that were expected. The factory demo car, complete with official driver, Pierre-Henri Rafanel was in attendance, and I was interested to learn that this was actually the same car as last year, but had been repainted! I was privileged enough to get the chance to talk to him on Saturday, when he told me that concentration on keeping a wide car on the road was still a challenge, so he had no idea what speed he was doing!
A second Veyron appeared, as a static exhibit, and later in the day a third one arrived.
However, by late morning on Sunday, there were no fewer than 5 there. All 5 went up the hill, in convoy several times.
What can upstage a Veyron?
So, if the Veyron was almost “common”, I am tempted to say there was only one Audi S6 there (mine!), perhaps it was more unusual……….OK, maybe not, but this Alfa 8C could have a better claim for that accolade.
The French Cars
This event is also a celebration of things French, and while the cuisine and vin francais were not much in evidence, the Owners Club displays were well supported with all sorts of now rare vehicles, which we found terribly nostalgic to behold.
An elegant 1905 model.
The 1911 AX
Doyen of the post war range was the 4CV:
Successor to this car was the Dauphine:
The R4 was first launched in 1961, and over 8 million were produced in the following 25 years or so. Most succumbed to rust a long time ago.
The R8 was popular as a family car in the early 1960s, but once Gordini had breathed on it, it assumed a second life as a competition car, and several of these were competing up the hill during the day.
The R16 – once such a familiar car, but now down to less than 100 examples in the UK.
The R21 Turbo
The Sport Spider was not a sales success, and had a short production life, but now these cars are highly prized. Several were on show, and many of them went up the hill, competitively
Unsurpisingly, there was a good showing of recent cars, predominantly Clios and Meganes
A number of Avantimes were on show too
Made famous with this model, the A110:
Last model of the type was the GTA and its facelifted relative, the A610:
Earliest Citroen on show was this 5CV, from the early 1920s
Several Traction Avant models were here, of course:
There was an H Van, decked out in Gendarme livery:
The ever popular 2CV was well represented.
There were even some Acadiane van versions on show.
The Mehari was launched in 1968, and sold strongly in France, but less well elsewhere
The DS remains one of the most elegant cars ever produced, and the Decapotable versions now sell for very large amounts of money indeed. When they look this good, it is hard not to understand why!
This rather bright GS Estate was a reminder of both 1970s car colours and a car that was almost too advanced for its day
Another largely unused colour now is brown, but in the 70s this was also popular, and it was the colour scheme of this CX Familiale
Of course, there were a couple of SMs to enjoy, as well:
A very small display of these cars. At one point, a sole entry was the now rare 104 saloon (with a Golf parked up alongside it!).
Later, a rather elegant 504 Cabriolet had doubled the number of Peugeots on display:
This original looking 205 GTi was parked up on the hill, but was worthy of the display area:
The splendid “Bebe” Peugeot dates from 1913:
The Lion Peugeot was even older, dating from 1907
……… and as for this………
Two Bagheeras were a reminder of this unusual 3 seater mid-engined car from the second half of the 1970s:
Successor to this car was the Murena, launched in 1980.
There was much excitement on seeing one of what is alleged to be 1 of just 10 remaining Ranchos left in the UK

This 1200GT Coupe was based on the Simca “Mille”, but with a Bertone body.
A rather unrestored Simca 1100, with a 1000 Rallye in the background
A Talbot Samba
A new marque for me. It seems that these coachbuilt cars were built in tiny numbers in the mid 60s, based on Simca components

Facel Vega
Three cars were shown here, one of which had come over from France. I was interested to learn that about 600 of the 3000 cars produced by this now largely forgotten maker are still known to the various owners clubs. Two of the cars were the Vega III, a rescue of the Facellia model by implanting the Volvo P1800 engine for some much needed reliability:
The larger HK500 was also on show:
Like many of the specialist makers, this one had a chequered history.
The MVS Venturi:
The Venturi 400GT

The Car Parks
As is often the case with events like this, some rare and unusual machinery can be found tucked up in the visitor car parks, so we had a good wander around these, too, and found these vehicles:
Triumph TR3:
Ferrari 330GT
Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead – and yes, it did have the teak finish. It’s enormous!
Ferrari 550 Maranello
Porsche 911
Audi R8
Rover SD1
Lorraine Dietrich
Other interesting items:
This period van was just wonderful!
One of the more interesting items was this 1921 Leyat Helica. Inspired by emerging airplane technology, the car was powered by an 8 hp engine, which was started by pulling a string just like on a lawn mower, and with rear-wheel steering………… what an odd device!
Alfa-Romeo 6C 1750:
The Autocar 309:
A BNC – lightweight competition car:
De Dion Bouton
Oldest car in attendance – it struggled up the hill, though at little more than 2 mph at times, and it had to be pushed around the Ettore curve!
Historic Bugattis
Prescott is the home of the Bugatti Owners Club, and is also home to a small, but fascinating museum, which is packed full of cars, models, drawings and other exhibits. We spent an interesting while in there, reacquainting ourselves with some of the contents, and enjoying some of the new display cars.
This 57C had an unusual coachbuilt coupe body:
the Brescia Bugatti:
The 52 was a scaled down car aimed at children – a sort of 1930s version of a go-kart, you could say. These cars are modern replicas. They did go part way up the hill, but decided against the steeper bits, which was probably wise!
Thanks for everyone who came along. It was good to meet a few more Forummers. The weather was deeply dreadful on Sunday, but now I have dried out, and warmed up, I have lots of great memories of an otherwise excellent weekend with some congenial company, a superb evening meal thanks to the Royal Oak, and the sighting of some memorable cars. Oh, and 185 photos to remind me of it all.

Perhaps the “bleu” in the title of the 2009 event really will reflect the colour of the sky? Here’s hoping!
2010-01-01 17:38:44

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