There are really two ways to look at this purchase by a close friend of fellow Hoon Citroen67. The first way of looking at it is that he just purchased a rather quirky and obscure vehicle that will probably serve him very well as a support vehicle for his group of friends’ growing fleet of obscure cars. The second way of looking at it is that he just bought the greatest back-yard work-shop… in the world. It is, of course, a Citroën “H-Van”. As I’m sure we all know. They’re just bizarre looking little creatures, but if you’ve lived in Europe, they’re probably a familiar sight. These were produced in fairly high numbers from 1947 to the early 1980s, and were a fantastically simple design. The sides are corrugated to add strength. The mechanicals are all borrowed from other Citroëns. The design is… uh… a shed. Now say what you like about it, but it sure is ugly. And I think that’s most of its appeal. There is literally no thought given to style or design, which is such a remarkable change for a French vehicle. As we all know, the majority of French cars are high on style and innovation with perhaps not quite enough thought given to how they’re all put together. These vans seem to aggressively eschew tradition in favour of some pretty wicked functionality. If it were mine, I’d find something appropriately small — perhaps a classic Fiat 500 or Mini Cooper, or better yet a Messerschmitt or Isetta — that could be loaded into the back of the van, so I could use it as a workshop. Then I’d take the whole thing to car shows. That, or I’d build the coolest ever Post-Apocalyptic Taco Truck. Here’s the story from Citroen67, in his own words:
It was a chilly, rainy morning in Michigan when we set out to pick up the beast. We left Kingston, MI at 7:00am only to be standing in Peterborough staring at the first H Van that I have ever seen in the flesh. On top of that, the fellow who sold the H Van drove there in a right hand drive Land Rover that had spent it’s previous life trailing its way through the land of Kenya. The van was actually purchased by a friend of mine who lives in NJ that makes a living restoring 2CV’s and other Citroen’s at his shop in Toms River. This H Van proved to be the easiest of the many Citroen vehicles that we have picked up in days gone by. When we were at roughly halfway through the fifth hour of driving, me and the co-pilot were speculating to what degree of douchebaggery we were about to encounter. I mean, we have seen it all! From picking up a non-running Truckette in the middle of the ghetto of Toledo, Ohio…to picking up a 2CV that was purchased from a dude who forgot to put a reserve on his eBay auction, and was forced to sell it for pennies on the dollar(he basically rolled the carcass and the parts out of his garage and shut the door with an attitude). This one, however, went off without a hitch. It was parked at a truck repair facility with a huge parking lot, which was a refreshing change from having to back a trailer between two buildings that are barely wider than the rig itself, or simply having nowhere to park at all, thereby being forced to park streetside. After no more than a half hour we were loaded up and on our way back to deal with customs. Without fail though, Lady Luck did end up throwing us a curve ball at the tail end of the trip…the H Van ended up falling through the trailer in two different spots. It didn’t really surprise me, considering that the 3500lb beast was rolling on top of six year old, untreated trailer wood. That being said…I guess I know what I’m doing this weekend.