Whilst walking in a place I used to live yesterday I spotted a Citroën Xantia peeking out of a garage and was astonished to see it later on when I checked Google Maps Street View in both 2008 and 2012.
That sparked a memory of Sunday bike rides around my neighbourhood as a little boy (like between 6 and 9 years old) on my first bikes. In parallel I was developing my love of cars, and there was a great pleasure for me in riding around where I lived and seeing all the different cars parked up on the street or in garages or gardens. There was always something very informal about Citroëns, probably the way the hydropneumatics would sink and look chilled out and relaxed whilst the 2CVs, Dyane’s, Amis and Visas would all look sprung up high and alert.
There was a laid back bohemian vibe in the house where we lived then, due to a blended family and not a lot of cash. It was present in some of the neighbouring houses too from the whole mid-century renovation of Victorian neighbourhoods, particularly making houses into flats after the war, and a floppy old Citroën peeking out of a garage was such a thing to match it all.
I can’t be certain that Xantia never gets driven, but it did seem like a project car and our neighbour had a Citroën Ami in his garden for ages that never got fixed. On reflection I think in many ways it was this neighbouring house with many cars in the garden and his own renovations that set a lot of that appealing DIY vibe in place for me. He had a space helmet TV and shag pile carpets and vibrant coloured walls. Sometimes there was a Nissan sports car with a private number plate parked in the garden, and his dad would visit in an executive Renault 16. There was also a big old 70s Vauxhall, an Austin Maxi and some knackered Talbot Alpines that I would hear him trying to start on frosty mornings.