Cars of the Tour de France, old and new

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Bugatti, Citroën, Peugeot and Renault are current major car automakers in France. And with the exception of Bugatti, the French highways and country roads are often crowded with offerings from the other three carmakers now all more than 100 years old.

Skoda, the Czechoslovakian carmaker, is the official car supplier of the Tour de France. But other than official race vehicles, Skoda models are scarce in the country, although, of course, not as scarce as Bugatti models.

In the early years of the Tour de France, cars traveling with riders were loaded down with spare parts, not only for cyclists’ bikes but extra car equipment for the rugged journeys negotiating the snow-covered roads of the Alps and Pyrenees.

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Among its many salutes to its history, cars of yesteryear are often remembered by the Tour de France, with some of the black and white images featured in race history books.

A vintage team car from the Tour de France.
A vintage team car from the Tour de France.

For the past few years, the race has also featured one of its historic vehicles on display, like the images in this post of the four-color station wagon parked in the day in starting city’s village. The village is the daily meet, greet, eat, drink and relax location for media, team riders, sponsors, VIPs and invited guests.

During my 13 years of driving start to finish at the Tour de France, I’ve rented a Mercedes-Benz, Fiat, Peugeot, Citroën and a BMW.

All of my rentals have beeb diesel models, which is the best choice since diesel cost about 60-70 percent less than unleaded fuel.

Drving the open roads of France an other European countries tests a driver’s patience, just like it does in the United States. The speed is faster, but the drivers are more skilled.

Driving on small roads is not easy task. The roads can be narrow, sign directions confusing and what’s around the bend is almost always an uncertainty. I drove in countless harrowing situations.

But reflecting on those occasions, I would do it all again. It was the spirit of the adventure the made the Tour de France so invigorating.

 

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