Just as I was taking comfort from thinking that, while I was missing out on Drive-My jaunt to La Sarthe, at least the Traction wouldn’t be instrumental in the Le Mans gridlock by having an overheating fit, it started losing power. A couple of minutes later it conked out: at 5pm on London’s Edgware Road. The usual circus act of sucking fuel up from the tank and frantically priming the pump failed to resurrect it.
At least the latter revealed a stream of bubbles in the filter, which was cracked – not enough to let fuel out, but sufficient to allow air in. Bypassing that soon had me on my way until a Le Mans-style traffic jam brought on a bout of pukka fuel percolation. This time I had to whip out the 6V electric pump that I had previously fitted (then removed after thinking that I’d sorted the fuel-vaporisation issue) and plumb it in. Job done and I was soon zooming up the M1 towards the Luton Hoo Estate.
Citroen Traction Avant 15-Six
Run by Graeme Hurst
Owned since October 2007
Total mileage 17,523km
Kilometres since June report 392
Latest costs £3
The 15-Six attracted lots of interest, but not as much as Tom Hill’s immaculate, fresh-out-of-restoration 1968 Dodge Charger R/T next to us, packing a 500bhp V8. Its spec and condition were typical of the amazing juxtapositions that these informal meets always deliver.
I had hoped that the cooler temperatures on the trip home would result in a smooth journey, but the Traction failed again in a tailback near Aldwych. The 6V pump was ticking away furiously yet there was no sign of fuel. More roadside spannering to dismantle and clean out the tank pick-up followed and – bingo! – unleaded was suddenly gushing out on the engine side but the carb chokes remained dry. Next to come off was the top of the carb, while I fended off a weirdo and then a drunk keen to assist. After blowing air through the needle-and-seat valve, my Reine de la Route was back in action. I’ve yet to figure out what went wrong, but I know that I shouldn’t risk thinking about it, lest I tempt fate.
Plumbing-in 6Vfuel pump at the roadside. Carb top removed to investigate problem. Alongside Hill’s Charger in wonderfully varied Walled Garden classic selection.