Home CitroŽnŽt home

Site search powered by FreeFind
Do NOT include 'Citroen' in your search terms

BOOK REVIEW

 

Andrť Lefebvre and the cars he created for Voisin and CitroŽn (2014 reprint)

 

By Gijsbert-Paul Berk

Published June 2009 UK & USA by Veloce Publishing

REPRINT November 2014 (UK and November 2014 (USA) by Veloce Publishing
ISBN 978-1-845842-44-4
UPC 6-36847-04244-8
BIC classification: BG + KNDR
£19.99 UK / $34.95 USA

Out of print for a number of years, this book has been reprinted in 2014 and will doubtless sell out so get your order in now!

Andrť Lefebvre was the father of three of CitroŽn’s avant-garde products – the Traction Avant, the 2CV and the DS.  What is perhaps less well known is his role in the development of the word’s first forward control van, the TUB and the H Van which succeeded it. 

Notwithstanding that my interest in French cars is pretty much confined to CitroŽns, I found the most interesting part of the book to be the Voisin story.  Perhaps this is because I am reasonably familiar with Lefebvre’s contributions to CitroŽn.  However, this familiarity may not be shared by those who do not speak or read French.  Lefebvre’s story is covered, in a slightly haphazard way in a number of French books.   What the author, Gijsbert-Paul Berk has done is to pull all this information together and make it available in English and he has done so admirably. 

There are some excellent illustrations, some of which have never been seen before. 

At 144 pages, this book is far too short.  And this is a compliment.  I found it a fascinating read but unfortunately it glossed over and treated some parts of the subject matter somewhat superficially.  Needless to say, there are some other criticisms – the book has not been properly proofed so we have the Dutch word ‘carter’ appearing where ‘casing’ or ‘sump’ is meant and there are inconsistencies in units of measure (e.g. “His four-cylinder began life with a capacity of 1298 cc, subsequently increased to 1303 litres, then 1529 litres and finally 1911 cc.”).  I also disliked the layout with sentences wrapped around illustrations – this contrasts with some pages that do not have illustrations and which are a model of clarity.  I am not sure whether the book was originally written in Dutch and translated or whether the author wrote it in English but it sometimes suffers from a slightly stilted style and seems to be written in a slightly simplified version of English.  But these criticisms are minor and do not detract too much from what is an essential book for anyone interested in the development of the ‘classic CitroŽns’. 

As an aside, every reference to Lefebvre that I have encountered spells his name LefŤbvre (with the diacritic on the second ‘e’).  The author assures me that this is incorrect – this has been confirmed by his family – and the spelling is ‘Lefebvre’. 

The author, Gijsbert-Paul Berk studied at the Institute for Automobile Management IVA Driebergen, and worked as an apprentice for the renowned rally driver (and inventor of the Gatso speed camera) Maurice Gatsonides.  As a post graduate he did courses on industrial time and production management and on marketing communication. His first job was as an assistant in the sports department of the Netherlands Automobile Club, KNAC. At that time he began writing articles for its magazine De Auto. Between 1955 and 1959 he was technical editor of Autovisie and the first Dutch journalist to road test the CitroŽn DS. After a stint as a freelance journalist, working for, amongst others, Car and Driver (USA) and Popular Mechanics as well as writing and translating books he became PR manager for Renault in the Netherlands. In 1973 he was appointed Deputy Director at the Amsterdam exhibition and Congress Centre RAI where he was responsible for all communications. He has also contributed to a TV documentary on the 50th anniversary of the DS, and was a member of the jury for the International Concours d'Elťgance at Het Loo, Apeldoorn  in the Netherlands. 

Andrť Lefebvre and the cars he created for Voisin and CitroŽn can be ordered from your local bookshop or direct from: 

Veloce Publishing Ltd

33 Trinity Street
Dorchester
Dorset
DT1 1TT
UNITED KINGDOM

Tel: +44 (0)1305 260068

Fax: +44 (0)1305 268864

Email: sales@veloce.co.uk

© 2009 & 2014 Julian Marsh/CitroŽnŽt