01 August 2020

MY FIRST - AND FAVOURITE - CAR WAS IN VIETNAM

  • 01 August 2020

Connecting is a daily mail-out for former employees of The Associated Press (AP) for whom I worked in Vietnam, NYC & Australia and who recently asked for memories of your first or favourite car -- and this was my contribution.

My first-ever car was during my nearly 11 years in South Vietnam during the war, mostly with AP Saigon's Bureau. It was the classic Citroen Traction Avant (front-wheel drive) produced between 1934 and 1957. I'd wanted one from my earliest days and my 1951-produced 11N (Normale) had a nicely refurbished interior with all the quirks of front-opening doors, an openable windshield and the gearshift in the middle of the dashboard. A real gangster car and great for squealing around the city after curfew (pass required) and for the wife and kids heading back to her Mekong Delta home. (And sadly left behind when Saigon fell in April 1975.)

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My more usual transport - unusual among the Saigon Press Corps -- was a motorcycle which I often used for out of town assignments, like this one with a line of US armoured vehicles along the Cambodian border just before the invasion of 1970. In case of ambush, my plan was a quick U-turn and get the hell outa' there. 

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