La cinq-cent dix: Part 2


…And so continuing from yesterday’s post, I arrived in France! As I needed to be chez M. Martin as soon as possible, I elected to travel via péage (toll road) which adds a bit to the cost but simplifies navigation a little. The penalty for travel this way is that there is not much to see but I did take a few snaps along the way…

The Prairie was going great and towing well, so I was down in the Aube region by 2pm and rolled up at M. Martin’s residence in Polisot at 2.30pm, exactly 48 hours after he’d first placed the advert on Leboncoin. By this time, I was getting a bit tired as I had been awake for many hours, which made the thought of trying to communicate in another language more than a little daunting. I figured that maybe, if there were any English speakers, they would make themselves known. TOf course there none… so I put my very limited French to work.


Polisot, was home to M. Michel Martin (M. Martin Snr) who has run a business on the site since the war or possibly before. This, from what I can tell consisted of transport, car trading and a breakers yard of epic proportions, which I didn’t see a lot of (I’ll come back to this later). Martial Martin (M. Martin Jnr) explained that everything was being cleared thanks to EU environmental rules. Thanks for that, Brussels.


With the assistance of the Martins, we got the 510 loaded and Euros were handed over in exchange for a very old Carte Gris (dated 1979) and a receipt. Unbelievably, I now had a genuine 510 SSS!


It was looking pretty ugly, but closer inspection seemed to confirm that is was indeed the real deal. For a car that’s been sat in a scrapyard for over 30 years, it’s fared surprisingly well. The sills were shot and the back end was a bit crusty, but the floor pans and inner wings seemed decent. Even the original L16T engine still tuned. What’s more the ancient tyres held air!

Obviously the language was a major hurdle, but I frankly amazed myself by being able to utter more than a few whole sentences, albeit in a slightly faltering manner. To his credit Martial actually did pretty well understanding me and we even managed to have a bit of a chat about motors for three quarters of an hour. I could understand more of what he said than I expected, which has really given me some encouragement to carry on learning French.

He showed me his garage which housed this really cool Venturi…


and an utterly lovely Fiat X1-9…


Round the back of his house was this surprisingly solid Datsun 100A four door which used to belong to his sister…


I did spy many other rusty old cars dotted about the place, but by now I had been awake for over 31 hours and was fading fast, so I elected to hit the road and find somewhere to sleep. I have since found out a bit more about this place which made me wish I had heard of it earlier. By now, most of the place has been cleared, but but not long ago it was astonishing. I suspect there’s still some stuff out in the woods behind the house but I was utterly unaware of it when I was there. If you want to get a taster, check out this thread on


Now it was time to make for the Autoroute and an Aire de Services for some well earned sleep. So far, so good. The Prairie was towing lovely at a steady 110kmh, so I figured that I’d make use of being South of ‘La Manche’ and go to visit my friend James who lives down in the Vendée region.

So, I headed eastward and motored on until about 6pm before stopping a little east of Sens at Villeneuve l´Archevêque. Here the Prairie did its party trick by becoming ‘L’hôtel Prairie’.  Alarm set for 3am, I bedded down for a remarkably comfortable sleep in preparation for the next leg of the journey…


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