38 Years of Love
Classic cars in Sudan
By Abdelazim Karrar
My story began 38 years ago when I was living in the Sudan. I used to commute to school using my
Yamaha 50 cc Motorcycle. I was returning from school one afternoon when a funny looking car
overtook me. It had a very distinguished noise that attracted my attention.
Later on in the afternoon, I was sitting with my father having afternoon tea. I mentioned to his that
unusual car I saw that day. I tried to explain to him the appearance of that car. I said it looked like
the Volkswagen, the Beetle; maybe it is an older model of the Beetle. My father was very interested
in cars and I believe that why I have inherited this hobby which ended in me going to Germany (West
Berlin at the time) to study Mechanical Engineering. My father commented, it could not have been
the Beetle, the Beetle shape has always been maintained in the present shape. We were not able to
discuss that car further that afternoon.
A few days later I saw the same car around the same time in the same street. I did my best to catch
up with it, but with my 50 cc Yamaha I had no chance. I could not talk to my father that day about is
since I did not have more information about it.
On the following week I saw the same car again in the same street, but this time I was very lucky as it
was parked near a squash club. I got off my Yamaha and Looked around the car several times until I
found what I was looking for .It was written in very small letters at the rear of the vehicle Citroen. I
was not familiar with this brand of car. I could not wait to sit with my father that afternoon. The time
passed very slowly. Finally I sat with him and triumphantly told him about the make of the car.
Immediately he said to me Oh this is a French car. He also could not wait to find more about it. He
asked me to fetch him the data book he had in the house which had the data of almost all cars, this
book usually is used by insurance companies. In no time at all we were looking at the Citroen
Section and he said to me it must be this model, 2CV, it has air cooled 2cylinder engine and 4 speed
gearbox. A 2 cylinder engine was something very new to me. I was only familiar at that time with 4 ,
6 , 8 and 12 Cylinder engines and later Audi introduced 5 Cylinder Engines , Mercedes introduced 5
Cylinder diesel engine and Suzuki introduced 3 Cylinder engine, but till now there is no 10 cylinder
engine used in the automobiles engines around the world.
This made me more interested in this Citroen 2CV. Somehow I was convinced that the owner of this
car who had European appearance lives in the same Al Amarat district I used to live in Khartoum at that time.
it was an area with 61 streets, numbered in odd numbers 1, 3, 5, up to 61. Fridays were the weekly
rest days from school. Every Friday after having my morning cup of tea I searched for the home
where this car was kept. I used to look at every house in every street. It took me many Fridays until
one morning I found the car parked outside a house in Street number 37. In Street number 35 one of
my uncles used to live. One of my cousins who is an artist and very talented used to live there too.
I rushed to her home and begged her to come with me and draw a sketch of the Citroen 2 CV. She
came with me holding her paper and pencil and I was carrying a chair for her. She sat in the street
near the car and made me a beautiful sketch of the 2CV. People who were passing by were
wondering what we are doing, it looked very weird. I did not have enough words to thank her for her
efforts. I ran to my house which used to be in street number 55 and showed the sketch to my family.
One of my twelve sister, yes twelve sister her name is Sayda said Oh I know this car. It is the car of
our computer professor at the university, Professor Hugh Beggs. This comment made me more
interested in the 2CV. I said to myself, a car like this is driven by a European Professor must be
something very special. I asked her to ask one of her student fellows at the university who has a
camera to take a photo of the 2CV for me. At the time in the Sudan cameras were something very
rare to have; only people who are interested in photography would have one. I am not exaggerating
if I said my sister Sayda was the most beautiful girl in University of Khartoum at that time, even poem
was written about her beauty. She promised to give it a try and get me a photograph of the 2CV.
After few days she came to me and told me her attempted to get me a photograph of the 2CV has
failed. She told me that she stood next to the 2 CV and asked one of her fellow student to take
her photo. For him it was a big privilege to take her photo. None of the students who had a camera
were invited to do so. He said to her , you are so beautiful please move a little bit away from this
ugly car it will spoil the photograph. Yes, the 2CV was ugly in the eyes of many people, but not in my
eyes ( as it is said the Monkey in the eyes of his mother is a deer). I was very upset to hear this; I
could not help it that my sister was beautiful. I felt I was punished for the beauty of my sister by not
having the photograph of the 2CV. My sister said, she was too embarrassed to ask for the
photograph of the 2CV to be taken.
Every member of my large family in Khartoum at the time heard about my story of the Citroen 2CV
car with which I become very obsessed and had to look at the sketch of the 2CV that my cousin
Mona has made for me.
One day one of my brothers in law has met the owner of the 2CV at a petrol station near Khartoum
Airport and had a conversation with him about his vehicle. He told him that he bought the car in
France and drove it all the way to Khartoum. It was very interesting; there were no asphalted roads
from the Egyptian border to Khartoum at the time, only dirt track roads. This made me even keener
in the car. At the end of the conversation, my brother in law asked the owner if he would sell the car
since there is a boy in the family who is very interested and wants to purchase it. But the answer was
no, he will only sell it when he is leaving the Sudan and that could be in some years.
Since I was young I used to have visit cards printed for me. I took one visit cards and wrote on the
back of it , Dear Sir, I am interested in your vehicle, please let me know when you have decided to
dispose of it. , I took the card and left it under the wiper of the windscreen.
I waited and waited but heard nothing until I left the Sudan in 1974 for Paris to visit my sister Sayda
who got married in the meanwhile and moved to Paris. I was on my way to West Berlin to study in
Germany. When I arrived in Paris I was overwhelmed by the numbers of thev2CVs. They were
everywhere driven by boys, girls, and women amen old and young. They were painted in different
colours. Professor Hugh Beggs’s 2CV was painted in dark grey. My brother in law Dr Sayed took me
to visit the Automobile Exhibition held in Paris to see different cars and models, but I was only
interested in the Citroen 2CV. I had the chance for the first time in my life to sit in one. Just like a
little child that was taken to a funfair and did not want to get out of a toy car. After I arrived in West
Berlin my long waited dream has come true and purchased my first car in my life and it was a Citroen
In 1976 I went to London for the first time in my life to visit one of my nieces who lived in Southend
– on – Sea. At the train station her husband came to meet me and was accompanied by a gentle man
whom I did not know. After greeting me by my name, he asked me how is the 2CV ? I was very
surprised and he could see the expression on my face. He said weren’t you in love with a 2CV in
Khartoum? I replied Oh yes. Then he introduced himself as Professor Osman from Khartoum
University. He said last year Professor Hugh Beggs came to me with your visit card and asked me to
help him to find you, since you were interested in purchasing his 2CV as he was leaving the Sudan.
Off course I know your family and contacted them. I was informed by them that you are no longer in
the Sudan and now living in West Berlin. I have informed Professor Hugh Beggs and bought his car
for my children, who are using it now in the Sudan. This almost made me cry and respected
Professor Hugh Beggs for keeping his word (A true English Gentleman) and his attempt and efforts to
find me before he left the Sudan. He must have loved his 2CV and wanted to sell it to a new owner
who will love it and care for it rather than selling it in the open market. I have no doubt that he
would have taken it with him, if he was able to do so. After that I became a Citroen fan and used to
buy only Citroen cars. After I moved to London in 1979, I bought different models of Citroen, Visa,
LN, BX, CX , Traction Avant and again a 2CV6.
In 2005 I moved to North Cyprus and my love of the 2CV has become stronger. I saw few 2CVs in
North Cyprus, but was very old and not in a very good condition. I approached the owners and asked them, if they could sell the 2CV
to me, but the reply was they will not sell them. I was very sad because the custom regulation in
North Cyprus does not allow the import of cars over 3 years old. One day I read an article by a
British Gentleman who lives in North Cyprus about the 2CV and he will only sell his 2CV, if he could
find a Mercedes 180 Diesel. I contacted the newspaper where the article was written and got the
contact number of the Author. I tried to help him in finding the Mercedes 180 Diesel without any
One day Burcu, a friend who works in Free Bird the publishing company of North Cyprus Magazine
revealed a valuable piece of information to me. If a car is over 25 years old, it is considered as an
antique car and could be imported into North Cyprus. I was so delighted with this information. She
gave me the contact number of Mr Salih Celiker of the Rally Centre in Lefkosa. I contacted Mr Celiker
and he confirmed to me what Burcu has told me. I searched for 2CVs in UK and found a company
north west of London that restores old 2CVs. I flew to London and visited them. Then I placed an
order for one. When it was ready I shipped it in a container to North Cyprus to make sure it will
arrive safely. Mr Celiker has helped me with the importing procedure. I am very grateful to him. Last
summer I took part in a Classic Car Rally organized by Mr Celiker. Off course I did not win, but
everyone was admiring my 2CV and asking me about its age and how come I kept it in such a perfect
condition. I am so happy with my latest 2CV and it is the most beautiful 2CV in North Cyprus. I
enjoyed driving it whenever I had the chance to do so.
(THIS WAS PUBLISHED IN NORTH CYPRUS PROPERTY MAGAZINE IN 2008)