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Our registrar Robin Redrup is undertaking a project to recreate an early 4cv van in the colours of the shoe polish company Ca Va Seul.

It all began with the purchase of an IXO Model of a 1951 Renault Van in CA VA SEUL colours.

The combination of the green and black and the logos just add that extra dimension to this little car. As far as anyone knows, there isn’t a 1950 to 1951 4CV Commercial preserved or saved anywhere in the World. Only 4,240 of these vans were produced between 1950 and 1952.

When a fellow Club Member advertised his 1951 750 for sale, I was suitably enthused to buy it to make a full size copy of this CA.VA.SEUL van. It would not be a bit-by-bit exact purist copy as the base car was right hand drive, it had wind down windows which the French 4CV never had and it also has the English bumpers without overriders! So, on general appearance it had the right impact anyway.

The first job was to blank-off the rear doors with sheet steel. This was undertaken by one of our Members, Mick Stokes who is a very competent welder. The result was great as the top and sides were folded over and lower edge tack-welded onto the waistline. That was a major step which could have caused us problems getting it right with clearances and possible distortion.

The rear valence was made out of a VW Beetle back end, so that had to go and a 4CV replacement panel now available, let in. A few little holes here and there were soon repaired by Mick and the car was ready to go to Wests of Cambridge Bodyshop for preparation and paint.

This part of the process took 4 months to complete as there were many “Commercial” priorities to do and I could only participate on Saturday mornings 3 weekends a month! Ted did the lead loading and a lot of the filling as he wanted perfection. I said “have you ever seen a perfect van?” Then Pepe did the paint which transformed the vehicle to look like the model, I loved it.

As soon as the “Van” was home, the “Bling” started to be put on while the doors were being painted. This is the best part! The dashboard had been powder coated with the window frames and this was a very lucky match straight from the colour swatches

Meanwhile, Dave Stephens one of our long time Members started work on the advertising vinyls as we could not get good camera ready artwork or original photographs of these to work from. What an amazing job Dave did. It took him many hours and then he passed his artwork to the vinyl guys near to him for printing and cutting.  I didn’t trust myself to apply the decals so had a specialist company do it for me. 

So now it’s only the wheels to be painted, mudflaps and sill trims to put on the outside and then the wiring to be done.

This model was one of 4 purchased by the Belgian CA VA SEUL company. They manufacture waxes for floors and furniture and shoe polish. They still exist as part of the Reckitt Benckiser Group and still have their factory in Belgium.

The car started out from the London Acton factory in 1951 and was sold to the French Embassy in London. After 30,000 miles, it was bought by Robin Woodall’s parents in 1957 from Renault Dealer J.Lucas of Shrewsbury. It was driven for 4 years in the mountains of mid-Wales and then around Crewe until 1965 when a halfshaft broke at 69,000 miles. It wasn’t until 1970 that a full restoration took place after Robin and his father had attended welding and panel beating classes. When finished, the car featured on the front cover of the Renault journal “Autoworld” No. 32 in February 1972.

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