Classic Cars of Madagascar
Classic Cars of Madagascar: For aficionados of old French cars maybe the best place in the world to see them in action is Madagascar, or to be more precise its capital Antananarivo. There is an almost endless number of classic Renault, Peugeot and Citroen to be spotted on its streets without having to look very hard. Citroen 2CV, Renault 4 and Peugeot 405 are some of the most common and gives the streets a feel of decades past.
It may be hard for someone from Europe to believe but the most common taxis on the streets of Antananarivo, or Tana for short, are the Renault 4 and the 2CV. Both cars have long since passed into the annals of French motoring history but can be seen working the streets of the capital from morning until night. Two of the classic cars of Madagascar
Walk along Avenue de l’Independance running away from the train station and they can be seen all lined up ready for another fare. Sometimes the drivers call from inside the cars “taxi monsieur” while others wait at unofficial taxi ranks outside restaurants frequented by tourists to whisk passengers home through the darkness of Tana, where it is not safe to walk at night.
For a classic car enthusiast like me many hours can be spent walking the streets of the city and keeping an eye out of the next piece of history. I spent at least as much time in the capital looking at old cars as I did admiring the churches or enjoying its culinary delights.
The design of these cars, the local climate and careful driving by their owners mean they have stood the test of time. It is not just taxis which make up the classic cars of Madagascar fleet either and if you wander into he back streets there are all kinds of vehicles to be seen, parked up in various states ranging from well taken care of to beyond repair.
One Sunday morning I took to the streets with my camera to get some snaps of older cars. I chose Sunday because it’s free from the gridlock and chaos which envelopes the capital from Monday to Saturday. Starting at Haut ville or high town which overlooks the city I took various shots of old Volvos, Volkswagens, Toyotas, Vauxhalls and Daihatsus to add to the pictures of the old French cars I had taken.
The highlight of the cars I came across was a Renault 17 Gordini built in the mid 1970s. These cars are 2 door coupes with a 1.6 litre engine are have a certain French style about them. It was my first time coming across a Gordini and I wasn’t disappointed by what I saw, this one being in relative good condition as it hadn’t been eaten away by rust which can affect cars kept in damper, saltier climates. Decked out to look like the rally car which won a WRC rally in the United States in 1974 it cut quite the dash parked outside a church in the centre of Tana that Sunday morning.
The centre of Tana really is like a working French car museum was an unexpected treat for me when I got there. One you get outside the capital the number and quality of these older cars decreases dramatically. The regional roads are terrible and sometimes are reduced to rough tracks where it is tough enough to walk let along drive a 40 plus year old car.
I did however see some nice old Renault 4’s in the smaller cities being used as taxis. The taxis are allowed to keep their original colour outside of Tana and were a joyful and colourful sight whenever I did see them. They are much nicer to photograph than the beige brigade that make up the taxi fleet in Tana.
Despite all the problems these cars have faced over many years use the classic cars of Madagascar are a great sight. Owners here are proud of their vehicles and anyone I approached for a photo were happy to chat about how they take care of them and how attached they are to their cars.