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Mi FASA Furgoneta R2108S

En 2010 compré un 1971 Furgoneta Sobre-elevada, apodado 'La Bella señora'. Se originó de la puebla de Vilada en Catalunya, y fue utilizado para agricultura y ganadería. La conduje de Madrid a los Países Bajos. Sera restaurada completemente en 2019. Aquí es un video corto sobre el viaje a casa. En '4L Magazine' 24 se publicó un artículo sobre el viaja titulado 'Retour en furgo' (Vuelta en furgo) que se puede leer más abajo (en inglés). Lee el PDF aquí.

4L Mag R2108S
From Spain to Holland with a 1971 Furgoneta

Friday, 9th of July, five o'clock in the morning. Why am I up so early? Of course, I am going to pick up a 1971 Furgoneta Sobre-elevada. Check the luggage: lots of tools, spare drive shafts, dynamo, brake cylinders, duct tape, tie wraps, rope, photo and video cameras, passport. That's about it, I will surely have overweight. Why the stupid idea of going to Spain to pick up an old R4 van when several can be bought here at home? Various reasons, the most important being that specific Furgonetas that were built in Spain have the elevated roof that makes them a unique appearance. I already own a 1977 Spanish TL, and this will make a nice addition. Carrying about 40 kilos I jump on my bike, and at around half past five I pick up my friend Bram, who, I am lucky to realise, will accompany me. He'd better, because he encouraged me to buy a Furgoneta for quite a while. He is one of the most experienced R4 collectors I know, having taken apart and put together about eight R4's from the sixties. At six, we catch the train to Eindhoven airport. No problems so far, and by dividing our luggage evenly we even manage to stay under the weight limit. But then, the X-ray catches my bag containing a bottle of Dutch liquor, the dynamo and a toolbox. Half an hour before the plane leaves, I am expelled from the flight. I think maybe we can do without the tools and the booze, but not the dynamo... Luckily, I manage to force my way back through customs, buy an extra bag, accept the fine for the overweight, and make it back to the plane just in time. Hmm, this is not good for my heart.

Arrival in Spain

We arrive at Barajas 12:15, and so does the luggage including the dynamo. Sadly, the bottle of liquor didn't survive. In the arrivals hall, no sign of owner Guillermo, better known as Maximobandit, and secretary of the Club Clasicos Renault 3-4-5-6. I have only seen his picture once on the Spanish forum. We decide to take out a Furgoneta brochure to attract some attention, and indeed, within a couple of minutes, we finally meet, after having exchanged maybe a hundred emails to arrange things in the months before July. We drive to the village near Madrid where Guillermo lives for a live encounter with the car that brought us here. We have only seen it on pictures before, but there it is. It exists! It's fabulous! And the roof is made of plastic! We make a small round trip to get accustomed to the car, shoot some photos and meet Juanlu, another member of the club. After a while, we return to Guillermo's house for a really good lunch - we haven't eaten anything since six in the morning. Guillermo has previously arranged enough of the paperwork to allow us to get away with the car without any legal problems. He also surprises us with some nice old paper stuff like the original insurance, the guarantee certificate with the 500, 2,000, 5,000 kilometer checks, the manual de conservación with the furgoneta addition, and more. We learn that the purpose of the vehicle was agricultural and that it came from the village of Vilada near Barcelona. At around four we decide that it is time to leave - we have a good 1600 kilometers to go, and we have to be home by Monday latest - and who knows, maybe Guillermo will change his mind about the sale....

Off we go!

The first stage is not very ambitious, the 30 kilometers to nearby Alcalá de Henares will allow us to get to know the car a little bit better. The car has just passed the Spanish CT a couple of weeks ago, so we don't expect severe problems. Anyway, when we stop for a routine check the engine is boiling. Not very surprising as the temperature is in the high thirties in the Spanish summer. We decide to cool ourselves with a coke. The waiters of the bar appear to appreciate the old car, and they are willing to pose beside it. Half an hour later we continue with the heater on as a precaution. It will remain on for the entire journey. In Alcalá we meet some old friends of mine and have a swim and dinner. From there, our journey will take us through the Sierra Norte of Madrid. A good idea to start in the evening - at eleven it begins to cool a bit. After having lost about an hour on and around the Madrid roundway - we barely made it to a gas station in time -, we arrive at Horcajo de la Sierra at about two at night, only 100 kms from Alcalá. The sierra is somewhat steeper than our Furgo likes it to be. We decide to call it a day and find ourselves a hotel. We have covered a mere 5% of the total distance.

Saturday: the journey back really starts!

The night served us well. We get up at seven and have a short technical inspection of the car, which to our relief, was still there. All seems OK except for a noise that sounds like a defective drive shaft. Hmm, we have a spare set but we are not at all sure we'd like to change it so soon after departure. The brakes are not too good either, but is that important when your car only does about 80? At least the engine seems to be alright, so there is reason to believe there is a chance we will make it home. A couple of hours after departure the steepest part of the Sierra is behind us - although I don't believe there is a single square kilometer of Spain that is really flat. The engine is humming comfortingly, so there is time for an inspection of the Furgoneta's esthetics. After all, it is 39 years old, and most R4 don't live to see that age. As one might expect from a Spanish car, there appears to be little rust, maybe some welding needs to be done at the rear left suspension. Dents are as might be expected: many but rather insignificant. What surprises us most is the paintwork. Various parts of the car seem to have been painted in various stages with varying shades of white and very light grey. I can't really say what is original and what is not. The roof also puzzles us. It looks absolutely original, but I am sure that I only have seen metal ones before. Hmm, check that out... What divides our opinions are the small side windows. Furgoneta's come in the varieties 4F, 4FS and 4FSA, 'S' being sobre-elevada, which means with elevated roof, and 'A' acristalada, with long side windows. 4FA does not exist, at least not in Spain. Mine is 4FS according to the papers (the FSA is from a later date) The small side windows this one has appear to be semi-official, as they appear on many of my postcards. Bram thinks they are ugly, I think they come in quite handy.

As progress is good, we decide to leave the A1 highway at Pancorbo to shoot some video and photos. The scenery is nice and we annoy the local people and one dog in particular for an hour or so before we think it is time to move on. After all, we are still about 1400 km from home. Only 170 km to the border and we are in France. Now we have 230 km to cover to Bordeaux, our envisaged goal of the day. Between Bordeaux and the Atlantic Ocean, one of the nerve centers of the R4-loving world is located, as this is the place where 4L Magazine is produced. Owing to Brams good connections, we can spend the night at the house of the editor in chief, Didier Soyeux. A good thing too, as the drive shaft begins to make more and more noise. At seven in the evening, we arrive at 4L Magazine's HQ, where we can admire the editors impressive private collection of R4 and have a forbidden peek at the next issue and some of the exclusive vintage publicity material stored here. As we are dirty and tired, we leave the fixing of the car for the day after. We have a shower and Didier prepares us a great dinner with even better Clairette wine. At midnight we give up and go to sleep, knowing that tomorrow we have to cover a good lot of kilometers!

Sunday: through France

We are lucky to be where we are. Didier has the tools that we have forgotten, and space to park the car. We changed a good lot of drive shafts in the last couple of months, so this one won't be a problem we hope. Indeed, getting it out proves to be quite easy. Getting the new one in is a bit more difficult. Are they really of equal length or are we messing up? We have to apply some force and the gearbox starts to leak onto Didier's spotless parking lot... uh-oh..... sorry about that! With a sad face he concludes that the major part of the damage won't be visible after a month or three. After an hour or so the new shaft is fixed into place and we take the Furgo for a test ride. No noise at this time... but the gearbox keeps on losing oil. As it is Sunday, no chance of finding a shop that sells transmission oil. Lucky us, because Didier at least has a bottle of oil for an automatic. Better wrong oil than no oil. At about eleven or twelve, we say goodbye to Didier and apologize once again for the dirt we leave him with. We don't really believe him when he assures us that maybe after a couple of times rain you won't see a thing - does it ever rain there?

Today, by the way, is a strange day. The final of the world cup football will be held between, of all countries, Spain and the Netherlands. As we are not sure who we should support, we brought both a red and an orange shirt that we put up against the side windows.

Our goal today: to get past Paris, a good 600 km. According to our speedometer we are doing a good 80, but, given all the trucks that overtake us it is probably a bit less than that. We are slowly covering our kilometers, while the gearbox keeps on leaking. How much oil is in there anyway? At every stop we check and sometimes we fill the thing up a bit with Didiers oil. As long as we are on the tollway, there appears to be nothing wrong with the car. Only are we are between Orléans and Paris and we leave the highway for the smaller roads, the familiar drive shaft noise is back again. We are not exactly paralyzed but the feeling is a bit uncomfortable. We are now on our way to friends of Brams, who sold him an R3 more than ten years before. We arrive exactly at half past eight, in time to see the kickoff of the final. Not for the first time on this trip we are offered a good dinner. In the course of the day, we had decided to support Holland anyway, a decision that gives us a couple of near heart attacks during the first half alone. As we are a bit ashamed for the foul play by the Dutch, we decide to call it a match at half time. And what's more, we definitely do not want to get into the Monday morning traffic around Paris, so we have to cover some more distance tonight. Just before Paris the news gets to us that Holland has lost its third final. Congratulations go to Spain, you deserve the title. Luckily, we have the Furgo! During a little unplanned detour around Paris we see a lot of Spanish celebrating and as a precaution we decide to leave only the red shirt. This gets us a lot of positive support from passing cars. In the meantime, it is long past midnight and we start looking for a hotel, which is not so easy. Many are off the toll way, and the one we find, finally, is unreachable on the other side of the road. Annoyed and tired as we are, we park and I use the girafon for what it is meant for: sticking my feet out while trying to sleep on the rear bench. While I have a reasonable night, poor Bram in the front seat doesn't sleep a wink.

Monday: approaching target

We get up at seven. As we are well past Paris, Monday leaves us with about 400 kms to go. The progress of the last two days gives us confidence. Only flat highway to go, no problem. The proof that we are approaching the Netherlands starts falling out of the sky immediately after leaving the parking lot: rain, and lots of it too! In a matter of minutes that front window starts leaking. Why, that surely was never a problem back in Spain. The bottom of the car is hole free for sure, as the water level starts rising quickly. Why do we live here? Our good luck, anyway, is that the windscreen wipers are OK too. We just have to keep on going. The amount of Spanish trucks on the roads is amazing. Many honk as they see our plates and red shirt. Of course, we happily wave back. We pass Belgium in a wink, and at about one o'clock we pass the Dutch border at Breda. Boerammetje has a large shed very near where we will leave the Furgo - it is illegal to drive in the Netherlands as we are doing now. In time have to have another look at the drive shafts, the gear box, the brakes and more in order to pass the CT, and, even before that, we have to get Dutch plates. But that remains to be done later. First, we celebrate the safe arrival home after 1800 kms of the first 4FS in the Netherlands!

I have now owned the Furgo for eight years. Obtaining Dutch plates and a CT was never a problem - although the RDW insisted on re-entering the chassis code, what a pity. I have driven quite some kilometers without problems. Well, of course the battery failed once or twice, but nothing I could not handle. Not being accustomed to the 334 gear box (the reverse is where my TL 354 box has the first gear) I rammed it into a small wall, luckily without much damage. And I let it fall of the jack once. Indeed, I had to have the rear suspension changed on both sides, as we already thought on Day 1, and there were some rust holes here and there that needed some attention. The paintwork, on the other hand, is really something to worry about, which is why I finally decided to have it mended really good. Now, December 2018, I am taking it fully apart, and it will be fully restored in 2019.

this page last changed on Feb 2 07:30