Jacques died Monday night January 12 2004 of an aortic dissection. We miss him sorely.

Memorial service were held Monday Jan 19 at Valley Vinyard Church, Scotts Valley

 Jacques was born in France on 11 November, 1945

From Daniel Wolf, San Diego

In rememberance of Jacques

on the westside of Santa Cruz
i was in need of repair
you fixed up my Citroen
and were honest and fair

you taught me there was more
than beauty and grace
that everything must be perfect
and in its right place

but more than anyone
i have yet met
you taught me a lesson
i will never forget

that precision and perfection
are good to persue
but being kind and gentle
are ingredients too

that machines have to be perfect
to work as designed
but so should strive people
not to get misaligned

and though youre not here
i can hear you say
with those penetrating eyes
God bless and good day

david smith iv

 

from the Santa Cruz Sentinel
March 25, 1986

Citroens/

The weird, underhood world of Jacques Abot

 

By JOAN RAYMOND Sentinel Staff Writer

SANTA CRUZ For the owner of a French car that looks like a cross between a cootie and a hydroplane, driving up to Jacques Abot's garage is like coming home.

Citroen car owners lead an isolated existence in America.

The cars can be as finicky as their owners are eccentric and Citroen mechanics are about as common as soy sauce in quiche.

That's why Citroen owners who don't know their carburetor from their radiator are so relieved to find Abot's French Car Service on Mansfield Street on the outskirts of Live Oak.

At Jacques' place, they don't have to feel helpless.

They don't have to feel like hungry, homesick American travelers in Paris desperately seeking a fast food restaurant with an English menu.

They don't have to feel insecure, like a mental patient whose psychiatrist has just left for a six week vacation.

Knowing the French Car Service is around, they can relax about the fact they own a weird car an automotive missile with an hydraulic suspension system that makes the car go up and down on its haunches like a merry go round horse and gives Citroen its famously smooth ride.

A FEELING Of relief comes across the faces of mechanic starved Citroen owners upon getting their disabled cars to Jacques' place.

It's a subtle kind of jubilation, the same kind of specialized glee that is experienced by nitpickers who have just discovered a terrific technicality.

Consider the case of two Citroen owners from the Pacific Northwest who wheeled into Abot's shop recently. They were delighted to be there, because Abot was the closest authorized Citroen mechanic to their home in Tacoma, Wash., except for a repair shop in San Francisco.

They said they were left without a "nearby" mechanic when the Citroen shop in Vancouver, British Columbia, moved to San Diego.

However, Citroen owners need more than a good mechanic. They need money to pay high costs for maintenance, parts and repair.

Luxury and high performance doesn't come cheap and Abot (pronounced Ay bo) is the first to admit it.

But if people "appreciate" Citroen, "then they do what they have to do to own one," says Abot.

Abot's French Car Service is easy to spot. It's the business on a side street off the freeway frontage road that is filled with all different models of Citroens sedans and stationwagons, suffering from various stages of vehicular illnesses.

Some have obviously been owned by people who didn't do what they had to do.

There are the newer, streamlined automotive missiles with aerodynamic bodies that would make Buck Rogers proud.

There are older, gangster style models with running boards and mobster headlights that would be the envy of Elliott Ness.

The gangster-style Citroens are examples of the worlds first massproduced, front wheel drive automobile -- the "traction avant" pioneered by Citroen in 1934.

In one, giant design leap in 1955, Citroen went from A1 Capone to Spiderman and released a superaerodynamic, avant garde model at a time when other manufacturers were a long way off from building airflow features into body styles.

In another surprise to the motoring world in 1949, Citroen started to mass produce its sardine can style 2CV -- a little car with a roll back top that was said to be too ugly for success. Citroen proved the critics wrong and within a few months had two years worth of back orders.

The homely 2CV is still coming off the assembly line and holds the record for being in production longer than any other car in the world.

In the early '70s, Citroen released the sleak and sexy SM. That's for Sports Maserati, not sadomasochism. However, the energy crunch proved to be a death blow to the SM.

Then came the most current style, the elegant CX, billed as the "ultimate in hydropneumatic technology," featuring "varipower" safety steering for extra control, even when a tire blows out.

SEVERAL WRENCH WIELDING, coverall clad mechanics work with Abot at the French Car Service.

The underhood world of Jacques Abot is filled with more Citroen parts than goose liver in foie gras.

Abot is the one with the calculator and the French accent.

Born in France on the border near Geneva, Switzerland, Abot immigrated with his family to America in 1955. He once lived in Tennessee and is a former Mercedes Benz mechanic. He considers the Mercedes a "very refined, standard car."

Citroen; on the other hand, is not standard, he says. "Citroen does things in a unique way," and few people would argue Abot on that point.

Abot first became a Citroen mechanic several years ago in a shop at Harvey West industrial park owned by his former boss, Miles Potter. Potter is now a parts distributor and has moved to a location next door to Abot's garage.

A photograph of company founder, Andre Citroen, hangs in Abot's office: His desk is scattered with toy models of Citroens.

He believes in Citroens. He believes their design to be enduring, non compromising, functional, simple and beautiful.

Even when they're old, Citroens are worth fixing, he says.

Abot should know. He owns so many Citroens he has lost count "10, or something like that," he says. Some are parts only cars. He drives "three or four."

"To keep up my Citroen habit, I have to have a shop, you see," says Abot, running his gaze over the garage filled with cars with their fenders off and their hoods up.

The Abot family car -- for Jacques, his wife and three children -- is a 1966 Citroen stationwagon -- a roomier, even stranger looking model than the sedan, but less agile.

They, like other owners, have had the privilege of enjoying what is referred to in the trade as the "Citroen motoring experience."

Sometimes referred to as "French Cadillacs," Citroens are famous for their silken ride, comfort and safety features.

The car is self leveling no matter what the load. If the rear right wheel is removed, it is still driveable.

ABOT HASN'T tried threewheel driving, but there are three wheel Citroen car races sponsored by the Citroen Car Club.

He gives the example of a friend who had a front tire blow out on a curve during a recent car rally. Despite the loss of the wheel, the car negotiated the curve -- at 80 mph.

Santa Cruz County is Citroen country. There was a Citroen convention at UC Santa Cruz last Fourth of July. Abot estimates there are 40 or 50 Citroens here. It seems half of them are parked in front of his garage.

Why so many Citroens in Santa Cruz?

One thing that greases the car's popularity here is the fact there is a Citroen mechanic in town.

Another reason, Abot agrees, is that Citroens fit into the Santa Cruz lifestyle.

Santa Cruzans are something like Citroens, says Abot.

"They're eccentric."

It's rare to see a new Citroen on the road in the United States, especially in California.

Citroen does not sell new models in America, but they can be bought through a distributing company in New Jersey called CX Automotive.

Strict California smog requirements and other regulations prevent new cars from being sold in this state.

Currently, the only way to legally own a new Citroen in California is to put 7,500 miles on the odometer and bring it into the state as a "used car."

Proposed revisions would tighten controls by requiring the cars to be at least two years old in California.

Other than meeting government regulations, the buyer needs only $30,000 to $40,000 for the experience of owning a new Citroen CX.

An eccentric personality helps.

I just discovered to my great sadness, visiting your site, that Jacques had passed away.

I always asked friends dropping in on Western Hemispheres to say hi to Jacques for me, though I seldom made it up there to see him, being overseas or in Central America or back east or down here in SoCal. He always passed back a hello. I knew him back in the '70s in Portland, when I got to know him via a mutual friend, sold him some of my specialty Citroen tools like the factory pin-driver-outer for the end of the DS steering rack, bought and sold some 2CVs with him, bought parts, etc.

Once I was visiting him and his family after he moved to Santa Cruz and we were driving somewhere, me sitting in back with his daughter who was then about 2 years old. He stopped at a store to get her a natural soda, and when he gave it to her she asked me very sweetly if I would like to share it. She and I had a very nice conversation, which impressed me then and still impresses me today, because she used complete sentences and was very thoughtful.

The experience, both with her and in observing how he treated her, had such an effect on me, in fact, that when I had my first child five years ago (I started pretty late!), I remembered them and applied the lesson: I have always talked with Victoria in a very adult-ish way, never talking down to her even while keeping things at her level of experience and knowledge. As a result, she is thoughful, analytical, was able to pronounce "parthenogenesis" perfectly first try at the age of two, is able to test her hypotheses (!), and now loves her kindergarten science class most of all. So I am grateful to Jacques and his daughter, and I am sure that neither of them ever had any idea of the effect that a simple demonstration like that could have on others.

So long, Jacques. I'm sorry I did not take the time to know you better, but I glad that you succeeded in having a marvelous effect on the world around you!

From Cater Willey, Maine

I was talking with my wife about Jacques and I told her a story which I think youíd like to hear.

Before the Saratoga Springs Rendezvous, Jacques told me he was coming as Western Hemispheresí representative and was bringing his daughter with him. As we conniving fathers will do, he wanted me to introduce his daughter to my Panhard. His feeling was that if she would fall in love with the car it would be a great excuse for him to buy one for her.

So we went for a drive in the New York countryside in my Panhard. One of the things she said to me on that drive was that she had never realised how well-known and well-respected her father was. She was amazed that all these people from all over the world knew and admired her dad.

Iím really glad she got to see that.

Deepest sympathies

From Chris Dubuqe, Washington

Miles, here is a photo and some words. You can use (or not) as you see fit.

I looked through all my old photo albums and I found a picture of Jacques from the early 1980ís. It is during one of the summers where I spent time in Santa Cruz earning extra money working on French cars with Jacques and Miles. One of my favorite memories is that Jacques would stop by Kellyís French Pastries in downtown Santa Cruz on the way to work every morning and bring us warm, freshly baked "croissant au chocolate" or perhaps "une p‚tisserie de pain díamande."

I talked with Jacques at least once a week, on a myriad of subjects, for nearly a quarter of a century now (thanks for paying the long distance bill, Miles). Usually, the conversation led to our love for the city of Paris or to French cars. Jacques was a sweetheart of a guy and I will miss him greatly.

 

From John Peterson, Nevada

I am sorry to hear that Jacques has passed away.  Even though I only knew him thru Western Hemispheres, he was always very helpful and loyal to my CitroŽn needs.
 
I am glad to have known him over the years.  I think we are all very lucky to have known such a good person. 
 
My schedule will not allow me to attend his memorial service.  My thoughts and prayers will be with you in your loss of such a good friend.
 

From Steve Anderson, Sacramento Valley Citroen Club - Vice President
      I would like to offer my condolences to the family of Jacques in his passing. I met Jacques in person last summer. Until last summer it had just been many phone calls at Western Hemispheres, he was great to get to know on the phone. It was so nice to finally meet him in person.  I remember him as a wonderful, helpful, and pleasant person.  Meeting him in person was a pleasure, I am glad to say I did that. I am sorry to hear of your loss, my prayers are with you and please know he will be very well remembered.
 

Deepest sympathies to Jacquesí family

David, Dublin, Ireland

I had numerous dealing with Jacques over the past few years. I was always impressed by the fact that he would take the time to phone me at work to check with me about my order.
 
Please accept our deepest sympathies for your loss. Although I never met Jacques personally, I feel that I know him very well and will miss him.
 
Please be assured of our prayers for Jacques and all his beloved friends & family
 
With Sympathy,
 
Pat Gannon & family
Vancouver, Canada
 

 
From Jack Looney, California
Please accept my condolences. I knew Jacques very well. I talked with him at least three times a week ordering parts. He was very efficient and kind. My son ,Neal, worked for him when he had his shop. Neal often remarked what a kind boss he was. He will be missed and remembered by so many people.
 
From Michael Cox, Boston

I am very saddened by this loss. I must say that Jacques was one of the most enthusiastic persons I ever met, his smile will never be forgotten.

From John & Vera Beltrante, PA

We are sorrowful to learn about the death of Jacques, he was a kind spirit and one who will be missed and always remembered. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Abot family and friends.

From Peter de Boldt, WA

I was very saddened to hear of Jacques sudden passing.  My condolences to his family, he was a wonderful person and will be sorely missed.  He was always extremely helpful and patient with any question I asked of him.  My prayers to his family

Kim Walter and I have posted a tribute to Jacques on the Drive She Said web-site.

http://www.driveshesaid.com/inmemoriam.html

We extend our deepest sympathies to Jacquesí family, co-workers and friends.  -- Robert Monteleone

The news of Jacquesí passing is so sad! I really canít quite believe it. What a kind, kind man and a great asset to the CitroŽn world. I was really looking forward to seeing him at the Rendezvous and talking with him. My heart goes out to Sylvie and the everyone in his family. We will all miss him very much.

Kim Walter

From Peter Smay

Iím am shocked & horribly saddened to hear about Jacques this morning. I just wanted to send a quick message expressing my condolences & disbelief. Personally, I enjoyed knowing Jacques and will miss him very much.

From Stew Kipp

We will all miss Jacques for his cheerfullness, fairness, helpfullness and accuracy. You, Miles, probably most of all! My sympathy to you and his family, we will all miss him greatly.

From Bill Lonseth, Portland

I was so sorry to hear about Jacques. Even though we had only met a couple of times in person, we had a long friendship by phone, and I was always pleased to hear his voice when I called to order parts.

Many years ago, he was most helpful in keeping my parentsí CitroŽn maintained in Oregon after I had moved to Los Angeles, and over the ensuing years we continued our friendship when he began working for Miles and providing his expertise in all things CitroŽn. I was always impressed by what a truly kind and helpful man he was - they are rare these days - and now diminished by one.

He will be missed by everyone in the CitroŽn community. I extend my heartfelt condolences to his family.

From Jean Blondeau, Paris

I was utterly crushed by the news of Jacques death announced this morning on Milesífax.

Beside our business relations, we were on friendly terms with him, and I particularly appreciated his human qualities, simplicity, kindness, and his way of looking at world and friends.

As a matter of course, our friendship was made easier by his French origins, and I was very happy to meet him again in Paris, some months ago, with his daughter. No use to say that I remain at her disposal if she or her family needs help in France at any time.

I assure his family that I am sad with them, and I pray for him.

Jacques, I miss you, I donít forget you.

From Joe Ashment

Hi, Sorry to hear about Jaques' passing.  I only knew him as a voice on the telephone, and I must say he was an absolute joy to talk to.  He was always patient, and would go the extra mile even on the smallest details.  He struck me as a very kind man.

From Nicolas Bigosinski Classic Euro Cars

I was just getting ready to order some parts and was looking forward to talking to Jacques. I thought I would check the website first and was shocked to learn about his death. I will miss him dearly for all the good advice and great conversation we had over the past couple years. My deepest condolences to his family.

From Richard Bonfond, Sacramento

Just to see the familiar faces that arrived at Jacques's Memorial yesterday, left no doubt that Jacques had many friends. Many of us have gotten to know one another through our common love for the double chevron and have truly become the best of friends.
 
Jacques was truly one of those friends that will be missed by all of us. Ľ
 
From Gene and Krystyna LeNoac'h, Williamsburg VA  
I only knew him thru Western hemisphere and could feel his sincerity and kindness over the phone.  Sometimes we would revert to French when not talking technical things and drift off to when we might be back in Europe. I know he was planning on a trip this year. What a shock and sad loss. Condolences to his close ones.
 
From Dick and Gayle Dohrman, Ellensburg, Washington
Thank you for your moving tribute to Jacques on your site.  I have been a customer for several years and have appreciated his help and caring support.  He was very kind to me and helped tremendously when I needed an ignition switch for my 505 last fall.  I will miss him, and am sorry for the loss of such a great father, friend, employee, and human being.
 
From VIVIANE KOLLER & BENJAMIN W. CATE 
MY HUSBAND AND ME WOULD LIKE TO SEND YOU THIS LITTLE MESSAGE IN THIS BAD TIME FOR YOUR FAMILY.
 
I AM FRENCH , ORIGINALLY FROM THE FRENCH ALPES IN HAUTE-SAVOIE, AND I WAS BORN LIKE JACQUES IN SAINT-JULIEN EN GENEVOIS THAT I KNOW VERY WELL AND WE HAVE COMMON FRIENDS IN THE CLASSIC CARS COLLECTORS.
 
WE WILL KEEP THE IMAGE OF A VERY NICE MAN ALWAYS TRYING TO HELP US IN OUR PARTS RESEARCH, ALWAYS AMIABLE AND A GOOD SENSE OF HUMOR.
 
WE EXPRESS YOU OUR REALLY SINCERE CONDOLENCES AND OUR WARMEST SYMPATHY AND WILL HAVE A PRAYER FOR HIM ON THIS DAY.