David L. Allen
1940 - 2001
A good friend to Citroënthusiasts the world over died suddenly and unexpectedly last Wednesday, October 10, at the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville, VA.
David was born in Atlanta, GA in 1940, where he lived for most of his life. His first love was photography. He was quite young when he was sent to Germany where he studied at the Leica School of Photography for two years. Upon his return to the US he was considered for a position on the photographic staff of the National Geographic Society. Always a fiercely independent spirit, he decided to pursue an independent career in photojournalism instead. First he worked as a school photographer, then switched to industrial photography not many years later. His experience in that environment helped him to branch out into another venture: the design and construction of trade show displays. He was awarded two patents for his original ideas. The extra money coming in from this part-time enterprise allowed him to take on yet another interest!
David had several great loves in his life and the one most of us know him for, of course, was his love for Citroën in general and the humble 2CVs in particular. David started importing and brokering 2CVs in the early 1980s. Some of us may remember meeting him at the Massachusetts Rendezvous in 1983 for the first time. In the following years he traveled regularly between Europe and the USA, making friends and business partners on both sides of the pond. He became a tireless advocate for the marque. Because of his widely distributed advertising and his regular presence at the various Citroën meets both here and abroad, he became one of the major players amongst the professionals. Such became his expertise in the importation of 2CVs (always a tricky subject) that he became the number one man people would call whenever they ran into US importation roadblocks. Many a hapless 2CV was saved from the Customsí crusher through his intervention.
David was one of very few individuals in the USA in recent history who received a special recognition from the Citroën factory. A few years ago David showed me a letter written by Jaques Wolgensinger, the companys main PR man at that time. In the letter, Wolgensinger thanks David for his extraordinary efforts in promoting enthusiasm for the Deux Chevaux in North America.
I only really got to know David well during the last ten years of his life. As time went by, we went on several Citroën road trips together. Usually the trips combined business with a little pleasure, like the trip we took to Montreal in 1994. The pleasure was a visit to the Montreal Museum of Art for an automotive exhibit, “Beauty in Motion.” The business was the delivery of an 11BN TAV to Montreal, and the purchase by David of an old Mehari (he always had a soft spot for old Meharis!) and by me of a basket-case 15-6 TAV (I have always had a soft spot for basket-case 15-6s!). David was an excellent traveling companion. While the countless miles rolled by he could tell jokes for hours on end in that pleasant southern drawl of his and never repeat himself.
About five years ago David Allen and Pat Wilson, his companion of many years, moved to Mustoe, in Highland County VA. They had bought extensive mountain acreage there and had a cabin built to their own design. We all saw a little bit less of David and Pat after that time. They were several hours further removed from “civilization,” and a little harder to find on the map! Also David spent a bit less time with the cars and more with Pat and their livestock. They had acquired a small herd of llamas by this time!
David suffered a minor stroke about a year and a half ago and never quite regained his former robust persona. We know he was living a bit more carefully afterwards, and he was more cautious about his health. “I am in this for the long haul,” he told me. He suffered an aneurysm on October the 8th and was rushed to the hospital, where he died October 10th.
David, we will miss you!
Erik de Widt