A Frenchman shipped his beloved 1997 Ford Fiesta to the United States so they could make one last journey together.
Dorian Degoutte, a 31-year-old Vierzon artist and film director, wanted to drive to Detroit in the car he inherited from his grandfather. This would be a fitting way to say farewell to the vehicle that held memories of fishing trips and laughter with Gerard Degoutte, a Lyon factory worker.
The plot revolves around a grandson saying his final farewell. The old car failed its technical inspection test, which means it will be scrapped in France.
Degoutte is also filming a documentary about people’s relationships with automobiles, including his own. He hopes to have his film shown at film festivals in the United States and Europe. Rather than working with a crew, he is shooting the entire film by himself. This project necessitates reflection and involves some mourning, which he recommends doing alone.
“I’ve had this car for over ten years. “I’m very attached to this car because it was my grandfather’s car,” Degoutte explained this week. “Giving it to me when he died was a big deal. This car is the only thing I have left from my grandfather.”
This was always meant to be a one-way ticket to the Fiesta. According to Degoutte, shipping it to New York cost around $2,500. The car has more than 186,000 miles on it.
“I’m very attached to my car,” Degoutte admitted. “I need to do one more thing with her, to share something with her. A car, in my opinion, is designed to travel. I’d always wanted to go on a road trip. Where would you like to go, I asked my car? ‘I want to go to my roots,’ she said, referring to the location where she was born. Her ancestors are from Detroit.”
What began in October as a clear transatlantic mission has become a little murky.
“I was thinking about taking the car to the scrap yard in Detroit. “My trip from France to Detroit was like a final journey, and my car would go die with its ancestors,” he told the Detroit Free Press, part of the USA TODAY Network, while stopping to film at Pal’s Auto Parts on Dix Street in Detroit.
“However, when I arrive in the United States, particularly in Michigan, many people tell me that the rust on my car is nothing compared to cars in Michigan. Also, I was surprised to learn that this Ford Fiesta is the only one of its kind in the United States.”
Ford sold the Fiesta in the United States from 1977 to 1980, and then again as a 2011 model year after 2010.
“I can still drive it in the United States,” Degoutte explained. “In France, I have to throw it away. That is, it was previously mandatory in France to dispose of a car in the garbage. It would be like killing my car now.”
“I can sell it here, and everything is fine. People will look after her. “This is a significant shift,” he said. “I’m still not sure. I really like the movie’s ending, which is the crushing of the car. It’s heartbreaking. That would be the best ending for a filmmaker. I’d like to make people cry.
“The thing is, if I think about my car, which I am in right now, and if I think about my grandfather, I don’t know, maybe I would just sell it. Why not sell the car if it still runs?” Degoutte explained. “It’s a big problem. I can tell you that I’ve asked my family, ‘What do you think? “How should I proceed?”
He met mechanics in Pennsylvania on the way to Michigan who were interested in purchasing the Fiesta, he said. However, Degoutte would have to return to the East Coast with the car. The logistics are difficult. He believes that finding a buyer in Detroit is fate.
“I need to find a location where I can get rid of this car,” Degoutte explained.
Meanwhile, he’s documenting the adventure on Instagram as fiesta lefilm. He found a room to rent in Detroit through social media. Since then, he has rented a home in Hamtramck.
He hears stories about families and their car memories everywhere he goes.
“I’m trying to find myself in the other people. That’s the plan. When you go on a trip, you are primarily interested in meeting new people. “I use my car to meet people,” Degoutte explained.
“Adopting an approach of documentary creation, he uses his camera to go to the meeting of his otherness, whether it is human, animal, or material,” according to his LinkedIn professional page, which features an image of a Ford Fiesta being filmed on a wind farm. He creates frames and situations that provoke encounters using methods borrowed from sociology or anthropology. In the town of Vierzon, he is currently leading a long-term cinematographic project called Vierzon-Cinéma. Fiesta is a film project within Vierzon-Cinéma, but it is also a way for Dorian Degoutte to experiment with the production of a more ambitious film in terms of format, duration, and international scale.”
His ambition is to screen the documentary at film festivals, theatres, and open-air locations such as Bedford, Pennsylvania’s Silver Lining Drive-in and Dearborn, Michigan’s Ford-Wyoming Drive-in.
He stopped by Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn last month, hoping to speak with someone about the film, but no one was available. Degoutte contacted the company this week, realising he’d be returning to France soon, to schedule an interview with its historian, Ted Ryan.
“No one could have predicted its legacy when Ford of Europe developed its first subcompact in the early 1970s,” Ryan told the Free Press. “Dorian’s Fiesta is one of more than 20 million Fiestas produced, making Fiesta more popular than even the Model T. “This is just one of millions of personal Fiesta stories.”
Degoutte’s story exemplifies “why a lot of people are drawn to a particular vehicle,” according to Jonathan Klinger, vice president of car culture at Traverse City-based Hagerty, a specialty insurer of collector vehicles. It makes no difference how much it is worth or how rare it is. It’s his link to his grandfather, which is priceless.”