Posts Tagged ‘ Brigitte ’

Brigitte is making progress

Today I took Brigitte out for a long drive around Munich, eliciting smiles and waves everywhere I went even on a grey and cold morning. Driving an old-timer is a public service as we make people happy!

I had downloaded a GPS speed checker app to my iPhone so that I could verify the accuracy of the speedometer in the DS. I suspected that it was wildly inaccurate but it turns out I should have more faith. Even at 100kph it was accurate within a couple of kilometres! Not bad.

The other thing I have been interested to find out, is how much petrol she is using. So as the tank was getting low I filled her up today and input the details into another app that I use for all my cars, Road Trip. Surprisingly, given her age, and the fact that she is not actually running terribly well, the fuel economy figure is currently 9.14l/100km!

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Not bad for a big heavy luxury car, albeit a rather slow one. I will be interested to see if this improves after I have some more work done on the engine to get it running better.

Also surprising was the fact that I have apparently done 503km in her in a month.

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It is a well known fact that old cars do not like to sit for long periods of time without being used because seals dry out and they generally deteriorate. The flip side of this is that driving them frequently seems to make them run better and better and I am seeing this with Brigitte. I wouldn’t say that she is running “well” yet but she no longer stalls at intersections and the hydraulic steering is getting smoother, as is the hydraulic gear change. My plan is to just keep driving her for a few more months and then take her back to the mechanic for a check up and a tune up.

Meanwhile, fingers crossed that we don’t have an early winter as I still want some time to drive her around before the snow and salt set in.

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DS progress

Well it has been a while since I updated progress on my Citroën. It is all fixed and running now although still unregistered and stored in a garage in the Netherlands. I would like to sell it as I am moving back to Australia next year and transporting it just feels like it will overcomplicate my life. However, if it doesn’t sell then I will take it with me. In the meantime I am planning to spend my summer holiday fixing a few cosmetic things and getting it running sweetly. I’d also like to register it in the Netherlands so I can drive it around a bit but I’m guessing that will require me to register myself as resident there. Not the end of the world I guess.

Here is a link to the car for sale anyway: http://nl.autoscout24.be/Details.aspx?smid=Ins-SM-TL&id=212063761

DS progress

Following the thwarted attempt to collect my DS myself on a trailer some time ago I enlisted the help of a professional car transporter who picked up the car and took it to a new, more reputable garage (Herman Janssen) in Bennekom in the Netherlands. Finally I can report I have found a garage that is not only honest but fast and exacting and really seems to know what he is doing.

Rather than the 4000€ quoted by the thief in Middelburg he fixed my broken axle and electrical problems for around 700€. Finally I was able to take my car for a test drive without it breaking down!

It still had a problem with not selecting reverse on the hydraulic semi-automatic so I left the car there with instructions to fix this also. Unfortunately this was quite complicated and took Herman three days to fix. To his credit he only charged me for 16 hours work and also fixed a number of other things to make the car ready for the road such as lights and the horn. This is all done now and apparently the car is ready for collection.

Unfortunately since my last post I have moved to Madrid, Spain which makes popping to Bennekom slightly more problematic. I am thinking now of what I should do with the car but in the meantime I guess I will have it transported to a storage garage while I think about it.

All in all, having finally dealt with someone honest, I am feeling a lot better about the whole experience even though it has cost me more money. I think I will head to the Netherlands in a few weeks to check it out.

I will keep you posted on whether I decide to sell it or keep it. I am moving to Milan, Italy in February which is also not such a suitable place to drive a classic Citroën but I will think about it.

Citroën DS – the saga – VIN & transportation

Today is a holiday in Belgium so I am at home browsing through my Citroën bible, “Original Citroën DS – The Restorer’s Guide to all DS & ID models 1955-75 including saloons, estates and convertibles”. Exciting I know. But trust me, this is the ultimate DS book and it is very hard to find now as it is out of print. I managed to find a copy on eBay in Australia of all places.

It has a handy data section at the back of the book where it lists chassis sequence numbers, paint colours, trim colours, production figures, dimensions and weights by year for each country of production. Based on the chassis number that I have on the sales documentation I have been able to confirm that Brigitte was indeed built in France in 1965 and that her body, roof, and interior colours are all legitimate for that production year. Even better, her unusual hubcaps are correct for a Pallas version from 1965, the first year a Pallas model was produced and the only year those hubcaps were used. So I am feeling more and more confident that it is genuine and original at least.

You’ll remember from the backstory edition that my car was rejected from the DMV when I tried to register it. The reason was that they couldn’t find the VIN or chassis number which they said had to be stamped on the chassis. I’ve just read in my bible that, and I quote, “The numéro de série, or chassis number, is found in the engine bay, riveted to the top left of the bulkhead.”

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They even provide a picture. I have one of these attached to my car! And I pointed it out to the guys at the DMV but they insisted it had to be stamped on the chassis. Yes well maybe it does today but a French car built 45 years ago could well have been subject to different rules! Idiots. I was very stressed out about that imagining that the VIN had been filed off and I’d bought a stolen car… I’ll take my bible with me next time I go to register it. So I can beat them with it.

So I was feeling good after reading that. Then I got an email from André with the bill for the transportation. 520€! Not feeling so good now. Safe to say if I’d known it was going to be that much I would have taken it myself, however much trouble it was going to be. Note to self, ask how much everything is in future. I guess now I’m committed (or should be…).

Anyway, we have a date tomorrow at 14:00 to go over his plan of what needs doing to rectify everything. Feeling a bit scared. Will report back.

Citroën DS – the saga – restoration begins

Well as mentioned in the previous Citroen post a man came yesterday from the Netherlands to collect my DS from the Citroen garage where it has languished untouched for the past 6 months or so. No-one from said garage was even on hand to help or apologise for having done no work on her. It was simply left with the key in it for me to collect. No matter.

Andre (the Netherlander) arrived in his own 1973 DS23 with a large car trailer and I met him outside Antwerp so we could go to the garage together. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Brigitte appeared to be in much the same condition as when I last saw her 6 months ago despite sitting outside all winter. I was a bit worried that she would be a rust-riddled hulk but I seemed to have dodged that bullet.

As expected the battery was completely dead but thankfully Andre had the foresight to bring a spare. Despite this and repeated valiant attempts by the starter motor we were unable to coax Brigitte into life. The trailer had a winch so ordinarily this wouldn’t be such an issue but bear in mind the DS sits very low to the ground unless you can get the hydraulics going and we worried she would get bellied as we winched her on to the trailer. As it turned out, she just cleared the edge by millimetres, helped by the fact that Andre could raise his DS up as high it would go thereby tipping the trailer slightly.

I was on winch duty so I slowly but surely dragged her up on to the trailer while Andre performed steering adjustments. All went well until we realised that we had forgotten to put up the windows first and because she now sat so low and the trailer had sides, we couldn’t open the doors to put them up. Hope it doesn’t rain!

With her on the trailer and well strapped down we headed back towards Antwerp. I was surprised how well the DS23 managed to pull it given that I remember it being a struggle towing her behind the Mazda6 diesel. Must have been quite a sight, a DS on a trailer behind another DS. Pity I didn’t have my camera…

Andre dropped me back at my car and off he went to Zeeland, the Netherlands. Hopefully he made it without incident! I haven’t heard otherwise. So Brigitte is now here. This is Andre’s website for his restoration business. Maybe I could offer to build him a new one!