Posts Tagged ‘ Citroën DS ’

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!

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.


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.

Brigitte meets some other Citroëns!

Finally, after about 7 years of false starts, Brigitte was well enough for an outing with the Citroën club where I had a chance to start socialising her with other Citroëns! I am a member of the Citroën Veteranen Club Deutschland, Bavarian chapter and on 4 October 2015 they had organised a drive day down towards Chiemsee, southeast of Munich. It was a little bit of a foggy drizzly morning but undeterred we motored down the B304 (landstraße or B road), once I had worked out how to operate the windscreen wipers… If you are not keeping to a tight schedule then the landstraße in Bavaria are a much nicer way to travel than the autobahns, particularly in an old-timer. Curving smooth roads through rolling hills and picturesque scenery are much nicer in a slow car than joining the hectic and intense autobahns.




Citroën SM


1970’s Citroën DS’s.




Once I had joined the rest of the club members at our lunch meeting place in Pelham (with a lovely view of Pelhamer See) we had a typical Bavarian lunch before heading off again towards Seebruck at the northern tip of Chiemsee. This is an ancient Roman location and we visited a museum about the Roman history of the area.

Then, with the sun coming out, we all drove off in convoy again towards our final stop at Seeoner Seen, for coffee and photos. You get even more smiles and waves when driving in a convoy of old Citroëns than you do when driving alone!

Enjoy the photos from Seeoner Seen below.


Three old ladies staring out to sea.


Handbrake well on…


Oldest car of the day.


Citroën Traction Avant Familiale

IMG_4704 IMG_4706 IMG_4708 IMG_4713

Long overdue update

Hi All,

Well after a (very) long time without blogging anything here I am again. The last time I wrote was back in 2012 and I have moved countries 3 times since then! I wrote that my DS was “fixed” and in storage in the Netherlands waiting for a lucky buyer to come along and take her away. Needless to say, that never happened. I’m now living in Munich, Germany and I have had the DS “Brigitte” shipped here where she is currently at the doctor being “fixed” again… The Citröen specialist has the instructions to keep fixing her until she passes the registration test which was maybe a bit of a rash instruction to give on my part… I’m told I will have her back next week so let’s see how that goes.

Anyway, a quick update on how I came to be in Munich. I was working for BMW in Italy for a year in 2012. When that contract ended I moved back to Australia intending to get a job there and “settle down”. That lasted three months before I was offered another job at BMW in Tokyo so off I went with less than a weeks notice. I spent 14 months in Tokyo which is my favourite city in the world. Always something happening and many amazing experiences including a cocktail party on a British warship parked (moored? docked?) in Tokyo Bay. I also had the opportunity to drive many high-end BMWs that I had not gotten my hands on before including a 750i, 650i GranCoupé, 640i Coupé, 335i Convertible, ActiveHybrid3, and ‘funnest’ of all, an i3. I will do some individual reviews on some of these shortly.

As my contract in Japan came to an end I was lucky enough to be offered a permanent position back at the BMW Mothership in Munich which I duly accepted. So I’m now planning to be here for the foreseeable future. Best of all I now have even more access to the cars! I’m currently driving a BMW M135i hatch (video review will be posted next) and I have a BMW 430d Coupé on order which I will receive in July.

So that’s enough update. More car reviews and musings will follow soon.



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:

Meilenwerk Berlin – a classic car museum with a difference

During the recent summer holidays I decided to escape the heat of Madrid and head north where I spent among other places, a week in Berlin. My rationale was that all the Germans will have gone to Spain for their summer holidays so it should be nice and quiet. I’d been to Berlin before so there was no great pressure to rush around seeing all the tourist sites. But one thing I did want to see was Meilenwerk Berlin. I had read about this place on the TopGear website and it sounded amazing. I was not disappointed.

Jaguar XK

Meilenwerk is essentially a storage warehouse for classic cars. One pays 130€ per month (extremely reasonable in my opinion) and one is then able to store one’s Rolls Royce, Mercedes, Ferrari etc in a climate controlled glass box. In addition there are specialist garages attached to the facility for Jaguar, Mercedes, Citroën and other marks. Meilenwerk also have a large number of cars for sale, some such as the Mercedes SL’s with astronomical price tags. But the best bit is that this whole facility is open to the public and completely free to enter.

Mercedes SL convertibles

I spent a few happy hours wandering around admiring all the cars on display. There were not just super-expensive exotica but also some more ordinary classics such as Citroën DS and Mercedes E-klasse but they were all in excellent condition. I’m not sure if there is a requirement that your classic be in mint condition to store it there or not but they certainly were. And the restoration facilities seemed to be very busy with some beautiful examples as well.

In addition to the couple of photos I have published here you can view the full collection on my photo site. Check them out here:

Meilenwerk also have facilities in Stuttgart, Düsseldorf & Zürich which look equally impressive. The address in Berlin is Wiebestrasse 36 – 37, 10553 Berlin. I highly recommend a visit.

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.

A Citroën DS that works!

Today I had a treat. I seem to have had a few lately but anyway, this was a nice one. I met a guy, Paul from the Netherlands, on the Citroën forum who has a 1965 Citroën DS19 Pallas, exactly the same model as mine, only his one works. He lives north of Eindhoven so we arranged to meet halfway on the “grens van België en Nederland” (the border between Belgium and the Netherlands) here. I drove up from Antwerp in my BMW and arrived at the prescribed time. A few minutes later the “snoek” as they are known in Holland also arrived, gleaming and shiny in our uncharacteristically hot summer weather. Snoek means Pike (as in the fish) and refers to the shape of the DS.

This is a truly magnificent example of a DS, actually in better than showroom condition. It has had a full body-off-frame restoration from top to bottom and it shows. The body, painted in its original Gris Palladium is perfect. It has the original “Sombrero” wheel covers which were only ever sold on the ’65 Pallas model and the interior has been beautifully restored with tan leather and new carpet. I was told that the leather is actually the leather used on 1970s Mercedes but is very very close to the original Citroën leather that is no longer attainable.

We sat initially for a chat and a beer before we set off for a drive in the Déesse further into Holland. Paul drove and I could immediately tell that this car is in perfect working order. The engine started easily, it idled smoothly, the hydraulic suspension lifted up smartly, and everything just worked. We drove a few kilometres before arriving in the town of Baarle Nassau/Baarle Hertog.

It’s worth taking a second to tell you about this very unusual town. As I said, we were now in the Netherlands and Baarle Nassau is indeed a Dutch town. But Baarle Hertog (which is part of the same town) is actually Belgian so it’s a little bit like the old West Berlin when Germany was still divided. However, unlike West Berlin which was a fairly uniform shape, the two Baarles are a complicated jigsaw puzzle of different pieces including bits of the Netherlands completely surrounded by bits of Belgium which are again completely surrounded by the Netherlands. If you don’t believe me check out Google Maps.

The border between Belgium and the Netherlands at Baarle-Hertog

When I first saw this a few years ago I thought someone had made a mistake but it’s real and is a result of complex medieval treaties, agreements, land-swaps and sales between the Lords of Breda and the Dukes of Brabant. Wikipedia elaborates. My favourite bit is the fact that in some restaurants which straddled the border the customers would have to switch tables from the Dutch side to the Belgian side because the Netherlands had an earlier compulsory closing time back then!

Anyway, I digress. Paul pulled over in Baarle Nassau (or it might have been Baarle Hertog – I lost track) and graciously allowed me to take the wheel of his precious DS. At least I’ve had some experience driving these so it was no problem for me and I smoothly pulled away and piloted it out of town. It was wonderful. This was the experience I had hoped for when I bought my own DS but unfortunately, thus far, it has not been the case. Anyway, I now have renewed faith that it is in fact possible for these cars to run smoothly and reliably and give pleasure rather than heartache. Whether mine can be brought to this state is yet to be determined…

While out driving we passed a number of classic American cars as apparently there was a gathering on nearby. We even saw a ’61 Cadillac Coupe de Ville, one of my personal favourites. Given the glorious weather it seemed that everyone was out enjoying their classic cars, convertibles, and motorbikes and everyone was waving to one another. The DS certainly attracts a lot of attention as they are particularly popular in the Netherlands.

Driving a DS is an extremely calming experience. Because it is French it will not be rushed. This is not to say it is slow, they are capable of well exceeding the speed limit, but it does not like to be rushed. The semi-automatic gearbox works best if you smoothly lift off, flick the lever, pause for half a second, and then smoothly press down on the accelerator. Any attempt at haste will result in jerky gear changes and indignant Gallic muttering from the car. Likewise the suspension, its most famous feature, requires that you pause and give it a minute to get ready before you set off. I’m sure the DS has been used for the occasional bank robbery but you would want to leave the car running while you did the job. Otherwise you would have to sit and wait for the suspension to raise the car before you could leave.

I steered the DS back to the border with Belgium where, after taking a few photos and having a bit more of a chat, we said our goodbyes. Getting back into my BMW with it’s M-sport suspension and firm sports seats made the differences between the French and German philosophies of car design even more apparent. They very much reflect their countries of origin as well. The French car emphasises comfort, relaxation, a slower pace of life and is quirky if not deliberately different, whilst the German car is serious, single-minded and built with lots of words such as effective, efficient, and purposeful in mind. They are at opposite ends of the motoring spectrum and both are brilliant in their intended functions which is about the highest praise one can give in industrial design. I love them both.

Classic Cars – My Wish List

This list is currently a work in progress…

I am somewhat of a car fanatic. Some may go so far as to call it an obsession but what would they know? I lust after beautiful cars, performance cars, luxury cars, and sometimes even just plain odd cars. And that’s just the modern ones. When it comes to classic cars there are an awful lot that I like but only a handful that I really want to own, generally from a very specific year with a very specific specification, sometimes even down to the colour. So here I am attempting to put together a list of the cars I hope to own during my lifetime. I’ve tried to keep it mildly realistic in terms of cost so, much as I may lust over it, you won’t find a Mercedes 300SL Gullwing on the list. All the prices I list below represent the particular model I desire in what appears to be very good condition and in the countries where they are most likely to be found.

Datsun Sunny 1978 – 1982 (B310)

1980 model with nasty aftermarket hubcaps

Not a classic you say? Maybe not but it was my first car and I had great fun driving it so it holds a special place in my heart and it’s going on the list. Actually I technically had 2 Datsun Sunny’s because I may or may not have accidentally crashed the first one, bought a second crashed one (at the other end), and used all the pieces to build a new car… The result was a beige 1980 Datsun Sunny GX in concours (almost) condition. Note that the GX was the top trim level in New Zealand. It even had an FM radio!

Mine looked like this

My Datsun was a B310 series model which was the 4th generation of Sunny following the B10 of 1966, B110 and B210. These were all sold new in New Zealand and were very popular cars because they were light (970kgs!), fuel efficient and vastly easier and more involving to drive than the competition, most of which was English. Think Vauxhall Viva and you’ll know what I mean… All Sunny’s were rear-wheel drive until the B310 after which they switched to front wheel drive. This change had an adverse effect on the handling so, if you’re hankering for a Sunny, the B310 is the one to get.

Lots of space for... umm... upgrades

Mine had a 1.2litre (A12) petrol engine which means that in other markets such as Japan it would have been badged as a 120Y and, very confusingly, in the US the B310 was sold as the Datsun 210. There was also a Datsun 310 sold in the US but that was a completely different model based on the Nissan Cherry.

There was a facelift in October 1979 which replaced the round headlights with square ones and changed the grill. Mine was one of these facelifted ones. The 1.2litre version had a 4 speed manual gearbox which was light and precise.

Round headlights, no wrap-around indicators

The 5 speed manual would have been better but it was only available with the 1.5litre engine which, although being more powerful, was generally accepted to not be as good an engine. The 1.2litre was a little slower but it was a willing happy engine and you could rev it till the valves were bouncing off the inside of the bonnet without any ill-effect. They were well known for the fact that the engine would soldier on long after the rest of the car had rusted and fallen off. They did have some issues with rust…

Coupé, Sedan, and Wagon

In addition to the 4-door sedan which I owned there was also a station wagon and a  coupé version. The station wagon was the most utilitarian and the coupé was the most ugly. So I was quite happy with my sedan.

The B310 was known for its high equipment levels and build quality at the time and it even had a relatively sophisticated suspension for its place in the market, a live rear axle with a coil spring four-link configuration. OK well it least it didn’t have leaf springs like the previous model (and current Chevy Corvettes…). As I’ve mentioned, it wasn’t a fast car (0-100kph times were best measured with a calendar) but once it was up and going you never needed to slow down because it was so chuckable. It was light, responsive and, I repeat, it loved to rev. I had this car when I was at high school and I lived with my parents out in the country in New Zealand. We lived 20kms from town on a winding hilly road and I remember distinctly that there were only 2 corners that I had to slow below 100kph for.

Mitsubishi Mirage GLX

I could be accused of looking back at this car through rose-tinted glasses as it was my first car and all. But it was a genuinely fun car to drive, something that has been lost in most post-70s small cheap cars. Case in point was the 1982 Mitsubishi Mirage (Colt in some markets) which we inherited from my grandmother at around the same time I had the Sunny. This was a front wheel drive hatchback (one of the first) and it was terrible. The steering was so heavy it was awful to drive in town. It didn’t handle well on the open road and the engine can most kindly be described as sluggish. It absolutely refused to rev and my father had to continually tune it just to keep it running. If I remember correctly it could barely manage 120kph most of the time whilst my older Datsun could happily do 150kph with a tail wind and a pinch of fairy dust. So there’s my direct comparison of two very similar cars from the same era. One great, one crap.

Prices: Around NZ$3,000 in NZ. Very rare now due to rust issues.

Jensen Interceptor 1966 – 1976

The Jensen Interceptor is a Grand Tourer built in the UK from 1966 to 1976 and has, if I might be permitted to say, one of, if not the, coolest car names. The only models that come close in my opinion are the Aston Martin Vanquish, Lamborghini Diablo and Rolls Royce Phantom. Whilst not quite in the same league as these other models the Jensen was an expensive, stylish, luxury cruiser much favoured by the rich and famous in the 1960s. Princess Anne had one as did Farah Fawcett, Cher, and Jack Nicklaus. A contributor to its desirability in later life was a starring role in six “The Saint” movies where it was driven by Simon Templar.

The Interceptor initially had a 6.3litre Chrysler V8 which grew to 7.2litres in 1971. From 1971 to 1973 an SP (Six Pack) edition was offered featuring three twin-barrel Holley carburetors in the classic Chrysler “six-pack” configuration. This increased power from the standard 220hp up to 385hp on a few of the cars. Only 232 SP models were produced.

The Interceptor was hand-built and very expensive (US$16,000 in 1976, double the price of a Corvette!) but the owners wanted for nothing. Like a Rolls Royce or Bentley of the time the Interceptor had real wool carpeting, full leather interior (which required the hides of 7 cows!), rear window defogger, and whilst early cars used vinyl or plastic on the dash, later cars had full wood-and-leather dashboards.  Except for a few early cars, every car had air conditioning and power windows standard.  We take these features for granted today, but they were rare in 1966.

The most distinctive feature of an Interceptor is undoubtedly its large curved rear windscreen that was also the tailgate. It’s certainly a “love it or hate it” feature but I love it. And it gave the car a wonderful graceful swooping shape.

In addition to the regular Interceptors there was an FF edition from 1967 which was four wheel drive and included anti-lock brakes and traction control (in 1967!). It was the first production car in the world to have ABS although it was a fully mechanical system unlike the more modern systems introduced on the likes of the Mercedes S-Class which were computerised. The FF was 100mm longer than the standard car to accommodate the four wheel drive system and can be recognised by 2 extra vents on the front flanks. Only 320 FF’s were produced.

Introduced in 1974, a convertible version sold just 267 examples and, even rarer, a coupé version introduced in 1975 sold only 60 examples. Jensen went bankrupt in 1976 marking the end of the Interceptor.

The best model seems to be the Interceptor Mk III (1971 – 76) “J” version which was the most luxurious. The Mk III included ventilated disc brakes and improved frontal styling as well as a number of other improvements.

Prices: In the UK from around £13,000 (1973 Mk III J Series). In the US from around $10,000 although they are harder to find there.

Mazda Cosmo 1967 – 1972

There have been four generations of Mazda Cosmo but the first was definitely the most distinctive and important. Over the 5 years of its production only 1,519 cars were built, 343 Series I and 1,176 Series II, making them rather rare, expensive and difficult to find. Along with the even more expensive Toyota 2000GT of the same era, the Cosmo was a revolutionary car from a Japanese automaker. The styling, while distinctly Japanese, obviously captures some key design elements from period classics such as the Jaguar E-Type and Alfa Romeos. It was the first production car in the world to have a two-rotor Wankel engine, an engine that Mazda continue to refine and offer on their sports models. The engine technology was licensed from NSU and the Cosmo actually beat the Ro80 to market by a few months.

These were not especially fast cars by today’s standards but in the 1960s they weren’t bad. The L10A two-rotor engine in the Series I produced 110hp at 7,000rpm and had a top speed of 185kph. Most of this turn of speed was due to it’s light weight rather than its power. It also had exceptional handling due to its de-Dion tuned suspension. The Series II gained slightly more power, 128hp, and could achieve 195kph, likely a terrifying experience in such a small car.

The Series II is the more desirable (and attainable) model although they are still extremely scarce. Jay Leno has one which says something about the rarity of them.

Prices: In Japan from around US$45,000. Very rarely for sale though.

Lincoln Continental 1965 – 1969

The third generation Continental was introduced in 1961 and, somewhat astonishingly, it was considered to be small to the extent that marketing materials included images of a woman parallel parking it with ease. It was 2 feet shorter than the previous Continental but still measured a gargantuan 5.6m long and over 2.0m wide. It was initially offered in 4-door convertible and 4-door pillared hardtop forms with the rear doors being rear-hinged, it’s most famous feature. From 1966 a 2-door coupé was offered and sales of the 4-door convertible in particular dropped signficantly.

The particular model that I would most like to own is a post-1965 4-door convertible in triple black. I would also happily settle for the 4-door pillared hard-top. The car was given a facelift in 1965 including a squared-off grill that I consider more handsome,  and some detail changes to the lights. The car was also given front disc brakes, handy for stopping considering it weighs nearly 2,600 kilograms! The enormous convertible roof was operated entirely by hydraulics that required two hydraulic pumps, one to operate the roof and one to operate the trunk lid.

Lincoln Continentals of this era have been used in quite a few movie and tv shows which is one of the reasons for their popularity. They were used in The Matrix, The Last Action Hero, Pushing Daisies, and the opening sequence of Entourage. Certainly it has traded on its coolness and I guess that is the reason I want one…

Prices: In Germany from around 19,900€. In the US from around $25,900.

Mercedes Benz 280SE Coupé 1967 – 1972

I have had an enduring love affair with classic Mercedes, not that I have ever had the pleasure of actually owning one. It’s odd that classic BMWs do not really interest me but modern BMWs do whilst with Mercedes it’s the opposite. Virtually none of their current product line interests me but there are many classic models I would love to own. Top of that list though is the W111 coupé, first produced in 1961 as the 220SE (2.2l I6 engine), then from 1965 as the 250SE (2.5l I6 engine), then from 1967 as the 280SE (2.8l I6 engine), and finally from 1970-1972 as the 280SE 3.5 (3.5l V8 engine). There is apparently also a 300SE coupé (3.0l I6 engine) but I can’t find any reference material on it. Feel free to enlighten me via the comments.

I’m not particularly fussed which engine I have. The 3.5l V8 is of course the most powerful but they are also the most expensive and most of them came with alloy wheels which I don’t want. The body-coloured hubcaps of the W111 models are one of their most striking features so I will be sure to get them. Preferred colour in this case is a little more difficult because the 280SE came in some fantastic hues. There were a number of blues, greens and reds that look beautiful on the car so I am prepared to be flexible! My favourite features include the absence of a B pillar which made the interior very bright and airy, the swooping curve of the C pillar, the aforementioned coloured hubcaps, and the chrome detailing. The ultimate fantasy also includes the burr walnut instrument cowl that was offered on the very top trimmed vehicle, however I could compromise on that particular detail…

Prices: In Germany from around 19,900€. In the US from around $37,500.

Citroën DS19 1965 – 1967

Well, what can I say? I’m sure many of you will have also read the Citroën DS restoration diatribe on this blog. Yes, I’ve already bought a Citroën DS, my first classic car, and it hasn’t gone particularly well. Anyway, safe to say it hasn’t put me off entirely and I will not dwell on the problems here.

The Citroën DS was introduced at the Paris motorshow in 1955 and the public reaction was enormous. It looked like nothing else on earth and in fact, one motoring journalist wrote that it looked like it had fallen from the sky. 12,000 orders were made at the motorshow on the very first day and Citroën would go on to sell 1.5 million D-Series (DS and ID) models over the next 20 years. The DS was easily the most innovative and technologically advanced vehicle in the world when it was launched in 1955 and wasn’t really surpassed technically for a decade or more. The DS had a futuristic aerodynamic shape and rode on hydropneumatic self-levelling suspension which allowed the car to be raised and lowered. It was the first car in the world with disc brakes, the first with a semi-automatic hydraulically controlled gearbox, and the first (from 1967) to be fitted with directional headlights that were also self-levelling.

Rare Chapron coupé

There were many changes to the DS over it’s 20 years in production. The originals until 1967 had separate free-standing headlights whilst the post-67 models changed to a twin headlight design behind glass cowls. From 1966 the hydraulic fluid is changed from the red LHS fluid to the green LHM fluid for reduced corrosiveness. There were also three different dashboards over the years. The first was a very simple straight lined affair. This was updated to a more curvaceous and attractive affair (the second dash) in 1961, which was followed from 1969 by the third and final dash, a very 70’s-style black plastic look.

One of the innovative features of the DS was the fact that all body panels could be removed with a few bolts and didn’t form part of the structure of the car. It was possible in fact to drive the car with all of the body panels removed. In order to change the rear tyres it was actually necessary to remove the rear quarter panel, a feat that can be achieved by undoing only 1 bolt. Making use of the hydraulic suspension and metal stand the DS would actually lift it’s own wheel off the ground to be changed meaning there was no need to jack the car up.

There were 3 very specific features that I wanted in my “perfect” DS and I was able to achieve 2 of them. Ideally I wanted a 1967 DS21 Pallas. The 1967 model has the old nose, the second dashboard and the new more reliable ‘green’ LHM hydraulic system. Unfortunately these cars are very highly sought after and I was unable to find one. So I ended up with a 1965 DS19 with the old nose, the second dashboard and the ‘red’ LHS hydraulic system. The car is painted blanc carrare and has a red fabric interior. It was built in Paris and first registered in France.

Prices: In the Netherlands from around 8,000€. In the US from around $15,995.

BMW M3 (E46) 2001 – 2006

Whilst not technically a classic yet there is absolutely no doubt that the E46 M3 will become one, one of the few modern cars where this can be said. So I’m including it in my list. The E46 had the highest specific horsepower output per litre of any naturally aspirated engine at the time with 343bhp from a 3.2litre inline 6. In fact the only other car to produce more than 100bhp/litre without the aid of a turbo or supercharger was the Honda S2000.

The E46 M3 does 0-100kph in less than 5 seconds in both manual and semi-automatic (SMG) form. SMG II, as installed on the E46, was a new version of the original SMG which had debuted on the E36 M3. It offered lightning fast gear changes and was thus slightly faster accelerating than the manual. However, particularly in the early models, they were prone to problems and eye-wateringly expensive to repair. I would prefer a manual on the basis that it is less demanding to maintain and offers a more involving drive.

I apologise for the cheesy music in this video but the drifting is amazing and demonstrative of the M3’s abilities.

The E46 M3 was particularly praised for its visceral and pure driving experience, a trait that many have commented is somewhat diluted in the larger, heavier, V8-powered E92 M3. The steering is extremely direct and the car has perfect 50:50 weight distribution like most BMW models helping to ensure that it was faster than much more powerful adversaries such as AMG Benzes whenever there was a corner or two involved. It also came standard with a limited slip differential (LSD).

Very early examples of the S54 engine in the E46 up to February 2002 had a very serious problem with the connecting rods bearings failing leading to complete engine failure. A recall was issued and the standard warranty was increased on all of these models so there shouldn’t be any problems now. Nonetheless I would try to find a slightly later model.

The ideal model is a 6 speed manual built between April 2003 and April 2005. There was a very minor facelift in 2003 which included new LED tail-lights and the option of brushed aluminium trim. And the colour I want, Laguna Seca blue, was dropped from 2005 so that renders the newer ones unacceptable. This was the launch colour for the E46 M3 and, despite it’s garishness, I love it. No-one will notice a black M3 but, in the brief moment before they are rendered blind, everyone notices LSB!

Like most BMWs there were a huge number of options available. However, in the spirit of pureness I would tend to keep these to a minimum. Electronics like satellite navigation date terribly so it is better not to have them in a car you intend to keep. I also wouldn’t want a sunroof although I could accept leather seats, mostly because it is very difficult to find one without them. The M3 came standard with 18″ wheels and 19″ wheels were offered as an option. I have to admit that the 19″ wheels look a lot better and suit the car so I would be very tempted. However, there is a significant penalty to be paid in ride comfort and indeed road-holding on imperfect surfaces. So I would need to try them both first…

In addition to the standard M3 there was also an M3 CSL (coupe sports lightweight) version offered in 2004. This is a more collectable model because of its rareness (only 1,400 were produced) and is thus much more expensive if you can find one. They are also not really driveable as an everyday car because of the racing style seats, lack of sound-deadening, and lack of airconditioning, radio etc. Very interesting if you see one though. They can easily be spotted as they had an unpainted carbon-fibre roof.

Prices: In Germany from around 20,000€. In Australia from around $70,000.

NB: Unfortunately due it not yet being an old-timer it is not possible to import these as left-hand drive to Australia.

To be continued…

Citroën DS – the saga – thwarted again

Yesterday I borrowed a car with a towbar, rented an enormous trailer, and drove back up to Middelburg in the Netherlands to collect my DS. All went well and I even managed to avoid the enormous traffic jam that engulfed most of Antwerp yesterday afternoon.

Upon arrival I was presented with another bill of 197€ which was for finding my chassis number and getting the car started. Scandalous but what can I do? I paid it. Then began the process of getting the DS on the trailer. Luckily I had taken my friend Dimi with me because André refused to help. Didn’t want to be responsible for it he said. Could have still bloody helped in my opinion given that I have paid him 700€ for basically nothing!

More bad news was to follow. The locking mechanism of the winch on the trailer turned out to be broken so it wasn’t clicking as I wound it. This meant that if I let go of the handle it would spin back the other way. It also meant that it didn’t provide any help in securing the DS, something that you would want in normal circumstances, but is essential in this case as the handbrake isn’t working. The straps that I had brought wouldn’t be strong enough on their own to hold the car.

So after winching the car on to the trailer I decided it was not safe to try and transport it with just the straps holding it on. I was forced to take it off the trailer again and leave it there. Now I am being charged 65€ a month storage for it to stand outside. I don’t know what to do next. I’m not prepared to try again with a trailer myself so I guess I will have to pay someone to transport it. It never ends…

Update: The trailer rental place has agreed to give my money back so that is something I guess…

Citroën Kofferbakverkoop (car boot sale)

Today I went along to a meeting of the Citroën ID/DS Club Nederland. It was a kofferbakverkoop, essentially a swap meet or car boot sale, and it was held in Grubbenvorst in the Netherlands. I wasn’t interested in purchasing any parts. I just wanted to meet a few people from the club and see the cars. There were a few very nice ID and DS models there including 2 Chapron convertibles. Below are a few photos for your viewing pleasure.

Citroën SM and BMW 123d

Old DS and new C6

1964 Citroën ID in perfect state

Citroën DS Chapron!

Citroën DS Chapron rear

Citroën DS Chapron convertible in red

Black DS

Not all the DS's were in such a good state...

It was good to meet with and talk to the members of the club. They have an awful lot of knowledge about these very special and unusual cars. I plan on joining the club and attending future meetings.