Citroen Collection - Faine 391

By: Jon Faine, Photography by: Jon Faine

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Jon Faine welcomes another Citroen DS to the shed

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Why is it that the smallest task becomes the hardest thing? Apart from battling man flu in a shed that seems cold enough to make anti-freeze turn to ice, I have also lost two of my favourite ratchet spanners somewhere in the mess that passes for a workshop. I have upended the whole place searching to no avail. The ensuing clutter threatens to have me committed to an institution for the treatment of hoarders.

Amidst the spare motors, wheels, front-end bits and even the perfectly serviceable gas heater that the neighbours threw out for hard rubbish collection – which therefore just had to be relocated into my shed – I have also accumulated another car [!!!] and assorted spare doors and parts. It all makes sense in the end, I keep telling my very patient wife. She rolls her eyes and does mental arithmetic on how much she can sell the lot for after my heart attack.

Last month I welcomed a Citroen DS to the fold. I had a fleet of them years ago and had wanted another one for ages but either missed out when they were advertised or decided they were not the right specs. So when a 5-speed Pallas DS23 appeared I plunged in and grabbed it. It was a runner but with some issues, but nothing serious at all.

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Now magically a month later I have a breeding pair. Literally days after getting the cream one sorted and ready for paint I found a note in the letterbox. I had been hassling the owner of a nearby much-admired car and he had finally decided it was time to let it go. So the cream car is joined by the brown car as they sit side by side in the shed… For the time being.

The brown car has been repainted and trimmed and runs well. It does leak some vital green hydraulic suspension fluid though. Citroen owners are familiar with the sinking feeling that comes with green puddles under your car. Citroens are like new puppies that need house training – which means a bit of online shopping from Europe to get some new seals and rubbers to cure the green bleeding.

It also has multiple weird details wrong. I am having fun fixing all the quirky unoriginal things done by the previous owner and delving through the piles of hoarded Citroen parts to replace broken bits. First up – swap dash panels. A common problem is that the retaining screws in the corners get over-tightened and then snap their lugs off the instrument cover.

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Under the bonnet I am wrestling with the cables and cranks that make the inner driving lights turn. In the late 1960s Citroen pioneered swivelling headlights, retained until 1975 [the year of this car] and also fitted on the iconic SM. It requires endless patience and determination to get it set up properly. I maybe do not have that amount of patience. But it is therapeutic to find my limits.

While sick and housebound I have also been negotiating a refund for over $1400 from a supposedly reputable UK supplier of Jaguar parts. Last year the brakes on the E type were completely rebuilt using new everything from one of the world’s biggest suppliers of Jaguar bits. The rubbish supplied turned out to be cheap Chinese knock offs and not fit for purpose.

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Of course this was only evident after fitting complete front and back wheels with all new discs, wheel kits and new lines. So out it all had to come and the original parts – not binned, thanks to hoarder syndrome again – were sent off for local reconditioning and then refitted to the car.

The claim to the UK supplier has taken nearly twelve months to complete and required threats of legal action before being taken seriously. The new digital economy is lucrative and the global market is there to be tapped. But they needed reminding that consumer law is still consumer law.

May others take note and do not put up with being ripped off.

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