The E-Type is the most reliable of them all?

I am currently waiting at the bus stop, which is one of the occasional joys of classic car ownership.

The E-Type is working fine, but I needed to go to the hardware store and it is not the most practical car for that.

The 450SLC currently has a window stuck down and it’s raining so I can’t leave it parked on the street all afternoon.

The 250SE has its transmission linkage held together with a bulldog clip while I wait for parts.

The DS is not cured of its overheating and is stuck behind the 250SE.

The 280CE is not registered and has its coolant drained and radiator disconnected for a new water pump.   Ran when parked – sort of.

Arthur Rizzo motors closes after 60 years

I’ve been taking my 450SLC and 250SE to Arthur Rizzo motors for service for over 10 years.    Unfortunately for me, Harry, the owner of Rizzo’s has decided to retire and the workshop has closed.   Every time I would call by the workshop, located under the train line to the harbour bridge, there would be an interesting Mercedes there – Pagoda’s, 6.3s, and even an exotic like 300SL from time to time.

People shy away from old cars because they worry about getting ripped off with service – but taking your car to Harry at Rizzos meant that driving an old Benz daily wasn’t a problem.  Your car was kept reliable, and he made sure he did what was needed at a reasonable rate.

The workshop was named for, and presumably started by Arthur Rizzo, who was a well known racing driver who later started a Mercedes workshop and even did things like some of the earliest conversions of 300SLs to right hand drive.

The closing of Rizzo’s echos a concern that many in the old car hobby have and that I share – will there be enough younger guys who really get to know these old cars and can run a business maintaining them to keep these cars on the road as the older mechanics retire?  I sure hope so.

250SE Wedding car

The 250SE Cabriolet did wedding duty today for my Sister’s wedding.  The weather was lovely, and the 250SE is a great wedding car – driving the bridal party very close to the wedding with the roof closed then stopping to open it so they could arrive in style.   I was even able to set the car up with a white ribbon that I got from a friend who runs a wedding car business.   Given this cars extensive history it is likely it has done a wedding before, but if not one more thing ticked off.

The wedding was at Nielson park in Vaucluse and the reception in the kiosk there.  It takes weeks to do, but you can request from the rangers to drive the cars into the park, but they force you out at 10:30pm no exceptions.

The car performed well for the wedding, but when I got it back to the garage I couldn’t find reverse to get it in – turns out the plastic bushing in the transmission linkage had broken and the transmission linkage fallen off.   At least this didn’t happen before the wedding.   Given I was at the garage, I was able to jack the car up and do a temporary repair with a bulldog clip to engage reverse and get the car put away for the night.

Dawn Citroen drive up Putty road to the Hunter

The Putty road is one of the better driving roads close to Sydney – so much so that it is the favorite haunt of many Motorcycle clubs.  (the ones that actually ride bikes, not the ones that sell speed).   I’ve driven it a couple of times in the E-Type, and once in the 450SLC, but never in the DS.   Given it is quite a twisty road, the DS which is more like a couch on wheels wasn’t my first choice for this route – but there is fun in doing a twisty road in absolute comfort, and the semi-automatic gear change is great for quick upshifts.

More D'sThis was an event organized by the Citroen Club and there were some nice cars in attendance – the Blue D is a DS23ie BVH Pallas.   The Green car is a just completed restored DS23 Pallas.   The 2CV was breaking in a new engine, and there was a nice GS that is not in the photo, plus a couple of modern Citroens.    Breakfast was at the greygum cafe on the Putty and lunch at one of the hunter wineries.    Overall this was a good day – I like the club runs that cover longer distances – if you’re going to get the car out – get it out for a decent drive.

Unfortunately, my repeated radiator flushes did not sort out my overheating problem like I thought.   The car ran well on the flat sections and downhill, but heated up quickly on the uphill sections, so much so that it overheated twice.   Despite flushing the radiator, the coolant was a murky brown colour again, making me feel that this radiator is going to need a recore.

Citroen night drive to La Perouse

This evening the Citroen Club organized a night drive to La Perouse.  It was a lovely warm evening, perfect for taking the DS out for a drive.

The meeting point was Harry’s Cafe de Wheels in Tempe, which is a bit of a Sydney institution selling pies etc.  Despite living in Sydney most of my life, I had never actually been there.  They advertise the best pie in Sydney – it was nice although I have to say Oatley pies are better.

DS21 and DS23

The blue car in the picture is a DS23 Automatic. Like my car, it is a Comfort model (Not a Pallas).

On the drive there is a selection of DS including a DS23 Safari, The black Cabriolet I saw at the auction, as well as some more modern Citroens. I also saw a lovely grey CX Prestige at the home of a club member. The space in the rear of this car is larger than most hotel rooms in Europe. (The Prestige is the long wheel base CX)

At night

The DS is that little bit shinier

A few months ago I had started polishing the DS using Auto-glym paint pro and the cheap Chinese polishing machine I bought on eBay.

I achieved good results on the roof, but overall there was much to do.

Today I used stage 1 on the bonnet and front wings. Took a few hours but much better than before. In the first photo you can see the front 1/3 of the bonnet has been done – compare the reflection of the fluorescent lights with the rear of the bonnet that had not.

beforeIn the 2nd photo, you can see the results of the entire bonnet finished with stage 1. Stage 1 is the cutting compound and stage 2 completes the job.

I still have to do the doors, rear wings and boot lid. I will probably also touch up the roof again too.

This paint job will never be show quality, but with enough elbow grease, it should look very good from a few meters away.


Shannons Auction Sydney – March 2014

The Citroen Club were invited to see a preview of the cars up for auction by Shannons next week. This months auction catalogue was a bit of ‘something for everyone’, ranging from a nice looking Wolseley with an estimate of $4,000 to $6000 to a Ferrari Dino 246.

My picks from this auction were:

  • An immaculate looking BMW 635csi for $12,000 to $15,000.  I’ve always been a fan of the 6 series, with its sharp styling and good handling.  This is a lot of car for the money.
  • A nice looking Mercedes 250SL (unfortunately with a 280SL badge) that had the rare rear 3rd seat.
  • An amazing looking 1928 Stutz for $75,000 – $85,000.  This car was in amazing condition and a great period ‘limo’ for captains of industry and the like.

StuzIn addition, parked outside I noticed a Citroen DS convertible.   The original convertibles were built by the coachbuilder Henri Chapron, and are extremely rare.   I am not familiar with this car, although it is not an original and I understand it was converted in Vietnam.   There are at least two converted cars in the NSW club, this one and a light blue one.


Citroen Club Tech Event Feb 2014

Today I managed to make my second Citroen Car Club tech event.  Today was bucketing down with rain, so my intention of re-gassing my spheres went out the window as I didn’t feel the need to lie down in puddles to remove them and the lift was otherwise occupied with an old caddy.   Nevertheless it was good to get to the event see some of the other cars and club members.

GSGiven the poor weather, instead of working on the car I got to ride in two Citroens I had not experienced before – A GS and a DS 23 EFI Automatic.

The GS was quite a surprise for me.   The car that I rode in was a 1976 model with a 1300cc engine and a 5 speed.   Despite carrying 4 large gents, the car 1300cc engine had a lot of pick up (if revved) and the ride was very good for a small car in rutted Sydney roads.  Rear leg room was not even so bad for me given that this is quite a small car.   The GS has always had the reputation of being under appreciated and I can see why.  Probably not a car I will ever get to own so I enjoyed a ride in it!DS 23ieThe Second car I rode in was a DS23ie Automatic Pallas.   Globally, the Automatic is not common for the DS, but Australia has quite a few as Citroen had originally planned to sell the in the US market then had to pull out of that market given all their protectionist regulations, so many ended up here.

The automatic is a 3 speed, but gets along quite well with the extra power of the 23 injected engine.   The gear lever is similar to the BVH, but you start the car from the key, not the gear selector.   Handbrake is as BVH, but you can see the blanking for the manual gear lever that the BVH doesn’t have.  On the whole, I am glad I persisted and got the BVH, but despite the negative comments by many DS enthusiasts, the automatic, when coupled with the extra power of the 23ie, still gives that DS experience for those who do not want to change gears.

Alternate route to the Hunter – Wisemans Ferry

On a recent trip to the Hunter Valley I was looking for ways of avoiding the F3 and its traffic.   On the way there, I went via the Putty Road.  On the way back, I took tourist route 33 then over Wisemans ferry.

View Larger Map

The route is nice with minimal traffic, good winding roads and scenery.   As you drive along route 33, you’ll see an early sign to Wisemans Ferry – this is an unsealed road and not the ferry you’re looking for, so ignore this sign.  You’ll also get to smell the chicken farms along the route – best to go through that area rather quickly!

overall this route is a faster way than Putty, but Putty is a better drive.   Even better do both!  Certainly better than sitting in the F3 traffic, and this route is probably a bit less popular with the motorbike crowd too.

If you like ferries, you can also go back via the Berowra waters ferry instead of through Dural.  I didn’t as it was getting late.

Wisemans ferry

DS Radiator Flushed

The vinegar flush I tried yesterday removed a lot of silt from the radiator.  Each of the bottles I captured the old coolant in had a fairly decent layer of sediment in the bottom the next day.   Despite the flushing, the radiator still looked dirty, so I used the bottle of Wynn radiator flush as well.   It also removed a fair amount, although not as much as the first go with the vinegar.

My new thermostat is still on order (I ordered the 75c), so I took the car for a test drive (just using plain water) and it is better.  Instead of staying near the top of the normal range, the temperature gauge stayed at around 2/3, and when it did go high it was able to come down faster.   The radiator and top hose were also much cooler using the infrared thermometer.

Looking down into the radiator, the core seems more of a silt colour than bare metal, so I may consider another flush before I refill with distilled water & coolant.

the lesson from this is that using proper coolant with regular changes is important.   Rainwater will just end up with a lot of silt in the system.