2014 French Car Day

Today was the annual French car display day.   Like last year, the event is put on by the French car clubs in Sydney, i.e. Peugeot, Renault, Simca etc.   It was a lovely day and a good turnout – especially of DS including a few cars I had not yet seen in the club.  A couple of cars in particular:

- A yellow D Special that was for sale not long after my car and was purchased by a club member and subject to a well documented restoration on Aussiefrogs.

- A red Safari that was purchased in bits a few months ago by a club member and is already assembled and running.

- Jason’s DS (Jason looks after my car), which I had heard about, but not ever seen.

- A DS Pallas in a beautiful gunmetal colour.   Not sure who owns this car, but it looked great.   These dark metallic colours look great in Pallas spec.

- Many old favorites I have seen before.

I took some photos of the older cars at the show, and a video of the older Citroens.  One difference I noticed from last year was that there were less of the niche French marques.

Scrapping a E39 BMW

My brother has been removing items from the interior of the BMW before it goes off to become beer cans.   Scrap dealers only offer a few hundred dollars, so this can be a good way of making a bit more from the wreck.

E39 Wreck

The black leather front seats will make great chairs in the house too!


Rigid passenger safety cell at work

These photos are a good example of how the Rigid passenger safety cell works.   You can see how the front of the car has crumpled, the bonnet is crumpled, both front wings are crumpled – as they are all designed to.   However, the passenger cabin is still intact, all four doors open and close properly and there are no intrusions into the passenger space.


A good example of the reason you would buy a well engineered car.   This was the BMW 523i I reviewed about 9 months ago, and it hit another car on the freeway yesterday.    It is obviously a write off.    This car belongs to my brother, he had nicknamed it Gary.


Car manufacturers influence proposed NSW car registration changes?

NSW already has the most expensive car registration in the country, with no change from $1,000 to register the typical car – and that is just the Greenslip, Registration fees and other Government taxes.

NSW also has a particularly useless conditional registration scheme, whereby collector cars can go on ‘club’ plates and be used only for club events.   Great if you are able to make a lot of club events, but not so great if you have to work a lot, or have a young family and want to drive your car when you can.

Now they are at it again with a set of changes that sound like the work of some car manufacturer or dealer lobby group.  Essentially instead of being by weight, car registration will be calculated from a formula based on safety rating, emissions, and weight, with the final ratios to be determined.   It is rather ironic that finally after the Australian car industry has died, they are trying to force us all to buy new cars.

This scheme is supposed to start with new cars, then gradually move to older cars as well.   Given how poor the NSW club rego scheme is, those of us who have to pay through the nose to drive a few paltry kms per year are just going to have to pay more, as we are forced to buy new Hyundai’s.

Not only that, but they completely fail to take into account how much pollution is created to create a new car – especially in our globalised world where all the parts are shipped around the world, the high plastics content, and the batteries now used in Hybrids.   The option that is actually good for the environment is to use what we have – unless it is being driven for commercial purposes like a taxi, delivery van etc.

Good to see lobby group led policy is alive and well in NSW.   For those who want to read more.

Attainable Classics: #2 – Volvo P1800

This is the second in a series about interesting cars that have not had their prices driven up so much they become trailer queens.

While Volvo is still known for it’s boxy and unbreakable 240 series from the 70s and 80s, in the late 50s, Volvo was still looking to add a sports car to their range, despite the failure of the P1900.   The P1800, which came out of this shared its mechanicals with the Volvo sedans at the time, but added an eye catching coupe body shape.   This is what makes the car such a great classic today – the mechanicals are simple and robust, good build quality and an eye catching design.   This means the car could even be used as an everyday car if properly garaged.  All cars came with a four speed manual transmission, with an overdrive an option.

There are four core models available:

P1800: 1961-1962

These cars were actually made for Volvo by Jensen in the UK.   The original plan was to build 10,000 cars, but the contract was ended early at 6,000 cars due to quality control problems.   These cars are the rarest left and have some slight differences to the later Swedish built cars.

1800S: 1963-1969

When production was moved to Sweden, the cars were renamed to P1800S, and have slight differences (e.g. wheels, slightly more power etc).   Early cars have more and nicer chrome (e.g. on the curve that goes from the back of the car through the doors) than the later cars.   An early P1800S would be my choice in the range, although all the models have a following.    The 1800S still has the great looking early dashboard (apart from the last year), the SU carburettors are simple and reliable, and the extra chrome really looks good on this model.    The early cars also have nicer bumper bars, (bullnose), that have a gap in the front – later cars have a simple straight bumper that loses some of the classic styling.\

1800SThe car in the photo above is a 1800S, in the Volvo Museum.   It is a later car as it is missing the chrome on the curve in the door and the two piece bumpers.    It does have some rare and interesting options like the head rests.

1800E: 1970-1972

In 1970, the 1800 gained electronic fuel injection from Bosch, raising the power.   Some subtle styling differences on the outside of the car are not immediately noticeable, as the car had been simplified during the 1800S period, but unfortunately during the end of the 1800S production, the suburb dashboard had been replaced with a drab 70s design that carried over to the 1800E.

1800ES: 1972-1973

The last model was a radical departure – the fastback design exchanged for a shooting brake.   These cars are more practical, and can be a great classic for those who need to carry more than a few overnight bags, but are not as pretty as the original coupe design.    These cars have a bit of a cult following as they are quite different from much else on the road.

1800ESThe photo above shows a 1800ES, also in the Volvo Museum, this angle showing off the shooting brake.   Unseen in this photo is the tailgate, which is made from glass, providing great visibility from the rear of the car.


The 1800 Series are a great classic car due to their robust construction, great 60s looks and easy to maintain Volvo running car.   Good examples in Australia can be had for around $25,000.    Like all 60s cars, rust can be a problem, and some trim and body parts can be hard to find, but there is a fairly good 1800 community as can be seen in this picture at the Shannons car show a few years ago.

Row of 1800s

Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park

Sydney is bounded by National Parks to the north and to the south – With Ku-Ring-Gai Chase in the north and the Royal National Park in the south.   The Royal National Park is the second oldest national park in the world after Yellowstone in the USA.

These national parks are also great for going to a drive in a classic car away from the stop and go traffic that plagues most of Sydney.   There are less roads Ku-Ring-Gai Chase, but still some worth exploring such as West Head, Cottage Point and Akuna bay.     The only downside is the current cycling craze means that you might not be waiting for cars, but you will get stuck behind cyclists who insist on cycling in the middle of the road.   (I found only 2-3 out of about 20 I saw even moved over a bit to allow passing).

West Head

The cost to enter the National Park is $11, the booth down at Akuna bay was manned, but the earlier booth was not.    You can probably drive all the roads in about 2 hours, which is a nice drive if you live near the area.


20 hours later, the rounded bolt still clings on

In order to get to the water pump on the 280CE, the fan assembly had to be removed, which is held on by four rather inaccessible bolts.

Two of he bolts came out ok, but two were stuck firmly and became even more rounded in trying to remove them.   Mercedes must have used high quality bolts, as 20 hours and 5 drill bits later, the bolts are still in.

This is the frustrating side of classic ownership, an otherwise simple task becoming bigger than ben-hur due to a single recalcitrant bolt.

Drill, baby, drill

Grand Pacific Drive

I had wanted to check out the Grand Pacific Drive for a while, and had a few hours free the other day so took the 250SE.   The 250SE’s transmission linkage was still playing up, so I didn’t make too many stops (as I didn’t want to crawl under the car and reset it every few times I put it into park), but once you get to the start of the drive, it is very nice and surprisingly well sign posted.   I followed the drive to Kiama – but I would like to go further next time.

I did see a Jaguar E-Type S1 FHC during the drive, and a couple of US Muscle cars, so there were at least a few interesting cars out and about.

Of course once I returned with the car, the Transmission linkage came off again, but I have now fixed it properly.   The problem was the idiot who installed it (me) who put it on backwards.

During the drive, I took a short video clip mostly to learn how to use the video editing software I have…

Update – Aldi compressor

Last week I used the Aldi compressor and dremel tool to try and grind down a socket to remove the fan coupling from the 280CE. While the compressor is not terribly powerful, this worked reasonably well, until the next day when I tried to use the compressor again and it wouldn’t hold pressure. After an email to the support desk – their prompt reply was to swap it at Aldi for a new one, which they did. So at least the services good,even if the jury is still out on the compressor. I bought some more of the tools after the swap, so I now have quite a good set.

D Day, 2014

Yesterday was ‘D Day’ – the Citroen Club’s big DS drive for the year.    No better opportunity to test out the improved cooling abilities of the DS on this run.   The meeting point was in Windsor, so I decided to take the scenic route through Galston Gorge and Scheyville road.   Apart from one section where a hairdressers car was sitting at 20km/h below the speed limit the drive was great and the engine temperature didn’t mind some of the hills around this area.

Unfortunately, after a long dry spell in Sydney, we made up for it on this day, so we only had 4 D’s at this event – A DS23, a D Special and a DS21 that had been made into a convertible.   There was also two CX prestige and a GS, as well as a couple of more modern Citroens.   My car was the oldest car at the event, which is quite surprising as a 1970 model.    There was also a man who had found out about the event and come to the meeting point just to see the cars – being interested in a CX.

D DayThe drive then took us up to Kurrajong to the radio museum and then lunch nearby.   I had originally planned to drive further up the mountains after the event, but given the weather decided just to head home.   Good to get the car out on a long run and test the new repairs!