The Devil in Disguise drive

On Sunday, I attended the Devil in Disguise drive with the Citroen Club.   So the story goes the drive is named in memorial for a member of the club who is sadly deceased who was apparently a mild mannered man, until he got behind the wheel of his DS, when the Devil in Disguise came out!

On this trip, the Devil was the weather – being around 35C, a bit too hot for old Ds.   Of the about 10 cars on the run, most people had brought a more modern car, apart from me in the DS and a 2CV.   Despite the conditions, the DS did pretty well.   The temperature was in the high range of the gauge most of the way up, but it never got out of the normal zone and I was able to cruise along the old Pacific highway at 80km/h with no problems.   Even up the hills, dropping down to 3rd gear provided more cooling capacity with higher RPM as there is no ram air effect with a 3rd nose DS, the air is sucked by the fan.   The Velour seats were a great change from the vinyl that I had last summer and made the trip fairly comfortable despite the weather.

As I had done the same drive in the 250SE just a few weeks before, the comparisons were quite interesting.   The 250SE being an overhead cam straight 6, likes to rev and does its best work in the high rev ranges.   The 250 also has shorter gearing so it feels a bit faster despite the additional weight (and being almost 50% more powerful).   The DS likes to waft along, ironing out the bumps and the motor is happier in the lower rev ranges.

On the way back, the temperature was up even more and there was more traffic on the road.   To keep the temperature down, I had to keep to about 70-80km/h on the motorway, and I had to stop and let the car relieve itself for a bit after some heavy traffic on pacific highway.

Car has done a wee


Overall the cooling is much better than before the radiator was cleaned out and the new water pump fitted, but not perfect.   I need to check the heating valve, as I tried to turn the heater on to help the engine a little and wasn’t able to get any heat out.   It may even be worth trying something like water wetter to give the cooling system that little extra help.

New DS Air Cleaner Hose

The Citroen DS has a rubber hose that connects the air cleaner assembly with the top of the carburettor.   This hose had become so hard and perished that it tore when I tried to remove the air cleaner to take off the spheres.

air cleaner hoseThe condition of the hose is fairly evident from the picture.   The new one was much more pliant.   Originally, the hose had a clamp to attach it to the air cleaner assembly, but I managed to break it putting it back on.   Instead of using this clamp again that needs a special tool, I will just use a regular hose clamp that is much easier.

Hose ClampIn addition, I had tried to clean and re-oil the filter cartridge, but obviously I had done it incorrectly as oil was dripping down on to the hot exhaust manifold and causing a terrible small and small amounts of smoke sitting at the lights, so I took the opportunity to remove any of the oil that had dripped down.


Despite missing the clamp, the new hose fits well and the car is now ready for the Club event I am taking it on this Sunday.


2014 Shannons Sydney late spring classic auction preview

The latest Shannons Auction is on Monday, so I went to preview the offering.   As usual, Shannons have a nice mix of cars for sale, and the ones that caught my eye were:



This is not a car I know much about, but it has oodles of character and a price guide of $18,000-$24,000.   The paint work is not in great shape, but it looks like a nice car nevertheless and it has loads of cool period details.


D Special


This is a car that caught my eye at first, but on closer inspection I am not so sure.   A D Super 5 is popular model – basically a DS21 engine and 5 speed transmission in the D Super body with its simpler hydraulics and less trim.   The D Super 5 is also a model we never got here in Australia, so are not common as all are private imports.

However, on closer inspection, the VIN listed on the Shannons website shows that the car started as a 1975 D Special and has been modified to become a D Super 5.   Nothing wrong with that, but it should be disclosed.   Secondly, for a near new paint job, there is already bubbling below one of the headlights, and it looks like they were masked off and not removed.   They list the price guide as $24,000-$28,000 which I think is a tad high given it is not an original car.


Unfortunately the photo I took didn’t come out but this car was rather interesting.   It is called a six wheel because it has two spares, not because it is a tank.   Since it has not been used since 1995, there is probably a reasonable amount of work needed, but this car is striking and has great period styling features.   Being a flat head six it is probably fairly reliable.    And it’s called a Dictator.

I wonder sometimes what will happen with cars like this.   As you could imagine, this car is being sold by an older gentleman and I’m not sure that cars like this appeal as much to the generation of car enthusiasts who are born in the 60s and 70s rather than those born in the 30s and 40s they are replacing.     Price guide: $18,000-$22,000




I include this car because I think it was the worst buy there.    In my view, you either buy a car that is at least a 6/10, or buy a 2 or 3/10.    Cars that are 4 or 5 out of 10 need a full restore anyway, so might as well start with something that is compete but not pay a premium for something that is very tatty and will always be that way without a restore.     To me, this car is a 5/10.  It needs EVERYTHING.   for example, every piece of rubber is crumbling away, the body is covered in dents and the inspection report is not promising.



This was one of my favorite cars on display.   Less money (and arguably better looks) than a 3000, this little beauty was offered for sale with a price guide of $52,000-$58,000.

Lot 22: 1958 JAGUAR XK150 ROADSTER

JagA lovely XK150 roadster.   It needs to loose the silly racing harness, but other than that, this car looked great.   Price guide $105-$120,000.   Based on other XK sales, this does not seem out of line.


MBCNSW ‘Topless Drive’

The Mercedes Club organized a late spring evening ‘topless’ drive up the Old Pacific Highway to the Central coast.    I had forgotten what a nice drive the Old Pacific Highway is, certainly nicer than the F3/M1.   I took the 250SE, and it was the oldest car there, the best representation being from the R107, in particular the 380.   I also discovered that the 250SE had won the MBCNSW ‘show and shine’ recently, but I had left too early to receive my award.

Convoy Point

The 250SE was able to keep up with the more modern car on the twisties, I think to the slight surprise as some.   Of course, I had to employ full throttle a little more!  There was also a R107 350SL with a 5.0 M117 that was able to achieve such speeds on the road that If I mentioned it, you wouldn’t believe it.     As well as the 107s, there were a selection of other convertibles including modern SLs including a 600SL v12.


JDCA drive to Bulli

I recently attended a JDCA drive to Bulli organized by the Grand Tourers Register (i.e. XJS, New XK).   The drive started in Southern Sydney and took the grand pacific drive through the royal national park.   Unfortunately the event organizers Jag (a lovely XJS convertible) developed an issue and had to pull out of the event, but overall it was a very nice day and some nice cars on display.

The two fixes to the car I did the other day didn’t hold up – plugging the GPS in disabled the cigarette lighter and radio again and the speedometer bezel and glass fell off.    The speedo is a bit loose, so might be able to tighten it once I had the radio out again.

W108 300SE – the forgotten Mercedes

There is a blog I look at from time to time called “Aussie old parked cars” where the author takes pictures of interesting cars he/she sees in daily use around Sydney.   In particular, most of the photos are around North Sydney and Neutral bay, an area I am quite familiar with.

One entry that stuck out to me was a W108 300SE, a model that is rarely seen on the roads these days, due to only 2737 being made and the unfortunately most of them being junked since.

When it was introduced in 1965, the W108 and W109 series occupied the ‘S class’ spot in the Mercedes-Benz range.   (although Mercedes only started to refer to the S class with the advent of the W116).      At that time, you could order:

  • W108 – 250S
  • W108 – 250SE
  • W108 – 300SEb
  • W109 – 300SEL

Note here that the 300SEL was a W109 and not a W108.   The main difference is that the W109 has Mercedes air suspension and a long wheelbase (later there were LWB 108s, but not at first).   In addition, W109s had better interior appointments (i.e. more wood, seats in leather and same style as the W111 two door etc).

The 300SE and SEL shared the M189 ‘big six’ which was an all alloy long stroke motor derived from the engine in the 300 limo from the 50s.   The 300SL gullwing also had an engine derived from this model  but is a rather different beast, despite what you read on all the car ads.    The M189 was a great engine but it was very expensive to recondition and given its low production, parts were always hard to get and expensive.      Today even basic parts like the distributor cap are 5-10x for a 250SE.

In essence, the 300SEb was a hybrid between the 250SE and 300SEL – the big six in the shorter body with steel springs.   it was also the only 300SE not to have air suspension until the W126.     Its problem came in late 1967.   The entire W108 range was replaced and the new 280S and SE replaced not only the 250 models but also the 300.   The M130 was the last and best derivative of the M180 small six and delivered almost as much power as the M189, but with less noise given its steel block construction.  There were also economies of scale standardizing on the M130 and eliminating the costly M189.   Even the 300SEL got the M130 after late 1967, albeit with a hotter cam, and later v8 models followed for both the W108 and W109 which are the ones everyone wants now.

That left the 300SEb as an orphan. With high running costs and a new model out, vales plummeted.  Unlike the two door cars, or even the W109, small engine problems could quite quickly exceed the value of the car.  Thus, many were junked, sometimes to provide an engine for a two door or LWB car.  Many more had their engine replace with a 250 or 280 engine.   Outside this photo, it is years since I have seen one.   Unfortunately the car in the picture looks rather tired.  lets hope that the owner keeps it running.  Its nice to see it sporting the original two piece hubcaps and original plates – I wonder if the M189 still soldiers on under the bonnet?

DS Carpet Replacement

When I got it, the DS had threadbare blue carpets.   The previous owner also had a blue DS, so I suspect at some point he upgraded the carpets in that car and the blue ones were in better condition than the carpets in the red car.    In addition it had marine carpet on the box sills which for a DS Comfort should be vinyl.


I had ordered some new carpets and the correct foam for them from Citro Classique, and while I haven’t had a chance to fit the sill vinyl, the carpets are fairly easy to fit.   To do it properly there are little tabs to hold it down but I am not going to use those until after I have done the vinyl and the carpet sits in place quite happily.

Rear foam

The rear foam is a lovely thick piece with a cut out for the seat belts.   It is important to note that if your car leaks into the back seat the foam can stay wet and attract rust.    The foam however is great for sound deadening and provides a very comfortable ride especially in bare feet.

Rear carpets

The carpet simply lays on top.  I went with a slightly darker shade than is standard so it does not show the dirt better.  I also think it goes better with my grey seats.   The front foam is in three pieces, with the centre piece much thinner than the outer pieces.   It also didn’t fit as snugly, perhaps RHD vs LHD?   The middle piece being thin does seem to be correct according to La Nuancier DS.



After that the carpet again slides in, with some fiddling to make sure it fits around the brake button and accelerator pedal.     These pictures also show the marine carpet on the sills which will be replaced soon.

Changing the DS Accumulator Sphere

Previously, I had removed all my suspension spheres to check their pressure.   Their pressure was checked at the Citroen Club tech day, and found to be acceptable.     Given I had the system de-pressurized, I also wanted to change the accumulator sphere.     The accumulator acts as a store of system pressure.   This means that the pump does not have to run all the time but only when system pressure drops below a threshold.     It is quite easy to hear the pump kick in, run for a few seconds then cut out again with a click.    A faulty accumulator will cause the pump to run very frequently, which is not ideal.

My pump was cutting in every 6-10 seconds, which is very frequent.     Given I was not sure how old the accumulator was, I had purchased a new sphere to put on the car, however I had delayed because despite this being a service item, it is extremely difficult to remove from the car.   (see this thread on Aussiefrogs).    It is a rather poor design on Citroen’s part, and to remove it took two hours and two people.  Ultimately, I had to use a breaker bar and strap wrench to unscrew the sphere, and then removal from the cavity where it lives is even more difficult.     The regulator is attached to the side of the engine (passengers side on a RHD car), and the sphere screws in to the bottom of the regulator.   The regulator and sphere can be removed as a unit, however you need to unscrew a number of hard lines and attaching points in a tiny space between the engine and wing.   Alternatively, you can jack the engine up a bit, then move the sphere up and to the front of the car slightly, then down in front of the cross member.


In the photo you can just see the green of the sphere and the blue is a hand coming from below the car to try and guide it past all the obstructions to release it.     Re-installation is just as fiddly as the removal!     After closing the bleed screw, and re-attaching all the suspension spheres, my cycle time had more than doubled to about 20 seconds.     Not perfect, but much better.

While the car was on the lift, I also cleaned the stainless steel sill protectors.   I found that sugar soap worked very well.





CCCNSW Tech Day Oct 2014

Today was one of the regular tech days organised by the Citroen Club.   I always enjoy the tech days, even if I am not doing much to my car – you can see the other cars, talk to the other members and sometimes learn how to do things by watching what other people do.

One of the tricks I learned today was simple but effective.   When removing spheres, use a baby’s nappy to catch the LHM that will invariably leak out from the sphere.   Larger is better.


The tech day was held at a semi-rural property owned by a club member and Citroen GS enthusiast.   He has plenty of room in his sheds for a large supply of GS parts and some parts cars out back to.    He also has a CX Ute for when things need to be moved around on the property.   As you can see, it is in showroom condition.

CX Ute


I had removed my spheres previously to have them checked, and re-gassed if necessary.   The Club has the equipment to do this. However, my spheres were not in need of re-gassing.

Citroen DS Sphere removal

Central to the Citroen DS hydraulic system is a set of ‘spheres’ that hold hydraulic pressure.  The spheres have an internal diaphragm so they can contain gas on one side and hydraulic fluid on the other.    One is used for each wheel to provide the suspension, as the gas forms the ‘spring’ and the amount of fluid in the sphere controls the ride height.    One is used as a place to hold a buffer of system pressure, called the accumulator, and one some cars, and additional sphere provides additional brake pressure (like another accumulator, but just for the brakes).

There are two types of spheres.   The original split type that are re-buildable, and the newer one piece type that are disposable.     You can run either type, although at least on the suspension,  the two piece type are apparently better.   Since all the accumulator is doing is providing a pressure buffer, most people use a disposable unit for this.

If you let the sphere get completely flat, the diaphragm will most likely be damaged, and the two piece spheres will need to be rebuilt (and the one piece discarded).   Therefore, it makes sense to remove the spheres every year or two and have their pressure checked and set to the correct level for the car (i.e. front and rear are different, sedans are different from wagons etc).

To remove the spheres, firstly they need to be loosened about 1/4 a turn with the suspension on high and pressurized.    This is especially important for the rear.     It is normal to use a strap wrench to do this.    It should not be particularly difficult, however on my car I found that even with a 1 metre breaker bar it was very difficult to crack the spheres.


It should not strictly be necessary, but I had to remove the air cleaner assembly to get the front sphere off.   Once the sphere have been slightly loosened then the car needs to be set to the lowest suspension setting and the system pressure released via the screw on the side of the pressure regulator.     Once this is done the spheres can be removed by hand, with something to catch the hydraulic fluid that will spill.



The spheres for the front and rear have different pressures, so it is important to make sure that the spheres are not mixed up.


I had also wanted to replace the accumulator sphere, and replace it.   My hydraulic pump needs to kick in every 5-10 seconds.   This could be because the accumulator is flat and not holding pressure.  It also could be an internal leak in one of the other hydraulic components such as the centrifugal regulator, or the steering rack.    Since my accumulator is the disposable type, and I had purchased a replacement, I wanted to change it.

However, despite breaking a chain wrench, I was unable to remove the accumulator.   I will likely have to remove the entire pressure regulator assembly, which is quite fiddly as all the hydraulic lines need to be removed and new seals fitted.    Something for another day.