Preparing the Citroen DS boot lid

The Citroen DS boot lid is almost ready to be mounted on the car.   Before Xmas I was able to finally fit the badges properly.   The next task was mounting all the other hardware and fitting a new boot lid seal.

The latching hardware and handle goes on quite easily if you have a 36mm spanner.   The only fiddly bit is getting the drainage tube through the two holes in the lid.   I used a pair of dental picks to accomplish this.

Boot hardwareThe standard Citroen DS boot lid seal is a very thick rubber that squashes down as the boot is closed.   Unlike in most cars, the seal is attached to the boot lid.   This seal has mixed reviews in the DS community.   The original ones retained water, causing many boot lids to rust out.  This is probably what happened to my car as it is now sporting an aluminium boot lid from an early DS19.   The reproduction ones are closed cell, but can make the lid sit higher.     The D Special and D Super didn’t use this seal at all, just some simple rubber pieces on the lip of the chassis.   These don’t cause rust, but don’t always seal all that well and let dust into the car.

Citroen DS Boot seal

Based on a recommendation from Aussiefrogs, I used a sikaflex product to glue down my seal.    It is not a flat channel, so I am using a set of clamps to hold it down as the glue dries.   So as not to damage the paint, I am using towels to stop scratching and cardboard to spread the pressure.  I hope this works!

Citroen DS Boot sealThe only thing left will be to fit the rubber seal that sits between the top of the boot lid and the window glass.   This is very easy as there is a channel in the boot lid it fits into.

Today I also fitted the carpets and rear seat to the car.  Progress has been very slow – my aim is to get the car back on the road in the next two to three months.

2018 CARnivale

Adding overzealous private security guards rarely enhances an event and the 2018 CARnivale was no exception.     This event used to be held in the city and was relocated to Parramatta Park a few years ago.    It is now much smaller and the cars are squeezed into a small area so unnecessary security barriers can be put up to contain them.

This year we saw the farce of thousands of people wanting to go and see the cars but being held up due to some kind of security ‘all clear’.   Spectators were being yelled at and I can’t imagine it was much fun for the car owners either.    This can be seen from the first photo.    Cars were packed in so tight I imagine many were trapped in until enough cars had left for the day.

On the positive side there were a number of nice cars to look at.   This event normally attracts a different crowd of cars.   Due to being part of a larger festival you get more of the general public at this event rather than car people.   This means children climbing on the cars and so on.   The cars in attendance therefore are often more everyday examples which may not be seen at other shows.

Bucking that trend, there was also in attendance a lovely Jaguar MK V, Rolls Royce Silver Dawn, a Concours condition Rover P5B Coupe, a BMW 3.0 CSL.    However, the show is really more about previously common cars like Austin 7s, FJ/EH Holdens, Minis, various Austins and Morris models and so on.    Nice to see them out and about.

While the car event is not what it was, the 2018 CARnivale is still worth a visit as there is a lot to do for the whole family.   They have various kids events, rides, food stalls etc.

British Motor Museum Reserve Collection

The British Motor Museum has more cars than they can display in their main collection.   Unlike most museums, they open up their reserve collection to browse.   The cars are obviously packed in close together to fit them all, so harder to see all the details and photograph.  I still think  its great that the museum opens this part of the collection to the public.

The museum offers volunteer tours of the reserve collection twice per day.   Despite many people at the museum during my visit, I was the only one to avail myself of the tour.   I ended up with a two hour private tour of the reserve collection instead of the 45 minute highlights a big group would get.   This was the highlight of the whole museum for me.     The tour also included the Jaguar Heritage collection.

Probably the most fascinating part of the tour was some of the descriptions of an early Lanchster.   I had heard of Lanchester, but more about the cars they built during their ownership by Daimler.    However, the most interesting cars were built by Frederick Lanchester.   Like W.O. Bentley, Lanchester was a brilliant engineer but not a great businessman.  And unlike Henry Royce, who had Charles Rolls and then later professional managers, Lanchester never had a partner to handle the business side of things.

The car we looked at had an epicyclic gearbox, years before Henry Ford adopted it for the Model T, twin crankshaft engine for smoothness, was much faster than the competition and many other clever touches.   Sadly, the Lanchester brand ended up building a series of forgettable cars under Daimler ownership.

Another interesting part of the museum was a collection of test cars showing off different safety ideas of the 70s.   One in particular looks like a mousetrap – it was designed to come up during a collision to improve pedestrian safety.   There is also another one to try and show American regulators how silly a proposed law was that focused on rear visibility.    It is fitted with a large periscope as the only way of complying with the regulations.

The collection also contains three interesting Rover P5 models.   The main collection houses one of the Queen’s P5Bs and the overflow collection has the other.   There is also the Prime ministerial P5B, and interesting for me, a 1965 P5 Coupe with a manual transmission.   A similar car (transmission aside) from my old rover and identical spec to a couple of cars being restored by a friend of mine.    Continuing the Rover theme, there is a Rover Speed 14 Streamline Saloon, a rather performance oriented model by the company.

Also of interest was a very impressive Daimler Green Goddess.   This is a very imposing car and you can certainly understand the stir it created when first unveiled.   However, if I could have taken one car home from the museum, it would have been the Bentley R Type Continental.


British Motor Museum Main Collection

The British Motor Museum contains the world’s largest collection of historic British vehicles.   It was a really impressive museum and worth a visit if you’re ever in the UK.   It is a nice combination of early vehicles, examples of popular British cars, concept cars and competition cars.

The museum is located in Warwick, near Birmingham, about an hour or so north of London on the M40.

One of the first cars you see is an 1897 Daimler, the oldest UK built example.   It was used extensively in its heyday and is still in working condition.   You can see its flame ignition system, which is essentially a pair of Bunsen burners heating metal tubes that ignite the fuel.   The car was later fitted with an elephant hide hood.

Proceeding into the museum you see a number of concept cars such as a Rover SD1 estate, and a BL electric car.    From there, the museum is divided into a number of exhibits.   These include:

  • The concept cars described above
  • Famous Jaguar Competition cars
  • Royal vehicles, including the Queen’s personal Rover P5
  • ‘Memory Lane’ type exhibits that show popular vehicles from a particular time period
  • Competition and record breaking cars
  • Estate cars
  • Land Rover/Range Rover
  • British Sports cars including an excellent cutaway MGB GT

Including spending time at the Overflow collection and the Jaguar Heritage Collection, I spent the entire day there.

The British Motor Museum is also the home of the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust archives.   The archives are the suppliers of heritage certificates.    There is also a reading room which is available for research by appointment.

National Motor Museum, Beaulieu

The National Motor Museum arose out of the collection of the previous Lord Montagu (3rd Baron Beaulieu).  It is housed at the Montagu family estate at Beaulieu in the New Forest.   Lord Montagu’s father was a keen early motoring enthusiast and his personal vehicles started out the collection.

Starting with the five original cars in the 1950’s the museum has expanded out to hundreds of cars, representing all parts of British Motoring history.   Today the museum is run by a separate trust.    The museum is probably best known for its racing cars and expensive collection of Edwardian vehicles.

As well as visiting the museum, it is possible to tour the grounds and manor house on the Beaulieu estate.   Various guides are on hand to explain features of the house.   The house started out as a monastery until it was dissolved by Henry VIII.   These origins can still be clearly seen in the older parts of the house.

Some highlights of the museum for me were:

  • The excellent collection of Edwardian cars
  • The 1914 Rolls Royce 40/50 Continental ‘Alpine Eagle’ that I had a demo of
  • Two interesting Bugatti cars, including the oldest one in Britain
  • The wide collection of racing cars and motorbikes, including Formula 1
  • A blower Bentley

They have also done a nice job trying to make the cars look like they are in their natural element.

I was able to visit the museum as I had a free Saturday afternoon on a work trip.  It was an easy drive from Heathrow and the museum can be seen in a couple of hours.

1914 Rolls Royce 40/50 Continental ‘Alpine Eagle’

The Alpine Eagle is a variant of the infamous 40/50 ‘Silver Ghost’.   It was actually referred to by Rolls Royce as the Continental model.  However, the Continental was a replica of the cars entered in the 1913 Austrian Alpine Trial.

During the 1912 Trial, the three speed gearbox had proven insufficient.   Therefore, four cars were prepared for the 1913 season with four speed gearboxes.   Power was increased to 75hp (from 60) through increased compression and and improved carburettor.   The four cars were known as Alpine Eagles.

The success of the Alpine Eagle allowed Rolls Royce to market the model to the public as the Continental.  However, both the original four cars and the production model were known informally as the Alpine Eagle.

The car in the video was owned by Lord Montagu and used in many historic rally events.   Perhaps the best known of these was the 1988 Bicentennial Rally where it was driven from Canberra to Perth by Lord Montagu and Prince Micheal of Kent.  Despite being over 100 years old the car is still used on a semi regular basis for historic rally events.

The car is now in the collection of the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu.    It can be seen in the museum, and I was lucky enough to see it being started up by the curators.   It is a really impressive machine, and forms an interesting comparison with the Phantom II parked next to it.   The car has been fitted with an electric starter and was re-bodied in 1950.    As can be seen in the video it is started on a trembler coil and then switched to a Magneto.  It therefore has two spark plugs per cylinder.

British Motor Museum – Jaguar Heritage Collection

The Jaguar Heritage Collection was displayed near the historic Jaguar Factory at Browns Lane until that site was redeveloped in 2012.   The collection is now split across a few museums, but the bulk of it can be found at the British Motor Museum.

During a recent visit to the UK, I was able to tour the British Motor Museum.   The Jaguar Heritage Collection is housed in the same building as the overflow collection.

The collection has a good representation of Jaguar vehicles from swallow sidecars to the current models.   Key models include the SS1, SS100, the first and last E-Types etc.   They also have a number of concept cars from the 90s to the present day which are quite interesting.

The best exhibits for me were:

  • 77RW, the first production E-Type OTS
  • The very last S3 E-Type
  • Early SS cars, including SS1, SS100 etc.
  • A range of cars previously owned by the Queen Mother, including a DS420, XJ12
  • Good examples of their famous models like the XK120, XK140, XK150, MK1, MK2, S-Type, 420
  • XJ13, C-Type and D-type racing cars
  • The four cylinder XK engine

Some of the collection is housed in the main museum, which will be covered in a separate posting.    I really enjoyed seeing the cars, although I think it would be nice to see a purpose built display for them.   For example, they have all four ‘Utah’ cars (the MK1, MK2, S-Type and 420), a display showing the evolution would a nice touch.   They have something like that at the BMW museum for the 3-Series.

Jaguar were probably at their peak in the period between the late 50s and late 60s when they introduced some of their most famous models.   After a period in the doldrums in the 90s and 2000’s where they focused too much on retro models, they seem to have their mojo back again.   In my view, they are taking their history seriously, but not trying to rest upon it.   You would have to think that William Lyons would be impressed with the newfound success of his company.

2017 Seat Ibiza 1.0 Review

If car companies are looking for reasons why young people yearn for self driving cars, they need not look any further than the Seat Ibiza.   I rented the Seat Ibiza for the weekend, and my conclusion was that I needed to write this review immediately.   This is an important fact as once another 24 hours have elapsed, I doubt I will remember much about it.    If I were to sum it up in one word, it would be ‘Dreary’.    The Seat Ibiza has all the personality of a dishcloth.

I’m sure the Seat is well made and well equipped for the price.   Seat’s claim to fame seems to be they offer a way to buy a Volkswagen for 5% less.   Not exactly inspiring.  The car reviewers seem to like it.

Seat Ibiza

Starting with styling, the Seat Ibiza looks pretty much like every other hatchback on the road.  It even has the same swept up rear quarter window as all hatch backs now do.  It also comes in monochrome, the same as every other hatchback on the road.  The car is grey and the interior is acres of grey plastic.   They have tried to give the car an ‘upmarket’ feel with stitching on the pleather gear shift boot and steering wheel but it just looks tacky.

I’ve rented many economy vehicles in the United States and normally they come with hateful CVT transmissions.   This time, I walked to my vehicle with a spring in my step;  I was in Europe, and I was going to have a car with a proper manual transmission!   Sure enough, a 5 speed gear lever awaited me.

There is nothing especially wrong with the transmission.  But no transmission can make up for being mated to a 1.0 liter 3 cylinder engine.   It might be a small hatchback, but it’s a modern hatchback so it weighs around 1,200kg.    The car has 75hp and 95nm of torque and its not enough.  You might argue I am used to big powerful cars with lots of torque, but you’d be wrong.  I routinely drive a 54hp Citroen Traction Avant.   I’m used to driving a car at full throttle all the time, and that is what is required in the Seat Ibiza 1.0.     The difference is the Citroen has character so you forgive it.   It also has at least a little bit of torque.

Fitting an engine this small allows the car companies to advertise outlandish fuel economy figures and impress environmentalists with low emissions.   Those figures don’t stand up to real world use.  Seat advertise 57.6mpg for this car.   Despite mostly using the car on the motorway with minimal traffic, I struggled to do much better than 40-42mpg.   The engine is underpowered and is constantly straining to do its job.

In a hilarious nod to the advertised figures, the car is keen to get you to top gear as soon as possible, so you get these plaintive reminders in the dashboard advising you to change up below 2,000RPM.   Of course, the engine has no torque at any speed, but even less down at this range and the acceleration is glacial if you follow the car’s recommendations.   It’s like the car is driven by a small field mouse.   I tried following the recommendations a few times and the poor little engine was lugging trying to get that heavy body up to speed.

At highway speed, in 5th gear you find yourself spinning the engine at 4,000RPM.   In most cars you would want another gear, but not this car!  I found myself noticing imperceptible hills by the way I would have the pedal flat to the floor to keep the car moving.   Dropping down to 4th doesn’t do much, no torque to be found here either.

The ride isn’t anything to write home about – I found it rather choppy.  I didn’t like the clutch much either, it ‘bit’ quite close to the top and there seemed to be no action for much of the travel until it all happened.  It is also very light – so much so that I found it harder to do sooth shifts than most manual cars.

The car has a USB port, but it doesn’t allow you to play music through your iPhone.   Instead you get a rather convoluted touch screen to do simple things like changing a radio station.  This requires you to take your eyes off the road instead of a simple button.    The car also suffers from the usual modern hatchback malady of massive A pillars that affect your view when turning out of intersections.    This was coupled with a too high seating position I could not find a way of adjusting.

Despite all those criticisms, its not a bad car.   With a 1.5 liter engine it would probably be quite tolerable.   The problem is that the Seat Ibiza is thoroughly forgettable.   I suspect they will quickly be used up and taken off the road to be forgotten completely.   It is an impressive engineering feat that you can drive a 1200kg hatchback down the motorway at 85mph on a 3 cylinder engine.   Just because you can doesn’t make it a good idea.

My purpose for renting the car was to go and see the British Motor Museum.  What a contrast.  Innovative cars that changed the world vs a white-good.

Rating:  2/5

Unfortunately, Facebook is killing car forums

The online communities for collector cars are now on their third iteration.   They started mostly as email lists, moved to forums and are increasingly moving to social media.   This is not a good thing.

The car forums and lists built a real sense of community and there was a lot of effort that went into many postings.  Indeed, some individuals spent a lot of time writing up great howto guides on various topics.

Some of these car forum/email threads are now 10-15 years old, yet are still invaluable resources to the collector car community.   At the end of the day, advice on how to adjust some aspect of a 30 year old car hasn’t actually changed in 15 years.    I try to do a lot of work on my cars myself.   For anything I have not done before, I spend at least 30 minutes searching the various forums to understand gotchas and lessons learned.

I’ve seen in the last 2-3 years the amount of new content and sense of community really drop off.   Facebook groups have exploded at the same time.   Facebook groups have the advantage they are very ‘here and now’ and the posting of photos is very easy.    However the interactions are very superficial and it does not leave much in the way of a lasting record.   There seems to be more time devoted to talking up prices of poorly presented cars and making asinine comments on photos than any sort of meaningful discourse.   Of course, this is a problem in our society at large, and not something specific to the old car community.

What is specific to the old car community is that many of those who were around when these cars are new are getting older and that specialised knowledge will only be around for so long.   If only we could preserve it instead of commenting that a poorly modified car is ‘fully sic bro’.

W111 battery mounting frame

When I last replaced the battery in my W111, I was unable to fit the correct sized battery.   In the end I fitted one smaller than I would have liked, but it was the only one that fit into the mounting frame I had.    I knew the mounting frame was not original to the car as the previous owner purchased it on eBay.    When he purchased the car, the battery was held down with ocky straps.    At the recent German car day, one of the other members suggested my mounting frame might be from a W113 SL, rather than the correct W111 battery mounting frame.

On closer inspection I think he is right.   the lower tray was clearly longer than the frame.    In addition, the frame is not in good shape.   There are sections where some of the metal has been cut away.   This was probably to fit an incorrect battery.   I therefore started looking for a replacement frame.

I was lucky enough to find one labelled to fit the W108, W109, W111 etc for bigger batteries.  A new reproduction out of Germany and in the picture it looked great!   Included with the rods to attach the W111 battery mounting frame to the tray (minus the wing nuts).

I tried the fit the frame last night, and it is huge.   I can only assume that there was a special order option for a very large sized battery, or maybe from a W100 where everything is super sized.   The photo below shows just how much longer the new frame is compared to the previous one.

W111 battery mounting frame

This thing is gargantuan – hugely bigger than the tray it is supposed to fit onto.       The comparison is even funnier when you lay the two frames on top of each other.   The new one is about 50% larger than my current frame, which is only slightly too small.

W111 battery mounting frame comparison

I don’t have the specs for them, but I also need to try and research if the W111 battery mounting frame is a different size to the W108 or W109 unit, and if the one I have is for a W113.   Nevertheless, it is clear that what I thought would be a simple part comes in a variety of different sizes.

My next step is to look at its construction more carefully, as perhaps about 10cm can be cut from it and it re-welded up.   Since it’s a reproduction, i’m not ruining an original part.   Otherwise back to the drawing board to find the correct frame.   Perhaps my battery will have reached its 5 year life span by then.