01 March 2016 – 01:39 AM
And so it begins..
The day started well, it was a nice and sunny 29th February morning here in Suffolk, but then the post arrived. Excellent… Sunbeam Owners Fellowship (club) magazine and also one from the 2cvGB club. The former struggles to fill 14 pages, so the text and pictures are big. One of the first things I read was news of a friend who’s died A man who had a motorcycle accident 11 years ago which resulted in upper spinal damage. The thing about him was that he was an optimist and a doer. Wheelchair or not he wanted a Sunbeam outfit, in which he could ride the bike from a specially built sidecar. ! John I’ll always remember you mate.. You were an ace.
The 2cvGB club magazine has a new editor and is a more interesting read for me recently, my having in November spotted a Citroen Ami for sale in Slovenia (used to be part of Yugoslavia for those who don’t know that corner of Europe). But more of that in a moment. 4th page in said magazine and I read of someone who’s take offence to an article I wrote the previous month. Sunshine of my day seems to be dimming somewhat.!
Otherwise I got yet another letter from the DVLA regarding a project bike I sold in July and have since been trying to either get a replacement logbook or an age-related number. D.V.L.A. – funny but rather offensive words come to mind when I un-abbreviate these last two letters. Perhaps you can help me, what do you reckon does L.A. stands for !?
..it’s turning overcast in my dining room.
.. their telephone isn’t being answered, so two emails and three scans later I can get on with my day.
Yo ho ho.., I’m packing ..to goes on holiday ..to Slovenia ..to start recommissioning work on my new Citroen ‘Ami- Super Berline’. Those of you who have been following jonny69’s excellent thread on now-autoshites-flimsy-bodied Shitroen might have seem my asking questions.. and a picture of a distinctly shabby, Terry Wogan beige (God bless his cotton socks) pile of .. Shitroen. That’s mine.
42 years old, it’s been standing for 16+ years. The same night it was first advertised (on French and German classic car websites) I spotted it. I was looking for a 2cv without the rust of British examples, at a price I could afford.. (that didn’t happen )
I drove a 2cv to Vienna way back when, in ’81 or ’82, but at that time was more into open top lightweight Citroen based kit-cars rather than saloons. I built a Lomax, and then a series of Falcons (different models). The latter I took down to the 2CV world meeting in Portugal and the following year (or was it the preceding year ? ..who knows) down to the beer festival in Munich.. Anyway, years later I moved abroad to work and forgot all about Citroens.
But now ..in my more mature years – I want a simple car, with no power this or that, no servos, no radiator cooling system, no A/c, in fact not even wind up windows. Bottom line …not much more than an umbrella on four wheels. I want to drive the car anywhere I like, round Britain, round Europe, and most likely around Russia too I want a car I can fix myself without garage facilities, an engine hoist, or a computer.
And the 2cv or Dyane is as simple as one can get. But, the bloody things have become a fashion accessory for those who would like to be trendy but honestly have no idea ..they follow like sheep. So the cars have become ridiculously expensive to buy now (for what you don’t get). I think I paid £50 for the car I drove to Vienna and back in, before re-bodying it as a kit car.
Thankfully there are still a good number of real individuals (like dollywobbler on this and other sites) who actually use their cars, have fun in them, and occasionally even drive them like they’re indestructible. ..probably would be too if it wasn’t for their predisposition to rust from the inside out.
Anyway, I couldn’t find anything worth buying within my limited budget and so I started looking abroad. Spotted a 2cv seemingly relatively rust free in the south of France, but bailed out because of the logistics (no French, no contacts in that part of the world, no trailer, and no towing vehicle).
And then came along this Ami Super. These cars are essentially an Ami-8 on a beefed-up chassis and suspension, with the engine, gearbox and front brakes of the Citroen GS 1015cc. 60% more power than an Ami-8, so they go pretty well (comparable to the early Mini Coopers).. Story goes that Citroen (after considerable investment) found the 1015cc engine was under-powered for the GS (ostensibly a saloon car with a pretty aerodynamic body). It made sense for their / the French fiscal rating, &/or for sitting on the Autoroute at high speed (90+ mph for a 1970’s 1000cc isn’t bad !), but in comparison to its competition – even within France, it sadly lacked low speed pulling power when filled with family, goat, luggage, and a cask of wine. Peugeot were literally pulling away.
Citroen were forced to re-tool the crank and its cases – to increased the motor’s stroke. The 1220cc and 1130cc models were born. Then, Citroen used up the stock of 1015cc motors in the lighter-weight Ami-Super. When those engines ran out – production of this model ended. (45,000 cars from early 1973 to the beginning of 1976). With everything beefed up the weight saving was just 85kg less than the GS (..and about the same more than the Ami-8 602cc), but the nature of the Ami-super is not that of a motorway burner, nor family mule.. It’s a car you drive, it’s an engine that loves to spin, and surprising to most – with its low c.of g. the stiffer suspension and chassis work very well too.
Bonus for me is that I’m tall ..and unwittingly growing broader. The Ami is wider inside than the 2cv or Dyane and has high window eye-lines.. Early cars had sliding side windows (front and rear doors), but by 1974 the fronts had been given wind ups NB, the prior owner of my car might have a pair of doors with siding windows in his store. If so he’ll let me have them. Watch this space.
So, having spotted this Ami-8-super for sale I immediately fired off an email to my dear friend Jani, who is Slovenian …to have him go have a look at it for me. The following day I telephoned him, pushing him to phone the seller immediately (as I gather the Germans and Dutch are keen on this model). His doing so bought me some time – as the seller was an honorable chap who wouldn’t otherwise sell it until we had first viewed.
Jani knows bugger all about cars, and also happens to be a paraplegic, so he took a friend along to check it out. ‘Scruffy as hell but seemingly quite solid’ was the opinion. I ask him to put a deposit on it then and there, but he wouldn’t. He insisted I see the car for myself first. So mid last-November I got on an Easyjet flight to do so.
Scruffy, even ugly as sin ..in an interesting sort of way, but reasonably solid. Not as good as I thought from the photos, so I wasn’t sure. Again it was a matter of logistics. A car a thousand miles from home, not running, a welded patch across the foot wells (but unknown under that), and the car so tightly squeezed into the back of a long double garage that I couldn’t get around it to inspect. We asked the seller to hold it for a couple of days while I thought about it..
Autoshite or what !
Prior to the Ami I had been checking out repair panels for the 2cv. Over in the north of Slovenia was a company called 2cvKeza who both make panels and restore cars. Jani and I made an appointment to visit, and liked what we saw. Labour rate was a little less than here in the UK and the GBP:Euro exchange rate was good. Encouraged by the prospect of having the floors professional repaired and the mechanicals recommissioned before driving 1000 miles home, I decided to go ahead and buy the Ami.
We went back the following day and I parted with my savings. I’ve still only ever seen it half buried under garage / household junk, unable to move, and with stuff piled on it’s roof, underneath and inside the car. Tight against a wall on one side, motorcycles packed to within mm behind – I bought the car. Big risk. (N.B. the photo above was taken by Jani after I was back in England, when the car was moved)
The plan was to have 2cvKeza do their stuff in April. And then in May or June I’d go back and drive it to England. Ok so I’ve not really seen the car yet, can’t remember ever having driven one, didn’t know jack about the motor, nor much else about what was different from the 2cv’s (which I last owned 30 years ago).
I flew home the following afternoon, anxiously excited …just another of Autoshite’s certified !? I still wonder if I’m a damn fool ( I can hear my dearly departed father say those words loud and clear). What do they say “He who dares” ..usually get’s shafted.!
1 ltr – 54bhp flat 4-cylinder air-cooled ohc motor with low down c.of g. ..in the engine bay somewhere !
So, I’ve spend the past three months looking for information, advice, answers, workshop manuals, and parts that I suspect I’ll need (for a car that’s obviously been used & abused, and then left standing for 16 years). I had a price from 2cvkeza and was shocked (not in a happy way), so the realisation came that I needed to get my butt in gear and to do as much of the work myself, before handing the car over to Janez (2cvKeza) to do the floors and mechanical bits that I don’t have the special tools for.
March is here (or is that hare ?) already..
A couple of weeks ago, I managed to cajole Jani’s children and future son-in-law to go down to the car (it’s still in Koper, on the Adriatic coast – where the car was originally built by Citroen-CIMOS and to squirt penetrating oil on every nut & bolt, screw and fastening they could see. They crawled under,, inside and all around doing this for me, had lunch, and then did it again. I’ll do the same on the first day I get to see the car.
I was seriously considering driving down in my old Chrysler Voyager ..to be used as a mobile workshop.., but then realised that I’d first need to buy another tyre ..and snow chains. Added to this the cost of 2000 mile return trip, ferry & vignettes, 4 days travel at a time when it would probably be too cold to sleep in the car ..and I thought not.
I then looked into travel by train. Euro-tunnel to Paris, overnight sleeper to Turin, and across to Trieste ..where Jani would pick me up. Unlike flying – the weight of tools & spare parts would be limited only to what I can drag behind me, across platforms. Then I spotted a link to a company called Luggage-Mule.
In short, this company arrange your luggage to be collected from your home and to be shipped ahead. And then collected and returned to your home after your holiday. Looking into it.., I found that I could box up 30kg of parts and tools and have them sent to Slovenia & thereafter returned for £75 plus £20 for £500 of insurance (though I later found a discount code* for 10% off). A revised plan was hatched : Ship the parts & tools in advance with me following by Easyjet (£150 plus £63 to park for 18 days). Fly out on 13 March.. oh bollocks I need to get all the parts in mucho-pronto because the advanced shipping is 9 days in advance of departure. So I read on their website.
* Luggage Mule 10% discount code : trythemule
Today (Monday 29th Feb), most of the part’s I’ve ordered have arrived. And I’d internet booked with Luggage-Mule on Sunday. At 2pm this afternoon I get a call from said company to say that advanced collection is 9 working days, so my luggage ought to have been collected today ! It’ll have to be tomorrow then. But I have a hospital appointment / procedure tomorrow at 2:30.. Well the luggage will have to be collected in the morning then.. But, but, but.., some of my tools are on the other side of town.!? Sorry 9 ‘working’ days.
Off I hastily shuffle to collect my grinder, hammer drill, and cordless screwdriver. Thereafter it’s been an afternoon of frantic packing and weighing.. 41kg shit ! Think hard what can I do without ? Remove said items, reweigh… repeat several times.. Merde.. the box is too tall. Max height is 300mm ! This box must be Imperial. I don’t want to get into a penalties, so I repack yet again into two smaller boxes, then tape them together. The reinforced tape I’ve ordered hasn’t arrived yet.. oh joy of joys. Print the address labels out and tape them securely on.. Finally……., it’s done.
I’ll have to borrow a ½” drive socket-set from Jani when I get there.. I’m sure his father must have some. And as I couldn’t otherwise get the weight all the way down to 30kg – then I’ll just have to carry my spanners and smaller sockets in my suitcase on the plane. In the meantime my home now looks like a tornado has been through.
12.35am on the 1st March ..it’s time for bed.