In 2010 we made a decision to rationalise our small collection of old cars, in order to once again run a DS. I initially searched for a late model 5-speed D-Special (best suited to the very steep terrain in Calderdale), but by coincidence in January 2011 Graham Morton of GMVS offered us his part-restored LHD 1968 ID19. This was even more interesting, having many of the nice earlier features including the pretty 2-tone ID dashboard - and at some point in its life it has been fitted with a later 5-speed gearbox. It had also been fitted with a brown leather Pallas interior - not our ideal choice, but it will be replaced later in 2011 - watch this space. Please click on the thumbnails (left) to see details of the restoration progress at GMVS and elsewhere.
The car seemed a particularly attractive proposition as it was already stripped to a bare frame - allowing me to see clearly the excellent condition most of the car was in. All panels had already been removed, including the fibreglass roof. The steel roof surround (often a problem area) was virtually rust-free, the underside in sound condition, and the front and rear chassis legs showed no signs of previous accident damage. Some panel repairs had been undertaken, but their condition generally was much better than most D's of any age.
However, the main side members and outer sills required all new repair panels. Graham was keen to continue the restoration; so we agreed a price for the car (along with some new repair sections and other parts he had already acquired for it), and he also gave me outline costs for the chassis/body restoration work including a re-paint in our choice of colours.
After much beard scratching (on my part anyway), we eventually settled on the colours Absinthe Green (CitroŽn code AC 512) with the roof in Aubergine (CitroŽn code AC 406). According to the DS colours on-line Bible, this combination was actually available on the DS in the early '60s. Aubergine was used from the beginning of DS production in 1955 and is readily available, but finding a (modern) paint mix code for the Absinthe (only used by CitroŽn in 1961/62) was not so easy - it seems that as paint manufacturers develop new technologies they gradually remove colours from their charts if they haven't been requested for many years. The issue was eventually resolved (after much research) by Nigel Wild of the CitroŽn Car Club.
During the first half of 2011 while GMVS tackled the structural work on the sills and chassis side members, and keen to have at least a little input (my restoration skills are limited) I took away a pile of parts for refurbishment. Much of this was powder coated. Other bits were refurbished (repaired and/or polished) by my friend Ian Broscombe at his workshop in Sowerby bridge, and some parts (including the front undertray) he completely re-made in stainless steel. Progress at GMVS on the rebuild and painting was rapid, and I came close to holding Graham and his team up on several occasions by not getting refurbished parts back for re-fitting to the car when they were needed.
Despite the fact that this will not be (primarily) a show car, the quality of repairs by GMVS to the metalwork (chassis and most external panels), and of the paintwork is second to none. And (my personal fetish) the panel alignment is superb.
As I write this (towards the end of June 2011), the car is bodily restored and MOT'd. But while still at GMVS, following the discovery that the cooling system seemed to be over-pressurising, Graham feared that the cylinder head may need lifting and skimming - thankfully the problem turned out to be a clogged radiator and this was swiftly replaced. Apart from new rear brake shoes, master cylinder (or rather valve - being a French ID it has a conventional brake pedal, not the famous 'button') and various rubber boots, the car remains mechanically largely original (apart from the 5-speed gearbox) having apparently only covered about 75,000km in its 43 years.
During this same period I located a spare set of tatty (later style) DS seats (from Nigel Wild) and some decent door trim cards. The seats will be completely re-upholstered later in the summer by my trimmer friend Darren Evans, in some very unusual fabrics which I found on E-bay. The 'new' gold cloth door trims (thank you David Bourne) will be used temporarily instead of the brown leather items, which were so distorted as to be beyond use. The leather seats are worn but useable, and will be available to buy cheap when the 'new' seats are finished.
Part of the work I have already done includes stripping and refurbishment of the (replacement) seat frames. The front seat backs have been modified to accept (conventional) headrests, by welding on a section of frame from the top of some Ford Sierra seats - this will also have the effect of making the seat backs about 70mm higher, although I hope they will still look almost standard in profile.
One of the guiding principles behind much of the rebuild is to produce a car which can safely be used on a daily basis. Part of this rationale will involve the fitting of 5 brand new seat belts (it is only fitted with hideous 2-point diagonal belts at the front at the moment). In order to fit inertia reels in the front and back, special mounting brackets will be fabricated by ace welder Ian Broscombe. The rear inertia reels will be fitted on special brackets attached to the inner wings in the boot, with a link bar running under the rear shelf to mount a central fixed 3-point belt. 5 people will be able to travel at speed in (relative) safety - not the case with many 40 year old cars.
I will add another page of pictures and progress report over the next few months, as the new trim takes shape - but in the meantime Hilly and I looking forward to some Summer motoring - ID19 style!