Monday, January 9, 2012

1969 Citroen DS - Being Offered By A True Citroen Fan

One of the big reasons I'm still doing this blog is Brandes Elitch. Brandes writes for Veloce Today, one of my favorite online magazines.

I started Just a Car Geek back in 2008. It was invisible for awhile. It would get around 200 hits a day. Maybe. On a good day.

Some time in 2009 I checked my email and saw one from Brandes Elitch. I knew his name from Veloce Today and couldn't understand why he would be emailing me. Part of me was afraid to open the email, fearing it would say "Look, man, would you please stop writing about cars... You have no idea what you're doing and you give those of us who do a bad name." But he didn't say that at all. It turned out Brandes liked Just a Car Geek. We exchanged a few emails and he encouraged me to keep writing. In fact, he liked JaCG enough to write about it in Veloce Today. I was stunned. I was flattered. After his article, Just a Car Geek took off. Brandes and I have stayed in touch.

It should come as no surprise that Brandes has a nice collection of cars. As you would expect from someone who writes for Veloce Today, he has plenty of French cars, but he also owns an NSU Ro 80 and has a "thing" for old Imperials.

This is one of Brandes' cars. Basically, like so many of us, he has too many cars and too little time. Something had to go. This car is now for sale...

I could write about it, but why should I? His original Craigslist ad is better than anything I could write. I'm just going to paste it below...

1969 Citroen DS

Speedo shows 87,XXX

Like many things, there is a story behind this car. I am a Citroen collector. I bought my first DS in 1969, which I still have with 50k original miles. I also restored a 5 speed SM. Citroen never sold many cars in the US, but one of their most successful territories was the San Francisco Bay Area.

There was a Citroen garage here called Executive Motors, run by 2 guys Donn and Bill. Bill, whose real name was Zvonko Pribanic, became a personal friend because he lived in my town, and was pretty recognizable because he drove a D he had converted into a pickup. Bill, who went by the name "Bratso" was a Croatian who came to the US in the 1950's and became one of the first Citroen mechanics. About ten years ago, he called me and said that we were going to look at a car he had found for sale in Marin County.

I already had enough projects, but I could never say no to him, so we went. The car had been parked for probably six months and wouldn't shift. Because it was a Citromatic, I was a little concerned, but he got it running very quickly and told me to buy it. When we got it home, it was apparent that it needed all new spheres and a probably a new wiring harness, which was a problem with the '69- models. (I say this because the '69 cars were red fluid - brake fluid - cars and the '69 cars are green fluid LHM cars, which frankly are a lot more desirable because brake fluid is hydroscopic, which means it attracts water, which deteriorates the system, which can be quite expensive to fix. This is why people want the later cars, and no, you cannot convert a red fluid car to green fluid without replacing the entire hydraulic system, an impossible job.)

Well, by then Bratso had retired, so we took the car to Lon Price, who has a Citroen garage in Santa Cruz. Lon confirmed that he would have to replace the entire wiring harness and most of the hydraulic system. Lon kept the car for many months and all the work was done, which cost at least $3000 at the time. Lon can confirm all of this, and you can reach him at Garage Longueville in Santa Cruz (831.476.8395). When Lon finished the work, I drove it home and put it in the garage, where it has been ever since.

If you are not a Citroeniste, let me quickly explain what you are looking for when you go looking for a DS. First, the D does not have a traditional body on frame arrangement, nor is it a true monocoque structure. It is really built like a sandwich, which means that if any water gets into the platform, it will cause perforation rust. So the one and only thing you need to know about a D is that it does not have any rust. Enough D's were made (over a million) that all parts are available for the car, either via Western Hemispheres in Santa Cruz, or from suppliers in France, so parts are not a problem, even the tiniest trim part.

Now you may be thinking that you would rather have a 4 speed box than the Citromatic, but this is the way the Pallas came, and the truth is that all the factory rally cars had the Citromatic because it shifted faster than the manual box.

Regarding this car, the original color is "aubergine," which means "eggplant." The car needs to be resprayed, but there is no body damage and no rust, except for a hole in the trunklid, and I will replace the trunklid. The cost of the respray will be in the neighborhood of $4000, so if you are not prepared to do this, do not buy this car. I have a local body shop that I use which I can recommend. The interior has been re-upholstered in brown velour to a very high standard, certainly a higher quality than the original Citroen velour, and is unmarked and undamaged, so it wouldn't make sense to replace it because only a Citroeniste would be able to tell the difference. If you do, I have the black leather interior mentioned earlier for
additional cost. I want to see this car restored sympathetically by someone who can do it now. If you think you are this person, please contact me or call Lon Price, who can be relied on for an honest description. If not, thanks for looking.

I believe with a little detailing and a new paint this DS would become once again a beautiful example of this classic Citroen model.

Car is located in Sonoma County, CA, 70 miles north of San Francisco. We will deliver on the West Coast for expenses.

Price is 6,500, which is less than the cost of the restoration work.

Car is located in Sonoma County, CA, 70 miles north of San Francisco. We will deliver on the West Coast for expenses.

Postscript: Bratso passed away 3 years ago, in his early eighties. He devoted probably half his life to maintaining Citroens, and he was a good person. It was an honor to know him.


If you're interested in this car - and if you're looking for a Citroen DS, you should be interested in this car - email me and I'll put you in touch with Brandes.

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