How a Mediter­ranean is­land res­cued a Citroën

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Citroën Ds Driven -

As mil­lions of peo­ple were pop­ping open the bub­bly and singing Auld Lang Syne while the New Year was be­ing ush­ered in, this most Gal­lic of French cars was pre­par­ing to make a trip.

Not from France, or even from some­where in Bri­tain, as you might ex­pect for a right-hand drive model – this par­tic­u­lar DS was about to set out from the Mediter­ranean is­land of Cyprus, where it had com­pleted a long and de­tailed restora­tion.

It was de­liv­ered new to a Cypriot buyer in 1973, where it re­mained un­til early this year.

The car’s youth was spent pot­ter­ing around Nicosia, the cap­i­tal city, and its first owner, a wealthy busi­ness­man, kept it for 38 years. Dur­ing those years, it fell into dis­re­pair and in 2011 se­cond owner Ge­orge Geogiades took the reins of the Déesse. This is where the bulk of the restora­tion story be­gins.

‘Ge­orge was just a guy who fell in love with the car and re­stored it to keep for him­self,’ ex­plains Ge­orge An­dreou, owner of KEG Cars in Rick­mansworth, Hert­ford­shire, and the DS’s cur­rent cus­to­dian. An­dreou is from Cyprus and is a com­mit­ted clas­sic car lover, hav­ing owned streams of Ital­ian ma­chines. He adds: ‘Un­for­tu­nately the eco­nomic cli­mate in Cyprus meant he was forced to sell it. It was an in­cred­i­bly cher­ished car.’

From 2011 to 2014, Ge­orge Gio­giades – with the help of VPK Restora­tion Cen­tre in Nicosia – re­stored it to pos­si­bly bet­ter than orig­i­nal con­di­tion. About £9000 was ploughed into the restora­tion – and al­though the work is top notch, ev­ery sin­gle re­place­ment part has it owns story.

Tak­ing on a DS restora­tion pro­ject in Cyprus was chock-full of stum­bling blocks – among them the lack of Citroën spe­cial­ists on the is­land – but Ge­orge and his team of me­chan­ics worked around the inherent prob­lems of there be­ing few parts, spares or even DS cars to source re­place­ments from.

Ri­fling through the ac­com­pa­ny­ing doc­u­ments you’ll find smat­ter­ings of re­ceipts from all over Europe. Thou­sands were spent at Bar­net-based DS Work­shop and many other parts were sourced from Ger­man out­fit Der Fran­zose – there’s a re­cent prod­ucts leaflet from that firm in the boot.

The restora­tion was thor­ough and very well doc­u­mented. In fact, it would be eas­ier to write about what’s not been re­placed.

First, all the pan­els were re­moved, leav­ing the skeleton bare and the bones of the car vis­i­ble. The DS was well pre­served thanks to the lo­cal cli­mate and lack of salt on the roads. Pumps, pres­sure ac­cu­mu­la­tor spheres, and all the hy­draulics have been re­placed. As a re­sult, the rise and fall of the sus­pen­sion is just how you’d ex­pect.

Since com­ing to the UK, the car­bu­ret­tors have been re-worked, elec­tronic ig­ni­tion has been in­stalled and the heads have been re-skimmed so that the car can run on un­leaded. The DS may have been way ahead of its time when it was launched but sub­tle changes can make it even eas­ier to live with in 2016.

In­side it’s more of the same ex­cel­lent story. A com­plete re­place­ment in­te­rior has been fit­ted – so the dark tan seats are un­blem­ished and look as stylish and as com­fort­able as they would have fresh from the fac­tory. New car­pet, arm­rest and head lin­ing com­plete the im­mac­u­late pic­ture.

All me­chan­i­cal aspects of the car were sim­i­larly treated and the en­gine ben­e­fits from hav­ing been stripped and checked be­fore be­ing re­built with new gas­kets and valves. The all-im­por­tant hy­drop­neu­matic sys­tem was also re­built. The orig­i­nal panel gaps re­main, but the qual­ity thud of the doors when this DS closes is eerily Ger­man sound­ing, such is the qual­ity of the work.

It’s a fine car. So are there any more like this in Cyprus? Ge­orge reck­ons the days of the smart money go­ing on Cypriot clas­sics might be num­bered.

‘If the UK ex­its Europe there will be more taxes to pay on im­port­ing cars (un­less an in­di­vid­ual trade deal is struck) and in­ter­est­ing and well-main­tained cars com­ing from warmer EU coun­tries like Cyprus could be a thing of the past,’ he says. ‘Im­ported freshly re­stored gems like this DS might not make quite so much eco­nomic sense af­ter a Brexit.’ Up on the ramps in 2013, it’s tak­ing shape. New ra­di­a­tor, bat­tery and sus­pen­sion parts have been in­stalled.

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