J.B. Altham

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68

Sir,

I cannot leave unanswered the letter in last month’s MOTOR SPORT about the Citroen, not so much that I entirely disagree with it, but out of a sense of fair play.

Speaking as an ex-owner of a large number of “real ” motor cars may I sum up the Citroen after four years and 45,000 miles experience? I bought my car new.

First of all : criticisms, It has the noisiest and roughest engine 1 have experienced since I sold my Red Label Bentley in 1935. It has an abominable gear-change. Its front suspension lasted only 40,000 miles in spite of regular greasing (a beastly job). At the same mileage it jumped out of second gear, and I was informed that this usually emirs sooner. Both these faults cost a lot to put right. The clutch is ridiculously heavy—very trying in London. Every Citroen I have known has a flat-spot at about 30 m.p.h. in top and no one knows how to cure it. The seats are about its uncomfortable— hard and a bad shape—as a Windsor chair.. The clock lasted six months and the speedo 30,000 miles, and the flexible throttle connection stranded me in the blue once—it is an absurd piece of wire. The windscreen and boot rubbers perished in 18 months and rain poured its. The battery position is bad, as it gets too hot and does not last. Last, but not least, I found it impossible to keep the brakes really good. The brake-drum adjustment nut rusts-in solid and cannot be moved, to add to the fun. It is only fair to say that for the first two years the car was run in Singapore, so some allowance should he made for the ravages of that climate (or should it ?). Now the good points : Its roadholding, cornering and steering are far ahead of anything I have experienced. The suspension

only barring the Lambda. The engine was still using practically no oil after 45.000 miles and one top overhaul. Petrol consumptien never varied from 25126 in four year& I regard this as good for a full-size saloon cruising at a Speedometer 60 m.p.h. (actual speed 54). The whole car is immensely strong, as I know from an unfortunate head-on crash I had just prior to selling it. The secondary cause of this, by the way, was the poor brakes. Should they 14 worn out at 40,000? Anyway they were always poor.

Now for performance. Top speed in road tests is 72. I once had 83 on the clock, which was 6 m.p.h. fast at 60, so 72 is about right (a constant 68/69 gave a mile a minute). Acceleration was deceptive. There was so much noise in gears, and this, coupled with a lightcar, gave one the impression of liveliness. However, figures proved disappointing.

Front drive ? Mechanically had from the point of view of wear and noise. Buton the road great fun. Price ?—fantastic. Leave it at that. To suns up it is a delightful car to drive, it looks nice, it has plenty of room and has a “something ” which appeals to a vintage ” fan.” Somehow its pressed steel. “extreme” rubber mounting for the engine, chromium grille in front and phoney gearbox, all anathema to the vintage fraternity, get

away with it. But either it should sell for £700 (all in) or be enormously refined and given a Tot more performance.

It is a fascinating. but irritating, car. I swapped it for a vintage Rolls-Royce and am not sorry.

I am, Yours. etc.. Reading. J. B. ALTHAM (Group Capt.)

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