Citroen experiences

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95

Sir,
Last month Mr. Jago wrote of the strong and contradictory emotions aroused in him by one year’s ownership of a Citroen Safari. Exactly one year ago, encouraged by similar letters in Motor Sport, and by articles in praise of the Citroen by the Editor, I bought a 1960 Citroen DS19 and very soon became familiar with its outstanding virtues—superb comfort and roadholding, effortless long-distance cruising ability and vast capacity for luggage and passengers. Shortly afterwards I was made forcibly aware of the major short-comings never hinted at in letters or articles—the absence of an adequate service network and the disastrously high cost of spare parts.

Like some of the luckless Alfa Romeo owners whose letters have scorched your pages recently, I found myself twenty miles from the nearest garage capable of repair work, and then found that agent so over-burdened with Citroen repair work that two hour repair jobs involved being without the car for the best part of a week. The misgivings about reliability created by this situation were soon reinforced by a series of hydraulic incidents involving replacement of power brake pedal unit, clutch slave cylinder, gear-change “brain” and both rear brake swivel pipes. On each occasion the result of the leak was a twenty-mile journey made in a state of fear lest the hydraulic fluid loss during the journey was so great that the car was made helpless. A feeling of insecurity became a permanent feature of all journeys.

The culminating disaster came when the car rolled to a halt outside my home with a drive-shaft trailing on the ground ignominiously. [At least it didn’t dig in!—Ed.) The resulting bill totalled £64, most of which was for parts, and although the repair work took three hours, I was without the car for six days. Mechanical failures in a car five years old are not unexpected, but since many of my fellow readers will (like me) be unable to find the £1,500 necessary for the cheapest Citroen, I hope you will warn them to examine the service costs and facilities before being seduced by the well-deserved praise lavished on the big Citroens.

Curiously enough, the only item universally condemned by all the critics—the “agricultural” engine—was perfectly reliable, started in all weathers, and used no oil at all, virtues which more than offset the moderate noise level!

Macclesfield. Ian Brammer.