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No Parts At Pep Boys: 1969 Citroen Wagon

In America, most of our knowledge of Citroens comes from the movie “National Lampoon’s European Vacation.”  Chevy Chase and his family motored around Europe for part of the movie in a 1972 Citroen DS 21.  At the time of filming there were a number of other more conventional looking cars for filmmakers to choose from.  However, the Citroen was likely chosen because it was so “different” that it is almost a character in the movie itself.  If you want a vehicle that is different, then check out this 1969 Citroen wagon for sale on Facebook Marketplace in quirky Pueblo, Colorado.  With an asking price of $9,950, is this unique vehicle that reader Rocco B. found for us worth the hassle?

Before the bell rings signifying that your village is going to hang someone, let me get my thoughts on these cars out of the way first.  The only Citroens I have encountered are the ones owned by a guy in my hometown that were always parked in plain view of drivers on a main road in town.  He always had a few 2CVs and one or two larger cars that resembled this one.  You never saw them driving down the road, but his cars always looked road worthy.  My guess is that he acquired multiple cars because he was the only one who had them.  Everyone just came to him.  In 1980s Florida, you didn’t see a lot of French cars.  Renault Alliances didn’t count.

The reason for a lack of French cars was parts and support.  Add to that the fact Renaults and the occasional Pugeot were the only French cars ever encountered at dealerships in Florida at the time.  While I am sure that there were a few outfits nationally that could provide you with the parts you needed to keep a Citroen running, there never was a national dealership infrastructure established in the United States for the brand.  That means body parts in the case of an accident are almost unobtainable, and the same goes for major components.  Even things we don’t think twice about purchasing at the local parts store, like brake pads, are going to be a mail order item.  With the internet I would imagine the dilemma has become a lot easier to deal with.  Still, owning an orphan car is a labor of love.  It’s an even bigger labor of love when your strange new child speaks French only.

There is not a lot of background information about this Citroen in the ad.  That’s a shame, because it looks like the car has been in storage a good while.  I am sure there is a story behind how this car came to America and ended up in Colorado.  What we are told is that the car has no structural rust and that is rare for Citroens of this type.  Perhaps more remarkable when you consider it is a cold climate car.  There is surface rust here and there, but nothing has broken through to the other side.

The space you see above is usually where the spare tire sits.  My guess is that there is also some ductwork to help direct air from below into the radiator.  While the whole setup looks unusual to our American eyes, the front wheel drive platform allowed for some re-arranging in front to allow for space behind the cowl.  We can also see what looks to be a hydraulic fluid reservoir to the right of the radiator.  Citroen was big on using hydraulics, while American companies never really developed that technology to the extent that the French company did.  My grandfather related his experiences with working with cars with hydraulic window lifts.  It wasn’t an uplifting experience.

While there are a few versions of these wagons, the seller has not given us specifics to guide us beyond that it is an ID model.  Here lies a problem.  Online sources say that ID models did not come with power steering, as they were a lesser cost model to the DS.  Yet the ad states that the power steering system has been bypassed.  For argument’s sake, if it really is an ID20F, then we are looking at an inline four-cylinder engine with 91 hp and 104 lb.-ft. of torque for output.  Power is transmitted to the front wheels via a four-speed manual transmission.  The car weighs a little over 3,000 lbs. giving it an acceptable power to weight ratio.

There is additional work needed to get the car back on the road.  The dash has been removed to access the gauges.  This appears to be because there are numerous problems with the wiring.  We are told a new wiring loom will be thrown in with the deal.  You can also count on the usual upholstery replacement and all of the necessary items to get a car back on the road after extended storage.  It does run and drive, but surely some sorting will be needed.

This is not a car for everyone.  However, the ad has been amended to state that there have been over 40 calls about the car since the ad debuted.  The seller states that they will try to start scheduling appointments for prospective buyers to look at the car and take bids from there.  Perhaps this Citroen is a valuable car that is underpriced in the current ad.  If we have any Citroen experts under our tent, I think we would all love to hear your thoughts on this yellow wagon.

Oh, if you buy it, you have to buy a black beret with the name “Rusty” embroidered on it.  Just because.

Comments

  1. George Mattar

    50 years ago, our high school engine shop teacher had one of these. He told us the engine block and cylinder head were so finely machined no gasket was needed.

    Like 2
  2. CCFisher

    I don’t think there’s any mystery in how this car got to the US. Citroens were sold here through 1972, and this appears to be a US-market version, with uncovered, sealed-beam headlamps.

    Like 18
  3. Pascual

    Zees ees an outrage!

    Like 5
  4. Howard A Member

    “Quirky” Pueblo, Co.? That’s putting it mildly. Not too impressed with Pueblo, and I highly doubt anyone buying this, would think for a second, replacement parts are just down the corner, they aren’t. Most auto parts don’t even list Citroen. That shouldn’t deter one, as there is a ton of internet suppliers, it may just take a while to get that distributor cap from Timbuktu. “Fishes” have a loyal following, they are quality cars, just a bit too far out there for us Yanks. I think these fine folks are dreamin’ at $10gs.

    Like 1
    • chrlsful

      ‘S a few yr old mail order european auto prts company many are using now (think roc auto but euro specific). Some non euro mechanics/shops use them to take their used motor oil ! Buy their oil? ship back the drained for recycling (is it free? I think so if U buy their oil).
      I think lack of Citroen parts may B a thing of the past (esp w/the national on-line search site of junk car yrds).
      Love these (wagons only). Heard that they are able to drive dwn the rd w/only 3 wheels in place).

      Like 1
      • karl

        ??????????
        I think someone swapped your letter buttons around on your computer

    • John E. Klintz

      Easy there, Howard; I was born and raised in Pueblo! Quirky, possibly, but fun times growing up there. That said, definitely NO Citroen dealers there and I doubt even then that most inhabitants would have recognized the name. I did as I always liked unusual cars; I drove Corvairs.

  5. SubGothius

    There’s all that space in front of the radiator because, while it’s a longitudinal FWD powertrain, they mounted it backward of conventional practice, putting the transaxle in front of the engine, effectively making this a front mid-engined layout.

    Like 3
    • John

      Saab did the same on the original 900.

  6. Big C

    40 calls on this thing? Well, it is Colorado. And they legalized weed, so.

    Like 2
  7. luke arnott Member

    The car used in “European Vacation” scenes in London was an Austin Maxi,which unusually for the time had a 5 speed gearbox.Heap of junk btw.

    Like 1
  8. Car Nut Tacoma

    Beautiful looking car. It’s too bad that Citroen didn’t sell well in the USA. I think the problem was, as with many companies, was that they didn’t provide American car buyers a service network to keep the car running properly. What good is building a good quality car if you don’t have a means to keep a car running?

    Like 1
  9. Steve Clinton

    IMHO, this is one of the ugliest station wagons EVER.
    (But the French aren’t known for their beautiful designs.)

    Like 1
    • luke arnott Member

      You’ve obviously never seen a Hispano/Delage/Delahaye/Bugatti then?

      Like 10
      • Rick

        And Peugeot has produced some very good looking automobiles, too.

        Like 6
    • Quidditas

      Chapron, the coachbuilder, turned the Safari SW into beautiful coupes. anyway, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

      Like 5
    • bone

      Finally ! I thought I one the only one here who thought that ! These may be great riding, super handling pieces of machinery , but I just couldn’t own one.
      They are just ugly – I’m sure that’s one of the main reasons they didnt sell in this country – Renault and Peugeot did ok over here for a while

  10. Kenn

    My mother’s 1948 Ford Sportsman had hydraulic window lifts. On another subject, I’ve seen uglier station wagons.

    Like 1
  11. Richard Nepon

    I was a Citroën mechanic in the 70’s in Waltham MA. The SMS were all the rage. The cars stoped coming in due to the ‘safety’ Im per height regulations in 73. With variable ride height the cars didn’t qualify. The French would not compromise safety for ‘safety regulations’. I saw many terrible wrecks brought in with the driver riding along with the tow truck. These cars were designed to protect you. The cars required driving lessons because the brake was a button on the floor, not a pedal. The fenders came off to replace the flat after raising the height, placing a bar to hold that tire up, then lowering the level. Lots of neat hydraulics. Active not passive.

    Like 14
  12. Martin Horrocks

    Any DS wagon is $many in Europe. So thiß is a bargain. If you don’t get it, keep your hands in your pocket.

    Like 5
  13. robbert smit

    Negative comments are ill educated assumptions.

    Like 6
  14. PeterfromOz

    I have a neighbour who has owned a few DS models and finally stayed with the high spec Palais which he restored to concours condition and indeed keeps winning. He says there is a cult of owners around the world who make replacement parts and certainly Citroen France must have some parts. He could purchase everything for his concours car.

    Also, the photos above don’t show how big the Safari wagon is. The sedan has a 133″ wheelbase, as I recall.

    As far as I know, the ID & DS engine capacities were the same except for possibly carburetion and the latest model might have used an L-jet Bosch type fuel injection. Capacities were 2 litre (ID 20) , 2175cc (ID/DS 21) and 2375cc (ID/DS 23). The auto gearbox in typical advertising hype was called the “Cit-matic” plus there was a full hydraulically operated manual gearbox.

    Like 6
    • PeterfromOz

      Also, engines had wet cylinder liners.

    • George

      There was also the ID19.

  15. Garry

    A sedan like this was top placed in the 1960s London to Sydney Marathon until an unplanned meeting with another vehicle left the car and driver very bent!

    Like 1
  16. Garry

    Remember the Citroen in “Back to the Future”!

  17. Douglas Fournier Member

    The 1972 Citroen Ds21 is an amazing piece of technology that was so far advanced. The hydraulic suspension and the semi automatic transmission and the brake onion. All with no darn computers. They have Lazy Boy recliner comfort level seats and rides like a cloud. I have one and I love it. Yes It is expensive to repair but once it’s right it’s a delight

    Like 1
  18. V8roller

    The hydraulics that ran the brakes & suspension on the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow were licensed from Citroen.

    Like 1
  19. Mitch

    French ingenuity! As they involved automotive technique along
    with the Italians, La Idee, as its said in french, was a revolution in 1954.
    It was so revolutionary that also Mercedes decades later licensed
    the hydraulic suspension to use in their S-Class range W 116.
    And to Vickers aka Bentley/Rolls Royce too.

    The empty space shown is where the spare wheel sits usually
    and the engine cooling is draft below the front bumper along
    under an air duct. These arrangement neither caused clogged
    radiators or dirty engine bays, regular maintenance given.
    With trained service personnel they never failed.

    Mates, check here for a good insight to the ID and DS break/familiale

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=de9dB68dj2A (use subtitles)

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