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  •   Malcolm McKay reacted to this post about 1 year ago
    Classic Road Test: Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit - What’s it really like to live with the most affordable of all the Rolls-Royces?

    SPIRITED LUXURY

    The Silver Spirit was the company’s longest production model and early examples of this gracious gentleman’s carriage are now available for the price of a basic Fiesta. Words: Iain Wakefield Pictures: Chris Frosin.

    If you want a sneaky puzzler to stump the opposition at a classic themed pub quiz, just ask what the first generation of the Silver Spirit has in common with the MkIII Escort and Austin Metro. This crafty poser will hopefully produce much grumbling and head scratching before you can put everyone out of their misery by revealing all three of these very different cars made their public debut at the 1980 Birmingham Motor Show.

    Unveiling a brand new production Rolls-Royce has always been a major event and the launch of the Silver Spirit at the NEC at the start of a decade that would go on to be noted for snazzy red braces and brick-sized mobile phones was certainly no exception. Although the Silver Spirit was based on the outgoing Silver Shadow, the new Rolls had a sharper, squarer body reflecting the automotive styling trends of the time and was immediately recognisable by a pair of very ‘80s-looking rectangular headlights and oblong tail light clusters.

    The Spirit’s hydraulic self-levelling Citroëninspired suspension setup was revised at the rear to improve handling and reduce road noise but otherwise the new model’s underpinnings were very similar to those of the outgoing car. Power came from the same hand-built 6750cc V8 engine as fitted to the second generation Silver Shadow and drove the new model’s rear wheels through a GM400 three-speed auto gearbox. MkI Spirits, like the 1983 example we’re putting through its paces here, are all fitted with twin SU carburettors and are easily identified by having twin exhausts exiting each end under the rear bumper, while later fuel injected models have a single tail pipe.


    Rolls-Royce has always been coy about revealing the power output of its products, always claiming that power ‘is adequate’. However, a bit of digging around revealed the V8 fitted to a #SU-fuelled Spirit produces 198.5bhp at 3800rpm, a rather timid amount of horses by today’s standards considering the size of the engine. However, despite weighing in at 2245kg and having the drag co-efficient of a garden shed, when new the Spirit was able to lift up its skirts and accelerate to 62mph in a cigar chomping 10.2 seconds and power on to an impressive top speed of 119mph.


    Having said that, traffic light sprints and autobahn-style high speed cruising isn’t what driving a Silver Spirit is all about. Owning a car with the famous Spirit of Ecstasy ‘flying lady’ mascot gracing the radiator is more a case of wafting around in complete comfort and even a 32-year old Silver Spirit has the ability to turn heads wherever she goes. The Spirit’s external dimensions are impressive too and anything inside the car that isn’t covered with fine hide or burr walnut wood veneer has been chrome plated; the only exceptions in the cabin being the cheap-looking plastic indicator and gear selector stalks.

    The enormous trademark stainless steel radiator shell gracing the front of this gentleman’s conveyance is about one inch lower and just over two inches wider than one fitted to the Silver Shadow and helps give the Spirit a visually lower stance when viewed from certain angles. The all important rear passenger space in the Spirit benefits from a split rear bench with a huge centre armrest and a first for a Rolls-Royce was the Spirit’s fully retractable spring-loaded flying lady mascot that immediately disappears into the top of the radiator shell on impact.


    The longer wheelbase Silver Spur was launched at the same time as the Silver Spirit and in 1985 a limited run of 25 Silver Spur Celebration models marked the 100th anniversary of the motorcar in the UK as well as the production of the 100,000th Rolls-Royce badged car. Small changes were made to the Spirit’s dashboard layout that year and the car’s brush-style headlamp wipers were replaced with power washers.

    For the 1987 model year, the Silver Spirit gained ABS brakes and fuel injection; a muchneeded modification that boosted power to a more respectable 226bhp at 4300rpm. Other additions included electrically heated front seats complete with power operated pneumatic lumber support. The revamped MkII Silver Spirit appeared in 1990 and the car’s dashboard now featured an extra pair of ‘bulls eye’ air vents complete with organ stops to control the airflow. Spirits now came with alloy wheels as standard and a leather trimmed steering wheel.

    The main change to the new model was the introduction of adaptive damping where the shock absorbers were controlled by a computer and could be automatically changed between soft and hard in a 100th of a second. In 1992 the Silver Spirit gained a four-speed auto ‘box and two years later a MkIII version was launched. The addition of electronic fuel injection – the system was mechanically controlled on earlier cars – and a revised inlet manifold resulted in power increasing to 240bhp and in 1994 a turbocharged version of the long wheelbase Silver Spur was introduced. The Silver Spirit gained plastic wrap round bumpers for the 1996 model year and the name was deleted the following year with the introduction of the long wheelbase Silver Dawn.

    ON THE ROAD

    The Silver Spirit featured in this road test was a 1983 model and has been owned by Derbybased classic car enthusiast Adrian Williams for the last eight years. During the time Adrian has owned this Spirit, he’s had repair panels professionally stitched into the rear wheelarches and most of the car resprayed. Although a LPG conversion kit was fitted to the Spirit’s engine by a previous owner, Adrian doesn’t tend to drive his car on gas too often as he reckons the engine runs a lot smoother while burning top quality unleaded, even though it gets through a gallon of the stuff every 16-18 miles.

    It’s quite a hike to slowly walk around this car but a closer inspection of its mid-blue metallic paintwork doesn’t throw up any nasty surprises. The condition of this Spirit’s bodywork appears to be in very good condition for its age, but it’s when you open the heavy driver’s door that the fully majesty of this mainly hand-built car really makes itself felt.

    First thing you notice is the huge amount of leather used to upholster the cabin. This expensive material is not only covering every square inch of the huge seats; it appears the hides from a reasonable sized herd have also been used to cover everything inside this car from the multi-sectioned headlining and side rails to all four door cards, centre console and the front passenger’s knee pads. The dark blue sheepskins on the floor almost swallow up your feet as you settle into the armchair sized driver’s seat and a gentle tug on a chrome plated handle shuts the driver’s door with a satisfying heavily muffled clunk. Gripping the pencil thin rim of the steering wheel and scanning the blackfaced dials nestling in the Spirit’s symmetrically veneered burr walnut dashboard was a reminder that this car hails from a very different age. A final glance around the luxurious hand trimmed cabin before turning the key and firing up the Spirit’s mighty V8 was another moment to savour this fine car’s well cared for opulence.

    The only indication this Spirit’s engine had fired up successfully was seeing the needle on the rev counter hovering around the 850rpm mark. The silence in the cabin with the engine idling was eerie until the throttle was stabbed and then all eight cylinders let out a symphonic burble to let you know they meant business rather than just sounding nice. Easing the gear selector on the steering column from ‘P’ to ‘D’ produced the slightest of tremors, indicating the rear wheels were now connected to the powertrain and introducing a little bit of throttle resulted in the Spirit graciously moving away from the kerbside.

    This Spirit has only done 69,000 miles and drove impeccably – with no rattles or thuds when going over potholes – and despite its bulk, the car was easy to thread through city centre traffic. Progress in the Spirit was virtually silent – the only sound coming into the cabin other than the hum from the air conditioning was the occasional rhythmic thud from the massive tyres as they padded over cat’s eyes. However, driving a car like this Spirit isn’t for shy and retiring types as nearly everyone we passed glanced our way to see who was inside. On our way to photograph the Spirit, we drove past a golf club and several cap-clad heads bobbed up from the first tee to witness our stately progress – not bad, as it takes a lot to distract a group of golfers contemplating their next shot!

    What really impressed while out and about in this Spirit was how the dense commuter traffic seemed to open up before us; it was almost like the Rolls was fitted with emergency services’ blues and twos. With 6.75-litres under the Spirit’s billiard table-sized bonnet, a flick of the throttle while cruising down the A38 at 50mph shot the car up to the legal limit at almost starship speed. It was only when woken from its slumbers in situations like this that the sound of the V8 made itself heard. High speed cornering in the Spirit when exiting islands resulted in a lot of body roll, only to be expected really as this car is more a boulevard cruiser than a high performance saloon – that job’s reserved for the Spirit's Bentley Mulsanne-badged variants.

    Adrian has currently got his Silver Spirit up for sale and anyone stumping the £7995 he's asking for this fine example of Crewe engineering is getting a heck of a lot of car for the money. When new, the cost to put this Spirit on the road would have been the equivalent today of around £100k – so if you fancy living the champagne lifestyle at a supermarket Chardonnay price, give Adrian a ring on 07510 843761 to find out more about what his car has got to offer.

    Ambling along narrow country lanes in a Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit is fine until a similar-sized car approches from the opposite direction.

    “Traffic light sprints and autobahn-style top speed isn’t what driving a Silver Spirit is all about”
    This Silver Spirit's 6.75-litre V8 is fed by a pair of SU carburetters. Fuel injection was fitted from 1987 and boosted bhp accordingly.

    The tank for this Spirit's LPG tank is located in the spare wheel tray. Only problem is that the spare now has to go into the car's finely carpeted boot.

    If you fancy luxury motoring on a budget, this Spirit's dark blue piped hide seats and fluffy sheepskin footwell rugs create a touch of automotive ambience that's hard to beat. The digital clock sitting in the middle of the polished burr walnut veneered dashboard was cutting-edge technology back in the '80s.

    “A first for a #Rolls-Royce was the Spirit’s fully retractable spring-loaded flying lady mascot”

    SPECIFICATIONS #1983 #Rolls-Royce-Silver-Spirit
    ENGINE: 6750cc V8
    POWER: 198.5bhp at 3800rpm
    TOP SPEED: 119mph
    0-60mph: 10.2 sec
    GEARBOX: 3-spd auto
    LENGTH: 527cm
    WIDTH: 189cm
    WEIGHT: 2350kg
    ECONOMY: 16-18mpg
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  •   Malcolm McKay reacted to this post about 1 year ago
    Iain Wakefield updated the cover photo for Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit
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  •   Paul Guinness reacted to this post about 1 year ago
    Iain Wakefield posted a new blog post in Jaguar Mk2
    Mk2 Jaguar. How a detailed restoration returned a shabby 3.8 to its former glory. The Mk2 Jaguar is probably one of the most instantly recognisable classic saloons. We meet a dedicated owner who turned an impressive collection of model Jaguars into the real thing. Words Iain Wakefield. Photography Chris Frosin.
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  •   Adam Towler reacted to this post about 1 year ago
    Iain Wakefield posted a new blog post in Rover SD1
    Rover SD1 vs Audi 100 5E C2 Twin Test
    •   Cars
    •   Tuesday, 07 February 2017
    80s execs upmarket saloons compared Rover's SD1 vs Audi 100 C2 Smooth moovers. It’s hard to believe today but the Audi 100 was rated as the overpriced underdog when the Rover SD1 was in its prime. Words: Iain Wakefield. Photography: Chris Frosin, Paul Wager.
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  •   Jay Leno reacted to this post about 1 year ago
    Iain Wakefield posted a new blog post in SAAB 96
    If you fancy running an idiosyncratic car that’s going to turn heads wherever it goes, then a two-stroke or even a V4 powered Saab 96 may fit the bill rather well. Iain Wakefield Senior Contributor. Facts and figures on the quirky but unburstable Swede, from the early two-stroke cars to the Ford V4-powered models.
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  •   Adam Towler reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    The Rover-P6 was one of the most technically advanced production saloons of its era and the car's cutting edge design finally laid Rover’s conservative image to rest.

    WORDS IAIN WAKEFIELD / SURVIVOR’S GUIDE #Rover-P6 / INNOVATIVE ROVER /

    The world was a very different place when the covers first came off the #Rover P6 back in #1963 . Rover was still an independent company and throughout the '50s it had built up an enviable reputation as a manufacturer of conservative styled cars aimed at conservative minded buyers. By the end of the decade the ever-popular P4 and P5 range were starting to look rather dated and a new breed of middle management buyers now wanted to drive stylish, sub-3.0-litre cars incorporating modern automotive design as well as new technology.


    Although its cars looked dated, Rover was a very forwardlooking company and the technically advanced design for what would become the P6 was considered cutting edge and extremely radical for the time. Instead of using a steel monocoque, the new Rover was formed around a 'base frame' to which all the outer body panels were bolted. The main advantage for using this method of construction was to make repairs and later styling facelifts easy to carry out as well as hopefully keeping serious rust at bay. During the P6's development stage, a Citroën-style hydropneumatic suspension system was considered and although this idea was eventually dropped, the final layout for the new Rover's front suspension was equally radical. Although conventional coil springs were used, these were mounted horizontally and kept under tension by a cranked linkage. This operated against the P6's bulkhead and the compact layout allowed plenty of space in the engine bay to house a gas turbine or flat-four – two futuristic proposals that never made it to production.

    The first generation of the technically advanced P6 was powered by a brand new, four-cylinder, overhead cam 2.0-litre engine and the car's light weight and advanced engineering allowed it to provide better performance, economy, handing and ride than any other car in its sector. The new Rover was an immediate hit and by 1964 a sizeable waiting list had emerged for the P6. In 1966 the range was expanded with the introduction of two new models; the twin carburettor 124bhp 2000TC and the 3.5-litre V8 powered range-topping Rover 3500.

    In 1970 the P6 received a major facelift to become the MkII and a year later the Rover 3500S was introduced with manual transmission (the earlier V8-powered P6 were all automatics).

    Continual improvements to the P6 range resulted in the 2.0-litre engine being enlarged to 2.2-litres, with all four-cylinder cars subsequently being rebadged as the 2200 and 2200TC. The P6 continued to sell well until the wraps came off the futuristic but technically less adventurous Rover SD1 in 1976.

    This stylish new Rover was initially only available with a V8 power plant and this left the P6 to satisfy demand for the smaller engined cars until the four cylinder SD1's were introduced.

    Rover continued to build the P6 until 1977 when the last of some 327,00 examples of the car that redefined the Rover's image finally rolled off the assembly lines.

    BODYWORK

    Despite the P6 having an innovative body structure, the car's unstressed outer panels can still rust, although a tatty exterior won't necessarily be an MoT failure. Fitting a new set of outer panels is a day's job and don't forget that these can all be repaired and painted off the car. However, if the outer panels are really bad, there's a fair chance tin worm will have made serious inroads into the car's central core.

    When viewing a P6 it may look great on the surface, so you need to check the inner sills – outer sills aren't structural – floorpans and box sections under the rear ends of the inner sills very carefully for rot. Best way to inspect the condition of the main structure is to lift out the rear seat cushion and inspect inside the 'D'-post area as well as around both the rear inner wheelarches. Check out the condition of the inner sills by easing the carpet up and while the doors are open, check all the undersides and shuts for evidence of any corrosion.

    The top mounts for the rear suspension should be inspected carefully as severe corrosion in this area can result in the trailing arms pulling out and while looking under the car don't forget to inspect the condition of the boot floor. The boot lid and bonnet are made of aluminium, so shouldn't corrode but paint may flake off around the washer jets due to the different materials oxidising. Moving to the front of the car, check the inner wings, bulkhead and front valance for any signs of corrosion or badly repaired accident damage – especially around all the seams.

    ENGINE

    The 2.0-litre P6 will keep up with modern traffic but needs to be coaxed along whereas the TC and the 2.2-litre cars can easily hold their own. V8- powered P6s are obviously fast but fuel consumption isn't that great and these engines require an oil and filter change every 3000-miles to keep them in top form. Oil pressure on the 3.5-litre engine should be around 30psi when warm but don't be put off if the gauge hovers around the 20psi mark so long as you're prepared to drive the car carefully.

    Four-cylinder P6 engines are reasonably long lasting and reliable, but setting valve clearances can be a pain as it involves adding or removing shims to achieve the correct gap. Watch out for water escaping from the side plates on the engine block as this can lead to overheating. There are two timing chains on these engines: a worn top chain will make a hollow ringing sound between 1100 and 1400rpm, while a worn bottom chain just rattles and this one is the most difficult to replace.

    It's also essential to use a good quality 50-50 mix of anti-freeze all year round in a P6, whatever size engine's under the bonnet and to change the coolant ever three years to prevent internal corrosion building up and blocking the waterways. On V8 powered cars, pay careful attention to the temperature gauge, as overheating problems are often masked by an uncaring owner taking the thermostat out.


    TRANSMISSION

    Although the manual gearbox in the four-cylinder P6's shouldn't have any significant issues, the uprated box fitted to the Rover 3500 isn't really up to the job of handling the V8 engine's torque and problems will include jumping out of gear on the overrun. Any gear selection issues and rattling levers will be down to wear in the linkage. New bushes are available but the engine and gearbox really needs to come out to enable the replacement items to be fitted easily.

    Automatic P6's were initially fitted with a Borg Warner Type 35 box and this was replaced from 1974 on the 3500 with the Type 65. Check all auto 'boxes for burnt fluid and ensure all the ratios change up and down smoothly. Make sure there're no clunks in the transmission (auto or manual) when taking up the drive, as there are six universal joints between the gearbox and rear wheels and these can wear out. The P6's differential is generally bullet proof but watch out for faulty breathers as the casing can pressurise and cause the driveshaft seals to blow out.

    BRAKES & WHEELS

    The P6's all-disc set up is extremely powerful but it must be set up correctly. Cars built prior to 1966 were fitted with Dunlop calipers and parts for these are now very scarce. Later cars used a Girling setup and many early P6s may have been converted to the later type. One weak point in the P6's braking system, whatever its age, is the inboard rear disc brake set up. The rear discs can get smothered in oil if the diff seals are on the way out and leaking calipers often go unnoticed.


    An ineffective handbrake can indicate a lack of maintenance in the braking department and working on the rear brakes, such as changing scored or worn discs is a nightmare unless you can get access to a wheel-free lift. A few early 2000TCs were fitted with wire wheels but although they look good, this type of wheel isn't strong enough to for use on a V8-powered P6. If you're looking at a four-cylinder P6 sitting on a set of wires, check that all the spokes are rust free and intact and splines in the hub aren't worn.

    SUSPENSION, STEERING

    Although the design of the P6's front suspension is unusual in that it transmits all its loading directly into the front bulkhead, the setup is extremely effective and durable. The P6's worm and roller steering box provides a good amount of feel and can be adjusted to take out any play – tight spots will indicate an over adjusted box. Power steering is fitted to V8-powered P6's and retro fitting this system to a four-cylinder car is a straightforward conversion.

    Any clonks when driving a P6 over a rough surface will indicate worn ball joints at the base of the suspension legs but these are reasonably easy for a home mechanic to replace. The P6's rear suspension features a coil-sprung De Dion axle and one important point to check on these cars is the condition of the rubber gaiter at the end of the sliding tube. A split gaiter will let grit in and grease out, which over time will result in the sliding joint seizing up and unsettling the car's fine handling.


    TRIM & ELECTRICS

    As with any classic, sourcing individual trim items in better condition than the part that's going to be replaced can be difficult and half decent used parts can be hard to source. Padded dash tops on the P6 can crack due to excess UV exposure and leather trim in cars built between 1971 and 1973 can shrink and crack. An experienced auto trimmer will be able to replicate all trim styles, including the attractive box pleat leather used on earlier cars, but re-trimming a hide clad P6's cabin will prove a very expensive exercise.


    Note that all MkII cars had their battery located in the boot and nearly all pre-1970 four-pot P6's were fitted with a dynamo but many of these will by now have been replaced with an alternator. The instrumentation on the P6 is generally reliable but the fuse box on post-1971 can melt, so check for any Heath Robinson-type rewires. Specialist parts suppliers such as J R Wadhams Ltd. (www. jrwadhams.co.uk, 01384 891800) are able to supply a lot of interior trim arts for the Rover P6 as well as a host of new old stock mechanical spares and exterior fittings including original chrome bumpers.

    VERDICT

    A nicely presented P6 makes an excellent and very comfortable everyday family classic. Good four-cylinder cars are starting to get expensive but the model of choice for many buyers will be the powerful V8-powered Rover 3500. The 2200 is a popular choice and there are a lot of survivors to choose from, but be prepared as an auto version of this model can be just as thirsty as a well sorted V8.

    There are some rarities to hunt out and if you're looking to turn heads at a Rover gathering an interesting P6 to buy would be a fully loaded, run-out VIP model (77 built) or a #FLM-Panelcraft produced P6 estate (150 built). However, good examples of these versions are now very rare and don't often come on the open market as they nearly always change hands off the radar or through owners' clubs. Early Rover 2200s now come into the free road tax band and sourcing a good P6 makes a lot of sense if you want to own a very useable classic that offers fine handling with plenty of refinement and good looks.

    There's a decent amount of space in the front of a Rover P6. The TC badge on the tail of a P6 denotes twin carburettors.



    ROVER P6 EVOLUTION

    October #1963 : #Rover-2000 introduced.

    October #1966 : 114bhp Rover 2000TC launched with 2000 auto ( #Borg-Warner 35) version of SC. TC export-only until 1967. #Dunlop braking system superseded by #Girling .

    April #1968 : Rover 3500 introduced with V8 engine. Automatic transmission standard. Extra grilles under front bumper, larger front valance, V8 badging on bonnet and boot, 3500 in radiator grille and on front wings.

    December #1968 : Through-flow ventilation and fixed rear quarterlights, opening quarterlights reinstated a year later following ‘customer feedback’.

    September #1970 : MkII/facelift model. Black plastic honey combe grille, air intake grille below bumper on all models, twin ‘bulges’ in bonnet. Vinyl covering on rear screen pillars. TC and 3500 now have circular instruments.

    October #1971 : 3500S introduced. Four-speed manual #V8 with vinyl roof and brushed stainless steel spoke wheel trims.

    September #1973 : 2000 replaced by 2200 – SC, auto and TC. Brushed-nylon trim standard, leather optional. SC and auto retain box-type instruments and TC circular.

    October #1973 : 3500 gets full vinyl roof as per 3500S, plus 2200-style interior and wheel trims and tinted glass. Heated rear window and front headrests standard. Auto gets #Borg-Warner-65 in place of 35.

    February #1976 : 3500 VIP – Limited edition of 77 – offered. Standard aircon, bootlid-mounted spare, Sundym glass and rear seatbelts. Two colour choices; Platinum (metallic silver) or Brasilia (brown) with Huntsman brown vinyl roof.

    DATA FILE #Rover-2000
    ENGINE 1978cc
    POWER (bhp/rpm) 91/5000
    TOP SPEED 104mph
    0-50 MPH 10.1 secs
    CONSUMPTION 27mpg
    GEARBOX 4-sp man
    LENGTH 453cm
    WIDTH 66.5 in, 169cm
    WEIGHT 1229kg

    DATA FILE #Rover-2000-TC
    ENGINE 1978cc
    POWER (bhp/rpm) 113/5500
    TOP SPEED 112mph
    0-50 MPH 8.2 secs
    CONSUMPTION 26mpg
    GEARBOX 4 sp man
    LENGTH 453cm
    WIDTH 169cm
    WEIGHT 2710 lb, 1229 kg


    DATA FILE #Rover-2200-SC
    ENGINE 2206cc
    POWER (bhp/rpm) 98/5000
    TOP SPEED 101mph
    0-50 MPH 9.1 secs
    CONSUMPTION 26mpg
    GEARBOX 4-sp man
    LENGTH 453cm
    WIDTH 169cm
    WEIGHT 1229kg


    DATA FILE #Rover-2200-TC
    ENGINE 2206cc
    POWER (bhp/rpm) 115/5000
    TOP SPEED 108mph
    0-50 MPH 8.0 secs
    CONSUMPTION 29mpg
    GEARBOX 4 sp man
    LENGTH 453cm
    WIDTH 169cm
    WEIGHT 1229kg


    DATA FILE #Rover-3500-S
    ENGINE 3528cc
    POWER (bhp/rpm) 150/5000
    TOP SPEED 122mph
    0-50 MPH 7.1 secs
    CONSUMPTION 23mpg
    GEARBOX 4-sp man
    LENGTH 453cm
    WIDTH 169cm
    WEIGHT 1229kg
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  •   Dan Furr reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    CITROËN DYANE 6 PRINCESS DYANE by Iain Wakefield

    This rare survivor may been driven round the clock but it’s all original. The Panhard-inspired Citroën Dyane was supposed to replace the 2CV but the original tin snail went on to outlive the redesigned newcomer by an amazing 27 years.

    WORDS IAIN WAKEFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY CHRIS FROSIN

    READER'S RIDE CITROËN DYANE 6


    Love it or loathe it, the 2CV helped mobilise a nation during a lengthy period of post-war austerity and instantly captured the hearts of hundreds of thousands of its town and country living owners. This ingeniously engineered little car gamely soldiered on to build up a huge following of loyal fans on both sides of the channel, but by the mid-'60s the back-to-basics baby Citroën was beginning to look quite dated when compared to fresher offerings such as the more refined Renault 3 and 4.

    Although #Citroen desperately needed to update its popular #Deux-Chevaux to match the models being produced by arch rival Renault, the company's design studio found itself fully occupied at the time developing new versions of the DS and Ami. The only way forward was to subcontract the brief for updating the 2CV to the design arm of the newly acquired Panhard organisation. Citroën had taken control of the non-military vehicle side of this long standing automobile manufacturer in the mid-'60s and the programme to develop the Deux Chevaux's replacement was given to Louis Bioner, a noted designer who had been involved with nearly every new #Panhard - badged passenger car dating back to the '20s.

    However, Citroën's chief designer Robert Opron wasn't over enamoured with Bioner's original design and the concept of what would become the Dyane had to be extensively reworked before it could go into production. As well the styling, the Dyane's Panhard credentials are reflected in its name as Panhard had registered the name along with Dyna, Dynavia and Dynamic before control of the company was transferred to Citroën in 1965. Launched in August 1967 with two levels of trim, Comfort and Luxe, early versions of the Citroën Dyane were powered by the same 425cc twin-cylinder, 21bhp air-cooled engine that could also be found in the cheaper, entry level 2CV.


    The more costly Luxe version of the Dyane featured a few extra interior comforts and was identified by its chrome hubcaps. In March 1968, the Dyane 6 was launched with a larger 602cc engine as fitted to the 1961-introduced Ami and power was now up to a neck snapping 28bhp. The newly introduced Dyane 4 received a 26bhp, 435cc power unit, the extra power over the entry-level Dyane's 425cc unit coming from changes to the carburation and a slightly raised compression ratio. Acceleration was little sprightlier than the lower powered base model and the 435cc-powered Dyane 4 could be wound up to an eventual top speed of just under 70mph.


    Like the 2CV, the Dyane's two-cylinder engine works on the wasted spark principle where the coil fires both plugs at the same time irrespective of whether the valves in each cylinder are closed or open. Although this tends to reduce spark plug life to around 5000-6000 miles, the ignition system on these engines is very much simplified and like the rest of this tough little car, will keep on working with the minimum of maintenance. the Dyane's suspension is based on the advanced fore-aft interconnected suspension as used on the 2CV and comprises of a pair of springs running in long tubes located under each sill. each end of the springs are linked to a suspension arm connected to a set of knife-edge pivot pins and early models weren't fitted with shock absorbers to control the car's impressive spring rate and axle articulation.


    Although the Dyane was supposed to take over from where the 2CV left off, Deux Chevaux production continued unabated. by 1970 sales of Citroën's original tin snail had overtaken the panhard-designed model that was supposed to replace it. On this side of the channel, the Dyane sold reasonable well and its main competitors during the '70s were cars like the Hillman Imp and reliant Kitten. Finding road worthy survivors today in a similar condition to Andrew blather wick’s 1977 Dyane 6, the car we borrowed for this feature, is rare as the lightweight build resulted in many mechanically sound Dyanes rotting away before their time.

    The first car Andrew ever owned when he passed his test was a #Citroen-Dyane 6 and that was the reason he jumped at the chance to buy this one when it came onto the market. The Dyane Andrew owns today is not only the same model year and colour as the one he had when he was 18, the registration number is only a couple of digits out, which is remarkable. Even though the other car residing between a couple of classic motorbikes in Andrew's garage is a superbly restored 1953 Bristol 401, he wouldn't be parted from his cheeky little Citroën. During the summer, Andrew tries to use the Dyane as much as possible and in a couple of weeks time he's heading off with his wife for an extensive tour of Northern France in the Citroën – French ferry workers and Eurostar permitting.


    Andrew is only this Dyane's third owner and even though this little car's now completed a smidge over 100,000 miles on the same engine, the condition of its turquoise-coloured bodywork is incredible; with not a spot of grot bursting through the paint. Andrew reckons that although the car's first lady owner ran the car for over 20 years, she didn't use it much. the Dyane's Citroën-loving second owner was the one who racked up the majority of this car’s mileage as he went to just about every 2CV event in Europe for the seven years he owned the car. A rear side window on the car packed with oval 2CV club meet stickers is testimony to this Dyane's European adventures and Andrew is proud to point out that many of these events were held hundreds of miles away close to the EU's far flung eastern borders.


    You have to be careful when opening the Dyane's bonnet as the steel is so thin, the panel can twist alarmingly as it's being raised. First thing you notice when the bonnet is opened though is that the spare tyre on the Dyane sits in a specially made cradle on top of the engine, rather than being located in the boot à la 2CV. Removing the spare wheel revealed an impressively clean engine bay on this example and engineer Andrew explained that just after he bought the Dyane he took a cylinder barrel off to inspect the condition of the piston.


    "Although my Dyane had done well over 100,000 miles, I couldn't believe there wasn't any wear on the cylinder bore. Even the piston rings were in good condition, so I put the whole lot back together and never replaced a thing," said Andrew as he pointed out the huge fan in front of the carburettor that acts as a very basic form of forced induction. Andrew went on to say he'd read somewhere how the team who developed the 2CV's twin-cylinder engine were given the brief to build an efficient lightweight power unit that could be run at near maximum RPM for 1000 hours.


    "And that's how this little engine works", said Andrew. "You just put in gear, bury your foot into the mats and let the speed build up until you hit cruising speed". Andrew went on to say how once on the motorway, all you needed to do was sit and wait until the Dyane crept up to a decent cruising speed, then it was a case of maintaining around 65mph on the level and not worry about the speed creeping down to 50 on the big inclines. "It's when you drive a low powered car like the Dyane that you realise there are actually some severe uphill sections on the motorway network. When I'm driving my Bristol down the M1 it's a lot easier to keep up a steady 70mph uphill and down dale, which isn't bad for a car built over 60 years ago, but I love driving the Citroën as it gets so many cheery waves!".


    Although the overall condition of Andrew's Dyane is excellent, a closer inspection shows a slight variation in the shade of Turquoise on the leading edge of the car's nearside front wing. This is where Andrew has touched up a few spots of corrosion and even though the panel appeared to be sound, he's going to replace it along with a new pair of rear inner wheelarches while the car's off the road this coming winter.

    Andrew's a long-term member of the Citroën 2CV club (www.2cvgb.co.uk) and has invested in a couple of the club's remanufactured rear inner wings, as he reckons the originals have seen better days and could do with replacing.

    The Dyane's interior still looks factory fresh and there isn't even any wear on the car's two-tone blue fabric seats. With the fabric roof folded right back, there's obviously no limit to the amount of headroom for even the tallest driver but even with the structure shut there was more than enough room for my bulky six-foot two frame to get comfortable behind the Dyane's slender steering wheel, even with a passenger beside me. It's quite a while since I've driven a 2CV, so was keen to see how the more powerful Dyane compared.

    Like the Deux Chevaux, the sound of this little 602cc engine being revved hard is unique and the delightful racket it makes probably comes from the gearing driving the huge fan that blows cooling air across the pair of hard working cylinders.


    I'm always amazed at how the gear linkage on these cars works. To me it's a masterpiece of engineering how the push-in, pull-out and twist direction of the gear lever sticking out of the Dyane's dashboard is translated into a traditional 'H' pattern at the gearbox end of the linkage.

    Changing gear on the Dyane takes a bit of getting used to admittedly, but it's surprisingly logical once you get the hang of it. The ratios are quite good and you only tend to need first gear to get the car rolling or while negotiating a very steep hill.

    Once the Dyane was in second gear, it was best to leave it there until sufficient revs built up before selecting third, otherwise it took ages to get the little car up to a decent cruising speed. Once out on the open road, the Dyane can easily keep up with traffic while dodging around town if you work the gearbox hard, but it's out on the open road that things start to get interesting. Then it's a case of foot down to the boards while trying to remember where the next gear is before dipping the feather light clutch and twisting and pulling (or is it twisting and pushing?) the sturdy gear lever to select the next ratio.

    Cornering hard at low speeds in the Dyane was a real hoot as once you got used to the alarming amount of body roll the car produced, it was a delight to see the sheer look of terror on the faces of onlookers while propelling the Dyane out at a road junction and into what needed to be a very sizable gap in the oncoming traffic.

    Andrew's Citroën Dyane is a delight to drive and the overall condition of the car is a credit to all the hard work he's done to his pride and joy over the years he's owned it. This little Citroën realy does get a lot of admiring glances when it's out and about as I discovered on my brief drive. Considering there was just under a million and half Dyane's built until production came to an end in 1983, Andrew reckons there are only 195 Dyane 6's (13 Dyane 4's and 18 basic Dyane's) still registered with the DVLA today.


    Even though the value of Andrew's prized Bristol 401 is about ten times that of his little Dyane, there's no way this very fortunate classic enthusiast is going to part with his rare little Citroën and he's looking forward to the reaction the Dyane will receive when it goes back home to La Belle France in a couple of weeks' time.

    TECH SPEC CITROËN DYANE #1977

    1977 #Citroen-Dyane-6
    ENGINE: 602cc
    TRANSMISSION: Four-speed manual
    POWER: 28.5bhp at 5750rpm
    TORQUE: 30.5 lb.ft at 3500rpm
    TOP SPEED: 71mph
    0-60MPH: 32.7 sec
    WEIGHT: 602.8kg

    Five doors, a decent load area and a full length sunroof make this Dyane a practical classic for summer use. The side exiting stainless steel exhaust pipe is a nice touch!

    Basic but functional is the only way to describe the Dyane's interior. Andrew has added an oil pressure gauge to keep an eye on the condition of the engine.

    It's in there somewhere! Some brave owners swap the Citroën's air-cooled twin with a BMW motorbike engine, a move that can easily double the power output.

    One of the great things about the Dyane is that all the regular service items are reasonably easy to access – once both the front wings and grille have been removed! The fabric sunroof on the Dyane can be rolled back completely or just half way and transforms the feeling in the cabin when its fully opened.

    Although the front seats in the Dyane look a bit flimsy, they're comfortable to sit in.
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