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  •   Dan Furr reacted to this post about 4 years ago

    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.



    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 ( 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.


    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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  •   Dan Furr reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    CITROEN DYANE / #Citroen-Dyane / #Citroen-Dyane-6 / #Citroen
    If your day to day business involves working on air-cooled VWs, what are you going to own? Er… an airbagged Dyane of course!

    Dyane-other Day’

    Ben Lewis has drawn on his decades spent in the UK’s massive VW scene to create this, surely one of the most unique Citroens anywhere in the world… Words: Jarkle. Photos: Jon Robinson Pratt.

    Never underestimate the amazing power of nostalgia when it comes to messing about with cars. Nostalgia can trump pretty much any form of logic and any sense of reality, it’ll quite readily leave you broke, surrounded by a rusty and partially disassembled classic, and all with a pair of rose tinted specs firmly attached to your melon! Of course nostalgia can also be a good thing; it drives projects forward and provides the impetus needed to see past your potential project’s shortcomings and, in many cases, rampant rot spots. What we’re trying to say is that despite its seemingly benign nature, nostalgia is a powerful force and not something to be underestimated.

    Nostalgia is at the very heart of this Citroen Dyane build and it’s all thanks to its owner Ben Lewis’s formative experiences with these cars and #air-cooled-Citroens in general. “My dad only bought 2CVs and older French stuff when we were growing up so that was a big factor, plus I’ve always loved the shape of the Dyane and thought they had a lot of untapped potential.”

    It’s probably worth pointing out at this point that Ben’s daily business involves the modification and restoration of old school air-cooled VWs, something that’s left him with an enviable skill set and well placed to tackle something like the Dyane.

    The car itself was bought back in 2011 after Ben spotted it parked up in rural Cornwall, the gallic hatch having been purchased and used as a second car by the owners of a large Citroen dealership up in Bristol. As such it’d covered minimal mileage and seemed to represent the perfect project opportunity.

    “The steel on these is only .6mm thick in places, so of course they like to rot, though being an ‘81 car mine is slightly less susceptible to it than the early ones,” explains Ben. “Welding metal that thin is also a bit of a challenge – you can really only really spot weld it, otherwise you burn right through the steel in no time at all.”

    A sensible sum was duly offered, considered and accepted, and within days Ben had his latest purchase home, ready for a session of welding and basic re-commissioning. Despite the thinness of the steel and the car’s propensity for rot, it was actually in fairly rude health, only needing minimal MIG-work and some general TLC to get its first MoT in years. Ben then wasted no time in pressing it into active service as a daily driver, a task it performed faultlessly for two years.

    Now from the start Ben was very clear about what he wanted to do with the car. He was always going to drawn the VW scene, particularly its late 80s and early 90s heyday, and knew he wanted to incorporate his love of old custom car magazines from the same period. Not only would this enable Ben to utlilse the exact same skills he needs on a daily basis at work, it’d open up a whole raft of one-off, custom opportunities, an important point when building a car like this with little to no parts support ‘off-the-shelf.’ Custom car touches were the order of the day then, starting with the car’s most obvious deviation from factory Citroen fare, that massively lowered ride height.

    “The whole car has been body channeled and lowered by 9cm all round, something I’ve always wanted to do to a car like this,” explains Ben with a grin. “Of course doing this offered up its own set of challenges, namely getting everything else on the car to sit correctly at its new height and location.”

    The whole process must’ve been fairly galling, particularly as in Ben’s own words ‘the whole body wobbled around like a jelly’ once it was separated from the chassis. Everything was made even more complex by the need to modify the suspension to suit its new geometry, and though the original uprights are still in situ, everything else has had to be modified or otherwise altered to fi t within the confines of the Dyane shell. It’s also worth remembering that every action has a reaction, so for every component Ben re-worked or re-designed, another corresponding part had to be modified to fit with with it. This knock-on effect has led to pretty much the whole suspension and chassis layout being tweaked in some way or another, with the rear suspension arms having had to be chopped and re-welded for extra camber, and the front end and corresponding driveshafts and tierods narrowed by a hefty 5in.

    “I’m a big believer in dry builds and had the whole car built up on its original chassis, including the engine and suspension,” Ben explains. “Once I knew everything fitted as it should I took it apart and bought a brand new chassis from France, one of the few Dyane bits it’s still easy to purchase off-the-peg.”

    The decision to utilise a brand new chassis was certainly a smart one as it allowed Ben to build upwards in confidence, secure in the knowledge that the basic underpinnings of his car were totally rot free and about as solid as possible. It also allowed him to perfect the car’s ride height. Yes the body drop meant that it could physically run at a significantly reduced altitude, but getting it to that level still required a suitable suspension setup. In the end Ben turned to a DIY air ride kit, buying the parts from a certain well-known online auction site and setting about making it work on the Dyane. A custom frame for the air shocks, battery, air tank and compressors was made and mounted in the rear, with a similar frame doing the same job ‘up front.’

    Ben wasn’t quite out of the woods yet, and that 9cm drop in height meant many of the engine ancillaries had to be extensively modified in order to fit. In its original, factory-fitted position the alternator clouted the bonnet, so of course the mount had to be extensively modified, along with the shift rod on the gearbox, the handbrake and the oil cooler, the latter having to be re-located to a less ‘busy’ area of the engine bay. Like pretty much every area of this build, the under bonnet space is now a masterclass in careful packaging and making the most of what little room you have available.

    So what now? Well Ben has no plans on painting the Dyane anytime soon, reasoning that the patina it now sports is all original, hard won and part of the car’s unique history. Indeed the only ‘new’ panels on the car are the front valance and one wing, everything else has been on the Dyane from the moment it puffed off the line way back in 1981, and that’s a fairly impressive achievement when the thinness of that steel is taken into account. This is one of those projects that rewards those who take the time to really stop and examine it, and if you do then you’ll be rewarded with countless clever touches, deviations from standard spec and old school custom work. It doesn’t matter one iota that the stock engine is about as far from a powerhouse as it’s possible to get, this is a car that’s all about cruising around while looking cool as hell, and it’s all down to that pang of nostalgia that Ben first felt when he clapped eyes on the car four years ago. We told you it was powerful stuff.

    It’s not about the power, it’s about the charm, and there’s no shortage of that here. Offset roof rack is a masterstroke.


    ENGINE: Rebuilt stock 602cc air-cooled flat two with single carb with custom air box, stock exhaust manifold and system, various ancillaries re-located to fit under bonnet.

    TRANSMISSION AND STEERING: Stock four-speed gearbox, cut down shift rod, modified steering column with x2 UJs to maintain alignment.

    SUSPENSION AND CHASSIS: Body channeled and dropped 9cm all round, brand new chassis and x2 floor pans, custom bulkhead and boot floor, front and rear suspension arms cut to give greater negative camber, front suspension and driveshafts narrowed 5inches, tie-rods extended to work with reduced ride height, custom front and rear frames to mount air shocks, tanks and compressors, stock uprights still in situ.

    BRAKES: Stock disc and drum arrangement.

    WHEELS AND TYRES: Stock 15in steel wheels all round, 115/70x15 space savers (front) and 124/80x15 (rear).

    INTERIOR: Complete Dyane interior with seats cut down and re-mounted to accommodate 9cm drop, seat belt mounts re-located and re-mounted.

    EXTERIOR: #1981 #Citroen Dyane shell with patina and panels in various colours and shades, underbody extensively protected with Raptor bed liner, all fixings and fittings painted in yellow as per factory.

    It’s fair to say that Citroens of this era redefined ‘quirky. Rusty on top, rock solid underneath.
    The Dyane is often overlooked in favour of its older sibling, but there’s something achingly cool about a well modified Dyane. The engineering required to get the car this low is nothing short of staggering.
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