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    CAR: #BMW-2002tii / #BMW / #BMW-2002
    Run by David Evans
    Owned since May 2000
    Total mileage (2)40,099
    Miles since August
    report 897
    Latest costs c£120

    GROUNDED BY A CHARGING FAULT

    It was one of those days that was destined not to go according to plan. Every now and again, the aged alternator earth pulls out of its connector at the block end – usually when I catch it as I fit a new oil filter. It popped out at the other end the previous time I changed the oil.

    Which is what I thought had happened when the charging light flickered and then came on with some purpose as I drove back from Dad’s one Sunday evening. I tried to bodge the wire back in, but without any luck and by then the battery was flat so I gave in and called for recovery via my insurer RH.

    Robert Sutton from Dunchurch Motors arrived quicker than the text estimate and gamely set about the manky old wiring with a couple of heavy-duty connectors that I’d scrounged from Nick Ostrowski at Mottingham Auto Spares. LPB was soon running again, without the warning lamp after Sutton noticed more frayed wire – and it stayed off until I must have dislodged the temporary repair as I turned into the raised drive behind our flats. It was at that point I realised I’d left the garage key at Evans senior’s, c200 miles away! Fortunately, my landlord Emmanuel lives nearby so he popped over the next evening.

    My long-suffering Kiwi mate John Hudson diagnosed the root cause: “The engine harmonics had been transmitted into the alternator via the solid, non-original brass bushes. The vibrations had caused the internal mounting-bolt holes to enlarge and elongate, so brass filings had been sucked into the alternator and damaged a bearing.”

    Hudson stripped down the unit, fitted two new sealed bearings and cleaned the armature contact. He reassembled it with original BMW flexible bushes and the factory steel internal locating sleeves – from an alternator kindly donated by Brian Buckett – then put fresh terminals and heatshrink on the earth wire. That’s not quite the end of it.

    The insulation had cracked on all four wires from the loom, so John has wrapped them with tape as a stopgap and will let in a new piece once the engine is out. On the subject of which, he tracked down an oil pump and, by the time you read this, we should have some spanking new pistons as well.

    Suffice to say, there’s a noticeable improvement with the right bushes on. The engine is smoother and quieter – plus it starts with more enthusiasm, so maybe it hasn’t been charging properly for a while.

    THANKS TO

    Brian Buckett
    John Hudson
    RH:01277206911; www.rhclassicinsurance.co.uk

    Brassed off: solid bushes (top) had ovalled. Sutton sorts broken wires in A14 layby. Inset: brittle earth wasn’t main problem, though.
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    / #Citroen-GSA-Spécial / #Citroen-GSA / #Citroen-GS / #Citroen

    CAR: Citroën GSA Spécial
    Run by David Evans
    Owned since March 2007
    Total mileage 105,006
    Miles since February
    report 1353
    Latest costs £204

    PARIS REMATCH FOR RENDEZVOUS

    There’s nothing quite like La Traversée, the massed drive around Paris organised by Vincennes en Anciennes. It’s the sort of brilliantly orchestrated chaos that only the French can get away with. I was in two minds about doing ‘the Crossing’ this January, though – after the dreadful weather there and back last year – but I inevitably found myself drawn back to the website over the Christmas break. Alcohol may have been involved. Registrations had closed, so I e-mailed the club’s ever-helpful PR-person Anne Quémy, who kindly sent me a press pass by return. The Eurotunnel is cheap off-peak, so I booked a train. As for accommodation, Hugh and Anne Thompson, who I’d met on the 2017 Traversée – friends of my old mates Brian and Pat Buckett – recommended a good hotel just around the corner from the start.


    That just left the car, which had a couple of runs out over the festive period to Romsey on Boxing Day and Vintage Stony, both of which were heaving. After inadvertently finding a standing lake on the way to Stony Stratford – followed by a bow wave – the car (rather than the owner) developed an odd groaning sound. It went away with the clutch down, and seemed to have cleared by the time I stopped to investigate why I had been flashed a few times. The right-hand rear sidelight was on but the bulb had dulled and the numberplate lamp wasn’t working, although that was a broken earth.

    To be on the safe side, I booked the car into Chevronics, after mentioning the noise to mechanical guru Port. He suggested water in a bearing (having had a similar experience) and Rob Moss agreed, but there was no trace of it when he test-drove YLC. Next on the list was the dashboard, which was in darkness apart from the speedo. As Rob pointed out, it can take a while to repair a module and, as I’ve found in the past, any time that you remove it, something else always stops working. It was beyond my capabilities anyway, needing careful soldering, but was as good as Blackpool’s Illuminations when I turned on the ignition that night. So we were all set for France.

    Fog and freezing rain had put me off venturing into central Laon 12 months ago, but this year I had a brief look around the beautiful mediaeval town and its Gothic masterpiece, Notre-Dame Cathedral. It’s also a fine route nationale run from there to Paris via the N2.

    Come the following morning, as I opened the window at 5:30am, it was chucking it down. And it was still raining as everyone gathered at Château de Vincennes, but fortunately it eased off as we convoyed along nearby Avenue Daumesnil.

    I vowed to keep with a few cars, having got lost last year, and mostly followed the route book to make it to the photo opportunity at the Sacré-Coeur steps. There was a space right behind a mint Renault 16TX, in fact, so it would have been rude not to stop. Shortly afterwards I met up with #Drive-My freelancer Julian Parish (who used to live in central Paris), so he took over directions and helped with translation when we met characters along the way. “You and Pressnell, always buying French cars!” exclaimed Jean-Jacques Dieumegard as we admired his Jensen Interceptor II at Les Invalides (see Your events).

    Now it’s always a treat to take the Citroën ‘home’, so thank you to everyone for their comments about the car – from the young bloke with an ’1984 Citroen BX at the start, to the chap at Place de la Concorde who’d owned a GSA when he was 30. It prompted a round of applause as we left there, acknowledged with a few toots.

    Julian helpfully led me to the Périphérique, having told me how to avoid the busiest part, and I made it to Calais an hour earlier than anticipated. Roll on the next one…

    THANKS TO

    Δ Anne Quémy and everyone else at Vincennes en Anciennes
    Δ Hugh and Anne Thompson
    Δ The Chevronic Centre: 01462 455280; www.chevronics.co.uk

    Two of France’s greatest landmarks: the Sacré-Coeur basilica and, right, Laon Cathedral. Inset: Thierry Dubois’ brilliant artwork for La Traversée.

    Module is easier to extract with wheel out. Delicate flexi-circuitry needed soldering. GSA spotted in Romsey by Oliver Edwards.
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    / #Citroen-GSA-Spécial / #Citroen-GSA / #Citroen-GS / #Citroen
    Run by David Evans
    Owned since March 2007
    Total mileage 103,653
    Miles since October 2017
    report 1333
    Latest costs £99.60

    FLAT-FOUR JOINS VILLAGE PEOPLE

    There’s something satisfying about having a car show on your doorstep – supporting your local community and all that – plus it helps when they’re a lovely bunch. For the past three years, Dave Webster, who runs the Mean OldTimers Classic Car and Motorcycle Club, has organised a display for Blackheath Village Day (see Your events). I learnt about the first one by chance when my mate Andrew Newham texted me after he’d seen a load of classics.

    The meet draws a great range of cars, despite it taking place in early December. Thanks to the police, which closed the roads, there was an evocative parade, too. As Dave put it: “I first came to Blackheath in the late ’60s and that drive reminded me of how it looked back then.”

    Tom Thompson summed up our hobby brilliantly for me: “It’s incurable, isn’t it?” He brought his lovely Porsche 356 in ’2016; since then, he’s also acquired a Giulia Spider and a Dolomite Sprint – both superb. He’d swapped his TR7 for the Dolly with fellow car nut Jonathan Harley, who runs nearby Delacourt Motors (and MoT’d my BMW).

    I was hoping to have taken the 2002 (more on that soon), it being contemporary with most of the OldTimers’ cars, although the GSA struck a chord. I’d barely parked, in fact, when a bloke said: “My Dad used to have one of those; there was an estate as well, wasn’t there?” As for the Citroën, it’s still going well and has mostly been behaving itself. Thanks to our sponsor, it’s now running Total Quartz 5000, which it prefers over another wellknown brand of 15w40. It certainly seems quieter and feels smoother.

    I thought I’d worn the pads down to the metal, but the noise stopped with heavier braking. To be safe, I booked it into Chevronics. Service manager Cheryl Walton confirmed that the pads were fine, although some makes can be noisy, so they chamfered the edges and cleaned up the discs and calipers. The squeal may return, but not a peep so far.

    THANKS TO Dave Webster, and the rest of The Mean OldTimers Club / The Chevronic Centre: 01462455280; www.chevronics.co.uk

    GSA under surveillance from Ernie Jupp’s Jag, one of two police S-types known to survive. A nice pair: Thompson’s Triumph and Alfa. As the slogan says: ‘Citroën prefers #Total ’.
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    CAR: #Citroen-GSA-Spécial / #Citroen-GSA / #Citroen-GS / #Citroen
    Run by David Evans
    Owned since March 2007
    Total mileage 102,320
    Miles since April
    report 3061
    Latest costs £556.60

    BACK IN THE LAND OF MY FATHERS

    My late Dad, bless him, could be awkward on occasion – it’s where I get it from – and was quite particular about his last resting place. After two frustrating, 500-mile roundtrips to Dolgellau, though, I hadn’t managed to locate the family plot, Evans being a fairly common name in that neck of the woods. Fortunately, my second cousin Margaret and her husband Alan went on a weekday when the council offices were open and found the headstone.

    YLC seemed appropriate for those journeys – mainly because it reminded me of visits to friends and relations, including Dad’s best mate who had a GSA at the same time as we had ours. A proper, #hydropneumatic Citroën should make light work of bumpy Welsh back roads, but mine had never felt quite as it should in that department.

    Rob Moss at Chevronics pointed out a while ago that the front lower wishbone bushes needed replacing, so I had them done when the car was in for the MoT test. It doesn’t glide over surfaces like a DS – a GS never did – but the ride is massively improved and much quieter, with no creaks and groans over speedbumps.

    The new bushes have also sharpened up the handling, while letting it lean more – or maybe that was the impression because it’s in its element on open switchbacks. The GSA had to work hard on the hills, but the flat-four thrives on revs. My second recce (over Whitsun) could have been better planned. If I’d gone a week later, I could have stayed over and covered the Tatton Park show the day after. Instead, I went up to Cheshire the following Saturday (Your events, August).

    I’d barely parked – alongside Carl Minshall’s spectacular ’1957 Chrysler Windsor – when a bloke came over and said: “You’ve made my day! I never expected to see one of these.”

    It turned out that Brian Hopwood had worked on GSAs when they were new at Barlows in Manchester. Sometimes, as well as such priceless words of encouragement, we get an occasional surprise present. Long-time reader Peter Ciesielski kindly sent me a set of GS and GSA brochures (inset below) that he’d spotted at a local car boot sale. They’re all in mint condition, too.

    THANKS TO

    Peter Ciesielski
    The Chevronic Centre: 01462 455280; www.chevronics.co.uk

    GSA dwarfed by Minshall’s mint Windsor. New bushes in grime-free lower wishbone. With Shaun Lilley’s lovely Pallas, at the Citroën Car Club’s GS/GSA & Ami Rally, Tilford.
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    CAR #BMW-2002tii / #BMW-2002 / #BMW
    Run by David Evans
    Owned since May 2000
    Total mileage (2)56,480
    Miles since April
    report 1345
    Latest costs £171

    ALWAYS LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE

    It’s nice to get an occasional victory over an annoying problem, such as the loose gear-linkage mounting block described in April. Having the right tools helps. In the end, I bought a set of round-ended hex keys and, using a drive plus an adaptor from one of those handy AA kits, I tightened it properly.

    It would have been easier – and not taken four, rain-interrupted attempts over consecutive weekends – if I’d had access to indoor ramps. Which was the idea behind This Is Your Garage, in Culham near Oxford. You can hire bays (with various types of ramps), each of which has a massive rack of Teng Tools. There’s an excellent diner as well, so you can have a bacon sandwich and a cuppa while you get stuck in. They have meetings there, too (http://thisisyourgarage.com), which is where I met up with mates Dave Richards and Simeon Cattle over the Easter weekend.

    The downpour up the M40 and the epic puddles on the way back meant that the holed spare-wheel well took on water (again). Miraculously, that nearside rusty corner didn’t quite fail the MoT test but it was advised. It would be nice to have it done for the Bavaria Tour at the end of the month, because front panels – correct or otherwise – are in short supply, so that can wait.

    A couple of last year’s advisories have been rectified, though. The unevenly worn offside front tyre was also flat-spotted, as noticed by one of the lads at Wheel Power in Brockley where boss Mark Golby has recently bought an immaculate Escort RS2000 Mk2. I popped back a week later to have a pair of Falkens fitted on the front – always put the fresh rubber on the steering wheels, I was told. Another one for the ‘small-world’ file, too: while the new boots were being fitted, I got chatting to a bloke who’d owned a 2002 when he was at college.

    Next up was the faded headlamp reflector. Ever since the BMW was repaired after I parked it on a Merc ML, it’s had one shiny light and an increasingly dull one. That was, until I acquired an excellent Hella unit kindly donated as surplus to requirements for a restoration.

    The sidelight connections were different, of course, and it’s slightly smaller, which might explain why the centre of the nearside grille had been cut out to fit round the old lamp. I only realised that when I offered it up to the replacement, which is much better. It needed just a small adjustment to pass the MoT test, so, as Colin Simmons at Longfield Hill pointed out, my attempts to copy the settings weren’t far out.

    I’ve also been experimenting with heavier oil, in the hope that less of it will escape via the polished bores. It seems to retain more Millers Classic mineral 20w50 than a well-known brand of 10w40, but it’s still burning a fair amount. And I’ve swapped the temporary replacement rotor arm with a new one from Jaymic, so it starts better.

    THANKS TO Jaymic: 01263 768768;
    www.jaymic.com Wheel Power: 020 8699 9591;
    www.wheelpoweralignment.co.uk Colin Simmons at Longfield Hill Village Garage: 01474 703000
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    Car: #Citroen-GSA-Spécial / #Citroen-GSA / #Citroen-GS / #Citroen /

    Run by David Evans
    Owned since March 2007
    Total mileage 99,259
    Miles since December
    2016 report 1888
    Latest costs £53.28
    PARIS BECKONS
    FOR WINTER RUN

    Do you ever have days when nothing seems to go right? The evening before I was due to go to Paris for La Traversée (Your events, March), I brought forward my Eurotunnel booking by half an hour so that I’d have more time at my intended stop, Laon, to have a look around the old town. When I mentioned Laon to C&SC contributor Julian Parish, who has done a really useful guide to France for car enthusiasts, he said that there was a youngtimer museum in the town, open 2-5pm on Saturdays. Excellent, I thought: a bit of culture and some old cars, although the museum wasn’t open that afternoon for some reason.

    By then, the weather had closed in – it had been snowing on the way down – and the mediaeval town was shrouded in fog so I decided to carry on towards Paris. The snow turned into freezing rain, which gradually built up on the ’screen and rendered the wipers largely useless so I had to stop a few times to scrape off the ice.

    Still, I made the suburbs in good time and on to Vincennes to the east of the city, where the club that organises ‘The Crossing’ is based. My web research was evidently flawed, though, because I thought that the hotel had parking. It didn’t, like most of them in the area, but the helpful manager keeps a pad of local maps highlighting parkings nearby. If you fancy doing a Traversée, check which ones are open 24 hours because you need to be at the Château de Vincennes well before the 8am start otherwise you’ll end up queuing around the block like I did last year. Parking’s not cheap – about 25 quid overnight – but I didn’t fancy leaving the GSA on the street and having to scrape off the ice again the next morning. Plus, after the frustrations of earlier in the day, as I drove down the ramp into the Coeur de Ville car park I was chuffed to see two more classic Citroëns – a DS and an SM – which was obviously fate. I didn’t meet the owners, but I did see the pair later in the day. I had a major panic when I thought I wasn’t able to get out. I’d paid, but wasn’t far enough forward at the exit for the ticket to trigger the barrier.

    There was a great atmosphere at daybreak as hundreds of classics congregated around the fortress, many of which you seldom see at UK events such as ’50s Simcas or a mint Renault 15. This year’s event honoured the ’70s and, as we filed into the parking area, Kraftwerk’s Autobahn was playing on the PA, followed by a few disco belters.

    A fair number of Brits took part, including Hugh and Ann Thompson – friends of my old mate Brian Buckett. “This looks familiar,” said Hugh. “Is it the one from Classic & Sports Car? We saw a beige GS, on UK plates, yesterday.” “I bet I know who that is,” I replied. The Sunday before, I’d bumped into Citroën Car Club stalwart Chris Salter with his ’1979 GS Pallas at Brooklands.

    Such is the nature of La Traversée that you follow certain cars for a while and then latch onto other groups subject to the vagaries of the traffic and where you fancy stopping. The event sticker allows you to park pretty much anywhere within reason. I was hoping to nip out to take a photo by the Pompidou Centre – as depicted in Thierry Dubois’ artwork for the event – but there weren’t any spaces.

    After getting spectacularly lost, I ended up at Porte Saint-Martin and, by chance, followed Chris into Place de la Concorde. It’s one of the busiest stop-offs, with room for dozens of cars around the square, and where I’d arranged to meet Julian. He offered to translate – my French is poor – and introduced me to Thierry, who insisted that I had a drink and a slice of galette des rois – the French Epiphany treat.

    Julian accompanied me back to Vincennes, and we stopped at Les Invalides after I’d spotted three OSI coupés together. At one point, we even followed the magnificent Panhard Dynamic of Les Doyennes de Panhard et Levassor president Arnaud Blanc. Think of any make of French classic, in fact, and I was probably behind one at some stage. It was outstanding. The weather on the drive home was grim, too, with fog most of the way, but that won’t put me off going back next year.

    YLC with Alfa GT Junior at Place de la République. Inset: Dubois’ brilliant Pompidou Centre cartoon celebrated ’70s theme.

    GSA found a couple of classic chums in the Coeur de Ville car park: lovely DS and SM, both from Belgium.

    Consulting maps, near Porte Saint-Martin. Salter’s GS Pallas and ASA, at Concorde. Super-rare Daf 55 estate, at Brooklands.
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    David Evans
    David Evans unlocked the badge Photogenic
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    David Evans
    David Evans unlocked the badge Points Achiever
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    David Evans
    David Evans joined the group BMW E46 3-series Club
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