Friday, January 8, 2010

Citroen DS Restoration & Electric Conversion Project

One never does things by half!

Well, converting a vehicle to electric is no mean feat and if that was not enough, I choose to do this picking the most complicated set of variables. I have chosen my all-time favourite vehicle, the Citroen DS. Launched in 1955, the DS established Citroen as the leading innovative engineering auto maker in the world. The DS:

  • Built upon it's leadership in front-wheel-drive
  • Had inboard disk brakes
  • Introduced Hydroneumatic Suspension
  • Looked as futuristic then as it does now
  • Introduced Steered Driving Lights

This particular vehicle which I have owned for around 10 years, was totally dismantled by me 5 years ago following 6 years of perfect performance, as it started showing signs of rust and the automatic transmission was due for a rebuild. I had rebuilt the engine as soon as I purchased the vehicle. So the plan was that, by the time I restored it, I would have an equivalent to a new car.

Once dismantled, all the panels were sand-blasted and sent to a body-shop to be professionally repainted changing the colour from the original cream with white roof, to a modern Citroen dark blue metallic colour, including same colour roof, in the process. Seeing this was going to be a unique vehicle, rather than a concourse one, I decided to depart from the standard black frame to same "blue" colour frame making all the body parts blue. The agreement was that this job would take a while as the body shop had a long queue of vehicles awaiting work and in any case I had no urgency around this project.

As it happens, this was a "God-job" as, in parallel, my life went through a major crises resulting in my wife leaving and now, 5 years after the start of this project, here I am restarting. My car is now in Penrith, at my friends the Denton's of European Auto Care, the Citroen specialists; where I have a space where I am able to tinker with their expert advice.

So this is 3 projects in 1:

  1. Totally rebuild the vehicle, replacing, reconditioning and recreating many of the parts (seats, carpets, rubber, glass, electrical, etc.)
  2. The hydroneumatic suspension system is driven by a pump, off the engine which I need to re-invent with an electric motor.
  3. Convert to an electric vehicle.
I have read many blogs of others that have attempted to convert their vehicles to electric and the strong message is, pick a good car that just requires electric conversion to eliminate unnecessary complications. Well, I decided to go the full hog and take-on this mammoth project. Stay tuned more news and pics as I progress.