The start of an interesting journey.

May 8, 2006 a life long dream had come true as I was finally the proud owner of an early Citroën DS19.

I had found a low milage car in a remarkably well preserved condition and with a unique, well documented story.

It was now my turn to start adding another chapter to the history of this car, by bringing it back to life.




Getting to know the car.

When first visiting the car it had been resting in a garage since the 1980s, after a little convincing we managed to get it started and even the hydraulics seemed to work fine as the car slowly raised from the ground, giving hope of a manageable restoration...




After getting the car home the initial plan was to gently bring it back to a drivable working condition, preserving as much as possible of the cars ware and patina.

Slowly getting to know the car better I gave the it a light service with an oil change, spark plugs etceteras resulting in the engine running smoothly. The hydraulics seemed all right with the suspension, breaks and steering working but the clutch and gear box just wouldn’t play along.




The over all condition of the chassis and bodywork as far as we could see surprised in that it was very well preserved and virtually rust free, a first look under the car only revealed a few deformations on the floor panel...




The entire vehicle was very complete with just a few parts missing, although some parts were clearly aged and needed replacing.

The interior was a virtual time warp with everything in place, well preserved under a thin layer of dust.




The first phase of the restoration.

I know my own limitations when it comes to the restoration so right from the start I contacted the renowned Citroën specialist Mr. Curt Nileman. During months of waiting for him to find time between other projects I focused on jobs such as going through the electronics, fuel system, cleaning the car inside out and starting to look for all the parts needed in the restoration.




When Mr. Nileman finally had time to take on the project he quickly established that the low pressure hydraulic system, operating the clutch and gear change needed an overhaul to start with.




After a closer look we decided that the combined low pressure hydraulic / water pump needed to be replaced. We also restored the rear breaks, the clutch cylinder, the fuel pump, the radiator, the steering etceteras... all with the goal to get the car on the road as it was without a complete restoration.




The big decision.

We managed to get the car moving but the hydraulic gear selector still did not work properly. All the hydraulics we had restored so fare had been full of internal dirt and corrosion so we realized that the rest of the hydraulics needed a complete restoration.

A visit from Mr. Nilemans friend the sheet metal expert Mr. Nils Olvenmo added another serious dimension to the restoration as he took a closer look at the chassis.

In december 1958 the cars second owner had an accident with the car [more details in the history chapter] and the result of that was still painfully present in the right sill and the floor of the chassis, in clear contrast to the virtually unused condition of rest of the chassis. These important factors lead to the decision to give the car a complete nut and bolt restoration.




Disassembly.

To carry out the major surgery needed to restore the chassis the entire car had to be completely disassembled and stripped down to the bare metal. Every detail that was removed from the car was documented, bagged and tagged for restoration or storage before the future assembly.




First the interior was completely stripped from seating, trim, carpets and sound deadening...




All body panels and the drive train was removed as well as all remaining details such as steering, heating, suspension, breaks etceteras... In the painstaking job of disassembling every single detail of the car I had great help from Mr. Curt Nileman and Mr. Per Kjellberg who each have more than 40 years experience with Citroën DS.



Mr. Nileman disassembling the heating.



Mr. Kjellberg disassembling the instruments.


After months of hard work the disassembly process was finally complete and the ingenious DS19 chassis was fully exposed.




We could now finally see the full extent of that accident in 1958,  it was without any doubt a serious accident and the remaining damages from this can be seen as dents and deformations  in many areas.  Some clear signs from time as a prototype with Mr Lindblom is also visible as deformations, holes and little modifications. All this will now be taken care of.




Blasting.

The chassis was sent to blasting at Freezit outside Stockholm, they use a magic combination of dry-ice blasting and plastic media blasting, this method makes it possible to literally peal the car layer by layer.

The dry ice removes dirt, glue residue and if wanted also the rust protection and sound deadening layers, leaving the paint completely clean and untouched.

The plastic media then carefully removes all the paint without affecting the sheet metal.

(This method does however not remove rust, that would call for tougher blasting media such as glass or sand)




The result is impressive to say the least! Most parts of the DS now looks like it was taken directly of the factory line in 1958, just before painting.


Treasure hunt.

One of the most time consuming and difficult things of the whole project is finding all the right parts, I am careful to only use correct original parts, whenever a part can not be reused or restored I am replacing it with original new old stock parts gathered from around the world. [I am still looking fore some parts, listed under Wanted!]




Among the rare parts found so fare are the big sheet metal parts needed to replace the wounded right sill, some other sheet metal parts for the chasssis and body, togehter with a lot of small treasures. Soo fare the only reproduction parts are a few rubber details and some metal parts that are carefully being hand made by the sheet metal doctor, Mr Nils Olvenmo.




Reconstruction.

The restoration had now officially reached its turning point, from now on we would no longer disassembly things, now it was time to rebuild. To start reconstructing the chassis it was turned on its side, this way the damaged floor panels could be removed.




The big chassis job, more extensive than anyone ever anticipated, has now really started to show amazing results.

The right sill has been removed and is now being replaced with new old stock original parts, together with the salvaged and corrected original parts.

The entire chassis was 15mm shorter on the right hand side, this has now been corrected.




Mr. Olvenmo is methodically working his way through every detail of the chassis, correcting deformations, measuring and cross measuring to perfection. As work continues the A & B pillars are carefully being rebuilt, the C-pillar is being replaced with a new original part.






Chassis finally ready for paint.



Before fitting the floor panels we decided to paint the entire chassis inside out. (This to get a protecting coat of paint inside all parts of the chassis.)




One of the most challenging parts of the restoration has been the main floor panel, finding a new old stock part (NOS) proved completely impossible. Instead Mr. Olvenmo made several attempts to manufacture one from scratch, but without the correct tooling it proved impossible to get the all long grooves perfect without deformations. Finally I bought a decent reproduction floor from Germany and Mr. Olveno virtually hand made all the changes needed to make the floor identical to the original floor.






As soon at the precious new floor and the now perfectly strait tank floor had be fitted the entire chassis got it’s final paint.




A truly amazing sheet metal job by Mr Olvenmo, careful preparations and testing of the right paint quality and a masterful paint job by Mr Svensson has resulted in a dream come true.

The chassis looks as if it had been magically taken strait of the factory line in 1958. I simply can’t get enough of it!




The factory finish is stunning in every detail.




The next step is finishing the body...




Mr. Olvenmos work has now started on the the body panels... To eliminate every deformation and trace of rust he opens every welding and fix each part separately before re assembly, test assembly on the car, final adjustments, paint and final assembly....




Preparing for reassembly.

With very limited spare time due to my intense work life this project takes time! Getting ready for final assembly I methodically go through the thousands of small and large details for the car. Every single part is cleaned, polished and checked, if necessary sent to blasting and/or new correct surface treatment like zink, chrome or paint...












I also keep looking for and finding some original spare parts for the project...




  1.   I am still looking for some spare parts, check the list here!

  2.   Read all the details of the restoration and more in the blog!

  3.   You can see tons of pictures in the Gallery!



Many thanks to Curre Nileman, Nisse Olvenmo, Perre Kjellberg and many more for great help and inspiration in the restoration!

 

The restoration of a 1958 DS19