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Citroen BX 16TRS: For the love of cars


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An old thread, copied over from another forum

SPOILER ALERT - Only read if you're struggling to sleep.

Yeah, I know. ANOTHER BX readers thread by me. PH isn't exactly short of content - 3 or 4 threads in readers section is more than enough, along with the fact that if a thread arises about the 1980's in GG, someone mentions a BX 16v. This is a full on warts & all blog, from the beginning. I suspect most people won't have even got this far, but it's going to be a fairly detailed war and peace affair, just to warn you now!
There are a small band of fans of the BX though, and being that I'm finding PH very useful for sharing the trials and tribulations of playing with old cars (I do have other cars besides BXs, honest) I thought I'd do a thread on a car I've been more excited to own than most. If nothing else it stops me wittering on to others who get very bored very quickly, and it's something to do at lunchtime!

So the special BX? Well, in truth, this car is the special BX:


In fact, to say this is the special BX is misleading. It's the special car. The one where it all kicked off. So this thread is all about that car? No, that car is dead, but it's because of that car that the car I'm going to blog about is special. In fact, it's because of that car that many of the circumstances that have arisen in my life are in place. Sounds far fetched, yeah, only I really don't think it is, in a sort of Back To The Future kind of way.

Wind back to 1983. I get born. Wind a little bit forward from there, and I'm about 2 or 3 years old. I'm starting to show an interest in cars. I don't really come from a petrolheadish sort of family. No interests in motorsports, Mum thinks cars are ways of getting from A-B and doesn't even drive. Dad likes techy stuff, has a passion for trains and takes a passing interest in cars, though he'd freely admit he doesn't have petrol running through his veins. In the circumstances, any interest I've developed as a toddler in cars is purely down to me, with none of the external influences that so many petrols are treated to (including my own kids).

The car of the day is a blue Marina 1.8 saloon (which I have pictures of somewhere). 

edit! here's the Marina of justice, with yours truly inside. The driveway is still stained with blue Hammerite my Dad used to paint over the rust with, and that was proper Hammerite that actually worked. Not the watered down stuff you get today!:


It's replaced with an orange Talbot Alpine hatchback, which I have no images or memory of, other than it used to burn my legs if I wore shorts, as it had pleather seats. The Talbot was replaced with an Opel Kadett, aka a mk1 Astra 1.3 (or 1.6, can't remember). You can tell my Dad wasn't a car nut! Shortly after my sister was born in March 1988, we head out in the Kadett to my Grans on either Christmas Eve, or Boxing Day, or even New Year's day....something like that. It's recently rained and the road is slippy. We approach the now demolished Unigate dairy in Eastleigh, where a luton Transit milkfloat decides to pull out and cut across us. My Dad hits the anchors, but it's futile as it's so last minute. We skid gracefully into the side of the milkfloat. Words are exchanged, the Kadett will now barely move as the wings are crumped back onto the tyres and my baby sister is screaming. I was about 4, probably about to turn 5 years old, and remember it surprisingly well. I also remember my Dad saying he wanted the Kadett written-off, as he didn't really like it and was worried it'd come back with a crap repair job, which it duly did after they refused to write it off!

So, Kadett reluctantly back on the driveway, Dad's decided he still wants a new motor. He's getting frisky now. Rumours of a 123-shape Mercedes, or a Rover SD1 surface. I knew the Rover as I had a Matchbox toy car, and knew it looked cool. I also know he liked big old Citroens, a result of being carted around in a Scout Leader's DS back in the 60's, doing various things that Scouts do (but apparently, not that). The DS was probably a bit old hat for 1988, and the CX sounds like it scared him off a little bit. Then I hear about this new car, the BX. There's a red one for sale in Southampton, and he thinks we should go and look at it. So we do. It was the car above. It was up for around £3500 on a corner forecourt, and the guy was happy to do a deal on the Kadett (probably guessing that then, like now, dealers didn't like Citroens and loved Vauxhalls!) My Dad tells me that the Citroen we went to see on Saturday is coming home on Tuesday. I get excited. I get even more excited when he told me the seats go up and down when you start the engine! (Imagine my disappointment when I discovered it was actually the whole that went up and down - Dad had tried to simplify it for me, but hadn't realised my tendency to be overly-literal had kicked in, even at that age.)

So, 'RPO' the BX comes home in 1988, and provides the hassle-free comfortable family transport for a family of five that only a plasticky, hot and stuffy BX can do (my memories of the BX in the back - always hot, seemed quite stuffy and had no nice new car smell. No smell at all, just stuffiness!)


Took us everywhere around the UK, that car. The picture above was taken at the West Somerset Railway (Bishops Lydeard). The one below in Bury, where my cousins moved to from Devon around the same time (how's that gonna be for a mixed accent?!)

My most common memory of it was just it sitting on the drive, backwards, because my Dad felt driving forwards into driveways was for fools. I used to think he was being difficult and pedantic, but thinking about it, he had a point. I'm getting old!:

So we've had 'RPO' the BX for a number of years now. 5 or 6, I think. I'm pushing on to starting secondary school in 1994, and I still love the car. For a small boy who was getting drunk at anything four-wheeled, the BX was pure crack! It had nutty dials. The suspension went up and down! All my mates parents had normal cars (I remember a D-reg Nissan Sunny, a C-reg Sierra 1.6L, another Sierra estate and a Cavalier (mk2, I think)) and the BX was just soooooooo much better. My rear window (yes, MINE) went up and down using electricity. We had central locking, meaning if Dad unlocked the car, my own door (yup, MY door - the nearside rear) opened straight away. He didn't have to lean in and pull the pins up - what loser does that?!
I'm borderline obsessed with 'RPO'. I'm always asking my Dad if I can sit in the car and make car noises. I'm planning to buy the car from him when I turn 17, and keep 'RPO' as my own car. To anyone else, a car, even a BX is ten-a-penny. Tools for the job. An inanimate object. To me, 'RPO' wasn't. He had character! He was a member of the family. So when that fateful day in October 1994 occurred, I took it badly.

I was off school, ill (actually ill, I think). It was about 9:30am and I was in my room. My brother and sister had gone to school, and my Dad had left for work at the Ordnance Survey in Southampton with his plastic briefcase at about 8:40am, like always. The phonecall was odd, but I didn't think much of it. My mum got off the phone and came to see me to let me know that it was Dad on the phone, and he'd been in a crash on the way to work. She was quick to point out he was ok, but in guilt-riddled  honesty I had already kind of assumed he was ok, and was more worried about 'RPO'!
His crash was on the M271, Nursling junction, so the recovery lorry had him back again by about 10:15 - 10:30am. I heard it coming (single-pane glass, wooden window frame!) and ran outside to survey the car. It was nose-first on the transporter, so I ran past the back and round to the front, where I saw my Dad. "There's no damage!" I immediately exclaimed. And indeed, the front was fine. "It's round the back" he said. I moved to the rear, where I had already ran past having seen nothing obvious. I couldn't see the damage, so he came to show me. I just said, oh well that's nothing, a garage can fix that. I could tell by his face, and his responses that he thought it was more serious. Turned out that he'd left the M271 at the Nursling junction, and a young nurse in a black mk4 Escort popular didn't stop when he did! My Dad's the sort of guy to turn the power off at the plug every night, on every appliance. Because of this, he's also the type to keep a camera in the glovebox for emergencies! The Escort was a wreck, as shown by the photos my Dad took of it, the road (to show no skidmarks) and the back of the BX (complete with plastic briefcase):


The reality? It was ruined. MY door wouldn't open, the boot wouldn't open, the boot floor had a hump bigger than the one I developed over the whole thing, and the car was about 3-4in shorter than when it left the Rennes factory. The towbar was to blame, according to the insurance assessor. Apparently it threw the impact into the rear chassis rails directly, bypassing the impact-structure. 

I learned the hard way what Insurance Write-Off meant. 'RPO' was dead, sat on our driveway while the insurance company fought with my Dad over a settlement fee. Eventually, I think around £900 was agreed. 
In the meantime, my crushing blow had been softened slightly by the arrival of the new car. Dad had gone nuts, and decided to buy a 4 year old Citroen XM. A very early model, as with the BX. The difference with the XM and the BX, is that the XM was a nightmare. I loved it, but we all grew to tire of it and the new faults it seemed to develop each week. To add insult to injury, the XM was delivered on 9th December 1994 (still remember the date), and the BX wasn't removed by the scrapman until the end of December, possibly January. So we had the smashed up, but reliable BX, and the troublesome but not smashed up XM. I actually remember my Dad saying he wished someone would drive into it with a lorry for him!
The BX had a fitting send off. My Dad had let me and friends play in the car while it sat smashed up on the driveway, and in the final game we ever had in it, we begin (trying) to push the car up and down the drive while steering it. Sadly, I didn't have the hang of steering at 11years old, and steered it partially onto the lawn. The suspension was fully sunk and the car ended up beached across the driveway. The XM couldn't get back on there that final night, and the BX lay strewn diagonally across the house!
The next day, the BX was due to leave. I was ill, so couldn't go to school (I know, what are the chances!?) Part of me thinks I should have just gone. My Dad even patted it on the bonnet as he left for work, and I even think he whispered 'thanks' to it! I could have done the same, but I wasn't particularly enjoying secondary school, and I have a feeling that if I'd have gone it, I might have been stewing all day. In the end I bunked it. I'm sure my Mum and Dad knew I was faking it, but they let it slide. Around 10:30, about the time it came back on the tow truck after that crash, a massive car transporter arrived. Two burly blokes got out, knocked the door, signed some paperwork and my Mum gave them the keys. They then turned to look at the beached BX and man-handled it off of the driveway. It scraped and screeched down the drop-kerb, being so low that it ground out on the manhole cover in the middle of the street. It was like it was being dragged away for slaughter, desperately gripping on to anything it could! For me, it has heart-wrenching. It was loaded onto the top deck, at the back, backwards, meaning the nose was looking at you as it drove off. I actually did burst into tears, and my Mum put an arm around me (while the big burly blokes looked and had a real 'WTF?!' look on their faces). As the truck drove off, I ran upstairs to my Mum and Dad's bedroom, as I knew the truck would pass by there on it's way out of the estate. As it pulled out onto the main road, it was the last time I saw the car. Little did I know what effect that car would have on me later in life, even to the point I used an entire lunchbreak to write a million words to a load of people I don't know about something they don't care about! But it did.


Well, I met my wife through cars. I had a brand new Saxo in 2002, which I sold in 2004 for a 1990 BX 16v (the one I own today). I had a Haynes Max Power manual which I wanted a fiver for, and she wanted to buy it. We met in a Harvester car park, instantly clicked and after a year of messing about (possibly me trying to fool around with other girls as much as I could,  as I felt there was a chance that if I ended up getting together with her, it would probably get serious enough to last for good!) I was right, it has.
Through her, I have three wonderful kids, a new life in a nice area and so far 33% of my life has been with her. The life I have today, I wouldn't have if I hadn't met her.

(I never got the fiver.)

And here we go....

I wouldn't have met her if I wasn't selling a Saxo manual. 

I wouldn't have the manual if I didn't have a Saxo.

I wouldn't have had the Saxo if I hadn't bought a dud AX GT that failed and made me want to get a brand new car.

I wouldn't have chosen the Saxo if I wasn't a Citroen fan. You could argue that loads of people chose Saxos, due to price, image at the time, deals etc, and that I would have done anyway. My wife was one of those who did the same, but I know I wouldn't. If my Dad's BX was a Cavalier, for example, I'd have got a Corsa, in all likeliness. I was that kind of kid. It's not a blindly following the badge type affair, today I genuinely have a love for the engineering of Citroens in their better days. I don't care much for any of their cars after 1999 either, but if my Dad had got the Vauxhall, I'd have been reading Vauxhall brochures in bed as an 8 year old, learning what BHP and engine cc was, not a Citroen one. I'm certain I'd have had a Vauxhall-bias, or whatever other brand it may have been. The fact that it was BX only served to take my growing fascination with cars, and amplify it with something more interesting than the normal hatches of the day.

So, if I didn't buy the AX GT that begat the Saxo, I wouldn't have had the Saxo, and thus not met my wife. With no wife, no kids. I wouldn't be doing the job I'm doing either (the one I'm late back from lunch to do!)

And before that there was another AX GT. And a ZX. And my first car? I did manage to get a BX. The interest that 'RPO' had installed in me lasted until I bought my first car at 16 years old. It was only going to be a BX.

You could argue that if the milkman hadn't pulled out, none of this would have happened. You could argue if my parents hadn't met, this present day would be different. You could even argue that if the Titanic hadn't sunk, I wouldn't be here (it's true, I wouldn't, but that's not for now!)
The fact is, that the earliest car-related turning point in my little history and my insignificant life, is that car. In terms of car-related stuff, it's the furthest I can go back and say for sure, that history would be different if my Dad hadn't bought that car.

But that car is dead. Long dead. I mourned, and I got over it (I know, doesn't like it, huh?) All I have left are a few photos, memories like we all do of cars from our youth. I've also got a rear number plate, which my Dad removed the day before it got taken away and gave to me, along with a key fob and one or two other bits. But no car.

And, I'd never be likely to ever have a car like that, too. The BX mk1 was only produced in RHD form from the 3rd quarter of 1983 until mid-1986. The mk2 lasted much longer. As a result, the mk1 is a rare beast. Today, my Dad has the GT I'm doing up, and that's a very rare car. 
However, the chances of finding a 1983, A-reg, manual, red BX 16TRS? Very, very slim. I'd got close with a grey 16RS of 1985 (quite a nice one, actually), and a burgandy 16TRS Auto, (not so nice) also of 1985. Neither are a red, 1983 A-reg 16TRS manual though. I only knew of one car, and that car was going nowhere according to it's owner. I always said one day that I would own such a BX, though deep down I knew I'd never find one. 


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  • 2 weeks later...

The story continues!

So, fast-forward to the summer of 2014. Twenty-years have passed since the death of 'RPO' (pronounced, arr-po, by the way). I'm busy working at a garage I run and jointly own, build kit cars and restoring TVRs as well as dabbing in classics and custom-work. I've got the odd project of my own sat around, and my BX 16v's on the road in daily use.

I'm also in the process of carrying out a mini-resto on my Dad's BX 19GT. In the process of doing this resto, I'd been trying out some adverts with Practical Classics magazine. I can't remember how the conversation started, but I think it was something along the lines of them asking me if we had any classics they might be interested in featuring, and I said all I had at the time was a Citroen BX. I seem to remember getting an excited email back from the editor, saying he'd love to have a BX in Practical Classics, and felt it's time had come. So, I started writing little snippets for their 'Readers Sagas' section (something I'm miles behind in doing and should probably update!)
From time to time, I'd receive correspondence through work from people who'd read the article and had a BX-related query.  PC had been putting my garage's contact details on the bottom of the page, as they do when any workshop is involved (though normally it's one the author is a customer of!)

One day I received a phone call from a guy (who may even exist on here, as he owned a fair number of cars), asking if this was "BX Club UK." To begin with I wasn't sure if he was trying to take the piss! There is a BX Club UK, but it's just a freebie forum (though a freebie forum that managed to get a slot in the NEC Classic Car Show for two years on the trot - kudos will always be due for this!) Then I remembered I'd given PC mag a namedrop for the forum, just in case any owners spotted it and didn't realise it was there. All that said, BX Club UK does not have a phone number, and it's not my work number in any case. They must have got muddled on the page, and they had, it was just a simple error putting our phone number next to 'BX Club UK'.

But what an error!

The phone call went like this:

Him: Hi, is that BX Club UK?

Me: Nope, there is no official club as such.

Him: I got the number from PC mag.

Me: (penny dropping) Ah, it must be an error. Is it a BX Readers Saga?

Him: Yes. I've got a BX I need to find a new home for, wondered if you'd be interested?

Me: Ah no, the last thing I need is another car, let alone a BX! (I had three at the time). But if you give me the details, I do get asked every now and then.

Him: Ok, it's a 1983 16TRS in red.

Me: [pause]

Him: It's only done 17k miles from new.

Me: [longer pause]

Him: I don't want anything for it, it just needs recommissioning and it'll need collecting from Swansea.

Me: [heavy breathing]

Me: Manual gearbox? Red A-reg 16TRS?

Him: Yeah.

Me: Free of charge?

Him: Yeah.

Me: Done. I'll have it!

He explained that he'd known of the car for years, and that not long after it was bought, the owner had an issue with the Weber DRTC carb, and had basically just parked it up. The auto-choke mechanism had been removed, and a manual conversion fitted. It had sat around for years so he knocked the guys door, and offered to buy it. He was into 205 GTi's more than anything, but fancied a toy around with the old BX. Credit to him, he got it on the road for a couple of years in 2006, but in 2007 he stopped using it again, and it's sat on his driveway in Swansea ever since. By the sounds of it, it's spent most of it's life parked outside in Swansea, hence the ridiculously low mileage. There was no history to back the mileage up, and truth be known it didn't bother me anyway.

So that Sunday, I decided I'd make a little road trip with a trailer. There was only one problem - I had to deliver a car to the Isle of Dogs on the way!

So, I started out (very) early in the BX 16v, and headed for work to grab the trailer and a Land Rover:


By 7:15am, I was in London:


Car delivered, I headed from London, to Swansea. By 10:51am, I was in the services in Wales, just after the bridge:


Now, bearing in mind the last rear end of a BX of this spec that I saw (true story - I've NEVER seen an identical car in the flesh since 'RPO' was towed away) was this:


Imagine how utterly delirious I was when I was greeted with this!:


It even had the towbar!! Just not the pop-up aftermarket sunroof, or the dealer-fit mudflaps (worth a small fortune now) but I didn't care! It was as close as I could get to owning 'RPO', and I'd never get closer.

That pic of 'VEP' or, Vepp (nah, I haven't actually gone there - don't worry!) was taken on the street after we'd got it off the driveway. 
Ah yes, the driveway. The fun and games that ensued when I arrived! You see, it was a free car. A generous token by the vendor, though in reality he probably knew the car had little monitory value. But free is free, and I can't haggle with free. I can't rock up and say "Ah, but it's got a dent you didn't tell me about. You now owe me £100 if you want it gone!" Or words to that effect. 
So when I'd asked him on the phone if it ran and drove, his answer should have been something like 'Well, it runs, but the suspension won't raise', In light of the fact his driveway featured a 1 in 4 slope, and a pavement/kerb arrangement at the top in the shape of a triangle (making the exit of 'RPO' from my parent's driveway that day it was collected, look positive amateur), I would have thought this was kind of critical, need to know info. Especially when it was still wearing its original 1983 Michelin 'rubber', which now looked like this:


The car is well and truly, decked. I've no pictures of the driveway, or the fight we had getting it off. I knew I was in for it when I first came back to the car after it had been started, and saw him fighting with the height control lever (which was well and truly seized). I check the LHM tank and notice it's empty. I pick up on his hesitation for me to go and find some LHM from a garage (he mentioned was worried we'd spill some on his nice block paved driveway). So, I take him at his word and we use bits of wood, jacks and some manual labour to remove the car from the driveway.It takes ages, and it was a hot day! It was so low, the tip of the exhaust tailpipe is bent inwards, and once at the top of the drive, he gave it so much welly trying to remove it from the pavement that it violently ground out (and damaged the floor slightly, as it transpires).
A stressful occurrence, but nothing compared to what was about to follow. On cloud nine, I strapped the car in:


And headed back to Fareham. On the M4, stuck in some sunny traffic, I enjoyed seeing this:


When I arrived back at Fareham, my plan was to take the BX straight home, but via the workshop to fill the LHM tank and bleed-in the system in so I could raise the suspension enough to get it off the trailer without drama and up onto my driveway. 4 litres of LHM later, the BX remained on the deck inside the trailer, STOP lamp still illuminated (fed by a switch in the system which detects low system pressure, and tells you to stop. You know, because you might have no brakes, or something else trivial!)
I wait for the car to react. A hiss. A tick. Just something to acknowledge that it's supposed to be raising! 

And then the car reacted. 

It made a pop, smoke erupted from the engine bay and bright green oil flooded the trailer bed. LHM was absolutely gushing out! At this point, I became enraged. I drive the combo to my house, only I can't get it down my road, so the BX will have to make the last leg of the journey under its own steam, with no suspension, no ride height and no brakes. Oh, and the possibility of it gushing green mineral oil everywhere. It's pissing with rain, at this point.
I arrive in the road next to mine, and begin to try and remove the BX from the trailer. The trailer bed has a small ramp at the back, which the BX duly grounds out on. I gave the BX some welly to free it from the trailer, which it does in dramatic shooting-out-the-back-of-a-trailer-down-a-steep-ramp-in-the-pissing-rain-with-no-brakes-when-you're-not-ready-for-it-to fashion. I hit the brakes anyway, as a natural reaction. More LHM now gushes out, this time covering the wet street with it. I continue to reverse, before pulling away to head down my road.
I arrive at my driveway, to find a Ford C-Max blocking my drive on the drop kerb. The driver's window in the BX is stuck down - none of the windows work, because the runners on the bottom of the glass have rusted away. I lean on the horn, for a long time. An older lady emerges from a house across the street and makes her way to the C-Max. She makes it known that she was visiting her daughter, and that there was no where else to park. "Correction....." I said. "There is still nowhere to park, because you can't fucking park that there!" 
I delivered more abuse (and now receive slightly funny looks from the family she visited) and drove the BX onto my driveway once she'd departed, grounding out on a driveway yet again! I shut the door. The nearside headlamp glass falls off. The driver's window won't raise. It's pissing with rain. I'm furious, and just walk away to leave the rain water to soak the driver's seat.

"What the fuck have I done?" I ask myself. My mood, so elated not a few hours earlier is now bitter and angry. It gets worse! 
I head back to the trailer, passing a house I know is occupied by motorcyclists. The road outside their driveway is now covered in rainbow patterns! It's now 8:30pm, I'm late home, my missus is having to put three small kids to bed (she's already in a mood that I've bought this monstrosity home) and now I have to go and sweep the street!
I knock the motorcyclist's door, inform them of the situation and head back to the workshop to deliver the trailer and Land Rover. When I get there, my trip count for the day, driving on my own and with a 3.5 tonne trailer was this:


I grab the BX 16v, fill it with brushes, fairy liquid, grit, salt and kitty litter. I drive home and commence scrubbing the whole street. At about9:45pm, I go and collect a Chinese, but just before I do, I stop by the BX to put it in the garage. I'm still in a mood with it, but I get the camera out anyway (these taken at 9:38pm, according to date stamp on file):

(Notice the glass missing from the headlamp!)

There's MY seat! Rear seats hardly sat in, and no seatbelts fitted:


Cellophane still on the rear carpet from the dealer!:


The wacky dials. The smell. The cheap seat fabric (lifted from a GSA). It's all coming back :)



Has spent its entire life in Swansea:


Having only done 17k miles, it feels like it hasn't lived. No history, real or paper. Just a V5, and a story about how the guy I got it from came about it. 

I pause to reflect what I've got for my troubles. To everybody else, an ugly, worthless piece of junk. To me, a MASSIVE deal!

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(Nov '15) Well time for some nitty-gritty anyway!

So, the TRS is now back at my house after my eventful day with it in July last year. Sit-rep between July last year and July this year: 

Progress made: None.

Parts obtained: A set of steel wheels with 500mile-old Michelins fitted, to replace the 32yr old Michelins fitted to the car. The steel rims are from a later BX TZD Turbo, with a wider rim and a slightly smaller offset, and though the car appears to be a normal ride height, it is, in fact, propped up by big lumps of timber!

Do the new wheels fit?: No, not on the back (and one of the wheels is seized on, anyway). No big deal - I want to keep the 1983 steelies!

Additional cars bought: Two!

Status of TRS: Exactly as before, only it now no longer runs.

If I'm honest, I had a wobbler and decided I have too many projects on the go. I listed the TRS for sale in early summer 2015, but thankfully with no takers (largely because I wanted to try and recoup my costs on the travelling and the cost of the wheels). I'm now relieved it didn't sell!

So, in July of this year the decision was made to relocate the BX to my workshop, and bring one of my other wrecks back here in its place. The BX arrived at Southways on the 14th July:


First things first, I needed to get the car running again, so I could identify the LHM leak and see if I could repair it enough to recommission the system and see how everything else fared. Otherwise, I'd have to pull the whole thing apart and risk refitting parts I've never tested before, only to possibly find they don't work.
I suspected the Weber DRTC carb was the culprit. It was obviously carrying that horrible manual choke conversion, and probably a fair bit of internal corrosion from sitting around for years and years. In the time it sat in my garage, it went from running poorly to not running poorly. Or at all. Bugger. 
Luckily I had another DRTC 32-34 in my spares stash, complete with autochoke unit! I didn't realise I did, until I moved my BX 16v from my parents garage earlier in the year and found it among a pile of bits my Dad was hoping I'd finally removed from their garage, having moved out 8 years beforehand. Still don't remember how I got it - was probably part of a project to make an AX GT use more fuel and not go much quicker. And the icing on the cake - I found a brand new carb rebuilt kit in the glovebox of the TRS! I think the guy I got it off bought it with the intention of sorting out the carb, but never did.

So the carbs were set side by side, and though I wanted to keep the 16 all original, I was prepared to make a good carb out of the two (my spare carb being from a mk2). The original may have only done 17k miles, but corrosion is not bound by mileage:

The original carb with manual conversion:




Good carb built up and fitted:


It runs (properly this time, on autochoke)! Only you can't tell, because the rev counter doesn't work:



So, having got the engine running again (and very sweetly it runs too) my attentions turned to the retention of green blood, or more specifically, the lack of it. Because the TRS has been off the road for so many years, and because all the high pressure pipes on an early BX aren't really protective coated, most of them have turned to rust. During my day of horrors (the day I picked it up and was introduced to the leak) I discovered that it emanated from the front subframe area. On a BX subframe-area LHM leak, you think octopus (bundle of rubber hoses that run up the offside chassis rail and are nicknamed the Octopus, because of reasons, it's resemblance to the tentacled creature of the sea seemingly not one of them). However, because it was having trouble even pressurising, I figured it was more likely a high-pressure line failure. So, I had to run the car up, tighten up the bleed screw on the pressure regulator, and see what came out. It didn't take long:


Ah, that'll be those pipes then. The ones that break into multiple pieces of pipe when you touch them:


Realistically, it now seems at least half the car needs re-piping (not entirely surprising, frankly). Knowing that the front subframe needs to come off, I'll leave that for a later date and busy myself with something less messy. Wheels, I think:


Tyres removed (kept one for a spare; seemed a shame to bin one of the original Michelins, though hope I never need to use it!) I then began to set about each wheel in the grit-blaster. Plan is full blast, prep and paint with POR15 and then prime, before finding a matching light grey to the original finish.

30mins in the blaster, one of the wheels laughed at me, and I realised it's not going to happen like I planned:


Most of the coating still there! Quick chat with the Wheel Specialist in Fareham confirmed they're probably originally coated in a form of powder, which the shot is softening with the heat caused by friction and is then bouncing off of. He suggested they be acid-dipped, and though I wanted to do them myself, I think I'm going to have to relent and give them to him.

So, with the wheels a failure currently, I found some others to roll it over to the two-post ramp on, and decided now is as good a time as any to just dive in on that subframe:


The hubs and brakes are a bit.....stored on a Swansea driveway for decades-looking:


As are the brake pipe mounting brackets:


It's all looking a bit....meh:


Then I blew across the subframe with the air line, and this happened:


Very meh!

More meh:


So, the subframe needs to come out then! I had a feeling this was the case, though there are reasons why I was hoping that it would be ok, which I'll get on to later. In the meantime I start removing the brakes, and immediately hit a French WTF moment:


So, having failed to remove the pent-headed bolt, as I don't have any FRENCH-FIVE-SIDED-BLOODY-SOCKETS (because I'm not a masochist) I remove some 32 year old gearbox oil instead:


MMmmmm....smells yummy!

Before removing the inner wheel arches to see what horrors lay underneath. I've already got loads to do on this car, so surely a bit more is in order? Well, no, thankfully!:



Aside from the end caps of the sills, a rub down, treat and paint, and she's good to go! This is a relief, as BXs like to rust around the inner wings. This car has the benefit of not having a factory sunroof fitted, which means there are no drainage tubes going down the A-pillar box sections, which like to block up and retain moisture, rotting the thing from inside-out.

One of the first items out, the front/rear crossbrace fitted to mk1 BXs:



Bit manky! Structurally of no importance at all, as Citroen ditched it after 1988. It seems its only purpose was to destroy the front subframe in the event of a minor bump. I will put it back in though, because it's a mk1 and all that.

We're getting there, though! Lots of bolts that haven't been removed in 32 years, but on the whole it actually played ball for the most part. I don't think I sheered a single bolt underneath:

Obviously to remove a front subframe, you need to remove the front seats. Obviously. I mean why not? It's obvious:


Totally by the by: The alarm keyfob that used to be on my Dad's keyring for 'RPO'. I've got the rear number plate, this, and a graphic equaliser from it, which will probably find it's way on somewhere:


With the car having no service history at all, even finding this piece of wet & dry with red overspray on, along with an old tax disc from 1998 gives me something:


The reason for taking the seats out:


Had to pop the plastic. Boo :( :


Subframe lowering:


Subframe off:


Oh dear:


Rubber steering coupling is not really coupling the steering together anymore, Understandable, what with the age and the outdoor living for all this time, but they're not easy to find!:


Gives a bit more room to sort some of the remaining bits under there, like cambelt, more suspension pipes, gear linkage and suspension height linkage overhaul and more:


Stripping the subframe down ready to get it shot blasted:


Wishbone bushes seem ok, but will probably fail within weeks of first being used:


The infamous bearing!: 


When the BX first came out in 1982 (mid '83 for UK cars) the cars featured a subframe design incorporating a wishbone fitted with conventional bushes, and a bearing in the subframe through which the wishbone could pivot on a spindle. The idea being that the bushes take care of the shock loadings and NVH, and the bearings take care of suspension movement. Seems ideal, really, however Citroen dropped this idea in September 1985, reverting to a more conventional design where the bush acts as the pivot too, meaning that not only was the bearing subframe only fitted to mk1 models, it was also only fitted to the initial models. My Dad's GT, for example, has the later conventional bush setup, but is still a mk1 subframe. Because the TRS is so painfully original, I want to try and preserve everything, including the bearing subframe, even though most of the early cars have long since had their bearing subframes binned and been retrofitted with the later bush version (which is possibly what happened to Dad's GT)

For now, because the subframe is marginal on the viability of rescuing it, I've bunged the bearings up with some Sierra anti-roll bar cup washers (perfect fit, result!) In any case, the bearings currently in there are totally screwed, presumably due to it sitting on low for years and years. And even assuming I can keep the bearing setup, there is the issue that you need a special tool to remove the bearings......which I don't have!

Here we have a wishbone from the TRS and a wishbone from the GT:


The GT uses different bushes, same as any BX from Sept 1985 onwards, along with a 16mm diameter spindle, not 14mm like the bearing type. This additionally means the bushes in the wishbone are also unique to the older car, and probably now impossible to find.

I send the subframe away, and decide to remove the front bumper to gain some access to the front panel, which needs stripping and treating in the meantime. Ten M6 scerws to undo, and the bumper should gracefully part with the car. 


What I actually have is four M6 screws, four M6 speed nuts in the front panel and then six lumps of M6 screw & speed nut-shaped pieces of corrosion. The bolts turn, oh yes. Problem is the nuts do too, and there's no access to them. So it's out with Mr Drill, and try not to melt the bumper!:


These played ball, amazingly:


I'll attack the lower ones another day!

The subframe is back from the blasters:



And knackered. Yay! But, not [i]too[/i] knackered. It's fixable. And so, it begins:



And that's where we're up to (Nov '15). More when it happens!

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Fantastic thread. It's stories and rebuilds like this that have kept me coming back to this place for the last decade. 

The older I become, the more I believe in fate. I honestly think you were meant to take that phone call. The TRS was meant to remain unsold when you threw your toys out of the pram and tried to punt it on. 

I love the fact the spec and colour is identical to the car you held so close to your heart. 

You do realise you're stuck with it forever now, right? 

Tell us what happened next! 

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10 hours ago, atomic punk said:

Is this now on the road? Only ask as I spotted a red A plate BX near portsmouth a few weeks back, you mention fareham nearby and there cant be too many about.....

Sssshh, I'm behind! 😄

Oh, and there are three in the UK (known). Two on the road.

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Well, it must be that time of year again (it was Dec '16)! Time to do something to my mk1 BX. I did consider drawing the line at sweeping the dust off it:


...but that wasn't really necessary. You can clearly still see it's red, afterall.

So, my attentions moved to where I left it last. The front subframe. As with any blog I write, you'll need to cast your minds back to remember what the last thing I did on it actually was. Personally, I had to read the thread to see what I'd written. Ah yes, the subframe!


Of course, I had it shotblasted about a year ago to uncover the utter devastation inspect the condition of the subframe, but even in a dry workshop, a shotblasted surface will rust. I should have painted it with something to hold it off. 

Should have.

But, it's only surface rust, so no big deal. The holes and pitting were more concerning, but the biggest concern of all was the bearings. The bearings are important! I've covered it before (multiple times, on multiple threads, to multiple persons who never asked me to open my mouth, let alone dictate the subject of conversation) but basically, all BXs have a subframe which sits under the front of the shell. The wishbones mount to this, by way of a pivot bar each side, so one big stud (usually 16mm in diameter) passes through both wishbone bushes and the wishbone pivots on this.
With most BXs, it's the same as most cars; The wishbone sits in the normal position you want it to, and the pivot effect is created by the twisting of the rubber bushes in the wishbones. Now, hydropneumatic Citroens have many advantages over less-mortal cars. Progressive springing and damping, self-levelling ride height, anti-dive etc. But, one of the drawbacks is that the car sinks when it's parked up, so your wishbone bushes that are mounted at the correct ride-height are put under constant stress as soon as the car sinks.
Solution? Bearings! When the BX was designed, some needle-roller bearings were fitted in the front subframe, through which the wishbone mounting stud would pass through (originally 14mm). The wishbone still had bushes fitted, to deal with NVH, and the bearings dealt with the suspension travel. It could sit at any height, or tackle any bump, and the bushes only dealt with the shock loadings. It was brilliant! It was also short lived. The BX was launched in 1982 (1983 in the UK) and by September 1985, they'd ditched the bearing subframes. The bearings were causing constant warranty issues as they were seizing up and the subframes were rotting from the inside out. Any BX pre-September 1985 that went to Citroen with dicky bearings was retrofitted with a post-1985 subframe (which is where the fatter 16mm studs came in, along with beefier wishbone bushes to deal with the fact the bushes alone were now handling everything). As a result, to have any chance of having a bearing subframe, you need to have a pre-September build model, and then from that, you need one that hasn't had the later subframe retrofitted. The blue GT I'm restoring (occasionally) for my Dad has the later subframe, and obviously my 16v does too. Because the TRS is painfully original, and because it's only covered 17,500 miles, it still has the now very rare bearing subframe. Apparently, the ride is noticeably better on these cars (it's not exactly bad on any BX!) and I'm determined to keep this subframe, even though this subframe bears more than a passing resemblance to a type of Roman Empire.

So, the first bit was to try and extract the old bearings, which felt 'orrible when rotating the old wishbones. I've kindly been lent a rear trailing arm bearing removal tool by a top man called Geoff. The bearings in the front subframes are practically identical to the ones used in the rear arms, the differences being the seals and control washers (which I all have brand new!) Expecting lots of grief, particularly as some editions of the Haynes book of lies suggests, helpfully, that you visit a dealer in the event these bearings need attention (who will change your subframe for a new one), I was hopping with joy at what transpired last night:


Some taps later:




Not only did the tubes and bearings come out easily, they weren't even rusty! Everything looks in fine fettle. I mean, it can't be, as it felt rougher than the morning after a night out with Pete Doherty, but it all came apart willingly. 
That was act one. Act two, was where the special tool came in:


I needed to get the races out. This car was 33 years old a couple of weeks ago, and I know those bearings haven't been touched, because if they'd been touched, they wouldn't be there any more. So, the special tool went in, which passes through the outer bearing race. You then do up the bolt in the middle, the tool expands and grips the outer race. You then tap it out from behind.

Erm, very easily, as it turned out:



So, a job I'd been fretting about for a year or so was over and done with, very successfully, within 40mins. Fitting new bearings is a reversal of removal, and you don't need the special tool. It's like doing miniature Sierra wheel bearings, if I'm honest! Sorry, not Sierra....TVR.

My plan is to rebuild the subframe using grafts from this later subframe:


The subframe (also from Geoff) has done 300k miles, and seemingly decided it doesn't want to be a subframe anymore:


So it's not like I'm wrecking a perfectly good subframe. Unless this one turns out to be useless, in which case I will raid a perfectly good subframe!


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8 hours ago, ProgRocker said:

A pentagonal bolt. You learn something new each day. 


They're not meant (ever) to be undone.  It's the bolt that holds the cast aluminium single-piston caliper half to the steel bit that goes over to the other side (as they are single-piston-sliding-calipers).  From memory, they're a fit-once-stretch-bolt and should be completely ignored.  The caliper can be removed in exactly the same way as any other one-piece sliding unit, so they're pretty much irrelevant.

Which is why they have a pentagon head.  Might have been even better if they had a shear head.

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16 hours ago, Talbot said:

They're not meant (ever) to be undone.  It's the bolt that holds the cast aluminium single-piston caliper half to the steel bit that goes over to the other side (as they are single-piston-sliding-calipers).  From memory, they're a fit-once-stretch-bolt and should be completely ignored.  The caliper can be removed in exactly the same way as any other one-piece sliding unit, so they're pretty much irrelevant.

Which is why they have a pentagon head.  Might have been even better if they had a shear head.


1 hour ago, twosmoke300 said:

Yeh you shouldn’t ever undo those 5 sided bolts

Fear not chaps, I learned of this shortly after buying the sockets and didn't actually remove them. That said, I know people who have, and, so far, they haven't had any issues when replacing with 12.9 tensile standard bolts, and threadlock.

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wow I have only just picked up on this thread, and I must say it is absolutely wonderful to hear this story, the way you talk with such passion and love for this beautiful piece of FrenchTat (I agree the phase 1 cars are my favourite, a RHD 19GT would be tremendous) 

I am always interested to hear stories from the Soton area in the 80s and 90s, my Grandfather bought an Audi quattro from Testwood Motors in 1986, and I am always trying to envisage the world that he drove it in, as he passed away in the late 90s, before I could meet him.

That car was written off after a stroke at the wheel, but such was the strength of feeling we bought it back and restored it, and she is still with us today, and largely responsible for forging my tastes in quirky cars (remember it was a quirky classic in the early noughties)

Reading your piece is just so joyful, thank you for sharing it!

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2 hours ago, Talbot said:

All three of these videos are both all-the-roads and the year that I learned to drive.  Seems like a billion years ago now.

I am sort of gutted that I missed out on the 1990s road spotting (born early noughties) but I guess I wouldn't have as much of an appreciation for the cars of the time.....










.... Or I would have an insatiable thirst for them (well I sort of do already as a matter of fact...)

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On 6/26/2021 at 4:46 PM, MisterH said:

I am sort of gutted that I missed out on the 1990s road spotting (born early noughties) but I guess I wouldn't have as much of an appreciation for the cars of the time.....

I remember times much older than that being more interesting. As a child of the 70s, 90s cars were bland. Think entry level Sierras, Escorts, Astras and Chavaliers. I know people like to think that it was roads full of Pug GTIs. Golf GTIs and Scoobies, but it really wasn't.

If ever there was a "beige" decade, the 90s was it.

The 70s and 80s for me had far more interesting cars. Even an Austin Princess was far more interesting than a Sierra 1.6L.

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