Showing posts with label Citroën. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Citroën. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Citroën SM

Citroën is the French auto manufacturer famed for the very early front-wheel drive Traction Avant and pioneering work in pneumatic suspensions, active suspensions and aerodynamics. Citroën owned Maserati in the late 1960's and early 1970's. The SM was Citroën's flagship, Motor Trend's Car of the Year and the basis for the French Presidential Limousine (click link for image of French President Georges Pompidou and Britain's Queen Elizabeth II in Citroen SM Limousine) as well as a platform for the Maserati Merak.

Maserati Wins 2010 FIA GT1 World Championship

Photo by FlashPhase
2010 FIA GT1 Champion Maserati Team & MC12s
Almost Everything Autobody celebrates Maserati's win in the FIA GT1 World Championship. GT racing is, in our humble opinion, the greatest racing in the world because it features cars that can actually be purchased and driven on real roads. Previously Maserati has won 5 consecutive FIA GT Manufacturers Cups from 2005-2009 with their dominating MC12. In 2005 Maserati beat 2nd place Ferrari by nearly 2x in the points standing! And now they have won the inaugural FIA GT1 World Championship, beating Aston Martin (another favorite), Corvette, Ford GT (okay, they are all favorites), Lamborghini & Nissan GT-R.

Maserati is near and dear to the hearts of the crew here at Almost Everything Autobody for 3 reasons.

The first, of course, is that Maserati has produced some of the most beautiful and fastest works of art in the history of man (we'll excuse them for everything that happened in the 1980s & 1990s.)

Second, since 2008 it has been a dream and is actually written into the employee manual & the business plan that Almost Everything Autobody will procure a Maserati Quattroporte to use as a customer courtesy shuttle. It was supposed to happen in Dec. 2010 but the past couple of years have been economically tough for everyone in the world as well as us here at Almost Everything so the plan has been pushed back. 2011 looks to be a good year for business and we are hopeful.

Third, Frank Barnard, Almost Everything Autobody's President, bought a Maserati-engined 1973 Citroën SM as his second car. Citroën is the French auto manufacturer that owned Maserati in the late 1960's and early 1970's. The SM was Citroën's flagship as well as a platform for the Maserati Merak.
Citroën SM

Congratulations to Maserati, the Vitaphone Racing Team and drivers Michael Bartels and Andrea Bertolini for their fantastic achievement. You are all welcome to stop by the shop anytime!

For more on the story, visit the Maserati website:

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Frank's Cars

Frank Barnard is the President of Almost Everything Autobody & Aene Automotive Corp. You may have already seen some of his cars on this blog (his 1964 Thunderbird has appear a few times during restoration & then at auto shows.) Frank has owned and driven some amazing cars. This is an occasional series that tracks his automotive history.

Disclaimer: Many of the photos in this series of posts are taken off the web. Sadly, we can't find many or in some cases any pictures of Frank's actual cars. So we've collected photos that look most like the cars he owned including, to the extent possible, correct colors & options. Thanks to the folks that posted these photos. If anyone objects to my use of them, please let us know and we will remove them.

2) 1973 Citroen SM (Maserati):
I was in college now. The MG had died, yet again, for whatever the week's electrical or mechanical gremlin happened to be (I'd replaced the entire wiring harness twice and rebuilt the engine after it seized.) One of my best friends, David Lehrer, was ferrying me around to look at used Hondas which, he was sure, would be a far better fit for me and my pizza delivering livelyhood. I was uninspired and a little depressed so to cheer myself up I suggested that we investigate a shop down an alleyway in Walnut Creek, California that sported a very unusual (for the USA) Citroen sign. And there, amidst a Series III Maserati Quattroporte and a Citroen CX Palais, under a lumpy tarp, sat the remants of a mighty Citroen SM, minus its Maserati V6 and parts of its interior. The shop owner, a very kind but harried Irisman named O'Sullivan, explained that the owner of the vehicle had embarked on a mechanical restoration of the car 2 years ago and had run out of steam. A brand new, factory engine sat in a crate waiting for installation and all of the parts for the car were there but everything needed to be put together. The shop owner suggested that if I made the car owner a reasonable offer of just six thousand dollars (in 1985), it could probably be mine. The engine alone was worth that. I didn't have anything near that much--I couldn't even afford to put my MG back on the road. So I offered the owner $2500 that I didn't have. To my amazement, he said $3500 and I think we settled on $3000. I robbed the college fund that my parents had set-up for me and several months later, with the help of a great Algerian mechanic, I had a fully functional Citroen SM with a brand new 3.0L Maserati engine. It was my daily driver for the next 4 years. It took me and my friends on road trips to Ensenada, Mexico in the summer and Lake Tahoe, California in the winter. Considering that it was a true exotic, it was pretty reliable. But eventually it started overheating regularly and the electrical system developed a problem that discharged brand new batteries. It was time for a Honda to use when the MG and Citroen were waiting for repairs.

3) 1988 Mazda RX7 GTU:
And so I went to the Honda dealer, checkbook in my pocket, to buy a brand new CRX. I couldn't get a sales person to look at me at Oakland Honda and when I finally asked one what it took to buy a CRX. He told me it wasn't possible. The waiting list lasted months. So I went a few blocks away and test drove what I was sure was too expensive for me (are you detecting a pattern here.) I wasn't in love with the shape of the RX7 but it was purposeful and in GTU guise it had some sex appeal. And my god, it handled better than anything I'd ever been in (and may still be my best handling car to date.) It was on sale. I drove it home. I fell in love. But it's 1.2L Wankle engine never had the grunt of the MG's 3.0L straight 6 or the Maserati 3.0 V6. I could out manuever my buddy Kobi in his Mitsubishi Eclipse AWD Turbo but he could always out accelerate me. So the obvious answer was to get an RX7 with more horsepower.

4) 1987 Mazda RX7 Turbo II:
Not. This was a mistake. I hated this car. It is the only car I owned for less than a year. I thought I would get used to the color. I didn't. I thought I would learn how to manage the horrendous turbo lag that allowed Ford Pintos and AMC Gremlins to pull away from me at stop lights. I didn't. I thought I could manage the onslaught of power when the turbo finally kicked-in. I couldn't. I bought this particular RX7 Turbo because it was more powerful and linear than so many of the other RX7 Turbo's I'd driven. I came to find that the reason for any low-end punch on this car was a huge turbo leak that relieved back pressure. It allowed the car to accelerate faster from a stop but created a huge dead spot in the torque curve and robbed it of power at the top end. A couple thousand dollars later, my turbo was fixed and my car was just as slow out of the gate as every other RX7 Turbo. But it certainly was not a slow car. . . at 2100 RPM all hell broke loose. . . usually on winding roads and freeway cloverleafs. About halfway through a turn, the turbo would wind-up and there would be a sudden, terrific rush of power. The back tires would break free and the car would try to spin you into the oblivion of a retaining wall or the opposite lane of traffic or a cliff. I sold it after 8 months, happy to be alive to see it go. I should never have sold the divinely balanced GTU version.

5) 1992 Subaru SVX
This was a great car. I miss it. Big (3.3L), strong, fast, horizontally opposed engine. Sophisticated all wheel drive. Giorgetto Giugiaro designed it to be a halo car for Subaru. The rear end was a but clunky but still exotic and the rest of the car was pure sex. The interior was sleak, luxurious and very modern. I loved the ultrasuede upholstery, the hidden control panels and the best climate control adjuster I've ever used. The top of the car seemed to be entirely made of glass and the side windows were set inside the larger windows of the door, like the Lamborghini Countach's and Maclaren F1's. The front headlights were in the thinnest slits of lenses. No one knew what this thing was. Mine was pearl white with a black roof and trunk lid. It was fast, silent and seemed to defy the laws of physics when I accelerated very hard into turns. Sadly, Subaru only sold them as automatics and my heart continued to yearn for a stick.

6) 1995 BMW M3

7) 1988 BMW 540i/6 speed

8) 2000 BMW 528iT

9) 1964 Ford Thunderbird

10) 2006 Maserati Quattroporte

11) 1995 Infiniti Q45t

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