User:Zephyrgale

From Citroen SM Wiki

Started out with Karmann Ghias, where I cut my teeth messing with cars. Extensive engine swaps, etc. After an accident, cut two Ghias in half just in front of the forward bulkhead, and joined the two good halves (1969). That car went another 5 years and 4 trips across the U.S. afterwards. Bought a '55 Packard Clipper Super with the Twin Ultramatic transmission (very sophisticated) and torsion bar self leveling front-rear coupled suspension. Very nice ride. While in the service in Europe in the '70s, got seriously into 60s vintage Mercedes 300 SE Coupes with self leveling airbag suspension and manual transmissions, nice leather and wood. One was a very rare factory option '64 5 speed (17 made), grey with a russet red leather interior. Brought 2 back to the U.S. in '77, sold the 5 speed to a collector. One day, while driving the '66 silver over black 4 speed, saw an SM with a for-sale sign on it, gave chase, and offered to swap the silver 300SEC straight across for the SM. I remembered the Motor Trend Car of the Year feature, and had seen several in Europe. In my opinion this was the most beautiful car I had ever seen. He accepted the swap, and I became the owner of a somewhat run-out '72 5 speed brown over tan. I bought a wrecked parts SM, and began rebuilding, new chains (chains already rattled), new front suspension from the parts car, new synchros, and ended up using the SM as a daily driver for several years. Also bought a very nice '71 DS21 Pallas in '79. In '79 I drove the SM to the Massachusetts rendezvous, noticed no one was helping out with the SM, and started helping out and giving tech talks. One customer back home, a French diplomat, offered later to sell me his '73 5 speed 3L SM (00SD0626), as he had to return to France. It was a beauty, and after some negotiation I bought it. 0626 became my prize car, which I mechanically upgraded, and kept a number of years until I could no longer preserve it properly, when I sold it to another older customer of mine in NJ to replace his white SM. 0626 ranks as number one of my life collection. I continued SM work and rendezvous visits without a miss for 20 years through 2000. I contributed articles to the Citroen Car Club of Ohio. I also began servicing other SMs for owners wanting help, and continued that business for around 12 years, concentrating on mechanical, including engine rebuilds including cranks, cam regrinds, block restorations and mods, pistons, bearings and sleeves, and rebuilding manual and automatics including differentials, synchros etc. Also lots of hydraulic work of course, including recharging and rebuilding spheres, also renewing ball joints. But in '92 I had to move, so the work side of things had to stop. I also bought a CXA GTI 5 speed which I owned for a short while. Later I moved to Australia for 8 years and there bought a white Xantia with the adaptive 6-sphere suspension, which also ranks as a favorite car. An automatic, the ZF was not that good and despite solenoid renewals, was not always a good shifter. Otherwise a fantastic car I wish I could have brought back. Now back in the USA, recently bought a '98 Mercedes SL600 with Adaptive Damping Control (hydraulic adaptive suspension with spheres) as a way to get back into the lovely hydraulic suspension world with an affordable entry price (having trouble affording an SM now, but still looking). Waiting to see how expensive the SL will be to maintain, as it presently has a sensor fault in the suspension. There are many dead-sphere ADC-equipped SLs out there, with many sellers having no idea. Earlier in the 90s I also had a Mercedes 6.9 for a while, also hydraulic. Have had many other cars, including Renault, Alfa, Imperial, Fiat, 5 Audis, VWs, and others.