Patrick van Griethuysen
A factory new AMI 6 Service, fiction, phantasy,
PATRICK VAN GRIETHUYSEN investigates
or a real miracle ?
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
Other Citroen lovers often asked me is the impossible possible and I use to reply, yes in Citroen land everything looks to be possible. But lets start at the beginning. In 1967 Citroen announced the AMI 6 Service tolé. Most of us AMI lovers seen the photo of the prototype in Tout les Citroens, this prototype is only in minor detail different from the actual presented Service on the salon. Differences such as plastic backmudguards, aluminium doorrims on both front doors and closed side panels without a profile. Obviously a normal model break but altered for the publicity photo. At first only the model tolé was available but soon to be followed by the exact same car but with windows instead of the closed panels.
That model was called vitré. Both cars with only two front doors with metal doorrims instead of the aluminium ones on the prototype. The backmudguards were made of metal on the actual car personally Ive never seen the plastic ones. The inside of the car was basicly the same as the model break but with a full front seat and an altered frame, an extra panel behind the seat and an extra panel on the floor to create a level floor.
The four plates that came with the car: 1 chassis number AMB-2 "S" 703531
2 chassisnumber (2) - 31 059033
3 chassisnumber (3) - 5028 498201
4 bodyshell 17 525516 (AMU 008 020a)
AMI 6 SERVICES IN THE NETHERLANDSNot many AMI 6 services were imported into The Netherlands and of these small numbers only three still exist today, (all three model tolé) a gray one, a dark green one, and a dark red one, over the years saved by me. Two more Services were imported in later years both light blue and both vitré. It will bring the number of surviving AMI 6 Services upto five at the moment, but personally I carry knowledge of five more that were scrapped. Only the gray Service is in dayly use, maybe not the most beautifull of the three but still performing the task for what is was built. The green one is in pristine condition and completely restored by its proud owner over a five year periode. The red one is in bad condition and someone cut a sunroof in it but the owner doesnt want to sell ....... And for the two light blue ones, one is handpainted dark blue, the other one still has its original colour but needs a lot of work done. And both cars are not for sale!
The arrival of the bodyshell in it's red/orange undercoat
THE IMPOSSIBLE BECAME TRUTHYes, Yes, miracles DO happen (for you non believers, I can prove that !) Looking for an spare part for your Citroen eh, one that is already years and years N.F.P. Now, keep on reading the small advertisements in the various Citroen magazines. And being the proud owner of a AMI 8 Servive tolé (imported from Gien). I found myself wanting to be the owner of an AMI 6 Service tolé too. Already a few years ago I advertised in La Vie dAuto but had absolutely no replies. Where they all dead and scrapped I asked myself there and then. Then came CITROPOLIS ! Again I advertised for my impossible dream car and this time with a photo but due to my previous experiences without much hope for sucess this time. Then not too long ago I was told of a factory new AMI 6 Service in the Limoges area. A complete but empty shell still in its orange factory undercoatpaint. Then everything went very very quick, appointments were made to view the car in its original bare state. Arriving in Chateau Ponsac and totally coincidentely at the right adress. A deal was quickly struck and a week later it arrived at its new home, my garage ! To my utter surprise it came on wheels with a complete new AMI 6 Service chassis included. If anyone had told me only a few months ago I would be able to buy a factory new AMI 6 Service, I would have declared him mad !
So keep on reading the small advertisements in the various Citroen magazines and Im sure your impossible dream could become true too!
All the little loose parts cleaned
DONOR CARSWhilst being in France what is more natural for a Citrophile to scavenge the landscape for Citroen dealers with a small scrapyard among their garages. So I bought two donor AMIs. both dark green, the one being an early 1968 model Break Club with a 25 HP motor. The other a late 1968 model with the 35HP motor, but still with the old cardans. The 68 Club (from the Bourges area) and from the two the best. No problem getting is started, only all four breaks were worn out and there was no clutch left. That was not important as I wasnt going to use this 25HP unit. The 35HP other donor car (from the Limoges area) was in a far worse state. It had lived in a meadow for at least eight years judging by its tax disc still on the windscreen.
I experienced some difficulties deplacing it from its resting place as all four of the breaks were as solide as a block of concrete and the tyres were flat. At home we discovered a glassfibre floor, must have been a special model ? From this 35HP car I used the motor and gearbox, electric wiring, dash console, and some small items, the rest was carefully dismanteled and put into store for maybe future use. From the 25HP donor I used both the front doors (yes the ones with the aluminium rims !), the front and the bonnet, the two front mudguards, the aluminium roof, two reclining Club seats and the steeringwheel. The rest was sold again to another AMIphile.
Making sure it all fits
UNPLEASANT EXPERIENCESFrom past experiences I know to my shame not to try to start a motor that had lived in the landscape for years. If you do not clean it FIRST before fireing it up you could experience the ugliest sound you ever heard coming out of your motor. And believe me after such a sound you know its realy the end of the line for pistons, rings and cylinders. Now I know that a lot of dry rust and coal particals fall from the inside of the manifold and fall into the in and outletholes of the valves, sometimes filling these holes with a dry and sand like substance. That substance not removed will kill pistons rings and cylinders. And because this 35HP AMI had been outside in a field for so long I expected to find a whole lot of this potentional leathal sandy dust in the valve holes. And naturally I was right ! After the manifold was removed the dust revealed itself in all its uglyness. First I used an old Hoover to suck the dust out and the rest blown out with compressed air, thus, so far so good. park plug were removed, they too were rusty. All this time I NEVER tried to turn the motor over by hand as I had no certainty it would actually make a trouble free revolution, Then the cylinders were filled up with diesel and left it standing for a week. After one week I noticed the Diesel did the old disapearing trick on me indicating maybe the piston rings stuck in the piston. Then very carefully I tried by hand to feel if it would do a full revolution, maybe just one half revolution, and got stuck ! OK, slight problem but not to worry. Then I took the cylinderheads off, removed the cylinders and had a good look at the pistons and their rings, yes, stuck in the piston. The cylinders looked good, no scatches or rust, valves looked good too. All was cleaned and the motor oil (as black as the night) was drained off and refilled with new oil and oil filter. Now it made the full revolution by hand very smoothly. Then a carburator clean, new ignitions, new sparkplugs and their cables, and a new battery. Time to get it back to life again. AH, I had a nice spark, but no petrol in the carburator. No wonder, the top pipe of the fuelpump was completely filled up with those nasty sandy like particles. I should had known better ! A new fuelpump, and ......... there it went again, as smoothly as ever ! There was after dismantling nothing wrong with the gearbox, no play to be felt and the oil was very clear, but also that oil was drained off and replaced for new. Now the whole unit is waiting in a dry and warm place.
Ami 8 tolé panels in place
EVEN MORE DONOR CARS ! First, let me tell you I have just a small garage, place enough for 3 AMI's and no more. Shelves on the walls for spare parts and lots of things hanging on the ceiling. I really couln't do with yet another donor car could I ? YES I could and I would. Someone offered me a completely rotted-out Ami 8 service tolé ! And I needed those tolé pannels badly. And before I knew I was the proud owner of this masterpiece of engineerswork ! Now work to be done: both panels had to be loosened from the car. It was "only" spotwelded on 77 places and yes, 144 all together and they had to come loose. It was a nasty job. The rest of the Ami went for scrapmetal and was soon removed out of my drive (I got real nice neighbours !). Then I was offered another Ami 6 break this time a 1969 model. Also a car that had lived for the past number of years somewhere forgotten in the department Var in the south of France. It had a huge dent in on the righthandside and 5 rivets missing from it's roof, a clear indication that the bodyshell was bend because of the impact. The front part of the chassis was bent too so there was nothing else to do than to trow the lot away. It was a typical French car, a 25HP motor under the bonnet instead of the 35HP that belongs to this 1969 model. Curious how the French always are able to use things that are not original. Look par example at the rubber petrol hose, it read "Camping gaz only !" Oh well !
The long hard work before spraying the bootlid
JIGSAW PUZZLE FINALLY COMPLETENow I had a fine collection of re-usable parts to build my own Ami 6 service ! In fact I had a whole lot of the same spare parts to choose from (remember my small garage ? it is overflowing). The Service vitré bodyshell from Chateau Ponsac was sent to the sandblasters to get all the surface rust removed and sprayed in undercoat. Then it came back to my garage and it looked reasonably good. Still the 'ol rust devil had eaten some pinhole's in the floorboards and on some places the floorboards were pitted as at one time the bodyshell must have been living under a leaking roof. Also the two front mudguards as well as the two doors and the front itself came back from the sandblasters. The two used doors were in a far worse state that I had anticipated so I had to look for others. And I wanted the model with the aluminium rims. The 6 other doors were all the later model with the metal rims so they were not what I wanted. Luckely the vacation road led me to a large scrapyard near Bourges where I found a beauty of 1966 break. I was allowed to take as many parts as I wanted so by the time I left that afternoon there was nothing but a hidious naked shell left. It was a hot afternoon 35 degrees C in the sun. But my idea of a nice vacation combining the relax with very rewarding work. And: 4 doors, one complete front with headlights bumper and all, 2 front mudguards, etc etc. At home the two front doors were checked for rust but there wasn't any ! That Ami must have lived in a dry garage in the department 37 all of it's life.
Back glasfibre mudguards in the spraying cabinet
READY NOW ? START WORKING !Every loose part was lined up in my drive for a last check before the van of the painters arrived. The bonnet, two long back mudguards (made of glassfibre), two nice rustfree front doors, a new bootdoor, front part, 2 frontmudguards, a loose aluminium roof, two tolé plates and the bodyshell loose on the chassis for easier transport. From that day onwards I went to see the progress at the painters workshop everyday with my camera. After 14 days the whole lot came back and finished in "Rouge Cornaline".
BEAUTIFULL WORK ! Now what to do with all these newly sprayed parts ? Luckely my spouse is a very easy going person so everything was lined up in our dining and livingroom. It could not stay there too long for obvious reasons so within one week of constant working all the loose parts became an Ami again all nice shiny and red ! The front seats of the 1968 "Club" were re-upholstered in a very strong gray fabric. The upholsterer told me afterwards he never wanted to do that job again ever ......... ! It must have been difficult.
NOT A CHEAP PROJECT ! All in all this recreation of an Ami 6 Service tolé was not a cheap project at all. I'm sure if I had used my money to buy a new sort of small Citroen the price would have been nearly the same. But who cares ? I had hundreds of hours pleasure, hundreds of little screws and bolds to clean and to polish them. And it kept me away from birthday parties and pubs. And with the recreation of this Ami I have added to the diversity of cars on the road and it makes me glad not to drive those nasty bourgois gnomes!
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