It had to happen. Just as I’d been singing the praises of my excellent Citroen Xantia Activa, then it decided to blot its copybook in the most obvious way. I still rate this car extremely highly, and would struggle to think of any family holdall as capable as the Xantia on a challenging B-road, but one thing it most definitely doesn’t like it being stood, unused.
So when my son’s Xantia burst a heater matrix hose last week, I added him to my insurance, and said he could use mine. A great plan. So I ran him up to the office to collect mine, and after I’d jump started it, and filled it up with LHM, he toddled off, happy to be mobile again. About an hour later, I received the fateful text message: ‘it’s developed another leak’. My response was succinct, and probably summed-up my own frustrated lack of surprise: ‘Ah, bollocks.’
The next free day I had, I ran down to Wilco, and bought myself another five litre bottle of LHM, ready to get the thing diagnosed, then topped the car up and ran it down to my local garage so I could get it on the ramps, and see where this new leak was coming from. I guess I was hoping it would be a little one, caused by a split return pipe or something like that. But sadly, after getting underneath, and subjecting myself to an LHM hair wash, it became clear that the leak was coming from the steering rack area. Ah, bollocks indeed.
Being a Citroen, it’s a clever system, as it’s effectively a manual rack that’s powered by a hydraulic ram, very much like the way EPAS works today – in an electrical sense. And ordinarily, in the event of the ram failing, you can just take it off, with the rack in situ, and everyone remains reasonably happy. That’s the theory.
So, when I drove it up to Citroen specialist Pleiades, based in Sawtry, near my office (and after pouring an another tenner’s worth of LHM), I told him the problem, had a little chat, and left it with him, with instructions to fit (and not to rush too much). Later that day, the ‘phone call came – yes I was right, the ram was leaking, and yes I was right, they are no longer available. But being an Activa, the job would be a little more involved, as the turbo and the active ride system blocked access, and – yes – the steering rack would need to come out. Ah, bollocks, again.
Don’t worry, the car will get fixed, and I’ll smile as I had over the £300-400 it’s going to cost to fix. Maybe it won’t be a nice smile, but I’ll smile nonetheless, as I could never be responsible for anything other on a car with around 40 examples left on the road. I’ll keep you posted…
Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...
Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.