Cars & Motorcycles
Practical Classics

Practical Classics October 2017

Practical Classics magazine has a 30-year tradition of delivering the very best, hands-on classic car experiences to its readers. Every staff writer and contributor works on and restores their own classics. Each issue is packed with: * Rigorous buying advice * Real-world product tests * Inspirational classic driving features * Fascinating historical insight Practical Classics is also a campaigning title, taking the concerns of classic car owners to Parliament and keeping its readers' classics where they belong - on the road. So come and join PC in the workshop - the kettle's on.

United Kingdom
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13 Issues

in this issue

1 min.
welcome to the workshop

Upgrading your classic is simple and very effective, but why should you bother? If the scaremongers are to be believed we will all be off the road by 2040. But is that really true? Really? The real-world evidence says otherwise. Time and again we have been warned of impending doom by screaming headlines regarding unleaded petrol, seat belt laws, emissions zones, stricter MoTs, insurance hikes, EU rulings, parts droughts, parts quality, DVLA problems, older age driving bans (we were guilty of that one) and now the end of diesel and petrol sales (not use) in 2040. We’ve been ‘doomed’ repeatedly, and yet here we are, still driving, still working on our classic cars – unhindered. Tax exemption is rolling again and the industry is growing. All the above are issues to…

1 min.
the bubble bursts

More than six decades after Citroën stunned the world with its revolutionary suspension system, the last hydropneumatic model has rolled off the production line in France. Parent company PSA decided to axe the technology for what they say are reasons of high manufacturing costs and low customer demand. Following an illustrious period of chassis innovation – which began with the Traction Avant 15H in 1954 – the final car, a C5 Tourer, will be taken to the company’s heritage collection near Paris. Sales of the Mondeo rival have been in freefall for some time, with conventional saloons such as the C5 taking an increasingly small share of the market, when compared to the new wave of Peugeot, Citroën and DS badged SUVs and MPVs. To mark the occasion, PC gathered every model…

1 min.
citroën landmarks

15-6H (1954) Fitted with full hydropneumatic suspension to the rear, this last-of-the-line Traction Avant model was a test-bed vehicle for the DS of 1955. DS (1955) Lightweight panels hung on a monocoque structure, FWD and ‘intelligent’ suspension with featherlight steering, clutch, gearchange and brakes. GS/A (1970) In a world of cart sprung family cars, GS/A offered aerodynamics, disc brakes all-round and smooth flat-four air cooled power. Produced until 1986. SM (1970) Citroën snapped up Maserati in 1968 and this was the result. Peugeot took over and killed it in ‘75, Citroën going bankrupt having overspent on tech. CX (1974) Developed entirely in the wind tunnel, the CX combined FWD and transverse engine with groundbreaking ergonomic dash and speed sensitive steering.…

1 min.
where’s the progress?

‘We took a great leap backwards in 2017’ This is a Concorde moment. Once upon a time, travellers could sip champagne in comfort while travelling at 24 miles a minute. Years before that, mankind was dancing about on the moon and planning excursions to the outer reaches of the galaxy. There was also a time when motorists could glide across the planet on a bed of gas in vehicles that maintained a constant ride height irrespective of load, totally untroubled by broken tarmac. The hydropneumatic car was an engineering masterpiece of comfort, safety and control efficiency, unveiled to a world used to suspension made up of medieval leaf springs and old metal coils. For years, we’ve been told we want sporty cars. Even the most mundane MPV has rock-hard springs and the ride…

2 min.
the magic carpet ride

André Citroën’s legacy was bolstered by his successor, CEO Pierre Boulanger, who made his intentions clear in 1937: ‘Study all possibilities. Even the impossible.’ Five years later, he introduced designer Paul Magès to aeronautical engineer André Lefebvre and sculptor Flaminio Bertoni (the stylist responsible for the Traction Avant, 2CV, H Van, DS and Ami 6). Paul’s design brief was to enable ‘fast travel on poor road surfaces.’ What he came up was a high-pressure gas and oil system, enabling suspension, steering, brakes, clutch and gearshift to work in harmony and operating from an engine-driven pump. With a conventional spring having the same stiffness whether compressed or not, it was realised the harder gas is compressed, the stiffer the spring becomes. It was known as ‘infinite rising rate suspension’. Under pressure The concept was…

1 min.
evolution of the species

With no natural roll stiffness in the system, Citroën sought to eliminate body movement with active ride as early as the Forties. Despite experiments with an SM in 1973, properly active suspension didn’t arrive until the 1989 XM. ‘Hydractive’ was fed by electronic sensors on the steering, brakes and throttle pedal, with the computer able to switch an extra pair of spheres in or out of the circuit. However, arguably the greatest leap forward in suspension tech came in 1994 with the Xantia Activa. Engineers added hydraulic rams that meant zero roll, yet a loma-like ride, Despite recent challenges from the Porsche GT3 RS and all-new Mc Laren 675LT, the humble-looking Xantia is still the fastest car to negotiate the Swedish ‘Elk Test’ slalom – and by a significant margin. It really is…