No, your eyes do not deceive you, work has indeed started on the Citroën AX GT. Almost five years since she was last seen on the road, the restoration job is finally underway. And to think some said it would never happen.
OK, so there’s a long, long way to go yet. Time and money will dictate how long it takes to put this AX GT back on the road, but where there’s a will, there’s a way. And I’m determined to do as much of the work as my skills will allow (which rules out welding, wiring and painting). But even the simple act of dismantling the car – which has taken up most of my free time over the past seven days – is surprisingly rewarding. I’ve discovered more about the car this week than I have over the course of the previous five years.
A contributing factor to the sudden movement is the availability of space. By converting an outbuilding into a garage, there’s room for the AX to be tucked away, in the dry and in a position where it’s never going to be in the way. The only time it’ll need to move is when it’s whisked away to some unsuspecting welder for major surgery. Volunteers – form an orderly queue…
The plan is simple: remove the bumpers, trim, front wings and bonnet to reveal the full extent of the corrosion. Make no mistake, this Citroën AX GT has got it bad, but while the inner rear arches are as rotten as I feared, the rest of the car is surprisingly encouraging. I’m under no illusion that it’ll be cheap, but I’m determined to do it properly. I’ll be giving up takeaway coffees for a while and impulse-buy Hot Wheels are a thing of the past. Every penny counts, right?
Removing the rear bumper was remarkably easy, as were the plastic rear arches – hardly surprising when the rear arches aren’t there anymore. The front bumper was removed in seconds, while I was surprised to discover the headlights and grille could be removed without a spanner or screwdriver. You’ve got to love the French. As for the front wings – five bolts and they were off.
Seriously, a Lego Technic set is more complex than a Citroën AX GT. Not that I should speak too soon, because at the time of writing, a rusty screw on the cowling beneath the windscreen has beaten me, while I can’t for the life of me remove the front seats. This is in stark contrast to the rear seats which were removed quicker than you could say ‘I really wouldn’t want to be involved in an accident in a 1989 Citroën AX’.
Look, I know it’s a small step, but it’s significant. No longer left to rot, the Citroën AX GT is now – touch wood – on the road to recovery. I fully intend to document the restoration on PetrolBlog, while you can follow progress on Twitter by using the #ProjectAX hashtag. Wish me luck, because I think I’m going to need it. Also, do send Hobnobs.
The next steps? Find someone to tell me how much the corrosion is going to hurt my wallet, while I start work on the engine. Some wheel dollies might be required, because I’m forever putting air in the tyres, which does kind of slow things down.
For now, that’s all I have to report, so treat this as a welcome to ‘My First Restoration Job’. You never know, the way things are going, the Citroën AX GT might be worth as much as a Peugeot 205 GTI by the time it’s finished. Then again…