Mario was still deciding whether or not to sign up for the 2013 Peking to Paris, when he drove past a Citroen lover’s small garage in Switzerland. A Traction Avant was up for sale in front of it. The old Citroen was covered in dust and far from its former glory, but looked like it could have the potential to become a great rally car. Mario bought it.
It took a little under a year to initially get the car ready for the 2013 Peking to Paris, but it has been revised a number of times since. Pretty much every single part of the Traction Avant has been taken apart, modified and put back together again. The changes were made to make the car safer, more reliable and capable of dealing with the extreme conditions encountered in a rally.
I have attempted to translate Mario’s engineer speak into English in order to detail the many changes which were made to get the Citroen race ready. Please leave a comment if you have any questions.
ELECTRONICS: The car’s electrical system was switched from 6 volts to 12 volts in order to have a better light and starter motor as well as a bigger battery. An electronic ignition was fitted to increase precision and reliability.
ENGINE: The whole engine was taken apart and a mainstream oil filter was fitted in order to be able to run modern engine oils. A new camshaft and followers were also built in to generate more valve life.
EXHAUST: Fitted a tuned four into two into one exhaust system to get more torque. The exhaust was moved to the side so that it wouldn’t break off incase we grounded the car.
FUEL TANK: The size of the fuel tank was increased to 70 liters and lifted by 120mm in order to make it less exposed. (Mario previously punctured a hole in it by driving over a stone).
GEARBOX: The inside of the casing was stiffened by inserting machined plates. The bearing arrangement was also changed. Instead of fitting ball bearings on the output shaft, it was modified to fit spherical bearings.
SAFETY FEATURES: A roll cage was built in and rally seats were added with 5-point seat belts. A steel mesh was put up behind the seats to prevent spare parts or luggage from flying forward in the event of an accident. The chassis was also modified so that all the luggage and boxes containing spare parts could be tied down and wouldn’t move. The windshield was laminated to prevent it from shattering and a central fire extinguisher was built, which when released, can put out a fire in the engine.
SHOCK ABSORBERS: Shock absorbers were specially made to be adjustable and capable of dealing with a lot more heat because the standard shock absorbers failed after two days.
SPRINGS: The car was lifted by 4cms with stronger springs to avoid rocks and getting stuck in sand or mud.
UNDERFLOOR PROTECTION: An aluminum plate was added to the car’s bottom to protect the engine, the gearbox and the fuel and brake lines.
WHEELS: Fitted new wheel bearings and new steel rims because the original wheels were not sturdy enough and cracked. Also added off-road tires because they have stronger sidewalls and a coarser profile, which makes them tougher.
EVERYTHING ELSE: A modern drive shaft was fitted to improve reliability and a twin choke carburetor was added for increased power. The brakes were also switched out for new ones.