In a workshop on the high quality within the Sunshine Coast hinterland, Phil Ward is performing a labour of affection: restoring and electrifying his Citroen H van from 1969.
He tells me that he has been concerned about Citroens since he was 8 years outdated — when he purchased his first toy Citroen mannequin. As an grownup, he has owned and pushed most fashions, beginning with a DS. His white Tesla Mannequin 3 is the primary non-Citroen automobile he has purchased. “Thoughts you, with the cash I’ve spent doing up the van, I may have purchased a pair extra Teslas,” he confided.
For the previous two years, he has laboured within the storage subsequent to his home completely stripping again and rebuilding the van. He has even recovered the leather-based seats. The van has an excellent view, wanting north over Mt Cooroy and views to the ocean. The van sits behind the Tesla Mannequin 3 and subsequent to the Tesla battery. Phil is a designer with a watch for high quality. We chatted, drank espresso, and listed to jazz on his Bang & Olufsen sound system. He’s additionally a professional mechanic, auto electrical technician, designer, and jewellery maker.
He tells me the historical past of his beloved van. He purchased the van in 1979. It had been pushed world wide earlier than it got here to Australia. He then restored it and drove it for 15 years. The van was then offered to a neighbour, who didn’t really use it, so it sat within the driveway for 29 years. He watched it deteriorate till he may stand it now not and pestered the neighbour till he offered the van again to him. The van was then shipped from Adelaide to Queensland, the place Phil had now settled.
Sandblasting revealed that each panel had rust in it, so Phil ordered new ones from Germany. “Why not France,” I requested. Phil tells me that Germany may be very massive on DIY and restoration.
Citroen made H vans from 1948–1981. The facet panels jogged my memory of metal rubbish cans. Phil didn’t take offense however knowledgeable me that their design was impressed by “Luftwaffe” Junkers airplanes — robust and light-weight.
Phil has his electrical motor prepared to put in. It got here from a wrecked, low-mileage 2021 Tesla Mannequin 3. He’s now in search of a charging system and a Tesla battery to energy the van. Putting in the battery would be the final job. He has loads of area for the battery and he’s contemplating his choices. He’s aiming for about 400 km of vary. The H van just isn’t aerodynamic — “it’s a sq. brick and it’ll make an excellent camper.”
Phil and his spouse Wendy are planning to maneuver nearer to the coast within the subsequent 12 months. He hopes to have the ability to get the subframe put in so the van is simpler to maneuver. He’ll want an excellent quantity of workshop area on the new deal with.
I requested Phil what was essentially the most troublesome a part of the method. “Orienting the Tesla motor within the body. It needs to be put in backwards.” His google search didn’t flip up any info, so he pulled the motor aside and rejigged it. “I needed to idiot the motor into considering it was going forwards when it was in reverse.” He left the electronics untouched however needed to swap the
phases over on the stator and alter the wiring on the resolver — motor place sensor. It’s an entire ton of labor. I requested why he’s doing it. “I like Citroens, I like the H van, and I like electrical!”
Phil has all the time beloved design and pulling issues aside. On the age of 8, he fell in love with the form of the Citroen DS and acquired a mannequin automobile from Myers division retailer. He then sought out extra info. He even impressed his father to get entangled — shopping for the native Citroen dealership. Younger Phil may now encompass himself together with his favorite automobile. He believes that Citroen mixed advances in expertise with artistic designs, citing the hydraulics on the DS within the mid-fifties for example. He compares the early DS fashions to Tesla automobiles — easy design (e.g., frameless home windows) mixed with leading edge expertise.
I requested the plain query — why not an electrical Citroen as a substitute of the Tesla Mannequin 3? “They haven’t come out to Australia but, and I couldn’t wait.” Additionally, “The consumer interface and the vary are inferior to Tesla.” Phil tells me he checked out all of the EVs presently accessible in Australia and located Tesla to be the most effective.
At one level, Phil had a shed stuffed with Citroens — 7 of them. He had thought-about changing one among these to electrical, however felt that they have been in too good a situation. “I didn’t need to muck them up.” Many homeowners taking a look at changing their traditional vehicles really feel the identical approach. The H van was so rusty that the rebuild meant it was now not unique. “So I can do what I like.”
We had an excellent have a look at his workshop and the deconstructed H. There was the physique shell, the chassis (he tells me that is all that was left of the unique van), and the Tesla motor with a foot pedal connected so it may very well be examined. “I’m simply making issues up as I am going,” he explains. The H van is principally a supply car however is light-weight, robust, and handles effectively. It could take being modernised with an electrical motor — energy brakes with discs on the fronts and electrical energy steering.
The T2-C controller for the motor has come from the corporate EV Controls in Canada through Western Australian distributor Lithium Energy. EV Controls was most useful in organising the controller — communication wanted to be early morning or late evening as a result of time zone variations. The info hyperlink within the controller enabled EVC to see what was occurring. The H van is principally managed by an app on an iPad.
I broached what I assumed was a fragile topic and requested how a lot time he was spending on this undertaking and the way Wendy felt about it. It seems, she is absolutely supportive and in addition an enormous fan of Citroen. Wendy and Phil met at a nationwide Citroën rally — Phil driving throughout from South Australia met Wendy along with her Gentle 15 in Queensland. Their widespread pursuits not solely embrace Citroens, but in addition defending the setting.
I’ve already booked a return go to to see the progress that Phil has made on his automobile, however it may be a couple of years earlier than it’s completed.
Additionally observe that I’ve lined restorations earlier than.
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