By Alison Hartzler…..

“We’ve done it again!” is a phrase I’ve found myself saying more and more recently to friends and family. This time, it’s due to a $5,000 purchase for a 1970 Citroën DS21, our French Goddess. Though my husband and I are fairly acclimated to the classic car world, this is our first foray into French motoring.

My name is Alison and my husband, Armani, and I have been buying and selling classic cars for about 7 years. This is not our job, but a passion we share. We love finding old things that just need a little care and bringing them back to life. 

The caveat, however, is that we must restore these cars on a shoestring budget. Mechanics tend to be costly, so 90% of the work is done ourselves. Luckily, working on these cars over the span of a few months or sometimes years has taught us more than any job we’ve had. 

In 2017, we purchased a ‘79 MG Midget for £1,200 whilst living in England. Being our first project, most lessons learnt were lessons on what not to do!

After moving back to Southern California in 2018, we purchased a ‘95 Jaguar XJS for $3,000. After having put in months of work, and continuous maintenance, the Jag became the one vehicle to never leave us stranded by the side of the road, and a brilliant daily driver!

Following our Jag restoration, we took on a string of projects from a Special Edition ‘95 Range Rover Classic to a rather unique ‘67 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow, each with their varying degrees of challenges and rewards.

Our biggest project has been our 41’ sailboat we picked up in 2020 that we now live on full-time. 

The Rolls was sold last September, leaving a hole in our heart and spare time on our hands. We were not searching for a DS, much less a Citroën when Armani stumbled upon a Craigslist ad for one out in the California desert. Upon first glance at the pictures, I thought they were quite ugly. It looked like a cheesy spaceship mixed with a 50’s mom car.

Though I was initially apprehensive, my husband’s curiosity led us three hours into the California desert to check it out. Despite my preconceived notions I brought on the drive up, we fell in love as soon as our eyes laid upon the rusty, dusty automobile. It was horribly sun-burnt, yet somehow also rusted to its core. Most of the floor had disintegrated, and the rotten interior was coming off in chunks. Still, we were sold on the DS. 

As all who follow Citroënvie! know, the elegance of the DS was pioneering. From the pictures, I had initially attributed the round, protruding headlights to that of a tacky sci-fi film. In person however, I loved how they blended into the stainless trim effortlessly. The way the rear angled itself along the body to form the feline-like front is exquisite. Everything about the car stood out, but in all the right ways. As I circled it, “goddess” played over and over in my mind.

Yes, we were sold, just not on this one. As a DS, it was gorgeous, but didn’t quite meet our baseline requirements for a project car. I mean, my foot got stuck in the hole of the floorboard. But this marked the start of the Citroën hunt. 

The DS21 Pallas would have been ideal, but finding a suitable project was a tough task. We settled for any somewhat intact car that could run, even if just barely. Our search was mainly focused on Marketplace and Craigslist, using the “Search The World” tool. After five months, we finally found it: our Green Little Alien. 

The car was in Santa Clara and being represented by Ken Nelson (notable in the Citroënvie! community). Armani and I live in Santa Monica and needed to work around busy schedules. Luckily, the stars finally aligned and at the end of February, we made the trip, trailer in tow. 

The first thing I noticed, of course, was the bright green color. This was Little Alien’s namesake. A running car was an important criteria, and Little Alien just made the cut. With the help from Mr. Nelson, and a borrowed battery, we were able to hot-wire the car long enough to drive it up the ramp onto the trailer. Luckily the rest of the engine was intact, if only a bit forgotten. Though the interior was quite cracked and dry, it was clear that a lot of care was provided before being sat for two decades. 

Driving back with such a striking vehicle trailing behind is an experience all of its own, especially one that resembles Kermit the Frog.

The most stressful part of the journey was pulling into Motel 6 halfway through the trip. “Middle of nowhere” had nothing on this place. We parked right outside the window and checked every five minutes on our Little Alien.

The next day was smooth sailing until reaching the outside of our apartment complex’s covered parking.

Wherever we parked Little Alien, there it would stay for some time. After scouting a decent spot somewhat out of the way, Armani was able to roll it off the trailer with ease. Unfortunately, there is a two-and-a-half-foot stoop leading into the garage. Who would have thought a car that light would be so heavy?

At first, Armani pushed while I steered. It went nowhere. A passing neighbor pitied our pleas and helped push. Still nothing. Someone watching from his balcony (and laughing, I’m sure) came down to help. The car got halfway up, before swinging back down. A man walking his dog jumped in to lend a hand. At this point, we were a spectacle. Four men pushing a bright green, bizarre-looking car up a tiny slope raises eyebrows. Two more guys joined our troop just for the hell of it. 

Manly grunts roaring, feet pounding, and we finally made it up the slope! Cheers echoed through the garage, high-fives were shared with all. Bonds formed for life! We finally made it home. Now comes the hard part. I’ll be reporting on how that is going, hopefully soon….


  1. Great story! Have these adventurous restorers been told about the ingenious hood bracket designed to prop up the bonnet?

  2. Great story, thank you for sharing! Good luck with the repairs and please keep us updated on progress!!

  3. Armani and Alison were a delightful surprise when I met them in Santa Clara to help them acquire the ’70 D Special, one of 5 Citroens in an estate sale for the upkeep of a Lockheed engineer who was a passionate Citroen and classic car enthusiast. Their “new” car and the 4 others had been driven into and parked in the owner’s backyard on dirt 15 yrs earlier due to the owner’s suffering a debilitating stroke. I had revived their car and a ’72 Pallas Citromatic for the executor to improve their appeal and in spite of their lack of prior knowledge of the DS proved very capable and unafraid to tackle the Hydraulic nightmare, as some consider a D to be.
    Armani and Alison are a delightful and refreshing pair of enthusiasts for our favorite brand and it’s so nice to see new folks dig into the “unknown” with a willingness to learn and get dirty! It’ll be really interesting to see what they think of their new catch as they dig into the hydraulics and get used to the incredible all around innovation in the car. Its great to see their post the adventure on Citroenvie, and I’m looking forward to hear from them if they compare the French engineering with all the other brands they’ve seen so far. I wish them the best of luck!

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