John Chassin – Citroëniste Extraordinaire!

By George Dyke…..

John Chassin has a unique, practical and often humorous outlook on Citroën. His perspective has been published twice in his books, Why Citroën, and Why Citroën – Book 2. Fortunately, John still has the energy to work on a new version 3 that he hopes to have out sometime this year.

I had the pleasure of meeting John in Chicago three years ago and we have emailed back and forth several times since then. John’s emails always bring a smile.

John still drives his D Special year-round in Chicago. As John puts it; “Enjoying my D Special by minus 22C. Car modified to survive cold and salt, so driven every day! So there!”

John Chassin’s 1972 D Special.

Here are some other hilarious thoughts he has shared with me:

I keep missing all the meets what with my bad habit of insisting my DSses and SM are all in tip-top reliability and looks grade. Even though retirement is schedule generous, being a perfectionist yields limitations. One of these days, I’ll show up with a perfect Cit encrusted with smashed bugs.

Still writing How Citroën III and will end up putting it on the web for ransom-download. It will cover the D and S models for 1/2 century daily abusers. I guess I’m the only one doing that thru rain and snow. – John

About his visit to look at two 1920s Cats at the Volo museum in Illinois that were for sale;

The impression I had, while at the Volo museum, was that I was facing a couple of retired used car salesmen trying to move whatever was sitting there. When I appeared with the black DS, they walked by and pretended not to look, while craning their eyeballs. Funny. They told me a story about an Arab sheik that was interested in the 2 Cits. The problem is that those people do not buy Citroëns – ever – for some obvious reasons. First, Citroën rarely built cars for the sake of sexiness, rough unstable speed, and-or diaper wearing driving. As an example, I drove a very sexy Jaguar and it scared the fertilizer out of me… well not literally, but waaaayyy too much torque for the tires. The second reason why “those people” do not buy Citroëns? PC prevents me from touching that hot potato.

That took me back to my position, while chasing show cars in our short torrid summers, looking at a muscle car with a chromed tower sticking thru the hood and blocking the driver’s view:

    “What is the horsepower on that beast?
     Uuuhhh, about 655.
that you can go at least 200 MPH?
naah, too dangerous!
     So you have a huge torque and can’t go fast. So it is a tractor, right?”

    In other words, how to make friends… – John

About drivers on the road these days;

First decent snow here. Staying off main drags where all the snow virgins with knobby tires, ABS brayx, four wheel drive paint jobs, hopped up pick ups, etc… learn their limits the crashing way. Not into my DS they don’t. I’ll take a picture once it is properly coated in ice and salt. I enjoy driving it in snow and watch the hapless trying to follow, invariably bending a few valuable chunks on a hard spot, or a deep one. How do I warn them?

March visit? No pb. You mean I gotta go out there with a still warm picture taking device? A word of wisdom: I do not wash it in these temps since lock problems would occur, so the thing is bit salty, cruddy, dirty, disgusting, but running fine. Well, okay, the first few minutes are always a bit stiff with everything still cold. I’d like to take the SM out in this but don’t want to season it with salt.

John has promised to send me a photo of his D Special daily driver once it is sufficiently salt encrusted. Here how he puts it:

“No messed up, ice-coated DS yet. Not enuff snow, but driving difficult with ice covered windows and forced entry thru the trunk what with locks and latches frozen solid… There is hope with a few more weeks of this. Howevah, once the windows are thawed off, the car is fun in snow and ice, even with new cheap domestic front tires. As usual, still watching for the overhung knobby tyred pickup behind me who thinks he can stop as I do. I am running out of trunk lids and rear bumpers!😉” – John

As you can see, John is very funny with his description of the snow virgins’ driving habits and road conditions.  I look forward to seeing the picture of his D Special when he feels it is amply ice and salt coated. I’ll publish it here on Citroënvie!

I should also mention that in the mid-1990s, the History Channel made a film on the Citroën Company. John was living in Washington DC at the time and both he and Bill Green, a friend of his from NASA, were featured in that film as well as their white SMs. Here is that video:

John notes: The history channel video shows my white SM as it was before I installed euro headlights and took the 3L drivetrain out, again for nothing since all it needed was to clean the exhaust valves’ buildup causing their touching the pistons. Installing solid stainless exhaust valves in 1983 did pay off. They do not bend, fatigue nor break. But I probably can’t go 140 MPH/240 KmH for 2 hours.

I just dread the day I’ll be too lazy to keep all the Cits alive and will geezer about in a… gasp! Beat up Tesla.

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