by George Dyke….
On March 6, 2023 I received an email request to Citroënvie that was intriguing:
Subject: Citroen DS Break from Canada
Dear enthusiasts of Citroenvie, My name is Thomas Kaemper, I live in Germany. I got the link to Citroenvie from Ulrich Knaack, the editor of HP (Hydraulische Presse, the club magazine of the German DS Club). In 2018 I bought a Citroen DS Break from a dealer in the Czech Republic, which was imported from Canada in 2016. I am currently in the process of restoring the vehicle. I would like to get to know the history of the car, but I am dependent on support from Canada and would be happy if you could help me. The vehicle was sold with the chassis number 3576841 and the registration number TAJ 251. However, the vehicle actually has the chassis number 3576605, the plate with the numero de coque is no longer available. The color of the vehicle is red, which is probably not the original colour. If it helps, I can send pictures of the car. The vehicle is semi-automatic and has an aftermarket Coolaire air conditioning system. I would be very happy if you could help me to find the history of my vehicle.
Beste regards,Thomas Kämper
To which I responded:
I will try and see what our members know about your car. Pictures will help if you could please send them along. What year is the car registered as?
I don’t think the car came from the Toronto or Southern Ontario area (where I am).
CITROËNVIE ! http://citroenvie.com/
Thomas followed up with:
Thanks for the quick reply.
Attached are some photos, also with the chassis number(3576603 or 3576605?).
According to the VIN, the vehicle is from autumn 1969, but model year 1970. Together with the car I got a Certificate of Registration, which is also attached. It is suspicious that the VIN on the Certificate of Registration does not match the VIN of the vehicle.Interestingly, the dealer in Prague where I bought my car still has a DS 21 Break with the same exterior color and upholstery as my car. This vehicle is also imported from Canada. Here is the link to the dealer:
Is this upholstery original? Was there any special upholstery for vehicles exported to Canada?
Thanks again for your support and best regards,
The photo of the registration inspired me to do some digging. A Google search of the address showed me the property in Qualicum Beach, British Columbia but not much about ownership. But a search of Elizabeth Ann Goff on the registration brought up a list of medical clinics in in Qualicum Beach and then ultimately a local wood wood products business with a last name match. Cross referencing the business listing to the registration address pulled up a municipal page that displayed a phone number matching the registration address. Though there was no mention of Elizabeth Ann, there was a name of George Goff. Sort of a triangulated result that with a few more searches on the phone number, gave me hope that a that a phone call to that number would yield some useful information. George might be related to Ann and still living there or a at least be alive somewhere in the area.
And so I phoned at 2 pm local time. Fortunately a lady picked up and although it wasn’t Elizabeth Ann, I explained who I was trying to contact and why. She said just a moment and then George came on the line. He said that Elizabeth Ann had passed away some years ago, but said that he owned a couple of Citroëns years ago back in the 1970s. He was not aware of Citroënvie but was happy that someone called about Citroën as was most willing too chat. George confirmed that one DS he had was a DS Break. Although the car was registered in Elizabeth Ann’s name (most likely for business reasons), George was the original buyer and single owner of the car and had it for a number of years prior to shipping it overseas to a dealer in Europe. He was pretty sure it was a 1970 model and he did say that the car was originally blue.
He recalled that it was originally bought and shipped over from Europe and it was not sold through a dealer in Canada. At the time Citroën had a “buy it in Europe and import it” plan for both Canada and the USA and he purchased the DS in that manner. Citroën would have built the car to Canadian specifications to enable it to be exported to Canada. That explains the side marker lights, and the front turn signals relocated under the front bumpers. It had the European headlights (under glass) and not the open sealed beam lights USA models had in 1970 as that configuration was still allowed for Canadian models of the 1970 year. (In 1971 Canada had to switch to the USA open type sealed-beam headlights).
George said he would be happy to communicate with Thomas. He may even have some photos of the car from that era. Bingo! Had found the original owner and now it was just a matter of connecting the two to them.
I wrote back to Thomas letting him know that I had managed to contact George, telling him what had transpired and that George may also be able to explain the mismatched VIN.
As for the interior, no DS Breaks sold through Citroën Canada or Citroën USA would have come with seats where there was red suede in the middle and black leather (or vinyl) on the sides. The headrest bar would have had to be there to conform to safety standards though in this case, it seems to have been wrapped in the same red suede material. (I have seen this type of seat covering on a couple of other Citroëns, but I think it is an aftermarket product that was offered years ago for those owners who disliked sitting on the vinyl seats of DS Breaks, the D-Special and the D-Super.)
So there you have it — a happy outcome through Citroënvie about a DS Break owner half a world away being able to a complete history about his DS!
I asked Thomas to keep me in the loop, as I would love to know more about its history and how his restoration progresses. Stay tuned for that…