Ownership Verified: I accidentally another French

Lastsoul

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This was a bit random. I wasn't planning on getting a third car, and I've never been a fan of this one. There is only one thing I care about, but I'll get back to that later.

On tuesday an old friend from high school posted on Facebook "If anybody needs parts for Xsara Coupe, or the whole car, just ask". I had a faint memory of the car he had, so asked him about the details. Twenty minutes later I had bought the car.

So what is it? Well I'm not 100% sure yet, as it was pretty rapid process and I didn't check the car almost at all. Things I know: 2001 Citro?n Xsara VTS. That means it's got the awful facelift-nose instead of the boring original one. Some previous owner has changed the rear lights to Altezza-styled carbage items. Summer wheels are dark grey Mille Miglias. They probably double the weight of the car, and make the ugly nose look pretty decent in comparison. It's got rather low 151k kms on the clock. I'm not sure about the standard equipment, it should have AC, some amount of airbags and remote locking seems to work. Ask frankiess about the interior quality and you'll see grown up man weep.

So why the hell I bought it? Well, first of all it was cheap. No, I don't mean it was couple of hundred euros below market value. It was about one quater of it's potential value, and being ten years old Citro?n they're not exactly expensive on the first place. Yes, there was a reason for the price. Rear axle, a common problem on old PSA hatchbacks, has "a bit" of play. Enough to make passenger side wheel to touch the sill in some occasions. Refurbished one is about 600 euros. Oh, and wiring harness for the two cooling fans has gone full french. Engine keeps temperature nicely, but apparently there is a total ALAAAAAARM GENER?AAL going on the dashboard once the engine reaches working temperature. Price for such a harness is also 600 euros. I'm pretty sure both of those problems can be solved much, much cheaper when doing the work myself.

medium


There is only one year difference between my parents 406 Coup? used as a towing car and my VTS. I'm pretty sure the beauty genes were not shared evenly at the design process? Oh, and as you can see the weather was pretty horrible, I'll take better pictures later.

So, it's broken and ugly? Why did I buy it?

Raison d'?tre:
xsara_engine.jpg


It doesn't look very special, and compared to something like Honda B18C it isn't. It's XU10J4RS, last of variation of the long-lived XU-series engine that powered number of PSA products from the eighties to the beginning of this millennium. The XU-engine was fitted to the 205 GTi in 1.6 and 1.9 variations, then it got nicely flowing DOHC head on the 405 Mi16, where thanks to a rather long stroke and 7400rpm rev limit it achieved the highest ever average piston speed at the time.

My 406 has a very similar engine producing 132 bhp. Block is the same, as is the basic cylinder head. It's not as nicely finished, and lacks the free flowing intake and stainless 4-1 exhaust manifold and much aggressive cams. With these differences the engine fitted to the VTS makes rather nice 164bhp and revs to 7400rpm. Not great numbers compared to Hondas, but it has pretty even torque curve and I've heard it's rather characterful engine in a good way. With new cams, new software and some small items on the intake side you can get 195bhp. As stock it especially comes alive with the close ratio six speed gearbox, which was fitted to the excellent Peugeot 306 GTi-6 and Rallye, but naturally not to the cost-cutted Xsara cousin. Thanks to the long life of the XU-engines, this one can be swapped to many older cars making it pretty desired one. These engines usually go for about a double I paid for the whole car...

So, I've bought a reasonably nice engine fitted to a mediocre car. What am I going to do with it?

1. Fix it and sell it for profit
2. Fix it, strip it and drive the hell out of it.
3. Swap the engine to my daily driver 406. Peugeot never made successor to the 405 Mi16, why not to do it myself?
4. Find engineless 205 GTi and swap the engine to that. Now that would be fun.
5. Fix it and keep it as my daily driver. It has 200k km less than the 406.

Anyway, I've about four months to think about it, as the car is sitting outside and it's way too cold to do anything.

Oh, and before I forget:
proof.jpg
 
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Redliner

Y'all got any lamps?
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I would drive the shit out of a VTS, I love the previous front.
 

public

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People buying cheap cars, excellent! The only problem here is that using nettiauto was completely skipped. This is borderline unacceptable!
 

DaBoom

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And some even seem to buy cheap cars that could be driven without substantial repairs. :p
 

Perc

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:thumbsup: I've always liked the Xsaras, for some reason, altough the facelift is kind of terrible.

Idk about there not being a "406 Mi16", there's a V6 and a 2.0T that's about as rare as rocking horse poop. I've driven the 2.0T in a Xantia, really liked it, altough it's more of a load lugger than a revhappy Mi16 successor.

What would the finnish authorities say about a 406 VTS swap?
 

Lastsoul

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Yeah, they introduced the V6 instead of high revving four cylinder. Kinda works with the 406 being more comfort than driver oriented compared to the 405. The V6 is rather heavy, at least with the automatic transmission as fitted to the Coupe. It doesn't ruin the handling, but my own sedan is definitely more chuckable than the Coupe. It's definitely great engine though, almost silent in normal cruising and if not actually quick, it pulls extremely in really effortless way way beyond 200km/h.

I guess Finnish authorities would have to admit it's okay to do the swap. The VTS engine is five years younger thus no emission problems. It weights the same too. And 2.0 16V 406 has same brakes as V6 (in the sedan, Coupe has Brembos), so standard brakes are okay up to 190bhp.
 

CrzRsn

So long, and thanks for all the fish
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There are so many things that are hilariously wrong with this picture. Or at least there would be to an average American. A Peugeot coupe towing a loaded car trailer in the snow :lol:

Anyways, nice find! Gotta hoon it in the snow once its up and running well.
 

Lastsoul

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Yeah, the 406 Coupe is a rather funny tow car, but underneath the pretty body it's got the same parts as normal 406s, and especially the diesel-wagons are common tow cars around here. And yes, the tow hook is removable :p
 

matyas

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I have had several co-workers who had driven Xsaras. Apparently they are great when it comes to maintenance. Excellent car! And best of all, apparently they don't rust :)

I am not sure if your rear axle is similar to the estate ones, if it is, I could ask my co-worker on how he had his fixed. Apparently there is a fix below the regular repair price.
 

Donington

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Just like what Loeb used to drive! Well, maybe not, but still a very fun little car with a great engine. It'll be a hoot to drive in Finland I bet.

Also, wow has the 406 coupe aged gracefully, it still looks every bit as superb as it first did. Shame Peugeots now just don't have even a hint of the flair.
 

Lastsoul

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matyas: yeah, DYI repair shouldn't be very expensive and that's what I'm going to do if I end up fixing it.

Donington: yeah, Peugeot has been extremely lost ever since the 206. But that helps to lower the prices of the older and better ones. :)
 

Lastsoul

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Haha :D

If I end up stripping the interior, I'm sure I can give some parts to you as you seemed to love them so much ;)
 

MWF

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I had a first gen Xsara VTS. It was a great little car - handled well, quick, very comfortable and well-equipped and not once did anything break or fail.
 

frankiess

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Frankly, my VTS was a great little car. Quick and fun to drive. Awesome engine.

Only that it was horribly French, with the awful interior, the obviously twisted rear axle, the sticking clutch etc.
 

Lastsoul

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To be honest I've never driven a VTS, nor have I driven basic Xsara. The only time I've even sat in one was when loading and unloading this one to the trailer. I'm probably test driving one when the roads are dry so I have a bit better understanding of it, helps to make the decision of its fate. Stripping interior, fixing main issues and just driving is probably the leading idea at the moment.
 

Lastsoul

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_MG_7772.jpg


Finally I might have some time to spend fixing the Xsara. As I've no experience of this example, nor the whole model itself, I thought it might be a good idea to get temporary plates for one day and drive it a bit. Just to know what works and what doesn't.

So, about 26 euros later I attached two temporary identification stickers to the car and went for a drive. Since it's been sitting around for more than six months if we exclude the driving to and out of the trailer, first few kilometers were a bit rough. Yet after few harder brakings and waiting for the engine to warm up it seemed to work rather well.

_MG_7776.jpg


Things broken or in need of fixing:
- Rear axle bearings
- Passanger window. Motor works, so cable has probably snapped.
- Some trim items need reattaching
- AC needs refill.
- No radio signal
- Lexus lights
- Lots and lots of cleaning, waxing and general care.

_MG_7774.jpg


And that's about it. Heated seats, outside temperature, trip computer, everything else works. Previous owner told me the last nail in the coffin was something related to engine temperature and electronics. It let it idle, no problem. I drove normally. No problem. I gave it some stick. No problem. Both the water and oil temperature are okay. According to PO his mechanic said the engine needs a new wiring harness or something. Maybe there is a faulty connector or something somewhere, maybe I'll find it someday. Probably at midnight in the middle of nowhere.

So how is it as a car? For it's class it's really comfortable. It's much quieter than mk1 Focus or Golf, and suspension seems to be pretty good compromise between comfort and sportiness and as a whole it feels really agile, maybe thanks to the passively steering rear axle. Steering is way more heavier than I was expecting for a Citro?n, maybe even a bit too heavy. On the upside, it does have okay feel. Clutch and gear change are PSA from the 90s. Something you can live with, barely.

_MG_7773.jpg


Engine? It might have had a bit hard life. Paperwork which came with the car mentioned two new hydraulic lifters at around 60k kms, apparently the cylinder head was removed during this operation, as head gasket was also on the bill. About 50k kms later it needed a new catalytic converter. Anyway, after warming up there weren't any nasty noises, it idled just as nicely as XU-engine ever can. On the lower revs it is just like any normal 2-litre engine: decent torque to make driving easy, that's about it. Things start to get interesting after around 4000rpm, when the sound starts to get much more purposeful. It pulls with real anger all the way to the 7400rpm limiter. Despite of the Xsaras relatively high 1230kg mass slowing things down, it provokes you to rev it at every single opportunity, and answers to your work enthusiastically. I can only imagine how it would work in a lighter body, 205 GTi for example. As a bonus, on first two gears there is really VTEC-like metallic rasp, as the exhaust manifold or exhaust itself touches the body. I might have to check engine mounts also...

Conclusion: but ugly, just good enough interior, comfortable, surprisingly good to drive and really spirited engine. That means there is not much to care, yet it can provide good comfort and great fun when needed. Sounds pretty good for a bargain daily driver?
 

Lastsoul

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So finally after completing my hopefully last ever exam at university I had time to fix up the Xsara. I had already ordered a replacement rear axle, as refurbished one was only around 200 euros more than the parts. Changing the bearings is pretty straightforward, but pretty much pain in the ass too.

_MG_8301.jpg

That's the old one. New one is already fitted to the car along new rear brake disks. It's the trailing arm bearings which kill these axels, otherwise the old one was fine.

_MG_8309.jpg

Worn bearing causes way too much camber. Tire has rubbed against the metal here, but luckily there wasn't much rust to remove before primer.

_MG_8319.jpg

I have to do some surface rust removal for this before the winter, as so far it's really easy to fix. But I'm not going to complete nicjasno with this, the Xsara doesn't deserve such treatment.

_MG_8312.jpg

Neither it deserves this. Somebody has drilled a rather large hole through the whole passanger side floor. Why? :lol:

_MG_8315.jpg

Had the hole been on the driver's side, getting rid of all the stones, rocks and random crap would've been easier. I'm sure the car sits at least 1cm higher because vacuuming it removed so much weight!

After brief OCD moment to get rid of all the leaves, bird shit and moss on the exterior and cleaning the inside I went to MOT the car. The guy was a bit suspicious when I told him to check it thoroughly, as I had only paid about 10% of it's value excluding the parts I had bought. Yet everything went better than expected, it passed the test!

_MG_8330.jpg

Yet it still wasn't ready for the road. According to all the records the cambelt was 20 000km overdue. As the basic construction is similar to my 406 2.0 16V I'm pretty familiar with the process, but the Xsara has even less space. It'a straightforward job and it would be really easy to do had the car few centimeters more space, but hopefully I'll finish it tomorrow.

_MG_8332.jpg

Oh, and when I was cleaning the engine bay I made sure the most important thing is in perfect working order. It's a Citro?n after all! :p
 
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