The ‘Mystery Citroen’
An amphibious car of real historical and engineering importance.
Rescued from a field in North Wales, this vehicle had been completely stripped of almost every working component other than partial running gear and remnants of a hydropneumatic suspension system from a Citroen ‘DS’.
Unfortunately, the removed parts were lost. It is believed to be the only ever incorporation of this unique suspension system into an amphibian. It would have been used to achieve a high ground clearance when on land and a wheel retracting wheel system when on the water for greater speed. The unusual flaps over the rear wheels were another obvious attempt to streamline the body in water.
Local newspaper appeals for information relating to this amphibian received many replies. It was used to get to and from ‘Castle Island’, located in the ‘Menai Strait’, a tidal river separating North Wales from the Isle of Anglesea.
The five stud wheels were not in production before 1965 and the amphibian was seen in use in 1966, so we have an accurate location and date of construction and use. It is also thought to have been owned by the Ferranti family, a name famous in the advanced electronics business. They also had a flying boat, a large car collection and houses in France, Ireland and Italy.
What we have yet to find out is where was it made and by who?
The superb purpose built aluminium body, accurate internal chasses, rear mounted engine, propeller take off, streamlined rear wheel covers, possible four wheel drive and the hydropnuematic suspension on top of that, make this a product of very high design and engineering skill. We can only see one area of alteration, so it went together almost exactly as designed -an unusual situation for a prototype!
One witness believes it was the French Citroen answer to the German’ Amphicar’. The parts used are however believed to be from a UK model Citroen but the Citroen head engineer at that time knows nothing about it.
We are preparing to restore this vehicle to working order in the near future. Any help anyone can provide us with relating to the makers or designers of this superb vehicle would be very welcome.
As you can see, we had problems with the donor Citroen for restoration taking to water in our lake before we were ready or it!