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Title

Goddess
A Workshop Guide
Buying – restoring – Servicing – Understanding the CitroŽn DS

Author

Charles Vyse

Price

GBP20 plus delivery

Specification

Softback 245 x 190mm 250 pages

ISBN

978-1-326-52785-3

Publisher

Charles Vyse

Additional information

All books are 'print-on-demand' and are printed in all major countries right across the globe. This means that you pay local postage costs; no international shipping involved. Delivery is usually four working days after ordering.



This is possibly the most difficult book I have ever had to review.  It is difficult on a number of scores.  Firstly, it is an awfully long time since I have owned a DS.  I owned two and the first was a rust bucket.  Restoration wasn’t an option on the limited funds I then had available and anyway, old rusty DSs at the time were worthless.  Most of the work I undertook was with regard to squeezing a few extra months out of her.  The second was a new, company car where others were responsible for the maintenance.

Secondly, it is not a glossy ‘coffee table’ book.  Indeed it has no such pretentions despite the beautiful cover.  Nor is it a workshop manual, as Charles says on his website, ‘This Workshop Guide is not intended as a replacement for the Factory Manual. It’s more a companion volume; an aid to the hands-on owner when repairing, understanding or restoring a DS. The book comprises 250 pages with hundreds of workshop photographs and clear line drawings. The book will guide you through everything from removing and stripping the engine to bodywork restoration, as well as regular servicing & maintenance issues. Including hints and tips from someone who has "been there, done that". The book also includes chapters on understanding the hydraulic system, practical repair of the hydraulic system and a guide for newbies on buying a used DS.

And therein lies the difficulty in reviewing it.  It is very difficult to read a book like this from cover to cover and yet to do it justice, that is what is required.

So I decided to start with Part One which covers the gestation and birth of the DS; the dream that became reality; the plumber’s nightmare; and the history of Charles’ own 1966 Paris-built DS21 Pallas which he calls Snoopy.  I started out trying to read it in the order in which it is written and synchronicity resulted in me sitting in the reception area of a windscreen repair company, reading about how to replace the windscreen in a DS – while the windscreen in my C6 was being replaced.

I then turned to the section on hydraulics (suspension, brakes, steering, transmission).  The underlying principles are explained clearly and should make the system understandable to everyone – even those who snoozed during their physics lessons.


I dipped into some of the other chapters to look at where I recalled struggling with the instructions given in a workshop manual.  The great thing about this book is that it is written from first-hand experience.  We are probably all too well aware of the shortcomings of some workshop manuals – indeed there are plenty of web sites devoted to jokes like:

Manual: Pry...
Translation: Hammer a screwdriver into...
Manual: Undo...
Translation: Go buy a tin of WD40 (catering size)
Manual: Retain tiny spring...
Translation: What was that, it nearly had my eye out!
Manual: Press and rotate to remove bulb...
Translation: OK - that's the glass bit off, now fetch some good pliers to dig out the bayonet part.
And let us not forget the wonderfully understated “Refitting is the reverse sequence to removal”.

At the other extreme are the official, multi-volume (and therefore expensive) factory  manuals which assume the existence of a state of the art workshop with all the requisite specialist tools.
Charles’ book steers a middle course.  The advice is pragmatic; there are plenty of helpful diagrams and photographs and Charles has a nice, easy writing style.


There are a few criticisms though.  The raison d’Ítre of this book means it will end up covered in greasy fingerprints and it is far too nice a product to deserve that.  I suspect that if I were working on a DS, I would scan and print the pages covering the task and cover these scans with oil and grease.  One way round this would be for purchasers to be given access to PDFs of each chapter.

On a slightly more serious note, I disliked some of the layout – especially where text runs alongside an image and the text column width is shrunken to two or three words.  This makes it difficult to read and also makes it look rather old-fashioned as does the typeface used.

Despite the ‘print-on-demand’ technology used, the book looked and felt very professional although a higher-grade paper would be a small improvement but would probably come at a price.


A quick look on Amazon revealed that there are only two English language manuals on the DS currently available – the two Autobooks manuals (1955 – 1966 and 1966 – 1970) which, as I recall suffer from the shortcomings referred to in the jokes above and the Brooklands book which I must admit, I have not seen.  This means that Charles’ book has the field all to itself.


© 2016 Julian Marsh