Prototype Citroen M35

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L'Opération M35

By K. de Waard Wagner

Translation by Hugo Veldkamp

Stadionplein in Amsterdam

The early seventies.

I think that I was the first one in Holland who drove a Citroën M35. Those days I worked weekend service shifts for Citroën Amsterdam. For this job I had an HY Service Van available.
On a Sunday morning I was called by a signal of the pager system which was normally in use those days. At the Hotel Europe, in the middle of the town, close to the Munt Tower there was a Citroën which didn’t start.

When I arrived on the scene I was astonished that it concerns a Citroën M35 with on a towing hook, a trailer with two sailing boats type 420.

The owner, a young fellow, was one of the members of the French national sailing team, and was on its way to the Sneek week (a week of sail races in Friesland in the north of the Netherlands). The owner informed me that one of the two plugs from the engine was broken and that was the reason from not starting.

In this one rotor Wankel engine there are 2 plugs; one Beru and one Bosch plug.
He showed me the logbook under the front seat how often the plugs has been replaced and that he was already used to this, but unfortunately he left the box with the new plugs on the kitchen table in France.
But I had an idea…! We would seal the plug with hairspray of one of the present ladies in the hotel.

When it was dried at last we screwed it in the engine, but unfortunately it wouldn’t start. I proposed to tow the M35 and trailer on a ‘dolly’ to the Stadionplein where Citroën Amsterdam is situated and to start work on it the next Monday. The owner left with the others to Sneek and would keep in contact with Citroën in Amsterdam.
He saw that I was very excited by this Citroën. Until that moment I only had read about it.

That Monday I had work to do. Arranging a new plug was a big challenge and the news spread fast through the building that Kees had a very special Citroën on his work spot.
We telephoned everyone in the country who was dealing with plugs but everywhere the answer was: “…Never heard of it.”

I say, there was one company in Holland who did something with rotation engines and that was van Oorschot in Rotterdam, who was selling the NSU RO 80 at that time. Also the NSU Prinz Spider was provided with a one-rotor Wankel engine. After one call it seems that they had one.
So, down to Rotterdam to get the plug, luckily they had it already present so we were back in a minute. Those days the roads were not that crowded.

After mounting the (in the meantime gold costing) plug the engine started at once and on that moment we (a collegue of the technical department and I) got a short while for testing this M35.

And for testing a new plug we took it for a long test ride. We couldn’t get enough of it. It was a real experience how this car drove. At 7000 revs a horn remembered you for a gear shift. The sound of a rotation engine cannot be compared with the sound of a conventional engine.
Also the combination with the hydraulic suspension. Now we realized it’s tremendous functioning.
After returning from the test ride we called the owner, who instantly came down from Sneek to get his M35 and boat trailer, because that’s why he came to Holland for.

I was a Citroën experience richer, not knowing that years later I would spend a lot of time in another M35.