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Citroën DS goes Cruising off-road

2010-01-14 10:08

Lance Branquinho

The Land Cruiser 80 Series. Within the legend that is Land Cruiser’s six decade history, the 80 Series occupies a special place.

For many it remains the last true Cruiser station wagon, courtesy of its traditional solid-axle front and rear suspension configuration.

This, unfortunately, all changed in 1998 with the introduction of 100 Series and its sacrilegious independently suspended front wheel attachments…

So, if you want to build an off-road special, it stands to reason there are few chassis options quite as rugged and suited as the Cruiser 80 Series.

Enter into the story crazy Dutchman (aren’t they all?) Rene van Velthoven, who decided to merge the legendary 80 series with another automotive marvel - Citroën’s DS.

Hardly the work of a moment, but in terms of style it will become a cause célèbre in both Toyota and Citroën camps.

Classic with contemporary ruggedness

As an automotive odd-couple this Renardsport  D-crosser project ranks up there with stuff like the Lotus Carlton (GM/Lotus) and Maserati Merak (Maserati/ Citroën) for unlikely, yet curiously heroic, brand cooperation. 

The idea of a Citroën DS riding atop a Cruiser 80 Series chassis appears, at first, to be a trifle odd and rather mad.

Citroën’s DS though, is a revered car.

It brought technology such hydropneumatic suspension, power steering, semi-automatic transmission and all-round disc brakes together in a strikingly beautiful styling package.

When you Consider DS debuted with all these features way back in the 1950s, you realise it was simply decades ahead of the market’s expectation.

Rene van Velthoven is quite a keen Citroën enthusiast (he owns a dealership and restoration centre) and a man who clearly thinks transfer case capability and classic sheet metal surfacing are not mutually exclusive concepts.

This explains the motivation (if you are the type who needs justification for mad custom car projects) for Rene's Renardsport project car, which essentially sees classic French styling running robust Japanese mechanicals.

A perfect fit?

For the Renardsport project car (which Rene hopes to compete in some Dutch off-road events this year if an early test run bodes well) the 80 Series chassis was an obvious choice for a few good reasons.

Firstly, it’s long enough to seamlessly carry the stylish DS body.

Secondly, the chassis is constructed to virtually indestructible Toyota standards and thirdly, it features coil-sprung live-axles, instead of leaf-springs, which makes suspension fine-tuning easier.

Although the project is still a work in progress Rene already has a sophisticated damper system from Dutch suspension specialist Reiger on his wish list.

For the moment his Renardsport project car runs a viscous type transmission, with front and rear axle lockers ensuring traction security over even severely broken terrain.

Lusty in-line six compression-ignition power should serve the Renardsport D-crosser well in off-road racing

Big six

Powering the DS styled off-road racing machine is Toyota’s unyielding 4.2l 1DH in-line six turbodiesel.

Rene has transplanted a VX100 series 4.2l engine’s larger turbo, which he estimates should swell peak power output to around 180kW.

As odd a mix as this French-Nipponese off-road project car is, it does look fairly magnificent – combining the regal overtures of those classic DS lines with the intimidating stance of a Cruiser 80.

All things considered, it’s very much like a Lamborghini LM2002 with a French (Dutch?) twist…


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