For the last year, I’ve been running the BX as a daily driver. Not quite every day as I rarely leave the house, but it’s certainly the car of choice. And with the return of car shows, I’ve made it to quite a few this year. Despite the unwelcome overheating at Festival of the Unexceptional, I’m still keen to get to a few more shows before the end of the season. And as luck would have it, I was invited to Retro Works car show in Chester, a nice short drive away. So it seemed right to clean the car, but I didn’t expect to clean it to death!
Cleaning for the car show
Between the CCC National and FotU, the BX was looking a little grubby. It’s also not seen any polish for over 18 months, so I figured I best do something about the Citroens appearance. I know I can never defeat the pink appearance of most of the thirty-year-old paint, but I can slow its deterioration. Despite the hot weather, I’d managed to find an afternoon that wasn’t too sunny and made for perfect car washing weather.
I figured, for the first time, that I’d have a go at the engine bay. First, soaking with a mild degreaser from a spray bottle and brushing to agitate the filth. I’ve watched ChrisFix do something similar in one of his videos, so I was filled with YouTube confidence. Then, a quick rinse off with a high-pressure spray bottle and the engine, especially the air intake, looked fantastic.
After blasting the worst filth off the body with the Karcher K4, I was back out with the AutoGlym Polar system. This snow foam kit has really impressed me. Having used a few other snow foam applicators and liquids, I figured the concept of blanketing the car simply didn’t live up to the ideals. However, the AutoGlym Polar Wash is fantastic, a great big hefty blanket of foam that actually pulls the dirt off. It still needs some assistance with a brush and sponge, though.
Then for the first time in a long while, my Citroen BX was finally shown some love and treated to some polish. AutoGlym Super Resin Polish for those playing along at home. This is not the best polish, nor the longest-lasting, but of all the concoctions I’ve poured onto the car over the years, it’s certainly my favourite. I find it easy to apply and get a decent result without breaking my back. It’s a damn good finish, even applied by hand. I did try to put a ceramic coat on the bonnet, but it was a disaster, more on that if I figure out what went wrong.
Time to head of to Retro Works, or not
Full of enthusiasm, I got up in the morning, threw the kids car seats in and went to start the engine. It turns over just fine but really struggles to catch. A few coughs make me think it’s getting some fuel, but little or no spark. I didn’t give myself any ‘faff’ time, so this is costing me time at the showtime—no time for messing about then. Let’s see what’s wrong.
Under the bonnet, I checked all the electrical connections that run to the engine management ECU. I was expecting to find a flooded connection relieving the control unit of a vital signal. But all the crucial connectors are dry, though a few get a bit of cleaning and Vaseline. I noticed the cheap nasty fuel hose has cracked around the connection to the fuel rail. Disconnecting the hose proves there is fuel pressure, and the bad bit gets chopped off. I want to check the spark, and the easiest way is to whip a plug out.
But looking down the plug bores, I find my problem. The bottom of the deep hole on plugs four and two are flooded with water! Que some frantic drying out with tissue and compressor before carefully taking the plugs out. Sure enough, they are a bit damp, although not plug four. In the picture above the threads and tops have been wiped down, but the electrodes are shown as they were found. I’ve not put them in firing order. The grotty plug on the left is actually from cylinder three.
The strangest thing is that they are NGK BP7ET, the correct plug for the engine, but not what I thought I was running! After hunting through the spares box, I found the Denso IK22 single fine point iridium plugs, which I believed were in the head. So that means instead of being changed three years ago, the car continued running plugs installed in 2008. With the Denso plugs in, the slight hunting at idle seems to have gone, and the revs don’t sag quite so much when breaking to a stop. But is that new plugs or cleaning connectors? I’ll never know, but now the car is running!
Getting to the Retro Works Car Show
With the kids loaded into the back, we set off for the show. I’m initially paranoid about how far we will get, but after a mile or so, the car seems to be running just fine. I snapped the connector to the temperature sender when I was washing, so I didn’t have to worry about the coolant temperature. It is a short ride on mainly single carriageway roads, not opening her up to see how much extra power the new plug give.
I had no idea what to expect at the show. I know a guy with a Citroen AX who suggested it, and I think we use (abuse?) the same indie garage close to the showground. So I wasn’t sure if it was all semi-moderns, Max Power style, or full of bangers. And the reality is that it has absolutely everything. From pristine Austin Minis to a T4 (?) Transporter on air ride.
I like to get a picture that encompasses the types of cars you get at a show. At the CCC National, it’s predictably all Citroens, at the FotU is old chod. For me, the picture above is a good example of what was on show. Modern(ish) sports, classic tourer, with a Sweedish brick in between. Something for everyone, and an awful lot of cars I’d never seen.
The car of the show for me was this AX. I can’t tell you quite what drew me to it, but it’s immaculate. I could genuinely not find a mark on it. Pretty much showroom fresh. There were a lot of AX’s at the show, in various trims and states of repair, but this one shone out.
I’m afraid this random selection of pictures for you don’t do the show justice. It was a jam-packed show, and getting people free shots was near impossible. The children were also adamant they were taking most of the photos. I’d have happily taken the Volvo home, or even the Renault 17. It was great to see the pair of Sera’s. The unique design fascinated my eldest child. The Land Rover 130 was something to behold with some sort of Mercedez V5(?) diesel engine shoehorned in, the very definition of ‘no smoke, no poke’.
For a show that I didn’t know much about and very nearly didn’t make it to, it was a cracker. Decent facilities on-site, short enough to not bore the kids, and riddled with unusual exotica. Very much a show centred around well-loved cars, with no gimmicks. I’d have happily paid to get in, but as it happens, it was free entry. I’ll definitely be going again, but perhaps I’ll hold off washing the engine bay next time!