Solo Road Trip Heroism: San Diego To Miami In a Caged $500 Citron

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
solo road trip heroism san diego to miami in a caged 500 citron

Readers of On The Road gush about the incredible asphalt journeys taken by the book’s protagonists, but they did most of their driving in a brand-new Hudson and a brand-new Cadillac limousine. Here is a truly heroic road trip: a solo San Diego-to-Miami drive in a basket-case Citroën ID19 that ran for the first time in 25 years when it clanked a single lap around the Sears Point paddock and then headed onto the track.

Meet Mike Spangler, the man behind the Lunar Rover Mini Moke and turbocharged ’62 Austin Mini race cars. He decided that it would be fun to drive the Citroën— veteran of two incredibly punishing 24 Hours of LeMons races— nearly 3,000 miles to the season-ender LeMons race in Miami.

A single LeMons race generally kills most cars. Honda Civics? Toast. Fox Mustangs? Crusher bait. The Citroën hadn’t even had an oil change since 1985, so Mike decided he’d do some routine maintenance before leaving on his lunatic journey. You know, tune-up, adjust the valves, that kind of thing. Whoops, busted rocker pedestal!

After much thrashing, the car was ready to go this morning at 7:30 PST.

He’s been rolling east for two hours now and the Déesse appears to be running well; he’s made it across the mountains and out of the wet weather. Text message from a minute ago: “4k @ 70mph. climbed into mtns over 4k elevation gain in the rain no prob. Babying throttle because clutch slipped under uphill throttle test last night b4 departure.”

I hope to see the man and the car when I show up in Miami to judge the race. Wish him luck!

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  • John Bianchi John Bianchi on Dec 28, 2010

    Way to go..........wish I could be there with the Zippys in our Honda # 613. Had a great time at Chicago. Baby that Citro........24 hours at this track will be the ultimate TEST for car and drivers. Good Luck.

  • Ken Nelson Ken Nelson on Jan 06, 2011

    That crosscountry trip was nothing for a DS - they're a lot more rugged than most people know. The later (66-75) 5 main engines are bulletproof and could easily be supercharged as did the French cops doing nothing to the bottom end. In 1994 my son and I drove my '67 DS21 convertible, restored by putting an entire good chassis under the bodywork, from Detroit to Vancouver to join a group of 26 Deaux Chevaux from all over the world who'd gathered for a 3 week rally/camping trip around the Pacific Northwest. Vancouver, Banff, Glacier, Yellowstone, all thru Wash State & Oregon, way out in the boonies, arriving at the finish in SF after 3500 miles of backroad. Then headed into the N. end of Death Valley (in August!) on the way home, driving a very rough gravel road 70 miles at 65 mph avg, no AC, arriving in Furnace Creek at 118 F in the shade - steering wheel black vinyl wrapping was so hot I had to wear gloves, but the car never overheated. The famous DS hydropneumatic suspension just ate up the road - who needs 4WD with a FWD DS - they'll go damn near anywhere. Kudos to Mike for having the guts to make the trip in what most people would've written off as scrap - just another "old" DS come back to live and impress again, and still look like it's 50 yrs ahead of everything else - hah!

  • Oberkanone Installing immobilizer is the answer. It's not hard. It's not expensive.
  • MrIcky Out of the possible Jeep recalls to bring up on this site, I'm surprised it's this one and not round 2 of the clutch recall.
  • Dukeisduke I saw a well-preserved Mark VII LSC on the road not too long ago, and I had to do a double-take. They still have a presence. Back when these were new, a cousin of mine owned an LSC with the BMW turbo diesel.
  • Dukeisduke I imagine that stud was added during the design process for something, and someone further along the process forgot to delete it after it became unnecessary.
  • Analoggrotto Knew about it all along but only now did the risk analysis tilt against leaving it there.