The introduction of the M35 was done on a grand scale. All European motoring press was summoned. They were allowed to drive the little wonder with hydropneumatic suspension and a a Wankel engine, the engine technology that seemed to have great potential at the time. For the test, 6 M35s were built in a preliminary hand-built series. All in Gris Nacré and visibly numbered. What has become of these cars?
Well, we’re going to tell you the story of No.3! After testing by the factory, journalists and owners, as many cars as possible were retrieved to dismantle and examine the engines. The Wankel engine was further developed with the knowledge gained. No. 3 was also stripped of its engine and stored. Years later it was dismantled and the parts were reused in other cars. When we had the opportunity to put these parts back together, we took it. It is the oldest existing M35!
Read the whole story below.
The press kit contained photos of a dark-colored M35 without a number, which were used in many publications. No. 001 was the most prominent of the series of 6 in the magazines, for obvious reasons. Later articles and driving impressions often included photos of the car that the journalist had tested. Autovisie got No. 2, Autorevue drove No. 6 and L’Automobile tested No. 4.
No. 3 also rode along, and was photographed with the entire team responsible for the development of engine project 35, hence the name M35.
Most likely the car also served as a test vehicle for the technicians, but we will get to that later.
After the introduction, 5,000 loyal Citroën drivers stood in line to trade in their car for an M35 and be made an voluntary test driver. 500 requests were honored, but in the end only 267 cars were delivered, so some people must have been disappointed. After some fiddling with the numbers to keep up appearances, No. 473 the last of the production line. We currently have this car in our showroom.
We took No. 473 to the Conservatoire of Citroën, to pose with the other end of the row, the No. 1. During the photo shoot we were able to take a closer look at the car, which revealed that it was No. 4. An understandable adjustment of its history.
But what about No. 3? When we put the entire collection of M35s up for sale 15 years ago, some parts that the collector had gathered were also included. Including the No. 3 chassis. This was once found in Northern France, with an enthusiast who had bought the remains of this car from Citroën, without an engine. He dreamed of building the first 2CV with suspension spheres, and wanted to use the chassis and technology for a converted van. The existing M35 chassis required a lot of adjustment at the front, so a standard chassis was used.
The body shell of No. 3 was given a different destination. This was placed on an Ami Super chassis, painted red and made a bit sportier-looking with matte black details. The yellow van and the red Ami Super Coupé were regularly seen at meetings in the 1990s and 2000s. Until interest in the red one diminished, it ended up in the garage and was eventually offered on the internet in 2016. Only for a few hours, because the owner immediately regretted it. But we had seen it!
After a lot of massaging by a French friend, we were finally allowed to come and see the red ex-M35, after which we were also allowed to buy it. Because we had a plan; If you can divide a car into parts, you can put it back together again as well!
The chassis was already there, as were the necessary remaining parts, we now also had the bodywork and panels-, only the engine was still missing from the puzzle. We went looking for this needle in a haystack. In the meantime, the bodywork was completely stripped of paint and returned to its original state. Without paint you could suddenly see how the body was welded together by hand using Ami 8 panels, the seams in the rear wings and doors were clearly visible. On the later models these were pressed in one piece.
We restored all the panels and prepared and collected various parts. And stored them§ to put the puzzle together later. For that moment we have also kept the original inner screens, because they contain all kinds of (measuring) equipment used by the technical team that we described earlier.
Years passed. We didn’t really have time to continue with it either. But then suddenly the missing piece of the puzzle came along. At an auction where the contents of a Citroën garage (since 1945, founded in 1914) came under the hammer, there was also a wooden crate containing a particularly dusty piece of technique. Only 1 photo had to tell the story, it was a gamble what the condition was, but we decided to bid. Long story short, a month later a New Old Stock M35 engine lay in the back of our C5. The missing piece had been found.
And now? Do we continue with it? Well, we still have a lot of projects that are planned earlier and, moreover, with such a project you have to make choices that you actually want to make together with a new owner. So it is for sale as it is, to be taken with you and finish it yourself or make a plan with us.
As mentioned, No. 3 the oldest known M35. Of the first series of 6, No. 4 is still known, and No. 6 can be found in the collection of the car museum at the Le Mans circuit.
For more information about this and other M35s, visit our site www.citroenm35.com