Dutchman Harry Martens from Limmen is the kind of car enthusiast that always thinks ahead. Although ‘dreams ahead’ might be the better chosen proverb. Always thinking of improving things. Doing it a bit different. Starting of as a hobby gone completely out of hand, he has been running HML Transmission Repair for quite a while now.
Specialising in repairing and overhauling Citroën DS gearboxes and its versions found in the Citroën SM, Lotus Esprit and Maserati Merak. His largest effort however is the ‘boite hydraulique cinq’. The fully hydraulic operated five speed gearbox Citroën never made. All the advantages of the famous Citroën semi automatic gearbox, now in a five speed version.
The Citroën DS 23 injection we featured in this movie is the sum of everything HML came up with to make this legendary car even better. Just like car manufacturers all over the world have used motorsports to show off their performance and reliability since like forever, Harry rebuilt his own DS to showcase his ability. The DS’s serious rallying pedigree doesn’t really need further explanation. The many successes in its days inspired HML more than sufficiently to combine contemporary technical knowledge and the inventiveness Harry is known for to build a car that is completely FIA certified and is capable of coping with both circuit- and speed trials.
Thinking of the Citroën DS, most car enthusiasts drift to the acclaimed design and the unequaled ride comfort. Seeing Harry’s DS leaves most with their mouths wide open in awe. Alloy wheels, cut out rear wheel arches, more high beams that the Eiffel tower and some exuberant rally decals, leave no room for question. This is no car to parade along the boulevards on lazy sundays. Seeing Harry drive it takes away the very last hint of doubt. This is a potent car. No highly tuned engine, but a series of conversions and improvements that transformed this car into a genuine rally car. The obvious conversions were already summed up. Add some FIA regulation demands like a roll cage, fire extinguishers and bucket seats to the equation and we’re really getting there.
Citroëns like these are front wheel drive. To underline the legendary road holding of this particular model, Harry fitted this one with a limited slip differential for some extra traction under cornering. Cornering does need a little parking brake assist every now and then in rally circumstances. Not all that obvious in a DS, since the original parking brake does operate on the front axle.
Not on Harry’s DS though, he worked out how to fit a hydraulic parking brake on the rear wheels and built it from scratch. These are the little things highlighting the level of HML’s engineering. This and of course the speed in which this excellent five speed semi automatic drags this rally monster through its gears. It does make us understand the mighty grin on Harry’s face, the very moment he takes seat behind the one spoke steering wheel of La Bombe Citroën.
text: Marc GF Zaan
photography: Oscar Enklaar and Mirko Cocco