I had to bring my aging Toyota to the garage today to find out what’s wrong with the exhaust system. We had a new one put on less than three years ago, but it’s never been quite right and seems to be rusting away. The problem is that we brought our Matrix over from the States in 2005 (I inherited it after my Aunt Sheila died) and although it’s been the best car I’ve ever owned (bar none!), it is difficult to get many parts for it because this model was never sold here. Luckily, very little has gone wrong with it, and aside from getting louder recently, it still runs like a top. This is partly due to the service it’s gotten at Herr Magnus’ garage. A former Citroen dealer, he has also worked on lots of American servicemen’s cars over the years and long ago agreed to take us on as clients. One of the best things about going to Magnus is being able to check out the other customers’ cars there. Magnus is considered somewhat of an expert when it comes to the old DS models, the so-called “goddess”, and customers come from far and wide to get his advice and help. There are always a number of them sitting around waiting for new brakes or transmissions, or because the hydropneumatic suspension system has to be flushed. I’ve always been fascinated by them, and the smaller, two-cylinder CVs as well. They are so different than almost all the other vehicles on the road.
This one looks like it’s ready to eat anyone who gets too close. Lots of space under the hood and plenty of access to all the various parts of the engine. And those front lights!
Some of them look like they have been in the garage for a long time, and Herr Magnus does indeed have a hard time finding trained mechanics who are willing to work on these increasingly rare vehicles. He wanted to retire himself, due to various health problems, but decided that his 600-euro-a-month pension was not sufficient to enjoy a pleasant post-work life. I also suspect the idea of sitting around at home, not getting his fingers covered in hydraulic fluid on a regular basis was not very appealing to him.
Almost looks like two fish waiting to leap out of the water! Maybe they’re just anxious to get back on the road, and don’t like being kept in the semi-darkness of this old, underground garage. Are there any other cars this unusual, or beautiful?
I love the flowing form of the DS, and the fact that it takes a few seconds for the car to rise to its proper height once the ignition has been turned on. While this type of suspension certainly gave the car a smooth ride, it also made it very expensive and difficult to work on due to a need for special tools and training. This old DS is almost ready to roll.
And now my old Matrix sits tucked away in one of the bays, awaiting parts that will (hopefully) return it to its former muffled self. Unfortunately Herr Magnus has to move out of this garage, which he has rented for over 55 years. The landlord decided to triple the rent, which is quite common in Berlin these days, but this proved to be too much for the proud mechanic. When I asked him what would become of this place, he answered that he didn’t know and didn’t care, which I find somewhat hard to believe. You grow attached to the place you have spent a majority of your working life in, don’t you? At any rate, it’s the end of an era, and I will sorely miss walking down the steep ramp into this treasure trove of old technology.