Richard Herriott introduces an occasional series, kicking tyres in Denmark.
Marcellus said to Hamlet “There’s something rotten….isn’t there?” Hamlet turned back, puzzled. “Come again?” Marcellus pulled a mildly irritated expression. “There’s something rotten…you know…something rotten-in-the-state-of-Denmark….” Hamlet’s face clouded. “This no time for cryptic clues, Marcellus….my dad´s been poisoned and I am pretty ticked off about the whole deal. What are you trying to say?” Taking a deep breath Marcellus then sighed. “I mean, Hamlet, there’s something profoundly wrong with things. Denmark is a metaphor for the situation we’re in. And all is not well. It’s a figure of speech… sorry I mentioned it.”
As this site’s Danish correspondent, I hope to bring you an insight into the world of older Danish cars. The title is not merely an un-amusing reference to my geographical location, but also to the fact that a variety of conditions mean older Danish cars can be perforated, flaky, corroded and shot-through-to-daylight, from the floor pan up. The snow and ice mean salt. And the rain means drenched roads.
This is not California or Alicante. Such conditions mean that the older cars for sale can often be weathered and worn. An under-body inspection is critical. The rough climate has eliminated a lot of variety from the pool of cars, and to begin with the Danes’ preference for conformity means there might not have been so much variation to begin with. But, I hope to trawl through the listings to see what little of interest remains and use these cars as a starting point for a discussion about fairly useless automotive tat.
The first car to deserve a visit in its back-lot home was this 1990 Citroen XM 2.0 “Prestige” (my quotation marks). In the photos it looked good, with what might have been a rare blue interior and a 2.0 litre engine, not the risky V6 that took the lion’s share of sales. But a closer look revealed the Hamlet quote. Rust was chewing through the rear wheel arch, inside the rear-door, a €1000 repair. Ice had pulled the rubber from between the rear side-glass and the body: a €300 repair. The spheres were probably all discharged: another €500. There were two different types of alloy wheel and the interior was just grey (still rare though).
There are very few series 1 XMs in Denmark and very few have the 2.0 litre engine and cloth trim and no sunroof. Most are series 2, black V6s. This car has been on sale for about two years, and I can imagine that a kind offer of €500 would secure a sale. In some ways it’s too good to scrap. But in truth this car is worthless to almost everyone. The immense cost of labour and this car’s need for an immense amount of work means a titanic investment is needed to save it. This leads me to wonder quite why the dealer still has the car listed. I’ll check again in six months to see if it is still there. Maybe I can buy the repeater lamps from him.
Though not very popular new, the XM is even less popular 13 years after it ceased production. The Danes, perhaps moreso than even UK buyers, drifted away from large non-German cars in the early 90s. This particular example was nearly certainly bought by the owner of a CX and was sold when the grim reaper came to visit. It’s an old man’s car: immaculate interior, fairly low miles and a rather idiosyncratic specification. But a garage can’t keep rust’s sharp tooth at bay and so despite a perfect interior (eerily unmarked) the car is probably not long for this world.