The silver Visa


In November 2001 I bought a rare Visa GT, named GerriT. For some time I had been looking for a Visa GTi. The GTi is the fastest production Visa ever. Only 30 examples were imported into the Netherlands. A good GTi is a rare find. After seeing some disappointing GTis I saw an advertisement for a Visa GT, located in The Netherlands.

Although nearly 1000 GTs were sold in The Netherlands, today very few survive. I had not seen one for years. The GT was a seriously fast Visa. It succeeded the slightly tuned Visa Super X. The GT has an 80HP 1360 cc engine. Top speed is 168 km/h, acceleration from 0-100 takes 10,9 seconds. It was officially sold in The Netherlands from late 1982 until the 1985 model year, although some dealers had difficulties to get rid of their stock, and sold some left over GTs in the years after. In France and some other countries, the GT was sold until 1987.

When I contacted Marko ten Klooster, the vendor of this specific GT, I had no serious intention to buy his car. I only wanted to ask if I could insert a photo of his car in Visa Ville, or maybe put an advertisement for his car in the sales section. I got the impression that the GT was in pretty good shape, and when Marko mailed me that the Visa might be sold the next weekend, I felt a slight regret...

A few days later, Marko wrote that the Visa was still for sale. At that moment, I decided to have a go for it. We agreed that I would view the car near Marko's home in De Blesse (Friesland). Upon inspection, the GT did not disappoint.The bodywork was generally in good condition. The major blemishes were the left front wing (some serious rust bubbles), one back door (door bottom rusty) and the right sill (two small rust holes). The interior looked very good. Mechanically, the car would be in fine condition, having only covered some 87.000 km. However, the engine refused to come to life during my first visit. Marko promised to fix the problem, and I decided to buy. Marko also succeeded in acquiring two budget priced new Michelin TRX front tyres from the breaker in his village.

After a week my brother Maarten and I drove to De Blesse to collect the GT. This time, it started immediately, and we set off for my the home journey to Alphen aan den Rijn.

De Blesse, November 17, 2001. Before we drive home, GerriT is filled up.
Our journey to Alphen was fast and comfortable. The GT had enough power, and felt really quick. However, the engine did not run very smooth. The number of revs when idling was on the high side too. It seemed sensible to have the mechanics thoroughly checked shortly.
GerriT next to Saxo. Engines of both cars based on the same block. GT produces 5HP more, and is more comfortable...
Left: GT was produced on September 8, 1982, but still looks good today. Smart alloys add to sporty impression.
Right: GerriT after arriving in Alphen. Saxo has to (temporarily) hand in its warm and dry home.
Above: GT was inspected during the work shop day of the Dutch Citroën Visa Club. Right: first glimpse of underside of GerriT. Far right, top: some small parts of front suspension show blemishes. Far right, bottom: some more points lost on left rear wheelarch
Left: bottom shows some beginning rust. Right: rear brakes, without doubt the worst part of GerriT, were overhauled soon.

Before being put up for the rest of the winter, GerriT got serviced, and met Polleke near the workshop of Post Uiterweer Restorations, December 2001. Towing hook filled us with high hopes for the summer: GT makes a terrific combination with Monieke's classic caravan.

 

Left: engine and brakes of GerriT were finally sorted out in January 2002. Engine ran remarkably better (and more economic) afterwards. However, there was quite a lot of cosmetic work to be done. Right: both GerriT and Polleke will soon have to be tested again, so the two Visas are temporarily parked near our house. Probably, the neighbours will not be very happy...

     
After his first service, GerriT was driven quite frequently for a short time. After all, he had to be tested within a few weeks, and the engine, rather polluted due to the not so optimal tuning before, had to be burned clean. GerriT passed the test first time. This spring, some rust damage has to be treated. Rare as it is, the GT will remain a second car next to my Saxo. As such, it is not driven daily, and in winter it will probably not leave the shed where it is put up.
 
GerriT during his first real club outing in January, 2002. In January and February I also took the GT to my work in The Hague. GerriT performed better every day .
GerriT gets his first wash. Paint is faded, but gives the car a nice patina (top left). PVC parts got new shine with sillicon based cleaner (top right). Right rear wing got slightly dented recently, due to some unknown cause, but has to be replaced by rust free panel anyway (middle right). Subtle decals hint surprising un-Visa like performance (bottom left). Original dealer sticker still present after nearly 20 years (bottom right).
GerriT, enjoying his new life in the city.
Every year that frightful day returns: the day your car has to be tested. GerriT had to be tested in February, 2002, for the first time during my ownerschip. I thought he might fail...but it did not! In the coming year, however, some welding to the sills has to be done, and there is more that could be better.
 
GerriT is safe for another year. Polleke casts a jealous glance.   Good looking and scarce as it may be, the GT does not yet attract real public attention.
Some more details of the GT, showing the car's age and authenticity. The sill on the right side of the car (right) was only just good enough to pass the test. It will be replaced soon. Most sills and posts stood the test of time very well, and were obviously kept very clean by first owner. Minor rust and weathered top lacquer typical for overall condition of bodywork (far right)
 
Rust bubbles on left front wing another blemish to be tackled in near future (top left). Right rear mud flap came of during service, but will be refitted (top right). More surface rust and weathered paint (left). Cover of gutter broke at some moment during the twenty year lifepan of GerriT.
 
  GerriT had his first big club outing during the Brabant spring tour in March, 2002.  
Time warp: GerriT parked in Bodegraven
near one of the very few remaining Dutch
4=6 grocery stores, which were
quite common in the 70s and 80s
(March 2002).
GerriT frequently hits the road. Until now, he proves to be quite reliable.  
 
  Towing the dwarf-like caravan of Angela Bruurmijn to Citromobile (May 4 and 5, 2002) proved no big problem. In fact, I hardly even noticed it affected the acceleration.   Oh dear, what's that big yellow Wegenwacht doing next to GerriT? GerriT's unwillingness to idle was put down to a broken electrical jet. After the small pin at the inside was cut off, the GT performed like it had done before. A few months later, I installed some jets from a spare carburettor.
 
GerriT next to another GT at Citromobile. In November, we saw this specific GT in a village near to where I bought GerriT.   The GT in the midst of other Visas, all belonging to members of the Dutch Visa Club, during Citromobile 2002.  
GerriT returns after Citromobile, and takes the ferry near Gorinchem.  
 
Right outside mirror, stuck by rust, broke under an attempt to be adjusted. New mirror was bought from the stand of the Alphen based concessionnaire (!), and costed only 10,00.
 
 
Top left: GerriT ready to take our Otten caravan (called the Hostojehonie) to the 6th Hunnetreffen meeting in Oldemarkt, May 2002. Top right: GerriT and Hosto make lovely nostalgic couple. Below left: Dutch Citroën meetings are usually dominated by 2CVs, but owners of other types, like the Visa, are always welcome. Below right: GerriT tries to be friends with the big boys.  
 
Left: Thijs van der Zanden found some good panels in the same colour as GerriT's on the scrap yard in Helmond. Especially the front wing, which is one of GerriT's weak spots, will be benificial for the GT's looks. Below left: a loose fuel pump caused a sudden halt on the motorway (September 2002). Below right: dry storage for the winter was found in the fall of 2002.  
 
GerriT and the red Visa keeping each other company, November 2002.
February 2003: testing time again. Also this year GerriT survived, but not before he had his sill welded and his front discs replaced. GerriT even had his taste of real snow on the way home.
Top left: GerriT meets his modern sister C3 at a petrol station, April 2003. Top right: GerriT and Polleke after a thorough wash near our house. Right: GerriT taking part in the spring tour of the Visa Club on April 6, 2003.
Left: GerriT attended the spring meeting of the Dutch Visa Club in May, 2003, together with Monieke's caravan. Below left: GerriT still doing well, a year and a half after I bought it... Below right: but rust on doors and other parts is becoming a problem. I treated it with rust stopper, but the day will come GerriT will need some major investment.
 
 
Above left: taking Gerrit out camping for the spring meeting was quite pleasing, so we decided to give him another go on a short holiday to the Sauerland (Germany). Above right: GerriT (1982) and an Otten Zwerver LS (1977) bring back memories to what camping sites looked like twenty years ago. Left: Gerrit facing the only Visa we spotted in the Sauerland during our holiday.  
On the journey home, a proverbial loose wire caused GerriT refusal to fire after a petrol stop. Curing the fault was easy.
  GerriT and Hostojehonie are always good for nice pictures on motorway parkings
Left: another holiday trip for GerriT in August 2003 led to Dalfsen. Right: during he trip, the wheel center of the nearside front wheel came off and was lost.
Right: another set of wheels and some useable tyres for GerriT was acquired during the World Meeting in August, 2003.
 
GerriT was treated to a good service in December 2003. The troublesome starter was renewed, the alternator was revised, and the heavily bubbled left front wing was replaced by a rust free one. As a result of that action, a considerable amount of welding had te be done to the inner wing. The repairs were quite expensive, but GerriT seemed fit for the months to come and his next APK. On his first trip, however, the right front wheel bearing collapsed in a big way. The helpful Wegenwacht (photo left) who had a look shook his head: nothing to be fixed here. With an almost deafening rumble GerriT had to limp home. Visa ownership is never without surprises...
Left: new wing does GerriT good. Right: another unforseen stop, due to a broken engine support. Old engine of red Visa supplied a replacement part.
Left: Preparation for GerriTs journey to the 13th ICCCR in Switzerland includes the fitting of a period radio. My brother Maarten takes care of the technical part of this operation. When fitted, the radio did not work properly, but this was cured in time...  
Left: For the journey to Switzerland, GerriT was equipped with an accessory dashpanel, which proved to be of great convenience. Right: GerriT did not bother too much about driving to Interlaken, although there were some difficulties with the right wheel: the Michelin TRX tyre got a puncture, and two days later the wheel bearing broke.
Right: steel spare wheel looks silly on GT. 'Tour operator' Maarten van den Eijnde lent me his TRX spare...until he got a puncture as well. Far right: GerriT back home after 2500 kms. Not bad for a 22 year old car.
Left and far left: GerriT at the meeting of the Citroën Visa Sport Club in September, 2004.
Left: During the autumn tour of the Visa Club in November, GerriT lost a plug. The Wegenwacht had to come to fix the problem. Right: GerriT passed the APK again without much worry in early 2005, but their are some rust problems starting to develop. Probably next year will be welding time again.
Right: GerriT waiting in the street near my house, ready to be leaving to Citromobile in Utrecht, May 2005. Polleke (in the back right) remains at home. The Leader beside her is owned by a friend. Far right: GerriT during a club meeting in Noorden.
  GerriT and Otten caravan still form a striking combination.
Left: GerriT lines up for a collective visit to Citrorama during the late summer meeting of the Dutch club in Groesbeek, September 2005. Right: GerriT reaches the 100.000 km mark, October 2005.
  GerriT occupying the second garage near my house, January 2006.
GerriT during the workshop meeting of the Dutch club in Alphen aan den Rijn, February 2006.
Left: April 2006; coachwork still looks reasonable after 23 years.
 
Far left: only joking: Wegenwacht repairing a staged puncture. Left: GerriT at Eurocitro in Le Mans, August 2006.
Right and far right: two more scenes from Eurocitro 2006. Below: Belgian GT owner measuring up the original striping.
Right: GerriT ready to take off for the last stage of the journey home after Eurocitro from a camping near Amièns.
Right: never used 13" alloys (no TRX) bought at eBay, October 2006, wil fit silver or red Visa.
 
Left: GerriT taking part in the spring tour of the Dutch Citroën Visa-Club in the Betuwe in March, 2007.
Right and far right: the Oranjerit in Velp on Queen's Day (April 30, 2007) was a pleasant event. GerriT was one of two participating Visas.
Top left: short holiday in the Ardennes in May 2007. Bottom left: during that holiday, on a short trip, a loose electrical connection caused a sudden stop on our way back, at just a few kilometres distance from the camping site. Happily, the problem was easily solved (right).
Left and far left: GerriT's looks benefitted greatly from the application of black stickers by a friend from the Dutch club, instead of the rather fainted matt black paint.
Right: GerriT together with Milly on our way to Visami in Nehren, July 2007. Far right: Gerrit with our caravan the Hostojehonie in August, 2007.
Groesbeek 07-1 GT was my most driven Visa in 2007. Here it is at the yearly club meeting in Groesbeek in September. Groesbeek 07-2
GerriT with another Visa at a classic car show in my home village Alphen aan den Rijn, September 2007.
Oldtimerdag Alphen  
station inspection Far left: although old, Visa GT is still a practical and comfortable four seater, suitable for longer journeys. Left: it is in good shape as well. Here it is inspected at a rust prevention meeting of the Dutch club in November, 2008, and considered basically OK.
Despite looking a bit sorry in the pictures, GerriT actually got better from his partial restoration in April 2009. The GT received new rear doors and the rusty rear wheelarches were repaired. Next step was respraying the new and repairded parts. The work was finished off with a Dinitrol treatment.
   

More coming soon.

Thanks to Thijs van der Zanden for supplying some valuable facts, figures and body panels!

Last updated: April 20, 2009.

All photographs © Okke Groot