Conservatoire Citroën – Aulnay-sous-Bois (F)

In recent years, almost all motor manufacturers have come to the realisation that their history and heritage is a huge asset. Whilst for a long time they had all focused on the development and sale of new cars, as interest in older and classic cars has grown massively, it dawned on the that their past was important not just for engendering a sense of long-term brand loyalty but also that they could turn it into a marketing advantage and even make money out of it. In some cases, significant sums of money. Some had been amassing collections of significant cars over time, but others had to go and scour the world to buy back examples of the cars that they once produced. And once there was a sizeable collection of cars, then what better to do with them than to display at least a percentage of the collection in their own museum. The German brands have long established factory museums, with lavish displays, and attract millions of visitors a year, and most of the Italian brands have done the same. Fans of French cars have not been so well served. Renault has a huge collection, but the only way you get to see the contents are when they are provided to events such as Rétromobile or Goodwood. Peugeot-istes fare better with a still not that well-known museum in Sochaux, in the south east of France, which I have visited a number of times and found to be excellent. So of the big and still current names, that leaves Citroën. And until recently, the only time you saw their treasures was also at shows or in the now closed showroom on the Champs-Elysées in Paris. But that has now changed, and the Conservatoire Citroën, as their collection is called, is now open to the public. It is located at the Aulnay-sous-Bois factory site, which is on the north eastern side of Paris, a few stops on the RER or the local bus from Charles de Gaulle airport. You need to book your tickets in advance, which is easy to do on their website, and it is now open on Sundays as well during the week From the outside, it does not look very promising, but once you have rung the bell, and been admitted, a collection of over 400 cars and a number of artefacts awaits. And what a collection it is, with road cars, concepts and prototypes, rally and race cars and a mix of the familiar and the less familiar.

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THE EARLY CARS

The Citroën story starts with this car. the 1919 Model A, the very first Citroën car ever made. During World War I, André Citroën was producing munitions. As early as 1917, Citroën investigated the development of a light car of the medium range under the direction of Jules Salomon. Under the designation 10 HP Type A the car had a water-cooled 1327 cc four-cylinder engine and an output of 18 hp. Its maximum speed was 65 km/h (40 mph). The chassis had inverted quarter elliptic springs at the front and double quarter elliptics at the rear. Braking was on the rear wheels only controlled by a hand lever with a foot pedal operated transmission brake. The chassis was made in two lengths and carried a variety of coachwork. The long chassis was available as Torpedo (four-seat tourer), Torpedo Sport, Conduite Intérieure, Coupe de Ville and light truck and the short chassis with Torpedo (3-seat), Conduite Intérieure, Coupe de Ville and camionette (van). The shorter 2,550 mm (100.4 in) wheelbase chassis was available only on demand until the start of 1920 after which the option was withdrawn in order to maximize standardization and derive the resulting cost and efficiency benefits. The final drive used a bevel gear with herringbone teeth, whose shape was the inspiration for the Citroën double chevron logo. In its first year of production, the standard Type A cost 7,950 francs. One year later the selling price had been raised to 12,500 francs. After a slightly hesitant start in 1919, sales took off in 1920, during which more than 20,000 cars emerged from the factory in a single year. With a production rate of 100 vehicles a day, Citroën became the first mass production manufacturer in Europe. 24,093 were made before the car was replaced in 1921.

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The Citroën B2 is the second model produced by Citroën. It is therefore the second European car to have been constructed according to modern mass production technologies. It was produced at André Citroën’s factory in central Paris between May 1921 and July 1926. The Citroën B2 replaced the Citroën Type A in June 1921, although the “Type A” would continue to be listed for sale till December 1921. The new car offered more power, the size of its 4-cylinder engine now being increased to 1,452 cc. The car was sometimes known as the Citroën 10HP (or 10CV), the HP in the suffix being a reference to its fiscal horsepower, a number computed according to the cylinder diameters and used to define its taxation class. In terms of engine power, maximum output was listed as 20 bhp at 2,100 rpm, which translated into a claimed top speed of 72 km/h (45 mph). Power reached the rear wheels via a three speed manual transmission. There was no synchromesh. Advertised fuel consumption of 8 l/ 100 km converts into a remarkable 31 mpg. The car quickly gained a reputation for robustness and economy. The car was manufactured, just five minutes from the Eiffel Tower, in the 15th arrondissement of central Paris at the famous factory in the Quai de Javel (subsequently renamed Quai André-Citroën), which by 1925 was producing at the rate of 200 cars per day, applying techniques then known as “Taylorism” which André Citroën had studied personally and in depth during a visit to Dearborn that he had undertaken during the war in order to master the techniques being applied by Henry Ford for the production of the Model T. A number of them were to be seen here:

1922 B2 Caddy Sport

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1924 B2 3 seat

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1923 B2 Landaulet

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1924 B2 Normale

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1925 B2 Torpedo

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Known as the Citroën 5CV or the Type C, around 81,000 of these cars were made between 1922 and 1926. It was updated to the C2 in 1924 which was in turn superseded by the slightly longer C3 in 1925. The Type C was, and still is, also well known as the 5CV due to its French fiscal rating of its engine for taxation purposes. More colloquial sobriquets, referring to the tapered rear of the little car’s body, were ‘cul-de-poule’ (hen’s bottom) and ‘boat deck Citroën’. The four-cylinder, 856 cc had a bore of 55 mm and stroke of 90 mm, generating an output of 11 bhp. There was a single Solex carburettor and magneto ignition. An electric starter was standard, allowing the car to be advertised as especially suitable for lady drivers. There were two types of chassis: the C, which was also used for the C2, and the C3. They varied in length with the original Type C/C2 measuring 7 ft 5 inches in length, and the 1925 C3 measuring 7 ft 9 in. The suspension used inverted quarter elliptic springs at the front and rear, braking was on the rear wheels only, controlled by a hand lever, and on the transmission by the foot brake. The maximum speed was 37 mph with a fuel consumption of 5 l/100 km (56 mpg). Only open bodies were made with the original Type C, often nicknamed the “Petit Citron” (little lemon), due to it only being available in yellow at first, as one of the more popular variants. The C2 tourer was a two-seat version but the C3 was a three-seat “Trèfle” (Cloverleaf) three-seat model with room for a single passenger in the rear. There were also C2 and C3 Cabriolets made. There was also a wide range of C2 and C3 commercial models with 32,567 being built. Although a great success, the car was not profitable, and Citroën decided to end “Type C” production in May 1926. Looking at it now, this really does look like entry-level motoring of the most basic kind. The only dial is an Ammeter. It’s apparently completely baffling to drive, the pedals were originally arranged with the accelerator in the middle and brake on the right. Though now converted to standard setup, you’re still left with brakes that only operate the rear wheels; and there’s no synchro, which is quite a test for the modern motorists. There’s also very little power so it is actually quite difficult to drive in modern traffic and you really have to keep your momentum going. Shown here were a 1925 5CV model and a 1924 C3 Cabrio

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At the Paris Motor Show in October 1924 a Citroën 10HP was exhibited with “tout-acier” (“all-steel”) body work. Initially this model was offered only with a “Conduite Intérieure” (closed saloon/sedan) body, although a “Torpedo” bodied version was added during the Spring of 1925. For the 1925 model year the “all-steel” bodied car came to be designated as the Citroën B10, while cars with bodies using the (at this stage near universal for passenger cars) coach-builders’ approach of constructing car bodies by attaching panels – often steel panels – to a stout hand-crafted timber frame continued to be designated as the Citroën B2. As the year progressed, “Type B2” car bodies appeared that incorporated features of the “all-steel” “Type B10” such as the three seater cabriolet that appeared in the summer of 1925 featuring the rounded wings from the steel bodies B10 combined with the fuel filler opening of the earlier cars. This model, along with a subsequent “Coupé De Ville,” “Landaulet,” and taxi version which featured the same combination, were listed as “Type B2” models while a number of the less mainstream body options were simply delisted. The far from simple cut-off between the B2 and the B10 means that confusion sometimes arises over which are which. Although the “all-steel” bodied B10 could be seen as a replacement for the B2, the chassis and mechanical elements were for the most part interchangeable, and both models were produced in parallel during 1925 and 1926. However, in October 1925 Citroën unveiled another upgrade for their 10HP model, the Citroën B12, which by the end of 1926 had replaced both the B2 and the B10. This is a 1925 B10 Berline

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The B12 was manufactured using modern mass production technologies which in France at the time, were still unique to Citroën. It also used “all-steel” (“tout-acier”) bodies for its two most popular body types. First displayed at the Paris Motor Show in October 1925, the Citroën B12 shared its chassis and engine with the B10, which it replaced. The size of the 4-cylinder engine remained at 1,452 cc, and as with the earlier model, the B12 was sometimes known as the Citroën 10HP (or 10CV), the HP in the suffix being a reference to its fiscal horsepower, a number computed according to the cylinder diameters and used to define its taxation class. A range of body types was listed, although most of the cars came with “Torpedo” type or “Conduite Intérieure” (two-box saloon/sedan) bodies. Other body types listed were a cabriolet, a “Torpédo commercial” and something called a “Normande”. The B10 had been the manufacturer’s (and Europe’s) first production car comprising an all-steel body. Its replacement — the B12 — was the second. This approach garnered much positive reaction in an age that valued innovation, but the B10 itself had forced the manufacturer onto a very steep learning curve, which unfortunately had been shared by customers. The B10 had been insufficiently rigid. Once the car got moving, the body had twisted and flexed, causing sections of bodywork to become detached and doors to open spontaneously. The B10 had inherited its chassis from the B2, but it was quickly apparent that a stronger and stiffer chassis would be needed to complement the necessary rigidity of an all-steel car body. The “Type B12” came with a newly reinforced chassis which addressed the rigidity issues, but the car was nevertheless significantly heavier. With the engine still offering the same 20 HP of horsepower as before, the manufacturer’s listed top speed was now 70 km/h (44 mph) as against the 72 km/h (45 mph) claimed four years earlier for the “Type B2”. (Actual top speed would no doubt have varied according to the body type specified, weather conditions, and the weight of the passengers and their luggage.) The popular “Torpedo” type and “Conduite Intérieure” (two-box saloon/sedan) cars were the only ones featuring the much vaunted “all-steel” bodies in full. The others used a combination of old and new body structures, which removed the need to tool up dies for stamping out the relatively small numbers of panels needed for the less ubiquitous body types. Criticism of the B10’s brakes was addressed with the “Type B12” which incorporated a new system of drum brakes that now worked on all four wheels. (On the earlier car the front wheels had been unbraked.) There was also a new semi-elliptical leaf spring arrangement at the front. Like the “Type B10”, the “Citroën Type B12” was in effect a one-year model. Partly because of the challenges with the new body making techniques, only 17,259 B10s had been manufactured. For the 1926 model year, the B12 more than doubled than figure, with 38,381 cars produced. The successor model, the “Citroën Type B14”, was formally released at the Paris Motor Show in October 1926 (although it would be 1927 before the last of the B12s found customers). 38,381 were produced. This is a 1926 B12 Torpedo.

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Replacement for the B12 was the B14, and there was one of those here. too. The B14 “All Steel” was presented at the Salon of October 1926, and it represented technical progress compared to the B12 in many areas. The chassis was lighter, the engine more flexible and the foot brake acted on all four wheels. There was a 1539cc 4 cylinder side valves and water cooling engine without a pump (using a thermosyphon), and a 3 speed gearbox. The top speed was around 80 km/h. A number of different bodystyles were offered, including 4 door saloon, 2 door coupe and convertible as well as a Norman, open utility version. This model was quite successful, thanks to a competitive price compared to its rivals. This B14’s unique paint job was based on a design by Ukrainian artist Sonia Delaunay for the 1925 Paris Exposition, also known as the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes. The expo is more famous for the style it helped launch, which was later named after it: art deco. Seen here were a 1927 B14F Cabriolet and a  1928 B14 G Cabriolet.

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The C4, along with the 6 cylinder Citroën C6, was presented at the Paris Motor Show of 1928, and was produced until 1932 The C4 was an evolution, at the same price, of the previous B12, B14, and B15 models , and took some inspiration from the American Ford Model A. When first presented at the Paris Salon of October 1928, it was under the name of AC4 and AC6 (AC for André Citroën), then C4 and C6. The styling was modernised and the car was bigger, more comfortable, and lower, with better handling. Engine power increased by 40%, to give a maximum speed of more than 90 km/h. The Citroën C6 version is powered by a Citroën 6-cylinder with 45 hp, which gave it a top speed of more than 100 km/h, and was aimed at the high-end market. Delage, Delahaye, Talbot, Hotchkiss, and American competition among others. There was a new C4 III version at the show in October 1929 and then again in 1930 with the C4F version at the Paris Salon of 1930, and a C4G version followed at the Salon of 1931. The model was replaced by the Rosalie in 1932. A number of them were presented here

1931 C4G Familiale

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1931 C4 Van

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1929 C6E

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1929 C6E City Coupe de Ville

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1932 C4G Roadster

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1929 C6 Faux Cabriolet

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1931 C6 Berline

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ROSALIE

The original Citroën Rosalie was a light-weight racing car that established a succession of records at the Montlhéry racing circuit. More generally the Rosalie was a range of three models/sizes of automobile that comprised the core of Citroën’s model range between 1932 and 1938. The three models were originally designated respectively the 8CV, the 10CV and the 15CV, the numbers defining the cars’ fiscal horsepower which in turn defined the approximate engine size of each model. After the introduction of the new Traction Avant, the lineup was modified and at the 1934 Paris Salon the two smaller models became the 7UA and the 11UA, now with the overhead-valve engines from the Traction. At introduction, the larger Rosalies replaced the Citroëns C4 and C6, themselves launched respectively in 1928 and 1929. They also represented a move upmarket for the entire business, since during the early 1930s Citroën appeared for a time to lose interest in the smaller cars which had filled their dealerships during the impoverished 1920s. The Rosalies, especially the larger 15CV versions, were offered with range of different body types: this was normal practice at the time. Though not radical in terms of subsequent Citroën launches, the look of the Rosalies was significantly more modern than that of the earlier C4 and C6 models. However, the real revolution at Citroën during these years involved production technology. André Citroën had drawn practical inspiration from his 1912 visit to Henry Ford’s then new Highland Park Ford Plant in Michigan, and in 1932 Citroën was still a European leader in the application of assembly line manufacturing. Rosalies were competitively but apparently profitably priced. In 1934 all the Rosalies received a facelift which involved applying a gently raked angle to the front grill. The post facelift versions that appeared were known as the NH versions, or also as the B-series. NH stood for “Nouvel Habillage” (literally “New Clothing”). 1934 was also the year that saw the introduction of the Rosalie’s mould-shattering successor, the front-wheel-drive semi-monocoque Citroën Traction Avant. The Traction endured a troubled and prolonged birth process, however, and was part of an ambitious investment programme which involved, also in 1934, the bankruptcy of the business, and its acquisition by Citroën’s principal creditor. The patron himself died in 1935. In this troubled situation, availability of the larger Rosalies (although re-engined with a turned-around version of the new Traction’s OHV four-cylinder engines) continued till 1938: it is only through the distorting prism of subsequent events that its reputation has been diminished when set against the technical brilliance of its successor. All in all, 88,090 four-cylinder and 7,230 six-cylinder Rosalies were built (38,840 small 7/8’s, and 49,250 bigger 10/11’s). Of the total produced 8,400 were of the short-lived, facelifted B-series (NH) and around 15,000 were of the latter “MI” cars.

The smallest Rosalie, like the Citroën Type B of the first half of the 1920s, featured a four-cylinder motor of 1,452 cc, driving the rear wheels. The three-speed gear box featured synchromesh on the two higher ranges, and braking was provided by drum brakes on all four wheels. The car was 4.27 metres (168.1 in) long and offered a maximum speed of 90 km/h (56 mph). This is a 1933 8A Berline.

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The 10CV offered a four-cylinder motor of 1,767 cc and a claimed maximum speed of 100 km/h (62 mph). At 4.57 metres (179.9 in) long it was larger than its four-cylinder sibling. In most other respects it was mechanically identical to the 8CV. Commercially, however, it enjoyed greater success, possibly because of a wider range of available versions which included the lighter (and implicitly therefore faster) Rosalie 10 Légère. Seen here is a 1933 10L Cabriolet.

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The larger Rosalie featured a six-cylinder engine of 2,650 cc, the cylinders themselves being the same size as those of the 10CV. The length of the engine block required a lengthened bonnet/hood: the total length of the vehicle was 4.72 metres (185.8 in). Various body types and configurations were available, including a 15 Légère – effectively a 15CV with the shorter passenger cabin length of the 10CV – which was capable of a claimed 120 km/h (75 mph) top speed. For berline/sedan versions the claimed maximum speed was 115 km/h (71 mph). Seen here was a 1933 Rosalie 15A Familiale

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For the last four model years, the 8 and 10 were replaced by the 7UA and 11UA, both called “MI” for Moteur Inversé (“reversed engine”) as the engines, shared with Citroën’s recently launched and much more strongly promoted front-wheel drive Traction models, were turned through 180 degrees to fit the rear-wheel drive Rosalies. While “7” usually referred to tax horsepower in the French market, the Traction 7C’s 1,628 cc engine was actually a 9 CV unit – it had had to be made larger and more powerful, in order to reach the design parameter of a 100 km/h (62 mph) top speed. This is a 1937 Rosalie 7A

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TRACTION AVANT

1934 saw the introduction of the Citroën’s revolutionary and mould-shattering front-wheel-drive semi-monocoque Citroën Traction Avant. The Traction endured a troubled and prolonged birth process, however, and was part of an ambitious investment programme which involved, also in 1934, the bankruptcy of the business, and its acquisition by Citroën’s principal creditor. The patron himself died in 1935. In this troubled situation, availability of the larger Rosalies (although re-engined with a turned-around version of the new Traction’s OHV four-cylinder engines) continued till 1938: it is only through the distorting prism of subsequent events that its reputation has been diminished when set against the technical brilliance of its successor. Produced for over 20 years, many different versions were made during that time, all with the same styling outline, but with power outputs ranging from 7 to 15CV, and different wheelbases, as well as some with Coupe and Convertible body styles. There was even one model with a large opening tailgate, the Commerciale.

1934 Traction 7A

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1939 Traction 11B

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1955 Traction 11B

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1955 Traction Commerciale: The Commerciale version has dual usage: as a passenger car or a commercial vehicle. The optional wooden floor can be set in two different modes: high (97 cm interior available height) and low (107 cm). When loading, the parcel shelf and bootlid lift up together. Loading capacity is 500 Kg in addition to the driver and passenger.

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1954 Traction 15/6H: In 1954, just twenty years after André Citroën launched the Traction, the 15-Six introduced a major innovation that was to revolutionise the automotive industry. The 15-Six H (H for Hydraulics) was equipped with high-pressure hydropneumatic rear suspension designed to keep the car at a constant height regardless of load while maintaining high standards of comfort. It paved the way for the revolutionary system that would be fitted onto the future DS.

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1934 Traction 7B Hardtop

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1939 Traction Cabriolet

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1936 Traction Cabriolet

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Right-hand drive cars were built at Slough Trading Estate, England. The Slough version of the 11L was called the Light Fifteen and the long wheelbase 11 was called the Big Fifteen. This confusing terminology referred to the British fiscal tax rating of the time, which was higher than the French, so the 11CV engine was 15HP in England. The 15/6 model was called Big Six in reference to its 6-cylinder engine. A 1,911 cc Light Fifteen tested by the British magazine The Motor in 1951 had a top speed of 72.6 mph (116.8 km/h) and could accelerate from 0–60 mph in 29.7 seconds. A fuel consumption of 25.2 mpg (11.2 L/100 km) was recorded. The test car cost GB£812 including taxes. A 2,866 cc six-cylinder model was tested by the same magazine in 1954 and for this car the top speed found was 81.1 mph (130.5 km/h), acceleration from 0–60 mph in 21.2 seconds and fuel consumption 18.6 mpg (15.2 L/100 km). The test car cost GB£1,349 including taxes. Models assembled in Slough had to consist of 51 per cent UK parts to make them exempt from the import taxes imposed by the UK government to protect British vehicle manufacturers from foreign competition. The Slough-built cars used 12-volt Lucas electrics, headlights, dynamo and starter. The interior had a walnut dash board with Jaeger instruments, Connolly Leather seats and door panels and a wool headlining. The exterior was fitted with United Kingdom bumpers and over-riders and a chrome grille, with the Citroën chevrons mounted behind. Some were fitted with a sunroof. Most of the Slough-built cars were right-hand drive, although a small number of British specification, left-hand drive cars were also built. This is a 1952 Light Fifteen.

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1951 Traction 15/60

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1951 Traction in Rally Spec

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2CV

In 1934, family-owned Michelin, as the largest creditor, took over the bankrupt Citroën company. The new management commissioned a market survey, conducted by Jacques Duclos. France at that time had a large rural population which could not yet afford cars; Citroën used the survey results to prepare a design brief for a low-priced, rugged “umbrella on four wheels” that would enable four people to transport 50 kg (110 lb) of farm goods to market at 50 km/h (30 mph), if necessary across muddy, unpaved roads. In fuel economy, the car would use no more than 3 l/100 km (95 mpg). One design requirement was that the customer be able to drive eggs across a freshly ploughed field without breaking them. In 1936, Pierre-Jules Boulanger, vice-president of Citroën and chief of engineering and design, sent the brief to his design team at the engineering department. The TPV (Toute Petite Voiture – “Very Small Car”) was to be developed in secrecy at Michelin facilities at Clermont-Ferrand and at Citroën in Paris, by the design team who had created the Traction Avant. Boulanger closely monitored all decisions relating to the TPV, proposing strictly reduced target weights. He created a department to weigh and redesign each component, to lighten the TPV without compromising function. Boulanger placed engineer André Lefèbvre in charge of the TPV project. Lefèbvre had designed and raced Grand Prix cars; his speciality was chassis design and he was particularly interested in maintaining contact between tyres and the road surface. The first prototypes were bare chassis with rudimentary controls, seating and roof; test drivers wore leather flying suits, of the type used in contemporary open biplanes. By the end of 1937 20 TPV experimental prototypes had been built and tested. The prototypes had only one headlight, all that was required by French law at the time. At the end of 1937 Pierre Michelin was killed in a car crash; Boulanger became president of Citroën. By 1939 the TPV was deemed ready, after 47 technically different and incrementally improved experimental prototypes had been built and tested. These prototypes used aluminium and magnesium parts and had water-cooled flat twin engines with front-wheel drive. The seats were hammocks hung from the roof by wires. The suspension system, designed by Alphonse Forceau, used front leading arms and rear trailing arms, connected to eight torsion bars beneath the rear seat: a bar for the front axle, one for the rear axle, an intermediate bar for each side, and an overload bar for each side. The front axle was connected to its torsion bars by cable. The overload bar came into play when the car had three people on board, two in the front and one in the rear, to support the extra load of a fourth passenger and fifty kilograms of luggage. In mid-1939 a pilot run of 250 cars was produced and on 28 August 1939 the car received approval for the French market. Brochures were printed and preparations made to present the car, renamed the Citroën 2CV, at the forthcoming Paris Motor Show in October 1939. On 3 September 1939, France declared war on Germany following that country’s invasion of Poland. An atmosphere of impending disaster led to the cancellation of the 1939 motor show less than a month before it was scheduled to open. The launch of the 2CV was abandoned. During the German occupation of France in World War II Boulanger personally refused to collaborate with German authorities to the point where the Gestapo listed him as an “enemy of the Reich”, under constant threat of arrest and deportation to Germany. Michelin (Citroën’s main shareholder) and Citroën managers decided to hide the TPV project from the Nazis, fearing some military application as in the case of the future Volkswagen Beetle, manufactured during the war as the military Kübelwagen. Several TPVs were buried at secret locations; one was disguised as a pickup, the others were destroyed, and Boulanger spent the next six years thinking about further improvements. Until 1994, when three TPVs were discovered in a barn, it was believed that only two prototypes had survived. As of 2003 there were five known TPVs. By 1941, after an increase in aluminium prices of forty percent, an internal report at Citroën showed that producing the TPV post-war would not be economically viable, given the projected further increasing cost of aluminium. Boulanger decided to redesign the car to use mostly steel with flat panels, instead of aluminium. The Nazis had attempted to loot Citroën’s press tools; this was frustrated after Boulanger got the French Resistance to re-label the rail cars containing them in the Paris marshalling yard. They ended up all over Europe, and Citroën was by no means sure they would all be returned after the war. In early 1944 Boulanger made the decision to abandon the water-cooled two-cylinder engine developed for the car and installed in the 1939 versions. Walter Becchia was now briefed to design an air-cooled unit, still of two cylinders, and still of 375 cc. Becchia was also supposed to design a three-speed gearbox, but managed to design a four-speed for the same space at little extra cost. At this time small French cars like the Renault Juvaquatre and Peugeot 202 usually featured three-speed transmissions, as did Citroën’s own mid-size Traction Avant – but the 1936 Italian Fiat 500 “Topolino” “people’s car” did have a four-speed gearbox. Becchia persuaded Boulanger that the fourth gear was an overdrive. The increased number of gear ratios also helped to pull the extra weight of changing from light alloys to steel for the body and chassis. Other changes included seats with tubular steel frames with rubber band springing and a restyling of the body by the Italian Flaminio Bertoni. Also, in 1944 the first studies of the Citroën hydro-pneumatic suspension were conducted using the TPV/2CV. The development and production of what was to become the 2CV was also delayed by the incoming 1944 Socialist French government, after the liberation by the Allies from the Germans. The five-year “Plan Pons” to rationalise car production and husband scarce resources, named after economist and former French motor industry executive Paul-Marie Pons, only allowed Citroën the upper middle range of the car market, with the Traction Avant. The French government allocated the economy car market, US Marshall Plan aid, US production equipment and supplies of steel, to newly nationalised Renault to produce their Renault 4CV. The “Plan Pons” came to an end in 1949. Postwar French roads were very different from pre-war ones. Horse-drawn vehicles had re-appeared in large numbers. The few internal combustion-engined vehicles present often ran on town gas stored in gasbags on roofs or wood/charcoal gas from gasifiers on trailers. Only 100,000 of the two million pre-war cars were still on the road. The time was known as “Les années grises” or “the grey years” in France. Seen here are the only remaining prototypes One has been restored, whilst the other have not been simply being cleaned up after they were discovered in 1994 covered with dust and spider webs in a hidden attic at the Citroën Test Centre in La Ferté Vidame.

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Citroën finally unveiled the car at the Paris Salon on 7 October 1948. The car on display was nearly identical to the 2CV type A that would be sold the next year, but it lacked an electric starter, the addition of which was decided the day before the opening of the Salon, replacing the pull cord starter. The canvas roof could be rolled completely open. The Type A had one stop light, and was only available in grey. The fuel level was checked with a dip stick/measuring rod, and the speedometer was attached to the windscreen pillar. The only other instrument was an ammeter. In 1949 the first delivered 2CV type A was 375 cc, 9 hp, with a 65 km/h (40 mph) top speed, only one tail light and windscreen wiper with speed shaft drive; the wiper speed was dependent on the driving speed. The car was heavily criticised by the motoring press and became the butt of French comedians for a short while. One American motoring journalist quipped, “Does it come with a can opener?” The British Autocar correspondent wrote that the 2CV “is the work of a designer who has kissed the lash of austerity with almost masochistic fervour”. This is a 1950 2CV A

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Despite critics, Citroën was flooded with customer orders at the show. The car had a great impact on the lives of the low-income segment of the population in France. The 2CV was a commercial success: within months of it going on sale, there was a three-year waiting list, which soon increased to five years. At the time a second-hand 2CV was more expensive than a new one because the buyer did not have to wait. Production was increased from 876 units in 1949 to 6,196 units in 1950. In 1951 the 2CV received an ignition lock and a lockable driver’s door. Production reached 100 cars a week. By the end of 1951 production totalled 16,288. Citroën introduced the 2CV Fourgonnette van. The “Weekend” version of the van had collapsible, removable rear seating and rear side windows, enabling a tradesman to use it as a family vehicle on the weekend as well as for business in the week. This is a 1955 2CV AZU Van

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By 1952, production had reached more than 21,000 with export markets earning foreign currency taking precedence. Boulanger’s policy, which continued after his death, was: “Priority is given to those who have to travel by car because of their work, and for whom ordinary cars are too expensive to buy.” Cars were sold preferentially to country vets, doctors, midwives, priests and small farmers In 1954 the speedometer got a light for night driving. In 1955 the 2CV side repeaters were added above and behind the rear doors. It was now also available with 425 cc (AZ), 12.5 hp and a top speed of 80 km/h (50 mph). In 1957 a heating and ventilation system was installed. The colour of the steering wheel changed from black to grey. The mirrors and the rear window were enlarged. The bonnet was decorated with a longitudinal strip of aluminium (AZL). In September 1957, the model AZLP (P for porte de malle, “boot lid”), appeared with a boot lid panel; previously the soft top had to be opened at the bottom to get to the boot. In 1958 a Belgian Citroën plant produced a higher quality version of the car (AZL3). It had a third side window, not available in the normal version, and improved details. In 1960 the production of the 375 cc engine ended. In the front fenders round turn signals were integrated. The corrugated metal bonnet was replaced by a five-rib glossy cover. Simultaneously, the grille was slightly modified (flatter shape with a curved top edge). As well as a 1953 2CV A there were a couple of 1958 2CV AZ here.

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The 4 × 4 2CV Sahara appeared in December 1960. This had an additional engine-transmission unit in the rear, mounted the other way around and driving the rear wheels. For the second engine there was a separate push-button starter and choke. With a gear stick between the front seats, both transmissions were operated simultaneously. For the two engines, there were separate petrol tanks under the front seats. The filler neck sat in the front doors. Both engines (and hence axles) could be operated independently. The spare wheel was mounted on the bonnet. The car had ample off-road capability, but at twice the price of the standard 2CV. 694 were produced until 1968 and one more in 1971. Many were used by the Swiss Post as a delivery vehicle. Today they are highly collectable.

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In 1960 the corrugated Citroën H Van style “ripple bonnet” of convex swages was replaced (except for the Sahara), with one using six larger concave swages and looked similar until the end of production. The 2CV had suicide doors in front from 1948 to 1964, replaced with front hinged doors from 1965 to 1990. In 1962 the engine power was increased to 14 hp and top speed to 85 km/h (53 mph). A sun roof was installed. In 1963 the engine power was increased to 16 hp. An electric wiper motor replaced the drive on the speedo. The ammeter was replaced by a charging indicator light. The speedometer was moved from the window frame into the dash. Instead of a dip stick/measuring rod, a fuel gauge was introduced. Director of publicity Claude Puech came up with humorous and inventive marketing campaigns. Robert Delpire of the Delpire Agency was responsible for the brochures. Ad copy came from Jacques Wolgensinger Director of PR at Citroën. Wolgensinger was responsible for the youth orientated “Raids”, 2CV Cross, rallies, the use of “Tin-Tin”, and the slogan “More than just a car — a way of life”. A range of colours was introduced, starting with Glacier Blue in 1959, then yellow in 1960. In the 1960s 2CV production caught up with demand. In 1966 the 2CV got a third side window, This window made them look slightly bigger in size. In February 1965 Citroën Belgium introduced the 3CV AZAM6 which featured the 602 cc, 23 PS Ami6 engine and the Ami’s improved chassis. This version was manufactured until October 1967 and was also exported to certain continental markets although it was never offered in France. . As well as a 1966 2CV AZAM, there was an AZAM van from this period as well.

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The special edition models began with the 1976 SPOT model and continued in with the 1980 Charleston, inspired by Art-Deco two colour styles 1920s Citroën model colour schemes. In 1981 the 007 arrived. In 1983 the 2CV Beachcomber arrived in the United Kingdom; it was known as “France 3” in France or “Transat” in other continental European markets — Citroën sponsored the French America’s Cup yacht entry of that year. In 1985 the two-coloured Dolly appeared, using the “Spécial” model’s basic trim rather than the slightly better-appointed “Club” as was the case with the other special editions. In 1986 there was the Cocorico. This means “cock-a-doodle-doo” and tied in with France’s entry in the 1986 World Cup. “Le Coq Gaulois” or Gallic rooster is an unofficial national symbol of France. In 1987 came the Bamboo, followed by the 1988 Perrier in association with the mineral water company. The Charleston, having been presented in October 1980 as a one-season “special edition” was incorporated into the regular range in July 1981 in response to its “extraordinary success”. By changing the carburettor to achieve 29 hp a top speed of 115 km/h (71 mph) was achieved. Other changes were a new rear-view mirror and inboard disc brakes at the front wheels. In the 1980s there was a range of four full models: Spécial; Dolly (an improved version of the Spécial); Club (discontinued in the early 1980s); Charleston (an improved version of the Club). When production finally ended, in 1990, more than 3.8 million 2CVs had been built, as well as over 1.2 million small 2CV-based delivery vans known as fourgonnettes. Citroën ultimately offered several mechanically identical variants including the Ami (over 1.8 million); the Dyane (over 1.4 million); the Acadiane (over 250,000); and the Mehari (over 140,000). In total, Citroën manufactured almost 9 million 2CVs and variants. Among the later models here were a 1976 Spot and a 1988 Charleston as well as a 1988 2CV Special and a 1990 2CV6 Club

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This little Citroën was a star of the silver screen, one of the three 2 CVs used in the 1981 James Bond film “For Your Eyes Only”. It carried Roger Moore and Carole Bouquet and also appeared on the film poster! As is often the case with cars used in the movies, all is not quite what it would seem, as the cars that were used in action shots had a Citroën GS engine squeezed under the bonnet to give them a little more oomph than the standard car.

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The 2CV celebrated its 60th birthday during the Paris Motor Show, on 7 October 2008. To celebrate the event, Hermes designed a made-to-measure outfit that highlights the vehicle’s ever-friendly and generous forms. The 1989 2CV 6 Spécial, repainted in brown, gains a natural leather trim on the door facings, interior rearview mirror, gear knob, steering wheel and driver’s sun visor. For an even more elegant finish, the two seats are upholstered in Hermès grey-beige cotton canvas and natural leather. As a finishing touch, the bonnet and interior trim at the rear of the vehicle also feature Hermès cotton canvas.

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DS and ID

It is hard to imagine just how revolutionary this car must have seemed when it was unveiled at the Paris Show in 1955. 18 years in secret development as the successor to the Traction Avant, the DS 19 stole the show, and within 15 minutes of opening, 743 orders were taken. By the end of the first day, that number had risen to 12,000. Contemporary journalists said the DS pushed the envelope in the ride vs. handling compromise possible in a motor vehicle. To a France still deep in reconstruction after the devastation of World War II, and also building its identity in the post-colonial world, the DS was a symbol of French ingenuity. It also posited the nation’s relevance in the Space Age, during the global race for technology of the Cold War. Structuralist philosopher Roland Barthes, in an essay about the car, said that it looked as if it had “fallen from the sky”. An American advertisement summarised this selling point: “It takes a special person to drive a special car”. Because they were owned by the technologically aggressive tyre manufacturer Michelin, Citroën had designed their cars around the technically superior radial tyre since 1948, and the DS was no exception. The car featured a novel hydropneumatic suspension including an automatic levelling system and variable ground clearance, developed in-house by Paul Magès. This suspension allowed the DS to travel quickly on the poor road surfaces common in France. In addition, the vehicle had power steering and a semi-automatic transmission (the transmission required no clutch pedal, but gears still had to be shifted by hand though the shift lever controlled a powered hydraulic shift mechanism in place of a mechanical linkage, and a fibreglass roof which lowered the centre of gravity and so reduced weight transfer. Inboard front brakes (as well as independent suspension) reduced unsprung weight. Different front and rear track widths and tyre sizes reduced the unequal tyre loading, which is well known to promote understeer, typical of front-engined and front-wheel drive cars. As with all French cars, the DS design was affected by the tax horsepower system, which effectively mandated very small engines. Unlike the Traction Avant predecessor, there was no top-of-range model with a powerful six-cylinder engine. Citroën had planned an air-cooled flat-6 engine for the car, but did not have the funds to put the prototype engine into production. The 1955 DS19 was 65% more expensive than the car it replaced, the Citroën Traction Avant. This did impact potential sales in a country still recovering economically from World War II, so a cheaper submodel, the Citroën ID, was introduced in 1957. The ID shared the DS’s body but was less powerful and luxurious. Although it shared the engine capacity of the DS engine (at this stage 1,911 cc), the ID provided a maximum power output of only 69 hp compared to the 75 hp claimed for the DS19. Power outputs were further differentiated in 1961 when the DS19 acquired a Weber-32 twin bodied carburettor, and the increasing availability of higher octane fuel enabled the manufacturer to increase the compression ratio from 7.5:1 to 8.5:1. A new DS19 now came with a promised 83 hp of power. The ID19 was also more traditional mechanically: it had no power steering and had conventional transmission and clutch instead of the DS’s hydraulically controlled set-up. Initially the basic ID19 was sold on the French market with a price saving of more than 25% against the DS, although the differential was reduced at the end of 1961 when the manufacturer quietly withdrew the entry level ID19 “Normale” from sale.

1955 DS19

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1961 DS19

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1960 DS Coupe: It was not long after the launch of the DS that the coachbuilders started to produce alternative body styles. Chapron were the most prolific, producing a series of very elegant Coupe models as well as a Convertible which so impressed Citroen that they started to produce the model themselves

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DS19

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An estate version was introduced in 1958. It was known by various names in different markets: Break in France, Safari and Estate in the UK, Wagon in the US, and Citroën Australia used the terms Safari and Station-Wagon. It had a steel roof to support the standard roof rack. ‘Familiales’ had a rear seat mounted further back in the cabin, with three folding seats between the front and rear squabs. The standard Break had two side-facing seats in the main load area at the back. During the 20 year production life, improvements were made on an ongoing basis. In September 1962, the DS was restyled with a more aerodynamically efficient nose, better ventilation and other improvements. It retained the open two headlamp appearance, but was available with an optional set of driving lights mounted on the front bumpers. Sole example of the estate version was this 1975 DS 20 Break

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A more luxurious Pallas trim came in for 1965 Named after the Greek goddess Pallas, this included comfort features such as better noise insulation, a more luxurious (and optional leather) upholstery and external trim embellishments. The cars were complex, and not always totally reliable, One of the issues that emerged during long term use was addressed with a change which came in for 1967. The original hydropneumatic system used a vegetable oil liquide hydraulique végétal (LHV), similar to that used in other cars at the time, but later switched to a synthetic fluid liquide hydraulique synthétique (LHS). Both of these had the disadvantage that they are hygroscopic, as is the case with most brake fluids. Disuse allows water to enter the hydraulic components causing deterioration and expensive maintenance work. The difficulty with hygroscopic hydraulic fluid was exacerbated in the DS/ID due to the extreme rise and fall in the fluid level in the reservoir, which went from nearly full to nearly empty when the suspension extended to maximum height and the six accumulators in the system filled with fluid. With every “inhalation” of fresh moisture- (and dust-) laden air, the fluid absorbed more water. For the 1967 model year, Citroën introduced a new mineral oil-based fluid liquide hydraulique minéral (LHM). This fluid was much less harsh on the system. LHM remained in use within Citroën until the Xantia was discontinued in 2001. LHM required completely different materials for the seals. Using either fluid in the incorrect system would completely destroy the hydraulic seals very quickly. To help avoid this problem, Citroën added a bright green dye to the LHM fluid and also painted all hydraulic elements bright green. The former LHS parts were painted black. All models, including the Safari and ID, were upgraded at the same time. The hydraulic fluid changed to the technically superior LHM (Liquide Hydraulique Minéral) in all markets except the US and Canada, where the change did not take place until January 1969, due to local regulations. Rarest and most collectable of all DS variants, a convertible was offered from 1958 until 1973. The Cabriolet d’Usine (factory convertible) were built by French carrossier Henri Chapron, for the Citroën dealer network. It was an expensive car, so only 1,365 were sold. These DS convertibles used a special frame which was reinforced on the side-members and rear suspension swing arm bearing box, similar to, but not identical to the Break/Safari frame.

1969 DS21 Pallas

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1971 D Special

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1968 DS21

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DS21

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DS23 Pallas

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1972 DS 21 Prestige EFi

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1975 DS23 EFi

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AMI

Citroën’s next new model was rather small, the Ami, a four-door, front-wheel drive supermini (B-segment), made from 1961 to 1978. At times it was the best-selling new car model in France. The Ami was offered in saloon and break (estate) body styles over two generations, the Ami 6 and the Ami 8. The Citroën Ami had its formal French launch on 25 April 1961, four months ahead of the August introduction of the widely anticipated Renault 4. Both the Renault 4 and the Citroën Ami responded to a perceived market need for a vehicle slightly larger and less rustic than the 2CV. The Ami is a rebodied 2CV with certain mechanical upgrades (particularly a larger engine than the 1950s 2CV), to compensate for the added weight. At launch all the cars were powered by an air cooled 602 cc two-cylinder flat engine which would also be offered at extra cost in the 2CV from 1970. The platform chassis and suspension is similar to the 2CV, being independent all round using leading and trailing arms and coil springs interconnected front to rear. The Ami’s seats were easily removable. Sales pitches of the Ami included photographs of the seats being used as picnic chairs. The Ami and the Ford Taunus P3 were the first cars with rectangular or lozenge-shaped (non-round) headlights. This technical innovation was developed by lighting manufacturers Hella (Taunus) and Cibie (Ami). Soon this innovation found its way to the exclusive coach built Maserati 5000 GT. At the time, it was an unquestioned article of faith that headlights were round, and in the United States, it was the law, so these new headlights were illegal there until 1975. Ten years later this had inspired European automakers to come up with various non-round headlamp shapes. The car went on sale in France in April 1961, though Citroën implemented some simple upgrades in time for the Paris Motor Show only six months later. The most visible change involved the replacement of the fixed windows on the rear doors with two-part horizontal sliding windows, similar to those already fitted on the front doors. Sales initially were not as good as those of the older 2CV; the Ami’s first full year of production was 1962, during which only 85,358 of the cars were sold, while the thirteen-year-old 2CV managed 144,759 sales during the same period. Although the Ami had a modern body, it shared the aggressively minimalist underpinnings of the older car, and this made it hard to justify a starting price for the Ami which, at the end of 1961, was 35% higher. The 1961 Ami 6 sedan is distinguished by an unusual reverse-raked notchback rear window, similar in style to the 1959 Ford Anglia 105E. A Break (estate) model joined the range in the autumn of 1964. The Ami 6 cars here were a 1963 and a 1965 Berline and a 1969 Ami 6 Break

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The later Ami 8 saloon, launched in March 1969 has a fastback rear window. It was redesigned by the French car design and bodywork company, Heuliez. Most notable changes were the front part and bonnet and the sloping, rather than inverted, rear window on the saloon. The estate version of the Ami 8 had a similar general appearance to that of the Ami 6 although the later car’s taillights were integrated into the rear wings. The Ami Super was a flat-4 variant powered by the engine of the GS and produced between 1973 and 1976. At the launch of the GS, its original flat four-cylinder air-cooled 1015 cc 55 bhp DIN engine was considered to be underpowered. With surplus engines available, Citroën decided to fit the engine into the Ami 8 in January 1973. The car, which became the Ami Super, then easily reached 140 km / h. From the outside, it had a new front grille with six additional vents underneath. On the sides of the front wing there was a badge marked 1015 in reference to the new engine. The body is the same as the Ami 8 apart from changes to inner front wings, bonnet, front panel and bumper mountings. The chassis was also modified from the standard Ami 8 with alterations made to accommodate the 1015 cc engine. Other changes included thicker wire in the suspension springs, to give a tauter ride and front anti-roll bars. Rear anti-roll bars were fitted from 1974 onwards until the end of Ami Super Production in 1976. The Ami Super and Ami 8 Break (Estate) were fitted with 135 15 ZX Michelin tyres as standard while the Ami 8 Berline retained the Michelin 125 15 X although 135 15’s could be ordered as an option. Also on the Ami Super headlamps with built in Quartz iodine fog lights were offered as an option, other options included heated rear screens. Inside, the gear change is floor mounted, in place of the dashboard mounted gear lever of the Ami 6 and 8 and to accommodate this the hand brake of the Super curves up instead of down. The speedometer was also specific to the Ami Super differing slightly to allow higher speed numbers to be shown. The Ami Super was offered in the same three trim levels as the Ami 8, Luxe, Confort and Club on Saloon and Luxe and Confort on Break (estate) versions. These trim differences were fairly minor with Luxe models having bench front and rear seats and vinyl floor matting. Confort trim offered reclining front seats in place of the front bench. The Club models can be considered the Pallas of the Ami range featured sound proofing pads on the floor and bulkhead, carpet including boot lining, stainless steel trim on the window frames and side rubbing strips on the doors and rear wings. Club trim was only available up to the end of the 1973 model year, after that point Ami 8 and Ami super were only available in Luxe and Confort specification. From 1974 Ami Super models were revamped to feature a double line graphic along the exterior of the body sides, either in black or silver depending on body colour, with slotted wheels and double line detailing on the hubcaps. The rear window also featured a graphic in white proclaiming “Ami Super 1015cm³” As the Ami Super looked very much like an Ami 8, and could surprise many by demonstrating its dramatic performance advantage compared to the Ami 8 (55 hp compared to 32 hp). Quoted by Autocar magazine in the UK as a “Q car par excellence” sadly in France its 5CV tax rating made little sense in a small car and as a result sales were low compared to the Ami 8. In the UK however where no such tax penalties existed the Ami Super attracted healthy sales although is now a rare sight due to poor corrosion resistance, a feature suffered by many vehicles of this era. The Ami Super production reached close to 42,000 in sedan and station wagon by February 1976. The Ami 8 continued until early 1979 and reached in the region of 722,000 production, a significant percentage of the total of 1,840,396 of all Ami models. Seen here were a 1973 Ami Super and a 1977 Ami 8 Break

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This is the Citroën M35, a coupé derived from the Ami 8, and equipped with a Wankel engine and a hydropneumatic suspension. The bodies were produced by Heuliez from 1969 to 1971. The longitudinally mounted rotary engine had a nominal capacity of 497.5 cc delivering 49 bhp. According to factory figures the car had a performance roughly on a level with that of a Morris 1300. The engine was supplied by a company formed in 1967 by NSU and Citroën called Comotor. The M35 was an experimental vehicle and was not officially sold – rather it was supplied to loyal Citroën customers to get their comments on the usability of the design. Many aspects of the M35 made it to regular production. The rotary engine was deemed satisfactory and a dual rotor version of it was used in the GS Birotor in 1974; the gearbox used in the M35 was the GS 1015’s gearbox (albeit with a normal shift pattern); certain suspension parts found their way into the GS line when it was introduced in 1970 and the seats that reclined just above the waist were found in none other than the SM. 267 of these cars were produced, and most of them were reclaimed by Citroën, so you only see them very occasionally.

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DYANE and ACADIANE

Next model to be added to the range was the Dyane. Launched on its home market in August 1967, it was, of course, a development of the Citroën 2CV, and was intended as an answer to the increasingly popular Renault 4, which after its introduction in 1961 had affected 2CV sales. The Renault 4 incorporated many ideas copied from the Citroën Traction Avant, but on a smaller scale. Like the Renault 4, the Dyane was designed from the outset as a hatchback with some other styling differences, such as conventional round headlamps set into the front wings with a squared stainless steel trim ring – as opposed to the old-fashioned separate units found on the 2CV – and stainless steel wheel embellishments as standard. It was often asserted that the Dyane was intended to replace the 2CV, and although this had been the original idea, by the time the car was launched it was positioned to fill a small niche between the manufacturer’s 2CV and Ami models. The 2CV had been developed and, in 1948, launched at a time of austerity and low wages. More than twenty years later, with the much more modern Renault 4 selling strongly against the Citroën offerings, it was thought that buyers must be ready for a less aggressively basic approach. During the years since 1948 production technology had become more streamlined, as auto-industry wages grew ahead of the overall growth in the French economy, and production of the 2CV was, by the standard of more recent models, a very labour-intensive process. At the time of the Dyane’s development, the Citroën design department was busy on updates of the key DS and Ami models: design of the Dyane was therefore initially subcontracted to the Panhard design department, Panhard’s non-military business having in 1965 been absorbed into Citroën’s car business. The Panhard team under Louis Bioner (who had designed every Panhard model introduced between the late 1920s and the mid 1960s) produced a proposal that at a detailed level proved controversial with Citroën’s design chief, Robert Opron: the car was significantly reworked ahead of launch. The Dyane’s Panhard associations are also reflected in its name, Panhard having registered a copyright on the name Dyane along with Dyna, Dynavia and Dynamic. At launch the car was offered with two levels of equipment and trim: The Basic “Luxe” and the slightly better equipped “Confort”. The “Confort” version was differentiated from the outside through the inclusion of hub-caps on the wheels. The spare wheel and jack were mounted in a special cradle under the bonnet rather than both simply being placed loose on the floor of the luggage area at the back. The interior of the “Confort” was slightly less basic, with plastic moulded door panels rather than flat, vinyl covered hardboard. The steering wheel was less “rustic” than that which the less expensive “Luxe” version of the Dyane shared with the Citroën 2CV. The extra 615 francs in the 1967 domestic market listed price for the Dyane “Confort” represented a supplement of just over 10% when compared to the list price for the more basic “Luxe”. As with the 2CV, the engine was air-cooled, with a hemispherical combustion chamber and flat-topped pistons. and for the first five months only the 2CV’s 425cc engine was fitted. The “Dyane 6” was announced at the Brussels Motor Show in January 1968, fitted with the Ami’s 602cc M4 engine. This came with an advertised maximum output of 28 bhp, supporting a claimed top speed of 71 mph, which was a useful improvement over the 21 bhp of power and the claimed top speed of 100 km/h (62 mph) with which the Dyane had been launched. The 602cc engined Dyane did not replace the original 425cc engined car. However, two months later, in March 1968, the 425cc unit was replaced, in a car now described as the “Dyane 4”, by an improved 435cc engine providing 26 bhp. The extra power came from changes including not merely the slightly claimed cylinder dimensions, as well as an extra 2 mm of carburettor diameter and a raised compression ratio. Although there was a price to be paid in terms of higher fuel consumption, the listed top speed went up to 105 km/h (66 mph) and acceleration was measurably less anæmic. In September 1968 the M4 was replaced by an improved 602cc engine featuring higher compression pistons and forced induction from the engine fan giving slightly more power. As with the 2CV and Ami, cooling air was ducted straight to the heater, giving excellent demisting and heating. Mechanical contact-breakers were mounted at the front of the camshaft and located behind the cooling fan. The Fan was mounted on a tapered shaft and secured with a bolt at the bottom of a deep tube (the top of which engaged the starter handle). As the location of the points was not obvious to the uninformed, there were often neglected. The Coil fired both cylinders simultaneously (wasting one spark) and the spark plug wear was faster than it ought to have been; 6000 miles was not uncommon for a spark plug. Cylinder heads were held on with three studs and barrels slipped over the pistons. No cylinder-head gasket was used, and since the wings unbolted in a few minutes, it was possible to remove the cylinder heads and barrels, change the pistons or piston-rings and reassemble the top end very quickly, using only a few tools. The Dyane was based on the same platform chassis as the 2CV, sharing its advanced independent front to rear interconnected suspension. This comprised a central springing unit, running fore-and-aft in a tube on each side; each suspension arm on that side was linked to the spring, by a tie-rod and a ‘knife-edge’ pivot-pin. Early cars did not have conventional shock absorbers. The squeak you hear from most 2CVs and Dyanes as they go by over bumps is due to lack of lubrication either inside the spring tubes or to the ‘knife-edges’. The front hubs kingpins need to be greased every 600 miles. Since this is often overlooked, the king-pins can be prone to wear, although some movement is acceptable. During the Dyane’s first full year of production, supported by the interest and marketing activity generated by new-car launch, 98,769 Dyanes were produced which meant that it was indeed produced, even at this stage, in greater volumes than the 2CV with just 57,473 cars produced. In 1969 the Dyane was again produced at a higher rate, this time with 95,434 units as against 72,044 for the older car. However, the 2CV refused to die, and with 121,096 2CVs produced in 1970, the older car was back in front. The Dyane soldiered on, with French production rates remaining more than respectable, for more than another decade. However, the Dyane’s annual volumes would never again beat those of the 2CV and the car was deleted in 1980, several years before its older brother ended production. Few further changes were made, though from 1969, the Dyane 6 did gain a third side window, and a new grille was fitted from 1976. Minor trim updates were made, but the car remained resolutely utilitarian, and even the limited edition models such as the Code D’Azur of 1978 could not get away from the fact, not that enthusiastic owners really wanted anything else. 1,443,583 examples were made, but survival rates are low, and this car is far rarer than the 2CV. This one dates from 1970.

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Final version of these small air-cooled Citroëns was a rather splendid Acadiane Van. This was derived from the Dyane and only available in left-hand drive, produced from 1977 to 1987. Production totalled 253,393 before being replaced by the Visa-based C15. Why Acadiane? Well, as Citroën had already used the prefix AK for its light commercials, so it was an obvious pun to name the AK Dyane “Acadiane”. There was no connection beyond the pun with the French-speaking region of Louisiana that is home to Cajun (Acadiane) cooking. The Acadiane differed from the Dyane on which it was based in having heavier-duty suspension, a slightly altered chassis and a rear-brake limiter whose action was dependent on the load. The Acadiane was also fitted with wind-down windows in the driver’s and passenger’s doors. The Dyane car had horizontally-sliding windows. The payload was approximately 500 kg (1,100 lb), but handling was impaired when fully loaded. The Acadiane was available in commercial (two-seater) form or as a “Mixte”, with sliding rear windows and a removable rear bench seat. Citroën and many other manufacturers continue to this day (Berlingo et al.) with the option of rear seats in a vehicle clearly designed as a commercial. The Mixte version also had a passenger sun visor, missing in the more basic commercial version. In line with many Citroën light commercials, the roof of the rear bodywork was corrugated to add extra rigidity at little cost. The Acadiane cruised on the flat comfortably and economically at 55 mph. Top gear in the four-speed box was usually referred to as overdrive. This had been so since the earliest days of the 2CV. In most circumstances it was best used as such. Progress could be maintained in top, but further acceleration was unlikely. As the motor thrived on revs, third made a perfectly good gear to get up to 80 km/h. This is a 1987 model.

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MEHARI

There were several examples of the uber-cool Méhari here. Much like the way the 1959 Mini became the 1964 Mini Moke, this small Citroën was based on an existing model, in this case, the 2CV/Dyane. 144,953 Méharis were built between the car’s French launch in May 1968 and 1988 when production ceased. A méhari is a type of fast-running dromedary camel, which can be used for racing or transport. A méhariste was a French Armée d’Afrique and Army of the Levant cavalryman that used these camels. The Méhari was based on the Citroën Dyane 6, and had a body made of ABS plastic with a soft-top. It also employed the 602 cc flat twin engine shared with the 2CV6 and Citroën Ami and because the standard Méhari weighed just 535 kg (1,179 lb), performance was respectable though very far from brisk. The vehicle also had the interconnected fully independent long-travel 2CV suspension used by all of the Citroën ‘A-Series’ vehicles. The colour was integrated into the ABS plastic material in production, and as a utilitarian vehicle, the options chart was quite limited. Only the Vert Montana remained in the catalogue for all the 18 years of production. Except for Azur blue, the official names of colours all refer to desert regions. Ultraviolet rays from the Sun impact the colourfastness of ABS plastic, so unrestored cars have a faded appearance. New bodies for restorations are only supplied in white colour, and now require painting on top of a specialist primer. A four-wheel drive version of the Méhari was produced from 1980 to 1983 and had excellent off-road qualities, due to the lightness of the vehicle. Unlike the earlier four wheel drive 2CV Sahara, which had two engines, this car only had one. Only 1300 were produced and so these cars are now both rare and highly sought after. The Méhari was sold in the United States in 1969 and 1970, where the vehicle was classified as a truck. As trucks had far more lenient National Highway Traffic Safety Administration safety standards than passenger cars in the US, the Méhari did not have seat belts. The Mehari did have limited sales success. Budget Rent-A-Car bought a number of them and offered them as rentals in Hawaii. Hearst Castle, in San Simeon, California, used them as groundskeeper cars. The cars had some differences from those sold elsewhere, with an altered front panel with larger 7″ sealed-beam headlamps being the most obvious. Showing little the car changed there were 1969 and 1979 Mehari here as well as a 1979 Mehari 4 x 4.

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The Citroën FAF is a version of small utility vehicle produced from 1968 until 1987. It was built using a combination of imported and locally sourced components in various developing countries. The FAF and related vehicles are derived from the 2CV. The concept predates the FAF name, so it is often erroneously reported that some of these vehicles were based on the FAF. FAF stood for the French Facile à Fabriquer and Facile à Financer (Easy to Manufacture, Easy to Finance). The body was made of easy to produce, folded elements and the car looked effectively like a metallic version of the Méhari. As the name suggests, the flat metal panels and simple components meant to allow “easy” production, mostly in developing countries. The origin of this idea was the privately built 1963 Baby-Brousse from Ivory Coast. By 1969, Citroën formalized this relationship, and that same year the Vietnamese subsidiary began building La Dalat, the first automobile manufactured in Vietnam. Production ended when Americans departed Saigon in 1975 at the end of the Vietnam War. In total, 3880 Dalats were built. In 1972, the Greek firm Namco began production of the Pony. This was the most successful version of these ‘simplified’ 2CV utility vehicles, selling 30,000 units. The Pony was exported as well. Production of this “poor man’s jeep,” that benefitted from special tax rules, ended in 1983, two years after Greece joined the European Union. 67% of the parts were of Greek origin.

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SM

The Citroën SM was first shown at the 1970 Geneva Motor Show, but work on the car had started way back in 1961, with ‘Project S’, which was envisaged to be a a sports variant of the revolutionary Citroën DS. For the next few years, many running concept vehicles were developed, and these became increasingly complex and upmarket from the DS. In 1968, Citroën purchased Maserati, with the intention of harnessing Maserati’s high-performance engine technology to produce a true Gran Turismo car, which would combine Citroën’s advanced suspension with a V6 Maserati engine. The car was a sensation when revealed, with its distinctive styling, an amazingly low drag coefficient of just 0.26, and as well as the advanced features from the DS such as lights that swivelled with the steering and the advanced hydropneumatic self-levelling suspension there were numerous technical innovations such as variable assistance for the power steering, rain sensitive wipers and the option of lightweight wheels of composite alloys. It was a further six months before customers could get behind the wheel, with the SM finally going on sale in France in September of that year. The origin of the model name ‘SM’ is not clear. The ‘S’ may derive from the Project ‘S’ designation, and the ‘M’ may refers to Maserati, hence SM is often assumed to stand for ‘Sports Maserati’. Another common hypothesis is that SM stood for Série Maserati and others have suggested it is short for ‘Sa Majesté’ (Her Majesty in French), which would aligns with the explanation that the DS model was so called as a contraction of the French word ‘Déesse’ (The Goddess). Regardless of the origins of the name, it attracted lots of attention, and came third in the 1971 Car of the Year competition (behind Citroën’s own revolutionary GS model). For a couple of years, sales were reasonable, but they fell off dramatically in 1973, not just because of the Oil Crisis that struck late that year, but largely because the SM’s technical complexity came with a price tag of some terrible reliability problems, something which owners of rival cars simply did not experience. To compound the owner’s misery, they needed to find and pay for Citroën specialists who understood the hydraulics and a Maserati specialist for the engine. Both categories were kept busy. Citroën declared bankruptcy in 1974 and the company was purchased in May 1975. Thanks to changes in US legislation, sales in that market, which had hitherto been the SM’s largest had ceased, and so with global sales of under 300 SMs in 1974, having divested itself of Maserati, new owner Peugeot took the obvious decision to cease production of the SM almost immediately. During the SM’s 5 year product life, a total of 12,920 cars were produced. With the exception of a handful of conversions for the Australian market, all SMs were made in left hand drive, which is perhaps one reason why UK sales amounted to just 325 cars from that total. Although this is often labelled as one of the 4 “nightmare cars of the apocalypse” (along with the Triumph Stag and Alfa Montreal), the reality is that the surviving cars have largely been “fixed” and they are now not the fearsome ownership proposition that many still assume. There were 1970 Carburettor and 1971 Injected cars here.

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Dating from 1973 is this SM Prototype with revised rear-end styling.

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GS and GSA

The GS filled the gap in Citroën’s range, between the 2CV and Ami economy cars and the luxurious DS executive sedan. The DS had moved significantly upmarket from its predecessor the Citroën Traction Avant, and beyond the finances of most French motorists. Leaving this market gap open for fifteen years allowed other manufacturers entry into the most profitable, high volume market segment in France. This combined with the development costs and new factory for the DS-replacing Citroën CX, the 1974 oil crisis, and an aborted Wankel rotary engine, led Citroën to declare bankruptcy in 1974. The GS took 14 years to develop from initial design to launch. In 1956, Citroën developed a bubble car prototype to fill the gap in its range between the DS and the 2CV, known as the C10. Development continued with ideas like a Wankel engine and hydropneumatic suspension suggested as possibilities, with a new, modern body to match. Another iteration was the “C60,” which resembled an Ami 6 with a long, smooth nose. In 1963, development had moved to “Project F”, which was close to being production ready. Citroën decided the car was too similar to the 1965 Renault 16 and by 1967 Project F was suspended. Many of the mechanical components continued to “Project G”, which became the GS. The GS was designed by Robert Opron, with a smooth two box design that bears some resemblance to the 1967 design study by Pininfarina Berlina Aerodinamica. On 24 August 1970, Citroën launched the production GS. The body style was as a Berline (a four-door saloon with three side windows), in a fastback style with a sharp Kammback. The aerodynamics gave the best drag coefficient of any vehicle at the time. Good aerodynamics enabled the car to make the best of the available power from its 1015cc flat four engine, but the car as launched nevertheless drew criticism that it was underpowered. Citroën addressed the issue with the introduction in September 1972, as an option, of a larger 1,222 cc engine. Claimed power increased from 55 bhp to 60 bhp, but it was the improved torque that really marked out the more powerful engine, and which enabled the manufacturer, with the larger engined versions, to raise the second gear ratio and the final drive ratio. Larger front brake discs were also fitted. Visually the GS bore little resemblance to any other car on the market, until the development of the larger Citroën CX in 1974. The fastback design, with a separate boot, was controversial – a hatchback layout was considered too utilitarian by CEO Pierre Bercot. The 1974 CX shared this feature. The boot was nevertheless exceptionally large, in part due to the positioning of the spare wheel on top of the engine. Both the early GS (until 1976) and the GSA have the unusual rotating drum speedometer (similar in construction to bathroom scales), rather than the dials found in a conventional dashboard. The later GS (from 1977 until the introduction of the GSA) had a conventional speedometer. The GS was offered in four trims: G Special (base), GS Club (midrange), GS X (sports), and GS Pallas (luxury). The GS X and Pallas were only offered as saloons. The GS was also available, from September 1971, as a four door station estate and a similar two-door “service” van. One of the early 1970 GS 1015 cars was joined by a GS Estate

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This is the GS Fleches, or in English the Citroën GS Arrows. An Art Car, this is a GS revisited by the artist Jean-Pierre Lihou in 1976. The tangy colours, all 73 shades of them, and winding arrows are said to materialise the Energetism concept developed by this visionary artist. They were applied by hand, taking 40 litres of paint.

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A two rotor GS was launched in 1973. Dubbed the Citroën GS Birotor (also called Citroën GZ), it featured a much more powerful 106 hp Wankel birotor produced by the joint NSU-Citroën Comotor project. This style of motor is noted for its smooth power delivery which complemented the luxurious ride quality of the hydropneumatic suspension. Even better, the engine was small relative to its power, an advantage for Tax horsepower calculations, which drive automobile design in France. The Birotor was extensively re engineered for the Comotor 624 engine. Discs all around (ventilated in front), different wheels with a five-bolt pattern rather than three, and a three-speed semi-automatic transmission were combined with a more luxurious interior and flared fenders to set the Birotor apart from its lesser siblings. The Birotor cost as much as the larger Citroën DS, and 70% more than the standard GS. The fuel economy was worse than the largest DS – the DS23EFI. Since it was not economical for its size, and was launched in October 1973, the exact start of the 1973 oil crisis, the Birotor version achieved poor sales and was quickly pulled from the market, after 847 units were sold. The sales were so disappointing that Citroën attempted to buy back and scrap each Birotor, as it did not want to support the model with spare parts. A few of these remarkable vehicles have nonetheless survived in the hands of collectors, many without titles for some time as Citroën did not want to recognise the cars.

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The GS was facelifted in 1979 and given a hatchback, and renamed the GSA. This change reflected the growing popularity of small family hatchbacks in Europe since the launch of the Volkswagen Golf. Other modifications included a new grille, new plastic bumpers, new taillights, new hubcaps and new exterior door handles. It also had a revised dashboard with the auxiliary controls on column-shaped pods so they could be reached without moving the hands from the single-spoked steering wheel; similar to the CX layout. It was partly replaced by the larger BX in 1982, although production continued in reduced volumes until 1986. Citroën did not re-enter the small family hatchback market until the launch of the ZX in 1991. The GS met with instant market acceptance and was the largest selling Citroën model for many years. 1,896,742 GS models and 576,757 GSA models were produced in total. As well as a 1983 GSA X3 there was a 1984 GSA Club in Swedish specification.

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CX

There were quite a number of CX models here. Although it was perhaps not as radical a product as the DS, which it replaced had been, this was still something of a futuristic looking car when it was revealed in 1974. Indeed, it is considered by some enthusiasts as the last “real Citroën” before Peugeot took control of the company in 1976, and as history has now shown, is, it was to be the final successful model of the “big Citroën” era, which began in 1934, as Citroën sold nearly 1.2 million CXs during its 16 years of production. The CX’s flowing lines and sharp Kamm tail were designed by auto stylist Robert Opron, resembling its precursor the GS. Citroën had been using a Wind tunnel for many years, and the CX was designed to perform well in aerodynamic drag, with a low coefficient of drag (Cd in English; CX in French) of 0.36. Despite its fastback lines, the model was never sold as a hatchback, even though many of its rivals adopted this during the 1970s, and Citroën thus modified their own GS late in its life. Mechanically, the car was one of the most modern of its time, combining Citroën’s unique hydro-pneumatic integral self-levelling suspension, speed-adjustable DIRAVI power steering (first introduced on the Citroën SM), and a uniquely effective interior design that did away with steering column stalks, allowing the driver to reach all controls while both hands remained on the steering wheel. The CX suspension’s ability to soak up large undulations and yet damp out rough surfaces was extraordinary, with a consistent ride quality, empty, or fully laden. The suspension was attached to sub frames that were fitted to the body through flexible mountings, to improve even more the ride quality and to reduce road noise. “Car” magazine described the sensation of driving a CX as hovering over road irregularities, much like a ship traversing above the ocean floor. This suspension was used under license by Rolls-Royce on the Silver Shadow. The Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 was not built under license, but copied the Hydropneumatic suspension principles after the less effective Mercedes-Benz 600 Air suspension installation. The CX was conceived to be a rotary-engined car—with several negative consequences. The CX engine bay is small because rotary engines are compact, but the Comotor three-rotor rotary engine was not economical and the entire rotary project was scrapped the year the CX was introduced, and Citroën went bankrupt in 1974, partly due to a series of investments like Comotor that didn’t result in profitable products. Production versions of the CX were always powered by a modest inline 4 cylinder engine, transversely mounted. This saved space and allowed the CX to be 8″ shorter than the DS. At launch in 1974, the CX was rushed to market, with some teething troubles. Some very early models did not have power steering which made the car difficult and heavy to drive – the CX carries 70% of its weight over the front wheels. Initially there was a choice between three differently powered versions. The “Normale” CX car came with a 1985 cc version of the four cylinder engine from the predecessor model with a claimed maximum output of 102 PS, which was slightly more than had been available from the engine when fitted in the DS. The “Economique” version of the car (reflecting the continuing impact of the 1973 oil price shock) came with the same engine as the “Normale”, but the gear ratios were changed, along with the final drive ratio, giving rise to a 7 km/h (4 mph) reduction in top speed in return for usefully improved fuel economy. More performance came from the “CX 2200”, fitted with a 2175 cc version of the engine and a twin carburettor, resulting in a claimed maximum output of 112 PS. This was rather less than was available in the top spec DS23 EFi which featured a relatively powerful 141 PS fuel-injected 2.3-litre engine. The later 2200 improved on this, and eventually the same 2347 cc unit as used in the DS) arrived, originally only in the long wheel-base Prestige, but a regular CX 2400 arrived at the 1976 Paris Salon, to replace the CX 2200. By this time, Citroën had added a capacious Estate model to the range, called Safari, and a 2.2 litre Diesel powered model – important even in the mid 1970s in France – was also offered. Despite the challenging finances of Citroën at the time of launch, the CX was entered in numerous rally driving events, like Tour du Senegal and Paris-Dakar, winning 5 events outright. Most notable among these was in the 17,500 mile 1977 London–Sydney Marathon road race in which Paddy Hopkirk, driving a CX 2400 sponsored by Citroën’s Australian concessionaire, staged a come-from-behind sprint to obtain third place. The CX was initially a huge success in Europe, more than 132,000 being produced in 1978. It found customers beyond the loyal Citroën DS customer base and brought the technology of the advanced, but somewhat impractical, Citroën SM to the masses. Cars here ranged from a pre-production 1974 CX 2000 to a 1977 CX 2400

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Evolution of the car after this was gradual. More power came in 1977, with the CX GTi which received a modern Bosch L-Jetronic injection system, generating 128 PS, and there was a standard five speed gearbox, and in early 1978, the diesel engine was enlarged to 2.,5 litres. A five speed gearbox was available. A very mild facelift in 1979 saw the Douvrin 2 litre engines that were used in the rival Renault R20 fitted under the bonnet to create the CX Reflex and Athena. In 1981, factory rustproofing and a fully automatic transmission to replace the former semi-automatic gearbox were added. In 1984, the addition of a turbo to the 2.5 litre diesel engine made the CX Turbo-D 2.5 the fastest diesel sedan in the world, able to reach speeds up to 195 km/h (121 mph). In 1985, the GTi Turbo, with a top speed of over 220 km/h (137 mph), finally gave the CX the powerful engine that finally used the full capabilities of the chassis. A facelift later that year was an attempt to keep the car in the public eye, but its sales had peaked long ago, back in 1978, and better trim, a revised interior and new plastic bumpers were not going to help a 10 year old design in the face of stiff market competition. Just 35,000 units were produced in 1986 and 1987. There were few further changes for the rest of the CX’s life, with its successor, the XM appearing in early 1989. Production of the Estate models continued until 1991, by which time 1,170,645 CXs had been sold. There are far fewer survivors than there are of the DS family. Also here were a 1989 CX 25 GT Turbo 2 and a CX Prestige “High Protection”.

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Parked close by was this, the 1971 Projet L , which was the inspiration for what became the CX. It was probably inspired by the Pininfarina design studies for BMC’s 1100/1300 and 1800 “Landcrab” replacements which probably inspired his design for the GS too. A number of design studies were produced in the early 70s, and this would be the last car that Robert Opron was responsible for. Although much changed by the time the final CX design was signed off, you can certainly see the ancestry here. I had actually seen this car once before, as it made an appearance at the NEC Classic in 2009, so it was good to see it again.

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LN

The Citroën LN (Hélène) and Citroën LNA (Hélèna) are city car automobiles produced by the French manufacturer Citroën between 1976 and 1986. The added “A” used in the name of the bigger engined LNA stood for Athlétique (Athletic). The LN was introduced in July 1976. It combined the bodyshell of the Peugeot 104 Z (a shortened floorpan version of the 104) with the economical 602 cc two-cylinder petrol engine of the Citroën 2CV. Equipment levels were low, but the LN’s key selling points were its cheap price and low running costs. There was evidence of defensiveness at the press launch, possibly because a car that looked like a Peugeot, but was assembled at a Citroën plant and fitted with a Citroën engine, sharply refuted assurances that the two marques would retain their individuality. Those assurances had been provided by the same press departments just a few months earlier, when Citroën had again run out of money and Peugeot had taken control. When pressed, Citroën explained that the LN project had been rushed through because of “the need to supply customers and the [dealership] network with a model to strengthen Citroën’s position at the lower end of the market” which was hardly a ringing endorsement of a range which at the time included the Ami and the Dyane as well as the venerable 2CV which would continue in production long after any of the others. Citroën made it clear that this would not happen again. They stayed true to this until the 1996 Citroën Saxo. Citroën sold the LN in its native France only, but a more powerful replacement, the LNA, was introduced on 6 November 1978 and was exported to much of the rest of Europe (including right-hand drive versions for Great Britain, where it was not launched until early 1983). It had the more powerful and modern 652 cc two-cylinder engine of the Citroën Visa with electrical ignition. In December 1982 a 1.1 L four-cylinder engine was added which had a top speed of nearly 90 mph (145 km/h) for the LNA 11E and 11RE, which spelled the end of the two-cylinder models in many markets. But like the smaller-engined LN, the LNA was cheap to buy and cheap to run. For Italy and France only, there was also an intermediate version called the LNA 10E, with a 954 cc Peugeot engine. By 1980 the LNA could also be purchased, in France, badged as the “LNA Entreprise”, with the back seat removed. This was effectively a function of taxation rules, whereby the two-seater car could be sold with a reduced rate of value-added tax, to the delight of budget conscious tradesfolk and sales representatives. After the LNA was launched, its Peugeot-sourced bodyshell also spawned the Talbot Samba which had square headlights and a different, slightly longer, rear body part. The mechanicals and a developed version of the full length 104 floorpan were used in the Citroën Visa that was also launched in 1978. 1983 cars arrived early, in July 1982, and benefited from new black plastic bumpers, a new decoration for the C-pillar, a newly positioned rubber side-stripe, new rear lights and, more elaborately styled wheels, which were shared with the manufacturer’s Visa Super E. In July 1985 Citroën introduced cars for the 1986 model year. The previously black grill and bumpers were now coloured grey, although LNA production ceased in the summer of 1986, around the same time as the Talbot Samba. Its successor, the Citroën AX, was launched shortly afterwards.

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VISA

A couple of years later, Citroën launched their own small car, the Visa. It’s been quite a while since I last saw one of these, even in its native France, as despite the fact that Citroën built 1,254,390 examples of the model between 1978 and 1988, the model is all but extinct everywhere. There was a very long gestation to this car, which goes all the way back to 1965, when Robert Opron worked on the Citroën G-mini prototype and projet EN101, a replacement for the 2CV, using the flat twin engine from the 2CV. It was supposed to launch in 1970. The advanced space efficient designs with very compact exterior dimensions and an aerodynamic drag co-efficient Cd of 0.32, were axed because of adverse feedback from potential clients. With Citroën’s small car range all getting somewhat elderly, the decision was taken to try again, with the Citroën Prototype Y which was planned to replace the 2CV based Citroën Ami that dated back to 1960 in the early seventies. This was originally developed in co-operation with Fiat, built on the lessons from the Citroën G-mini and EN101 projects. It used the then new and advanced Fiat 127 platform, that used a transverse front wheel drive engine, with an end on gearbox layout that Fiat had pioneered in the 1960s. When co-operation with Fiat ended, a new Citroën designed platform was planned. After the takeover of Citroën by Peugeot in the wake of the 1974 oil crisis, the renamed “Projet VD (Voiture Diminuée)” became the Citroën Visa, incorporating the floor pan and advanced 104 engine, with its transmission (under the engine) and chassis. It was the first new model under the platform-sharing policy of PSA Peugeot Citroën that continues today. The earlier Citroën LN had just been a facelift of the Peugeot 104Z “Shortcut” with a re-engine and transmission from the Citroën Dyane. Eventually, in 1984, the original Citroën platform design from “Project Y” emerged as the Oltcit Club in Romania, using a Citroën Visa flat-twin engine and Citroën GS based gearbox, and Citroën GS flat-four engine and gearbox, and was also sold in Western Europe as the flat-four only Citroën Axel to recoup money that Citroën had invested in Romania, which the communist government could not repay. This project was problematic for Citroën due to build quality issues, only 60,184 cars were made, even though the base models were priced below the 2CV in Western Europe. The Axel was never sold in the UK. The five-door Citroën Visa and the three-door Axel look very similar, but there is no part interchangeable between these two Citroën models. The Visa entered a crowded market, with supermini competitors including the Chrysler Sunbeam, Mk1 Renault 5, Mk1 Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Chevette, Mk1 VW Polo and Fiat 127. Though it was launched as a supermini, it was about the same length (3725mm) and height (1430mm), but slightly narrower at 1526mm than a Volkswagen Golf Mk1, which was in the next class up. It was part of a ‘between sizes’ policy that Citroën also followed with the BX. From its launch in September 1978, the front-wheel drive Visa was available in “Spécial” and “Club” models with a mapped electronic ignition 652 cc, 2-cylinder and a “Super” (later “Super E”) model (called the 11RE after 1984), with the advanced Peugeot 1,124 cc Douvrin engine / PSA X engine, a four-cylinder “Suitcase engine” — all aluminium alloy, chain driven overhead cam, with gearbox in the sump, sharing engine oil, mounted almost on its side. The 1124 cc was as economical as the Citroën 2CV-derived twin, but with much better performance. Later on it had 1,219 cc (Super X) and then 954 cc (10E after 1984) and 1,360 cc (1983 Visa GT and 14TRS after 1985) versions of the same engine. The ergonomic design of the Visa controls used a Citroën “PRN Satellite” (P=Pluie – Rain, R=Route – Road, N=Nuit – Night) which gave access on one cylindrical unit to wipers, washers, horn, indicators, headlamps and flashers, all mounted a finger’s reach away from the steering wheel. The heat and ventilation control sliders that moved in arcs, were on the other side of the steering wheel, also within closer reach than usual. In 1982 the Visa underwent a major external restyling, designed by Heuliez, to look more mainstream. It kept the original interior and “PRN Satellite” controls until 1985 when, along with the Citroën BX, it was updated with a new bulkier dashboard, instruments and switchgear that made the car feel smaller inside. Stalk switchgear like contemporary Peugeots added self-cancelling indicators, but it kept the original monospoke steering wheel. It had very soft, but well damped, long travel, fully independent suspension with coil-sprung MacPherson struts at the front and coil sprung trailing arms at the rear, that caused it to have a soft ride like the Citroën 2CV, but without such extreme roll angles. CAR magazine made the Visa diesel one of its top ten models on the market for two years running in the mid-1980s (January 1986 and 1987), for its versatility (higher models in the range had split rear seats which could be lifted-out to give an almost van-like luggage capacity); ride comfort (“like a limousine”); its ability to maintain high average speeds due to high levels of grip; and value for money. It was also particularly aerodynamically stable at high speeds for a relatively light, narrow and tall car. It would remain unperturbed by cross-winds and truck bow waves at motorway speeds. It also had at the middle ‘R’ trim level and above, (currently unfashionable), but practical, grey plastic side rubbing strips, to protect against car park damage. The very curved sides of the windscreen, enabled the use of a very large single wiper on the long narrow windscreen, without fouling the windscreen seal. The front of the revised car, was designed to aerodynamically reduce the deposition of dirt on the headlights, and to reduce the risk of stone chips to the headlights, bonnet and windscreen. The heating and ventilation system, (even though it used only a water control valve for temperature control and not air mixing), could provide cold air from fascia side vents, to the face while warming the car. The central directable fascia vents could be heated and angled, so that they could be pointed directly at the windscreen in front of the driver, to keep it clear in extreme misting conditions. There was also an additional mid level vent, to blow air between the front seats to the back of the car. The rear parcel shelf was in two hinged sections, one in the car, the other on the tailgate, to allow objects that were slightly too tall to still fit without removing the shelf. When carrying larger loads, the part of the shelf attached to the tailgate could be folded up, and fixed with the elasticated support strings, to protect the rear window and heated rear screen elements. Long time CAR magazine columnist George Bishop, actually bought one with his own money. Before the advent of the diesel model, the electronic ignition (mechanical and vacuum controlled), 1124cc high compression engined Super E, (later renamed 11RE) with high gearing, was the best seller in the range. It was better equipped than the base 1.0 litre Austin Metro and Ford Fiesta it was priced against, having height adjustable halogen headlights, intermittent rear wash-wipe and multi-speed / intermittent front wipers, heated rear window, removable split folding rear seats, as well as five doors when its main competitors in the UK only had three, (the five-door Metro was launched in 1985, the five-door mark three Fiesta launched in 1989). A five speed gearbox was optional, when the base model competitors could only be had with a four speed. Most 1980s base model hatchback economy cars did without halogen headlights and rear wash-wipes, even heated rear windows could be optional. The 1984 launched 954cc 10E model was a direct competitor on specification to the Metro and Fiesta, but significantly undercut them on price. A four-door convertible version, with the doors and window frames remaining intact, of the 11RE was also produced in the Heuliez factory from 1984. This was heavier and slower than the hatchback that it was based on. In spring 1984 the very successful diesel version was added. The Visa 17D and 17RD used the famously rugged and refined, class-leading 1,769 cc XUD diesel and transmission from the Peugeot 205. It also capably powered the Peugeot 405, which was two classes larger, and made light work of powering the lightweight Visa. It had too wide a track for the original engine compartment and wings, so the front wings were extended with large black plastic wheel arch panels. The spare wheel that in smaller petrol engine versions, was mounted on top of the flat or near horizontal engine, was bolted to the otherwise flat boot floor — compromising luggage space. In continental Europe, a basic diesel van the ‘Visa Enterprise’ was sold that used the normal Visa bodyshell with the rear doors welded shut. It mounted a spacesaver spare wheel under the bonnet, over the diesel engine. Some diesel hatchbacks there, also used this arrangement. At the Paris Salon 1984, for model year 1985, the 1.4 litre TRS was presented. This version was produced for two years (1985–1987), shared its engine with the Citroën BX14. Even though it received a favourable review by CAR magazine who felt it was a better performance/economy compromise than the 11RE, it wasn’t very successful, due to being squeezed by the Visa Diesel and the extremely competitively priced BX 14. Between 1985 and 1987 the 1.1 litre petrol and 1.7 litre diesel “Leader” special editions were marketed. In the latter half of the eighties a 55 PS catalysed version of the 1,360 cc engine was added for markets with stricter emissions standards. No automatic gearbox version was produced. As well as an early Club and the limited edition Visa Carte Noir there was a rare 1984 Visa Decapotable on display here.

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The first sporting versions of the Visa included the “Visa GT” (1.4 litre with double-barrel carburettor and 80 hp, the “Visa Chrono” (93 hp) from the 1.4 litre engine, this time with two double-barrel carbs). The Visa “Mille Pistes” (112 hp) and four-wheel drive) was the rare production version of Citroën’s successful (if unlikely looking) Visa rally car, the Visa Chrono and Chrono II. At the Paris Salon 1984, for model year 1985, the high-performance 1.6 GTi was presented. The GTi used the 1.6 litre fuel injected XU5J engine and transmission combination (105 or 115 hp) versions) from the successful Pininfarina styled Peugeot 205 GTI. Citroën gave the GTi plastic wheel arch extensions and quad round headlights, to differentiate the model and try to make it look more sporty. It received good reviews about its ride, performance and roadholding, but due to its older, failed facelift looks and its five-doors, even with a much lower price than the chic 205 it was not a big seller. The Visa hatchback ceased production in 1988, after a production run of 1,254,390 cars. It was only partially replaced in the Citroën range by the smaller and less commodious 1987 five-door Citroën AX. The upper end of the range would eventually be replaced by the small engined models of the 1991 Citroën ZX, there being a 1.1 litre version of that car in some countries, but a 1.4 litre was the smallest engine in the UK. Sporting versions seen here were: 1985 Visa GTi, a 1982 Visa Trophee Group B and a 1984 Visa Milles Pistes

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The 1985 Citroën C15 diesel box van version of the Visa continued to be produced until 2005, (although the petrols were phased out in the early 1990s), due to its practicality (able to load a standard pallet) and low running costs, even though the 1996 Citroën Berlingo was supposed to replace it. The C15 was also the basis of the Romahome camper van. The C15 seen here dates from 2005.

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AXEL

The Citroën Axel was a supermini produced between 1984 and 1988 and developed in co-operation by Citroën of France and Oltcit, a joint venture company with the Romanian government. The Axel was a rebadged version of the small Oltcit Club hatchback. Three specifications were available: Axel 11, Axel 11R and Axel 12 TRS. They were powered by the air-cooled engines from the Citroën GS/GSA; the air-cooled flat-twin engine from the Citroën Visa used in the Romanian-market Oltcit Special was not installed in the export-only Citroën Axel. The five-door Citroën Visa and the three-door Axel look very similar, but there is no part interchangeable between these two Citroën models. From 1965 Robert Opron worked on the Citroën G-mini prototype and project EN101, a projected replacement for the 2CV using that car’s flat twin engine. It was supposed to be launched in 1970. The advanced space-efficient designs, with very compact exterior dimensions and an aerodynamic drag co-efficient Cd of 0.32, were axed because of adverse feedback from potential clients. The more conservative final design has a Cd of 0.36 (for the Axel 12 TRS, 0.37 for the Axel 11). The early seventies Citroën Prototype Y, intended to replace the 2CV-based Citroën Ami which dated back to 1960, was originally developed in co-operation with Fiat. It built on the lessons from the Citroën G-mini and EN101 projects. It used the then new and advanced Fiat 127 platform, featuring a transversely mounted engine driving the front wheels, with an end-on gearbox layout that Fiat had pioneered in the 1960s. When cooperation with Fiat ended, a new Citroën-designed platform was planned. After the takeover of Citroën by Peugeot in the wake of the 1974 oil crisis, the renamed “Projet VD (Voiture Diminuée)” became the Citroën Visa, incorporating the floor pan of the Peugeot 104 and using the advanced 104 engine with the (under-engine) transmission and chassis. It was the first new model under the platform-sharing policy of PSA Peugeot Citroën that continues today. The earlier Citroën LN was no more than a facelift of the Peugeot 104Z “Shortcut” with a re-engine and transmission from the Citroën Dyane. Eventually, in 1981, the original Citroën platform design from “Project Y” emerged as an Oltcit in Romania, using a Citroën Visa flat-twin engine and Citroën GS-based gearbox, and Citroën GS flat-four engine and gearbox. Beginning in July 1984, it was also sold in Western Europe as the Citroën Axel. Citroën was hoping to recoup money that Citroën had invested in Romania that the communist government couldn’t repay. The Axel had been scheduled for an earlier introduction, but Oltcit had been unable to provide either the quality or the quantity expected by their French partners. This project was problematic for Citroën due to productivity and build quality issues and 60,184 cars were made, even though the base models were priced below the 2CV in Western Europe. The Axel was never sold in the UK. When launched in France, Citroën acknowledged that the Axel was a competitor of their Visa. However, that the Axel only had three doors and was of a simpler, more robust design was considered enough to offset any possible loss of (already shrinking) Visa sales. The four-cylinder Axel 11 was 10 percent cheaper than a two-cylinder Visa in the French market. It also had a particularly low rear loading height, which, with its sturdy, basic construction, contributed to being particularly well received by farmers and denizens of smaller towns. In addition to the regular Axel, there was also a light commercial version with no rear seats available, called the “Axel Entreprise.”

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BX

Despite the fact that 2,315,739 BXs were built during its 12-year production run, and the car sold well, these are getting increasingly scarce, even in France. The rather angular hatchback was designed by Marcello Gandini of Bertone, based on his unused design for the British 1977 Reliant FW11 concept and his 1979 Volvo Tundra concept car. It was the second car to benefit from the merger of Peugeot and Citroën in 1976, the first being the Citroën Visa launched in 1978. The BX shared its platform with the more conventional 405 that appeared in 1987, except the rear suspension which is from a Peugeot 305 Break. Among the features that set the car apart from the competition was the traditional Citroën hydropneumatic self-levelling suspension, extensive use of plastic body panels (bonnet, tailgate, bumpers), and front and rear disc brakes. The BX dispensed with the air cooled, flat four engine which powered the GS, and replaced it with the new PSA group XY, TU and XU series of petrol engines in 1360 cc, 1580 cc and, from 1984, 1905 cc displacements. In some countries, a weaker, 80 PS version of the 1580cc engine was badged as the BX15E instead of BX16. A 1124 cc engine, in the 11TE, very unusual in a car of this size, was also available in countries where car tax was a direct function of engine capacity, such as Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Greece. The 11TE model was seen by foreign motoring press as slow and uncomfortable. It was fitted to the cars made from 1988 to 1993 and produced 55 hp. The 1.1 and 1.4 models used the PSA X engine (known widely as the “Douvrin” or “Suitcase Engine”), the product of an earlier Peugeot/Renault joint venture, and already fitted in the Peugeot 104 and Renault 14. The 1.6 version was the first car to use the all-new short-stroke XU-series engine. It was produced in a new engine plant at Trémery built specifically for this purpose, and was later introduced in a larger 1.9-litre version and saw long service in a variety of Peugeots and Citroëns. The XUD diesel engine version was launched in November 1983. The diesel and turbo diesel models were to become the most successful variants, they were especially popular as estates and became the best selling diesel car in Britain in the late 1980s. Despite being launched on the continent in the autumn of 1982, it wasn’t launched onto the British market until August 1983, initially only with 1.4 and 1.6 petrol engines, although further engine options and the estate model would arrive later, and it would go onto become one of the most popular foreign-built cars here during the second half of the 1980s. A year after the launch of the hatchback model, an estate version was made available. In 1984 power steering became optional, welcome particularly in the diesel models. In the late 1980s, a four-wheel drive system and turbodiesel engines were introduced. In 1986 the MK2 BX was launched. The interior and dashboard was redesigned to be more conventional-looking than the original, which used Citroën’s idiosyncratic “satellite” switchgear, and “bathroom scale” speedometer. These were replaced with more conventional stalks for light and wipers and analogue instruments. The earlier GT (and Sport) models already had a “normal” speedometer and tachometer. The exterior was also slightly updated, with new more rounded bumpers, flared wheelarches to accept wider tyres, new and improved mirrors and the front indicators replaced with larger clear ones which fitted flush with the headlights. The elderly Douvrin engine was replaced by the newer TU-series engine on the 1.4 litre models, although it continued to be installed in the tiny BX11 until 1992. 1988 saw the launch of the BX Turbo Diesel, which was praised by the motoring press. The BX diesel was already a strong seller, but the Turbo model brought new levels of refinement and performance to the diesel market, which brought an end to the common notion that diesel cars were slow and noisy. Diesel Car magazine said of the BX “We can think of no other car currently on sale in the UK that comes anywhere near approaching the BX Turbo’s combination of performance, accommodation and economy”. In 1989, the BX range had further minor revisions and specification improvements made to it, including smoked rear lamp units, new wheeltrims and interior fabrics. Winning many Towcar of the Year awards, the BX was renowned as a tow car (as was its larger sister, the CX), especially the diesel models, due to their power and economy combined with the self levelling suspension. The biggest problem of the BX was its variable build quality, compared to its competition. In 1983, one quarter of the production needed “touchups” before they could be shipped, though later models were more solid. The last BX was sold around 1994. As well as an early 1983 BX16RS there was a 1986 BX19 Digit which had a digital dash (hence the name).

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1986 BX Sport: As well as the normal BX, Citroën produced the BX Sport from 1985 to 1987. During this period, Citroën produced 7,500 BX Sports; 2,500 in the first series, then an extra 5,000 due to its sales success. Rated at 126 PS at 5800 rpm and equipped with dual twin-barrel carburettors, the BX Sport was the most powerful BX in production at that time. The engine modifications, including a reshaped combustion chamber and larger valves, were developed by famous French tuner Danielson. It also stood out with its unique body kit, alloy wheels later also used on the GTi, a unique dashboard and Pullman interior. The seat fabric was the same as that used on the CX Turbo at the time. The body kit included a rear wing, side skirts, and fender extensions that added 10 cm to each side of the car in order to accommodate the larger wheels. The car was only available in LHD, so it was not sold in the United Kingdom. Period road tests complimented the ride quality (as usual with Citroëns) but complained that the driving characteristics were not all that sporty as a result, even though the suspension had also been modified.

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1990 BX GTi 4×4: In May 1987, a 16-valve version of the GTi was launched. This was the first mass-produced French car to be fitted with a 16-valve engine. A DOHC twin-exhaust port cylinder head, based on that of the Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 Group B rally car was bolted to an uprated version of the 1905 cc XU9 8v alloy engine block as fitted to the BX GTi and Peugeot 205 GTi. The result was the XU9J4; a naturally aspirated 1.9 L engine, (also fitted to the phase 1 Peugeot 405 Mi16) producing 158 bhp and 177 Nm (131 lb/ft) of torque. More specifically, it produced a specific output of 84 bhp/litre, which for a fixed cam-timing, naturally aspirated engine was fairly impressive at the time. This helped “rocket” the BX to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 7.6 seconds (0-60 mph in 7.4 seconds) and then 160 km/h (99 mph) in 19.9 seconds before then finally stopping at a top speed of 136 mph (219 km/h). Anti-lock brakes were fitted as standard. Its side skirts made it easily recognizable from all other BX models. In 1990, the facelift of the 16V gave the car a new lease of life. The updated car came with new fibreglass bumpers, anthracite painted wheels, smoked taillight lenses, and a redesigned rear spoiler. These cosmetic changes made the car look even more distinctive from other BXs. There were also a few subtle changes made to the car’s performance, the most noticeable being harder suspension and a thicker anti-roll bar, which improved handling. The BX 16V was found to be faster around a race-track than the “in house” competitor Peugeot 405 Mi16 in a test in the Swedish motoring magazine Teknikens Värld. Also in Sweden, young driver Magnus Gustafsson competed successfully in rally with a group A tuned BX 16V. The engine produced 215 hp and Gustafsson was second in the Swedish International Rally 1993 in the A7 category.

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AX

Next addition to the range was the AX. Development of this model started in 1983, and was initially also going to form the basis of a sister model from Talbot to replace the Samba; however, the falling popularity of the Talbot brand – coupled with the huge success of the new Peugeot 205 – had led to Peugeot deciding to axe it by the time the Citroën AX was launched, and so the Talbot version never made it into production. The car was available on the left-hand drive continental markets from its launch on 2 October 1986, as a three-door hatchback with 1.0, 1.1 and 1.4-litre TU-series belt driven OHC engines. A range of five-door models was added in 1987 and a 1.4 litre diesel engine was introduced in 1988. The latter was replaced by a 1.5 litre unit in September 1994. The right-hand drive version for the UK market was launched in August 1987, initially only as a three-door hatchback, with a five-door version joining the range a year later, effectively replacing the five-door Citroën Visa, which was discontinued that year. With the final demise of the classic Citroën 2CV in 1990, the AX became the smallest model in the Citroën range. The very earliest cars had an issue with gear shifters falling off; this was rectified by the time the AX reached export markets. It was initially backed by a memorable television advertising campaign filmed in China, starring actress Janet Mas and an elderly gentleman, whose character was simply known as Mr. Wong. The car was very economical, largely because of excellent aerodynamics for its class of car (drag coefficient of 0.31) and a very light weight of 640 kg (1,411 lb) for the basic version. This was due to the extensive use of plastic panels in non-load bearing areas and varying the thicknesses of steel in the bodyshell to be the minimum needed to take required loads. Another target for the engineers was lowering friction in the engines. The AX has fully independent suspension with unusually long wheel travel. It also optionally used self-coloured plastic bumpers. This technology came from the PSA Peugeot-Citroën / Renault / French government ECO 2000 project. The production version was much more conservative than the original ‘one box’ design prototype, that was closer to the Eco 2000 styling after negative reactions in focus groups. The “one-box” city car eventually came to market with the Renault Twingo, launched in 1992. In 1989, a naturally aspirated diesel AX, using the 1360 cc all aluminium alloy TUD engine, managed a figure of 2.7 litres/100 km (100 mpg), totalling over 1,000 miles from Dover to Barcelona. This was the longest ever distance travelled on 10 gallons of fuel and earned it a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the most economical production car. Also available was a 4×4 variant, but with limited success when compared to the rival Fiat Panda 4×4. The AX 4×4 was only available with five doors and was not sold in the United Kingdom. The first performance version was the limited-run AX Sport from 1987, with a 1.3 engine and twin carburettors producing 95 bhp, wearing iconic white steel wheels (5,5″ x 13″) which resembled those on its brother, the Peugeot 205 Rallye. The AX Sport used Solex ADDHE 40 carburettors until late 1988 and was then replaced with Weber DCOM 40s, just like the 205 Rallye 1,3. The AX Sport had a shorter inlet manifold than the 205 Rallye, to save room in the smaller engine compartment. In phase 2 guise the Sport was available in other colours and with optional GT wheels and rear spoiler. Later, the AX 14GT, with a single-carburettor 85 bhp 1.4 engine also found in the Peugeot 205 XS, was introduced. From 1991, this model utilised fuel injection to coincide with the revamp of the entire range and to coincide with tougher 1992 EU emission regulations that introduced exhaust catalytic converters. Late 1991 saw the range revised, with a heavily facelifted tailgate and interior being the most notable changes. The front turn signals were now clear, and the Citroën logo was moved to the center of the bonnet. The much maligned dashboard was replaced by a more conservative design. The following year saw the introduction of the most powerful AX variant, the 100 bhp GTi. The GT was sold alongside the GTi for a few months, but was eventually phased out. New models were also introduced, such as the Forte, Spree, Elation and Dimension. In January 1995, the Citroën AX Echo was launched, with a top speed of 110 mph (180 km/h). Its closest competitor, the Peugeot 106 Ski, (that shared components with the AX), was outsold by the Echo. From June 1996, following the introduction of the Saxo, the range was slimmed-down, with production of the AX ending in December 1998, after a 12-year production run. It had been withdrawn from the UK market during the first half of 1997, following the demise of right-hand drive production. A total of 2,425,138 AXs were produced. Seen here were a 1986 AX 10TRE, a 1987 AX Sport and a 1991 AX 11 4×4

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XM

Launched on 23 May 1989, the XM was the modern iteration of the Big Citroën, a flagship saloon replacement for the Citroën CX. It went on sale in its native France immediately afterwards, and was available in right-hand drive on the UK market from October 1989. The XM estate was launched in the spring of 1991, until which time the estate version of the CX remained in production. The XM inherited a loyal global customer base of executive class customers and a clear brand image, but did not enjoy the commercial success and iconic status of its predecessors, the CX and the DS, which both raised the bar of automotive performance for other manufacturers. With total sales over its lifetime of just 330,000 units in 11 years, and the fact that its replacement Citroën C6 was not launched until the end of 2005 (despite being scheduled for launch in 2001), the XM might be considered a failure. By the second half of the 1990s, sales were in sharp decline, but Citroën did not end production of the car until 2000. There were many advances, most apparently designed to counteract the main criticisms of its predecessor. The CX leaned in corners, so the XM had active electronic management of the suspension; the CX rusted, so the XM had a partially galvanised body shell (many surviving XMs have very little corrosion); the CX was underpowered, so the XM offered the option of a 3.0 L V6 engine – the first V6 in a Citroën since the Maserati-engined SM ceased production in the mid 1970s. When the estate model joined the line-up, Citroën had a competitor at almost every level with most other similar-sized European cars. Ventilation was markedly more effective in the XM. Rear accommodation in the XM was improved over the CX in both width, legroom and height. In particular the rear passengers were seated higher than those in the front in order to afford a good view out, important for a vehicle which would operate in French government service. The XM shared a floorpan with the Peugeot 605, and the two models fared similarly in both teething problems and market acceptance. Unlike the 605 sedan design, the XM was a liftback design – a feature thought to be desirable in certain European markets – perhaps uniquely, it featured an additional glass panel that could lift with the tailgate but when shut, isolated the passenger compartment, to mimic the feel of a salon car. In mid-1994, the XM was revised in order to improve competitiveness. This did not materially impact sales. All models were fitted with driver’s airbag (signalling the end of the single-spoke steering wheel), belt-pretensioners, a redesigned dashboard and upper door casings. The suspension was redesigned to reduce roll, pitch and dive. Most noticeable was the adoption of a passive rear-steering system similar to that on the Citroën Xantia. This sharpened the “steering without inducing a nervous twitch.” Power output on the turbocharged motor was increased to 150 bhp from 145 bhp at 4400 rpm. This allowed the car to develop more torque at much lower revs. The important 50–70 acceleration time was 8 seconds compared to the Ford Scorpio 2.0 16V Ghia’s 17 seconds. The view of CAR magazine was that this engine “provides unusually swift access to effortless power … it delivers progressively with commendably little fuss; that this 2.0 turbo is as refined as it is muscular makes the XM’s performance all the more creditable”. XM was intended to compete against prestige vehicles like the Audi 100 and BMW’s 5 Series in a sector that accounted for 14.2% of the European market. It also competed with cars from mainstream brands including the Ford Scorpio and Opel Omega. Citroën was quoted as saying that the car was supposed to “take what Citroën means and make it acceptable”. The car’s initial reception was positive. Some six months after its launch, The XM won the prestigious European Car of the Year award for 1990 (gaining almost twice as many votes as the second, the Mercedes-Benz SL) and went on to win a further 14 major awards within a year of its launch. The anticipated annual sales of 450 cars a day in the first full year of production, or 160,000 units a year, never materialized. Sales never reached this ambitious level (higher than even its popular predecessor) for a variety of reasons. Like the CX, the XM did not have the worldwide distribution of competitors from BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz. Also, it was launched only a year before a major global recession began, impacting negatively on car sales across the world; a notable example being the UK, where more than 2.3 million new cars were registered in 1989, but that figure fell to less than 1.6 million in 1991 (a drop of more than 30% in just two years). In Japan the XM was sold through Mazda’s Eunos dealership chain, part of an effort to minimize the appearance of Japan’s automobile market being closed to imports. It was also offered by Citroën’s traditional importer Seibu Motor, who kept selling the XM by themselves after the Eunos brand was discontinued in 1996. The market for executive cars made by volume manufacturers (Ford, Opel, etc.) was on the verge of decline as customers opted for offerings from more prestigious marques, a trend which saw Ford pull out of this market sector in 1998 and Opel in 2003. Customers were placing a higher priority on speed and handling rather than ride comfort which was Citroën’s specialty.[citation needed] The XM was underdeveloped at launch which resulted in reliability problems; the vehicle as designed was inconsistent in its abilities. The XM’s styling was also controversial and alienated those who desired a more conventional three box sedan. Peugeot introduced an XM competitor, the very similar Peugeot 605 that also sold weakly. Most subjective of all was the matter of the XM not living up to the expectations created by its forerunner the Citroën DS, despite that car having been launched in an era of national markets, of different demands and standards, an era when there was more scope for large advances in engineering and design than were possible in 1989. Export markets experienced lower sales from the outset, partly due to the XM’s pricing. The least expensive XM was nearly 50% more expensive at the time of launch than the corresponding CX. Whilst strong at first home market sales also declined, after the mechanical issues of the first few model years became known. By early 1993, the XM was viewed as an “underachiever”. Initial sales in the UK were at 3,500 units a year, making it Citroën’s weakest seller. The 2.0-litre petrol engined variants were viewed as being the least competitive. As a result, Citroën restructured the range such that all but the base model petrols were fitted with low-inertia Garret turbochargers to add an extra 15 bhp. This made the cars more powerful than more expensive competitors such as the Rover 820, Vauxhall Carlton and Ford Granada 2.0 GLX. After a run of 11 years, production finally ended in June 2000, with 337,000 made. By 1998, Citroën had confirmed that it would soon be discontinuing the XM and replacing it with an all-new model. At the Geneva Motor Show in March 1999, it unveiled the C6 Lignage concept car, which was scheduled for launch in 2001. In the event, the XM’s successor – the C6 – did not go on sale until late 2005 and was even less successful. There were a number of XM here including a 1998 XM Multimedia.

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BERLINGO

The Citroën Berlingo and Peugeot Partner are almost identical panel vans and leisure activity vehicles produced by PSA Peugeot Citroën since 1996. The third generation is also sold as the Opel/Vauxhall Combo, and as the Toyota ProAce City from 2019. The panel vans are available in passenger versions named the Berlingo Multispace and Partner Combi, Partner Tepee, and Peugeot Rifter for the third generation. In Italy, the first generation of the Partner was known as the Peugeot Ranch. They were initially based on the Citroën ZX/Peugeot 306 estate floorpan and mechanicals. With their rectangular, box like cargo space and aerodynamic front, conceptually they can be considered the descendants of the Citroën 2CV panel van (AK400). The new 2018 Citroën Berlingo and Peugeot Partner/Rifter also share their design with the new Vauxhall/Opel Combo, following GM’s stake acquisition in PSA. Both the Berlingo and Partner have been produced in CNG and electric versions and with four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines. The Berlingo/Partner was officially launched in July 1996. When the Berlingo was first shown at the Mondial de l’Automobile (Paris Motor Show) in 1996, a set of three concept cars was also presented: Berlingo Coupé de Plage; Berlingo Berline Bulle; Berlingo Grand Large. The Berline Bulle concept was a roomy small car, that could be considered as a precursor for the C3. Only one of these concepts was actually developed, the Grand Large version, which was developed into the Multispace and Combi people carriers/leisure vans.
The 1996 Berlingo Coupe de Plage was here with a regular 1996 Berlingo HDi.

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A revised version, featuring a redesigned interior and front end, was released in December 2002 (Berlingo I / Partner I). During 2004, there was a minor facelift, including changes to the grille and light clusters. After the launch of the second generation Berlingo and Rifter, the first generation models stayed offered. They took the names “Citroën Berlingo First” and “Peugeot Partner Origin”. In 2010, the Citroën Berlingo First Electrique and the Peugeot Partner Origin Electric were launched. These two electric vans were powered by the Monégasque firm Venturi, which assembled them in Solesnes, Sarthe. From 2013, the Berlingo and the Partner were discontinued in Europe. Their career continued in South America, where they are still produced years after. In Argentina, Peugeot launched an off-road version of its Partner, called Partner Patagónica. This model had various names when it was sold across Europe in the 2000s (Partner Ushuaïa Grand Raid, Partner Escapade, Partner Grande Escapade, Partner VTC, Partner Indiana, …).

An electric version (Citroën Berlingo Electrique) was available from 1998 to 2005, and a new one from 2010 to 2013. This is a 2008 Berlingo Electric.

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Two different models replaced the first generation of the Berlingo in 2008. The smaller, known as the Citroën Nemo, was developed in cooperation with Fiat and Tofaş. Based on the Fiat Grande Punto platform, it is built in Turkey and is also marketed as the Peugeot Bipper and Fiat Fiorino. The Peugeot and Citroën are almost identical; the Fiorino also has a different, Fiat made, diesel engine. The Nemo is intended to be cheaper and smaller than the original Berlingo. The Berlingo II, styled by Gilles Vidal, is based on PSA’s Platform 2 (like the Citroën C4) and therefore is slightly larger, and considerably more expensive than its predecessor.[citation needed] The engine range is similar to other current models of the PSA Group. The Berlingo and Partner were officially unveiled in January 2008, with the Berlingo launched first, in the European market, in April 2008, followed by the Partner in May 2008. Mexico still sells this generation alongside the original Partner, as do a few other countries, as the Grand Raid and Partner Origin. An electric version has been available since 2013. In March 2017, a five seater Citroën e-Berlingo Multispace was announced. A third generation model debuted in 2018.

XANTIA

The Xantia replaced the earlier Citroën BX (which straddled both small and large family car segments), and maintained the high level of popularity of that model, but brought the car more into the mainstream to compete harder with its rivals, such as the Ford Mondeo, Nissan Primera, Rover 600, Toyota Carina E and Opel Vectra/Vauxhall Cavalier. Sales commenced in March 1993. The car was built from November 1992 to October 2002 in France, totalling almost ten years, including the facelift in December 1997. It signalled that Citroën had learned from the reception given to the staid Citroën ZX, introduced two years earlier, and criticised by contemporary journalists for its lack of traditional Citroën flair, in engineering and design. Citroën addressed these concerns in the Xantia. The Xantia also used the traditional Citroën hydropneumatic suspension system, which was pioneered by the older DS. It was initially only available as a hatchback (notchback) (Berline), but an estate (station wagon) (Break) version, built by Heuliez, appeared in September 1995. Inline with PSA Group policy, the Peugeot 406, launched two years later, used the same floorpan, core structure and engines as the Xantia. The Hydractive suspension system was not carried over, and the 406 utilised a more traditional spring suspension. Sales in the United Kingdom were strong, and even though it was never able to match the volume of British favourites, such as the Ford Mondeo or Vauxhall Vectra, the car did help Citroën establish a strong foothold in the business car market in the United Kingdom. The car seen here is a V6 Activa, believed to be the one of just 32 survivors worldwide.

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ZX

The Citroën GS had been a ground breaking and radical new model in the small family car market on its launch in 1970, scooping the European Car of the Year award, and was facelifted in 1979 and gained a hatchback which saw it transformed into the GSA. However, such was the success of the larger BX after its 1982 launch, that PSA decided to delay the launch of an immediate replacement for the GSA when it was finally discontinued in 1986. Development work began on a new C segment hatchback, which was originally expected to be launched as the Citroën FX at the beginning of the 1990s. Although the Rally Raid version of the ZX debuted during 1990, the ZX was officially launched on the left hand drive continental markets on 16 March 1991, with British sales beginning in May that year, initially only with petrol engines. The diesel ZX went on sale later in 1991.It went on sale in New Zealand in the beginning of 1993, as a five door in 1.6 Aura or Turbodiesel trim, with the naturally aspirated diesel and Volcane GTi (1.9) models joining a few weeks later. New Zealand’s unleaded petrol was of a low octane rating, meaning that initially only uncatalyzed cars were on offer. In January 1994, the estate of the ZX debuted, and went on sale in May, shortly followed by a mid cycle facelift. The first examples of the ZX had been produced in 1990, with the three door Rally Raid model being the winner of the Paris-Dakar, which started just after Christmas. The first prototypes of the ZX had actually debuted at the Baja Aragon on 20 July 1990. Drag resistance ranged from Cds 0.30 to 0.33. The launch of the ZX marked the return of Citroën into the C sector of the car market; it had discontinued the GSA in 1986 with no immediate replacement, largely due to the success of the larger BX. However, Citroën had decided to phase out the BX between 1990 and 1993, by at first launching a smaller model, and then adding a larger model (the Xantia) to its range. The ZX’s interior space and value received praise from critics and consumers. Of particular note was the rear seat arrangement; it was mounted on a sliding platform that allowed the seat to be moved rearwards to increase rear legroom, or forwards to increase cargo space. Unfortunately, only the seat backs folded down on models so fitted. Lower specification models with fully folding and removable seats had more ultimate capacity. The ZX specification was good for its class, with most models getting power steering, electric windows, electric sunroof, a driver’s side (and sometimes passenger’s side) airbag and anti-lock braking system as either optional or standard equipment. It was competitively priced though, unlike the Mark III Volkswagen Golf, which was priced at a relative premium from its launch later in August 1991. It also reached the market a few months before the new version of the Opel/Vauxhall Astra. The familiar range of PSA powertrains drove the front wheels of a seemingly conventionally designed chassis. At the front was a standard MacPherson strut layout with anti-roll bar, while the rear used the PSA Peugeot-Citroën fully independent trailing arm/torsion bar set up that was first introduced on the estate of the Peugeot 305. However, PSA’s chassis engineers employed some unusual features, including passive rear wheel steering (by means of specially designed compliance bushes in the rear suspension), and in house developed and constructed shock absorbers. At high mileages, this is prone to wear off the axle mounting bushes, which is easily fixed. It is also prone to wear in the rear axle trailing arm bearings, which then wear the trailing arm axle tubes, requiring an expensive rebuild or a replacement axle assembly. The diesel and larger capacity petrol engines are canted as far back as possible in the engine bay, in an effort to put as much weight as possible behind the front axle line, also reducing the centre of gravity, while improving weight distribution and minimising understeer. At the time of its launch, the ZX range consisted of a collection of four very individual trim levels; the base model was the “Reflex” aimed at young people, next was the “Avantage” aimed at families, and then there was the luxury “Aura” series. The final series was the relatively sporting “Volcane” series, with lowered (and hard) suspension. The “Volcane” TD was one of the first diesel hot hatches. Over time, further models were introduced including the “Furio”, a cheaper sports model, a 16 valve engined high performance derivative and many special editions.

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RECENT MODELS

1999 and 2010 Xsara Picasso: Taking its inspiration from the Xanae concept of 1004, the Citroën Xsara Picasso is a five-seater five door compact MPV produced by Citroën from 1999 to 2013. At the time of its release, two trim levels were available, LX and SX. Later designations were ‘Desire’, ‘VTR’, and the range topping ‘Exclusive’ trim level, some with an electric glass sunroof. On all models, the front seat backs have fold down tables, and the rear seats can be removed to create extensive internal space for transportation of bulky items similar to a small van. The Xsara Picasso was availible with a 1.6, 1.8 and 2.0-litre (automatic only) petrol engine, or a 2.0-litre (replaced by the 1.6-litre 2004 onwards) diesel engine, all shared with the smaller Citroën Xsara. The model received a facelift in 2004 with updated bumpers, engines and body-coloured bumpers were made standard on all trim levels. It proved very popular and there are still quite a few of them on the road.

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1998 C3 Air: During the development of the C3, a cabriolet was proposed. Citroën built this C3-Air concept car in 1998 which in turn led to the “not a concept car” Pluriel which was shown in 1999 and eventually, with substantial changes, went into production as the C3 Pluriel in 2003.

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2009 Pluriel Charleston: Citroën marketed the C3 Pluriel from 2003 to 2010 as a convertible with five open top variations, hence the name. Pluriel is a cognate with the English plural. The Pluriel can be configured as a hatchback with a multi-layer insulated top;a full-length landaulet, operable partially or to the back window or any stage in between, with a buffet minimizing wind deflector over the windshield; a fixed profile convertible, with the roof open to the back window, the roof assembly folds into a well in the trunk floor; a full convertible where roof side rails are unlatched and removed. and as a roadster pick up, where the back seats fold to a pickup like a bed with a drop-down tailgate. The C3 Pluriel was introduced in July 2003, and was originally offered with a choice of a 1.4 or a 1.6 L petrol engine, and a 1.4 L diesel engine. The 1.6 L petrol came fitted, as standard, with an automated manual gearbox. The Pluriel was withdrawn in July 2010. In October 2013, Top Gear Magazine placed the C3 Pluriel on its list of “The 13 worst cars of the last 20 years”, describing the car as “useful as a chocolate teapot.” the Charleston was a limited edition model intended to evoke memories of the popular 2CV Charleston. It did little to increase interest in the car.

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C3 Hybrid Air: Citroen has long been a pioneer of automotive technology, from headlights that turn as you steer on the Citroen DS, to hydropneumatic suspension so smooth it was licensed by Rolls-Royce. This development, “Hybrid Air” technology, seen at the 2013 Geneva Show, was possibly the most intriguing innovation yet, with a C3-based Hybrid Air prototype on display, and creating lots of interest. The benefits of hybrid-air are easy to understand. Rather than relying on batteries to supplement the gasoline engine’s power, the Citroen C3 Hybrid Air prototype uses compressed air. This minimizes the environmental impact associated with batteries, is lighter, less expensive, and doesn’t impact on cabin space. That’s particularly important in the Citroen C3 on which the prototype is based, a subcompact car similar in size to the Toyota Yaris. The efficiency benefits are also clear. The compressed air hybrid system is matched with an 82 bhp 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol engine. Normally, this achieves a combined fuel economy figure of 52 mpg on the European cycle. As part of the Hybrid Air system, that rises to 80 mpg, with corresponding low CO2 and other emissions. The main components of the Hybrid Air system are the 1.2-litre petrol engine, a compressed air storage unit, a hydraulic pump/motor unit and an epicyclic automatic transmission.It works almost identically to a typical full hybrid system–just with air replacing the job of batteries. Air Mode works like a regular hybrid’s EV mode, and can power the vehicle up to 43 mph for short distances around town. Braking or decelerating compresses air back into the system, just as doing so on a normal hybrid would top up the battery. Gasoline Mode uses only the engine, and the same regenerative benefits are available when braking or lifting off the gas, while Combined Mode uses both energy sources for quicker acceleration. Citroen lists various technological benefits of Hybrid Air. Low pricing has already been mentioned. There’s no degradation of efficiency unlike you’ll experience with batteries in cold or very hot conditions. It’s easily adaptable between vehicles, put particularly appropriate for small, light cars and commercial vehicles, and as an essentially mechanical system it’s simple and inexpensive to service–with few issues at the end of life recycling stage. The technology looked really promising, and at the time it was show many expressed the view that it could make a real difference to small vehicles, making fuel-saving hybrid technology much more accessible even at the bargain-basement end of the market. Sadly, nothing much has been heard of the idea since.

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2004 C4 VTS

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2008 C5 Berline: The second generation C5 was officially unveiled in the beginning of 2008, and does not retain the hatchback bodystyle, instead being a regular, three box saloon of an aerodynamic shape. However, this second generation is often criticised, especially by core Citroën fans, for its German like exterior design, which makes it look more like a German saloon, than a French one.The C5 Airscape, which was presented at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2007, gave an outlook on the second generation C5. It was launched in February 2008, with the estate version following in May 2008, and receives the name of Tourer. This C5 won 2009 Semperit Irish Car of the Year, as well as being awarded 2008–09 Japan’s Import Car of the Year. The second generation was presented on 15 January 2008, having its world premiere at the Brussels Motor Show. The second generation is available with conventional springs, as well as the hydropneumatic suspension and 2.7L Ford AJD-V6/PSA DT17 engine from the Citroën C6. In 2009, the 2.7L was replaced by an updated 3.0L unit which, despite offering more power, has improved fuel consumption and emissions. In 2010, the 2.0L HDi 140 and the 2.2L HDi 173 engines, were replaced by the 2.0L HDi 160 engine, mated to a six speed automatic or manual transmissions to comply with the Euro 5. Similarly, the 2.0L 16V 143 bhp petrol engine was replaced by the 1.6L THP 155, from the DS3 mated to a six speed manual transmission. In 2011, the C5 was given a mild facelift, with a few cosmetic changes, such as LED lights. Three engines were added to the range consisting of two diesels, 2.0 HDI 160, and a 2.2 HDI 200 as well as a petrol engine, 1.6 VTI 120. In July 2012, the C5 was given another mild facelift, with a few cosmetic changes, such as softer chevron badging, modified badging of C5, softer chevron “grille” as per the recently updated C4, and exclusive badges (on the Exclusive) on the sides in front of the front doors. For the Exclusive, the onboard GPS/radio head was also changed to the eMyWay unit which features full Bluetooth connectivity and iPod/USB interface. In May 2016, the C5 was officially withdrawn in the United Kingdom, due to disappointing sales of 17,105 since 2008. In 2015, only 237 cars were sold, the lowest number since the car’s launch. This is comparison to 6,549 sales in France within 2015. However, this could be due to the model being launched at the start of the financial crisis in 2008, as well as increased demand for crossover models.

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The C6 was inspired by the Citroën C6 Lignage prototype which was first shown at the Geneva Motor Show in the spring of 1999. When shown, it was clear that this was a potential replacement for the XM, and Citroën was intent on launching it before the end of 2000. It took rather longer than that, though, with the production C6 not being launched until 2005, four years later than Citroën had originally planned and five years after the XM had ceased production. In appearance, it was not very different form the C6 Lignage concept, though it did lack the rear suicide doors. Intended to compete against the might of the German executive triumvirate of E Class, 5 Series and A6, as well as be a flagship French model, the C6 was launched with the choice of a 3.0 litre V6 petrol engine producing 208hp or a 2.7 litre V6 HDi diesel producing 201 hp (shared with the Jaguar models of the time. In October 2006 a 2.2 litre 4 cylinder HDi producing 168hp joined the range and in June 2009 the V6 diesel unit was enlarged to 3 litres and now producing 237 hp. Few other changes were made to the car during its product life. Despite the looks, the C6 was a conventional saloon, with a boot lid, as opposed to a hatchback (just as the earlier CX had been). Citroën hoped that as well as its undoubted elegance, the C6’s selling points would be its innovative technology, which included a head-up display, a lane departure warning system, xenon directional headlamps (also available on the Citroën C4 and Citroën C5), and the Hydractive 3+ suspension with electronically controlled springing and damping which gave the car a “magic carpet” like ride, and a rear spoiler which automatically adjusted to speed and braking. On launch, the press used phrases such as “spaceship that rides on air”, “charmingly idiosyncratic” and “refreshingly different”. Unsurprisingly, the C6 immediately became a prominent vehicle among the fleet of executive cars of the Élysée Palace. Former Presidents of France, Jacques Chirac & Nicolas Sarkozy, have chosen the Citroën C6 as their official car. Chirac, in particular, used a pre-series car before the model was introduced. But finding buyers among the general public proved more difficult. At launch sales expectations across the model’s lifespan were given as 20,000 per year, but when production ended on 19 December 2012, only 23,384 units built over a 7 year period.

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A new car named C6 is sold in China since the end of 2016, based on the PSA PF3 platform.Prices in China starts from ¥189,900 yuan to ¥279,900 yuan. Citroën re-used the C6 name, even though the vehicle is different from the original C6.

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The Citroen GT-C1 presented by Espera students is a marvel. Some time ago, Sbarro and his students presented the Picasso Cup, a large gullwing door monospace. C1-GT is inspired by it: we find the exterior style, but on a smaller scale which makes this small car even more impressive. This is in agreement with Citroën, especially Marc Chatrieux, that promotion Espera 2005-2006 has designed the car. The fund donor car was completely boned. A 6-point arch home-made has been installed, as well as trains and extended 6-piston brakes from a Citroën Xsara WRC. The wheels are BF Goodrich 225/35/19 tires mounted on rims OZ UltraLeggera 19”. At the rear, a spare wheel, visible through the rear window (a request by Marc Chatrieux). The most impressive remains gullwing doors. But the kit in one piece that “around” the car gives it a nice aggressivity with a 2 meters width! The white paint is pearly blue shades. On the inside there are two Recaro bacquets harness. The interior was painted gray carbon mat. And the engine? It is certainly the weak point of the GT-C1. The engine comes from a Citroen C2 VTS. It is of a 4-cylinder 1600 cm3 developing 125 horsepower. Even if the weight is very content, 900 kg, the power is low. The performance are low. It took almost 6 months to Franco Sbarro’s students to design and achieve this Citroën C1, worthy heir of Picasso Cup. The result is magnificent. The GT-C1 is one of the finest achievements in Espera Pontarlier.

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Citroën in MOTOR SPORT

Dating from 1922 is this track-driven B2 10 HP model K1 “Autochenille” the Scarabee d’Or. This was the first motor vehicle to cross the Sahara Desert, in 1922, a pioneering expedition that André Citroën ran to prove to the world just how reliable his vehicles were. This extraordinary adventure, commanded by George-Marie Haardt and Louis Audouin-Dubreuil, prefigured Citroën’s famous Black Cruise in 1924 and Yellow Cruise in 1931.

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1931 P19b Croissière Jaune: The Yellow Expedition (French: Croisière Jaune) was a French trans-Asian expedition in 1931/1932. It was organized by Citroën in order to promote their P17 Kégresse track vehicles. The expedition started in Beirut, the capital of French Lebanon. Georges-Marie Haardt and Louis Audouin-Dubreuil led the cruise. Haardt had already crossed the Sahara and the whole African continent in two ambitious expeditions. One group of the expedition travelled eastwards through the French Lebanon, French Syria, Kingdom of Iraq under British administration, Persia, Afghanistan, British India until the border of Xinjiang, then a de facto independent region of China under control of the warlord Jin Shuren. Another group travelled westwards across China from Beijing to Urumchi, where they were held hostage by Jin Shurens troops for several weeks. The French archeologist Joseph Hackin, the Russian-French painter Alexandre Jacovleff (as an “Artistic Adviser”), the French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and the American photographer Maynard Owen Williams participated in the expedition. Early 1932, the expedition reached the East China Sea. In British Hong Kong, Haardt died of pneumonia and the expedition was aborted. In 1934, a feature-length documentary of the expedition was released. Claude Delvincourt composed the music. In the early 1970s, a French-West German co-produced drama depicting the expedition was filmed. During shoots in Turkey, famous British actor Roger Delgado died. Nevertheless, filming continued. The series aired in France in 1974 and in West Germany in 1975.

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1970 Raid Paris Kabul 2CV: The first Citroën rally raid (Paris-Kabul-Paris) was organised in August 1970 and involved 494 Méhari, Dyane and – above all – 2CV vehicles. Following the route taken by the Croisière Jaune, the rally raid covered a distance of 16,500 km. The success was such that Citroën organised another event one year later. The Paris-Persepolis-Paris raid took 467 car crews on a journey of 13,500 km to to the ancient capital of the Persian Empire. In 1973, the fifty 2CVs taking part in Raid Afrique made an 8,000 km journey across the Sahara desert. Also here was one of the cars from that event.

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Fifteen years elapsed before the next event in 1988, Operation Dragon. A total of 40 young Europeans driving AX vehicles embarked on a 4,500 km journey across China, from north to South. And in 1997, on the fringes of the Master Rallye, Citroën organised the Berlingo Raid: from Paris to Moscow via Samarkand. A total 157 crews took part in this 8,500 km event.

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1973 2CV Raid Afrique

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1976 2CV Cross

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1971 DS21 Coupe Group 5

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1971 SM Rallye du Maroc: The SM won its first competitive outing, the gruelling 1971 Rallye du Maroc. From a field of cars including Citroën DSes, Alpine A110s, Renault 8 Gordinis and even some Porsche 911s, the crown was won by the duo of Jean Deschaseaux and Jean Plassard. The team’s Citroën SM floated over rutted desert tracks and forded deep wadis flooded by rain to take the title with more than 26 minutes to spare over their closest competition, a far more conventional team in a rear-wheel drive Peugeot 504.Citroën continued rallying the SM, eventually developing a “breadvan” short-wheelbase racing variant.

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1977 CX 2400 Group 5 Senegal: The Citroën CX had a number of victories and good rankings in African rallies, including the following: 1976 – Rally Côte d’Ivoire / Côte d’Azur – CX 2200 (13,16,17th).; 1976 – Rallye du Maroc – CX 2200 (4th); 1977 – Senegal – CX 2400 (1,2,3,4,5th; 1978 – Senegal – CX 2400 GTi (2,3, 6th); 1979 – Senegal – CX 2400 GTi; 1981 – Paris / Dakar – CX 2400 GTI. This car finished 2nd at the 9th Rally of Senegal – one of the toughest terrain. It was driven by Achim Warbold and Christian Geistdoerfer (who will win the same competition the following year). Out of the 30 cars participating, only 7 cars finished after the gruelling 3,000 Km race, 5 of them were Citroën CX 2400.

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1984 Visa 4 x 4 Grand Raid

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1976 GS Club 1220 Afghanistan: This vehicle was lent to the Auto-Journal car magazine editor André Costa for the 1976 Paris-Kabul-Paris Raid. It was painted in traditional style of local lorries by an Afghan craftsman in Kabul. This is an export model with armour plated undercarriage and reinforced raised suspension.

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1972 MEP X27: When talking about the participations of Citroën In motor sport it is inevitable to associate the Double Chevron brand with the World Rrally, although it has also stood out in the extinct World Tourism and at the Dakar Rally. But cars with a roof were not always within its sports policy. In the 1970s, their presence on the slopes was in the form of a monoposto. The car that gave shape to a single brand sponsored by Citroën was the MEP X27, the only vehicle of this type created by the French automaker in its history. The basis of this car was the MEP X1, another that had been devised by the aeronautical engineer Maurice Emile Pezous. This vehicle, created in the mid-60s, was followed by another development called X2, which had an engine of origin Panhard 850 cm3 and which allowed a final velocity of 190 km / h. Building on the success achieved with the X1 and X2, Pezous convinced Citroën to create its own division: the Bleue formula, audited by the French Automobile Federation (FFSA) and that had the support of Michelin y Total. The promotional division, which had its first tournament in 1969, was a success as it had low-cost cars, well-prepared production engines and very interesting economic prizes. For 1971, Formula Bleue had an important technical change: the incorporation of the MEP X27 chassis, developed and built entirely by Citroën. The MEP X27 was based on the engine-gearbox assembly of the Citroën GS, weighed 392 kilograms and reached a top speed of 200 km / h. But Formula Bleue was not on the track for long as in 1975 Citroën decided to cancel it due to a deep financial crisis. In just four years the company manufactured 80 chassis MEP X27, many of which still exist today and are rare collectibles.

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1985 BX4TC Evolution: Citroën entered Group B rallying with the BX in 1986. The specially designed rally BX was called the BX 4TC and bore little resemblance to the standard BX. It had a very long nose because the engine (a turbocharger fitted version of Chrysler Europe’s Simca Type 180 engine) was mounted longitudinally, unlike in the regular BX. The engine was downsleeved to 2,141.5 cc (from 2,155 cc) to stay under the three-litre limit after FIA’s multiplication factor of 1.4 was applied. The rally version of the BX also featured the unique hydropneumatic suspension, and the five-speed manual gearbox from Citroën SM.] Because of the Group B regulations, 200 street versions of the 4TC also had to be built, with a 200 PS at 5,250 rpm version of the N9TE engine. The 4TC was not successful in World Rally Championship competition, its best result being a sixth place in the 1986 Swedish Rally. The 4TC only participated in three rallies before the Group B class was banned in late 1986, following the death of Henri Toivonen in his Lancia Delta S4 at the Tour de Corse Rally. Already discouraged by the car’s poor performance in motorsport and the demise of Group B, Citroën was only able to sell 62 roadgoing 4TCs; build quality and reliability problems led Citroën to buy back many of these 4TCs for salvage and destruction. With only a fraction of the original 200 examples remaining, the 4TC is now highly sought after.

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1987 Visa 4 x 4 Milles Pistes

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1989 AX Superproduction: For the French Superproduction Championship of 1988 on circuit, Citroën was present with two AX Sport, with as drivers Carole Vergnaud and Jean Pierre Jarier. The regulations allowed modifications to the frontal structure in order to adapt the race engine with electronic injection, a new air/air heat exchanger, more streamlined front and rear wings. This small FWD turbo car developed 380 bhp and was one of the season’s leading players.

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1995 AX GTi S Andreas Trophy

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It was with the ZX that Citroën became a serious contender in World Rallying again. The car won the Paris-Dakar Rally four times — in 1991 with Ari Vatanen and in 1994, 1995, 1996 with Pierre Lartigue, claiming a total 59 stage wins. It also won five FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies titles, four by Pierre Lartigue between 1993-1996 and one by Ari Vatanen in 1997. In terms of rallycross, the ZX 16V Turbo in the hands of Kenneth Hansen (rallycross) took two FIA European Rallycross Championship titles. 1994 and 1996. The ZX Kit Car, a front-wheel-drive naturally aspirated rally car built to the F2 rules, won the 1997 Spanish rally championship thanks to Jesús Puras. There were several of them here, ranging from the 1991, 92 and 93 rally cars, a 1995 Evo3, a 1996 Rally Raid Evo 5 and a 1994 ZX Super Copa

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2001 Saxo 1600 Super

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C2 Super 1600

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Xsara WRC: The Citroën Xsara WRC is a World Rally Car built for the Citroën World Rally Team by Citroën Racing to compete in the World Rally Championship. It is based upon the Citroën Xsara road car. The car was introduced for the 2001 World Rally Championship season and has taken first three of nine drivers’ titles for Sébastien Loeb, as well as the manufacturers’ title in 2003, 2004, and 2005. The Xsara World Rally Car, based on the road going Xsara hatchback but ultimately having very little resemblance to it under the skin, was one of the most successful cars ever to compete in the World Rally Championship. In 1999, the WRCs predecessor, the two wheel drive naturally aspirated Xsara Kit Car, won overall in Rallye Catalunya and Tour de Corse. This car was considered the best car in the class. The late Philippe Bugalski placed seventh overall and won the Kit Car F2 class. In 2001, Kit Cars category disappeared and was replaced by Super 1600 and Super 2000. Citroën Xsara competed in the category of World Rally Car. In 2002, French driver Sébastien Loeb was supposed to win the Monte Carlo Rally but he was penalized for an illegal tyre change, but he later won the Deutschland Rally. In 2003, the Citroën Xsara was more competitive. In Wales GB, the leader Richard Burns suffered a blackout and withdrew from the rally. Sébastien Loeb made some mistakes on the last round and he lost the championship by just one point. However, the Citroën won the manufacturers’ title. In 2004, Sébastien Loeb won the championship. Sébastien Loeb won 28 rallies with the car, three consecutive Driver’s Championship titles from 2004 to 2006, and Citroën to three consecutive Manufacturer’s Championship titles in 2003, 2004, and 2005. In addition to Leob piloting the Xsara WRC, Jesús Puras, Carlos Sainz, and François Duval have also driven it to win since its 2001 conception. The car was replaced in 2007 by the Citroën C4 WRC, however the Xsara was still used by privateers and others. World champion of 2003, Petter Solberg drove a 2006 spec Xsara for the majority of the season of 2009, which was entered by his own Petter Solberg World Rally Team. Three examples were to be seen here, ranging from 2001 to 2005.

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2010 C4 WRC: The Citroën C4 WRC was developed in 2006 for competing in the 2007 World Rally Championship (WRC). The Citroën C4 WRC replaced the Xsara WRC, winner of three world manufacturers crowns between 2003 and 2005. The Citroën C4 WRC was the car driven by Sebastien Loeb to win its fourth world rally driver crown.

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2013 C Elysée WTCC: Citroën entered the FIA World Touring Car Championship in April 2014 with this car, demonstrating once more its ability to address new sporting challenges. Today, the C-Elysée WTCC is No. 1 in the Manufacturers’ rankings. This championship has a strong following in Asia and Latin America and is an opportunity for Citroën to build its international renown. The C-Elysée is a C-segment saloon aimed primarily at high-growth international markets such as Latin America, the Mediterranean Basin, China and Russia. It is enjoying real market success, with more than 120,000 orders in the space of a year. Anchored to the tarmac on its 18-inch wheels, the Citroën C-Elysée WTCC is, in a word, impressive. Underlining the radiator grille with its prominent double chevron, the bumper features an aerodynamic splitter. The broader front and rear wings lend a decidedly sporty look to the bodywork. At the rear, the large spoiler ensures that the car hugs the track. Under the bonnet, the C-Elysée WTCC is powered by a 1.6-litre turbocharged direct- injection engine. With its large turbo flange, power output is now close to 380 bhp. The car comes with front-wheel drive transmission, controlled by a six-speed sequential gearbox. Confirming Citroën’s sporting renewal, the many podiums obtained since the start of the season underline the importance of motorsport as a high-tech laboratory, and reflect the brand’s ambitions to pursue international growth.

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Also here was a 2016 C Elysée WTCC.

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2016 DS3 WRC

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LES COMMERCIALES

1947 U23 Bus: This 18/20 seater bus was found in Corsica in 2006. Presented for the first time outside France at the Hannover Motor Show, this is the result of a restoration of 5 years in France at Citroën Heritage’s initiative. This multi-function commercial vehicle was sold from 1935 in many different types of bodywork. Built on a U23 base, this bus was constructed in 1947 by the Besset bodywork manufactory in Annonay (Ardèche – France). It was powered by a 1.911 cc 4 cylinder engine which generated 50 hp @ 3.800 rpm. The U23 was popular as a commercial vehicle and 121.902 examples were made.

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1971 RE-2 Helicopter: By the time Citroën realized that the Comotor joint-venture it had set up with Germany’s NSU was a failure, it was too late and the bulk of the damage was already done. The French automaker had spent an immense amount of time and an almost immeasurable fortune trying to fine-tune the Wankel rotary engine. It had built a single-rotor engine that was fitted to the experimental M35 coupe and a dual-rotor mill that powered the GS Birotor, but it had never managed to solve the engine’s core issues such as its unacceptably high fuel consumption. As a last ditch effort to make a profit from the Comotor engine, Citroën decided to diversify and allocate its resources to building an aircraft. In the early days of the project the company considered two different possibilities: called RE-1 internally, the first was an autogyro, a hybrid that was part helicopter and part personal aircraft. Dubbed RE-2, the second project was a simple lightweight helicopter. After months of careful research, Citroën’s top brass decided to move ahead with the RE-2 and quickly recruited Charles Marchetti, a well-known engineer that was responsible for the design of the Alouette helicopter, to help out with the project. According to a book published by the late Xavier Massé, the RE-2’s body was 283 inches (718 centimeters) long, it sat 102 inches (259 cm) high and it weighed 1,543 pounds (700 kilos). The RE-2’s engine was an evolution of the Comotor 624 unit that was found under the hood of the ill-fated GS Birotor but it had larger rotors and its Solex carburettor was replaced with a Citroën-designed fuel injection system. It propelled the aircraft to a cruising speed of 108 miles per hour (about 173 km/h) and up to a maximum altitude of 11,482 feet (roughly 3,500 meters). As work on the helicopter drew to a close, Citroën realised that it had overlooked a major problem: it did not have a pilot capable of testing the aircraft. Dominique Gilles was recruited at the last minute and the RE-2’s first flight took place on December 24th, 1975. Gilles later reminisced that the doors were removed from the aircraft in case something went haywire and he had to jump out. Gilles did not have to jump out and the RE-2 completed its maiden voyage without any notable issues, but Citroën still had to obtain a certification from the government before it could legally sell the helicopter to the general public. During the rigorous certification process inspectors realised that the Comotor engine overheated at high rpms, an issue that sent Citroën back to the drawing board. In the meantime, the French automaker changed hands and found itself part of the newly-founded PSA Peugeot-Citroën group. Peugeot’s view was that there were more pressing issues to deal with than trying to get a Wankel-powered aircraft on the market and it reportedly did little to support the project. After many additional hours of development and several more test flights the RE-2 obtained a six-month operating permit on June 14th, 1977. More tests flights followed but the government’s certification was never obtained. Finally, on May 5th, 1979, Peugeot ordered Citroën to immediately put an end to the RE-2 project. The aircraft was tucked away in the company’s museum after flying a total of 38 hours. Citroën stopped all Wankel-related research that same year, abandoning a rotary-engined CX equipped with fuel injection and a five-speed manual transmission.

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1927 Kegresse Forestry Half Track

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1927 B14 Pompier

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1968 350 Belphegor

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This 1941 Type C van is the forerunner to the long-lived and well-known Type H van. It is more commonly known as the TUB (for Traction Utilitaire Basse, or “Low Front-Wheel-Drive Commercial”) and was the first in a long line of lightweight commercial vehicles, and the ancestor of the Type H. This pioneer of the front-wheel-drive van, released in 1939, was hugely appreciated for its practicality, with a flat floor giving enough headroom in the loading area for a person to stand up in, a far-forward cabin, and a sliding side door. Production stopped at around 2,000 units, owing to outbreak of the Second World War.

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The Citroën G Van was the 1948 prototype built by Citroën of a small truck which looked like a scaled down version of the H Van, and equipped with an enlarged version of the 2CV flat twin enlarged to 475 cc. Front suspension was akin to that of the 2 CV but with twin suspension arms while the springing medium was by torsion bars front and rear. It was never put into production, the decision was made to employ the 2 CV running gear instead in the AZU/AK series, which had a lower volumetric efficiency. Just one example of the G Van has survived – this one.

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The Citroën H Van, Type H, H-Type or HY was a panel van (light truck) produced by the French automaker Citroën between 1947 and 1981 It was developed as a simple front wheel driven van after World War II. A total of 473,289 were produced in 34 years in factories in France and Belgium. Like the 1934 Citroën Traction Avant, the H had a unitary body with no separate frame, four-wheel independent suspension, and front-wheel drive. For a commercial van, this combination provided unique benefits – a flat floor very close to the ground, and 6 ft (180 cm) standing height, with a side loading door. The distinctive corrugated body work used throughout the period of production was inspired by German Junkers (Aircraft) starting from the First World War until the 1930s, the three engined Junkers Ju 52 being the last to use this construction. Henry Ford also adopted this construction for the Ford Tri-Motor passenger aircraft. The ribs added strength without adding weight, and required only simple, low cost press tools. The flat body panels were braced on the inside by ‘top hat’ box sections, at right angles to the ribs. The welded floor was strong enough to support a horse. Most H Vans were sold in France, Belgium and the Netherlands. At the Slough Trading Estate assembly facility (1926-1966), Citroën UK built a very small number of right hand drive versions. The German market was supplied by a key competitor, the Volkswagen Type 2. As with the Volkswagen, the H Van could not be sold in the US as a commercial vehicle after 1964, due to the Chicken tax. The engine, gearbox and many smaller parts are shared with other Citroën models. The engine and gearbox are nearly identical to those in the Traction Avant and later the DS, only mounted with the engine in front of the gearbox. The headlights were identical to those of the 2CV, while speedometers were successively borrowed from the Traction Avant and the Ami 6. While the derated Traction avant 4 cylinder engine and the unsophisticated 3 speed gearbox (non syncromesh on first gear) only gave a modest top speed of just under 100 km/h, the chassis and suspension layout provided remarkable roadholding qualities, especially on the short wheelbase version: low slung chassis, engine and drivetrain well behind the front wheels axles, with very little overhangs, combined with sophisticated totally independent suspensions (the front ones used double torsion bars instead of conventional coil springs) were features scarcely found on period passenger cars. Like the contemporary Citroën 2 CV, the H type van could often be driven “pedal to the metal” on winding rural roads. The 1.9 litre motor offered more usable power than the 1.2 litre motor of its competitor, the 1950 Volkswagen Type 2. The basic design changed very little from 1947 to 1981. Vehicles left the Citroën factory with only three body styles: the standard enclosed van, a pick-up version, and a stripped-down body which went to non-Citroën coach-builders and formed the basis for the cattle-truck and other variants. The basic version had an overall length of 4.26m, but vehicles were also available in a LWB version with an overall length of 5.24m. In September 1963 the earlier style rear window – a narrow vertical window with curved corners – was replaced with a square window the same height but wider, 45 cm on each side. The bonnet was modified to give two additional rectangular air intakes at the lower edges, one for a heater, the other a dummy for symmetry. In early 1964, the split windscreen used since 1947 was replaced with a single windscreen, while in late 1964 the chevrons on the radiator grille, previously narrow aluminium strips similar to those on the Traction Avant, were replaced with the shorter, pointed style of chevrons as used on most Citroën vehicles in the last decades of the twentieth century. In November 1969 the small parking lights were discontinued, the front indicators were recessed into the wings, and the shape of the rear wings was changed from semi-circular to rectangular. Rear hinged ‘Suicide’ cab doors were used until the end of production in 1981, except on vehicles manufactured for the Dutch market where conventionally hinged doors were available from 1968. This is a 1981 HY Van.

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1994 Evasion

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THE CONCEPTS

In recent years Citroën have produced a wide array of concept vehicles, many of which made their premiere at one of the worlds major Motor Shows. Some bore quite a close relationship to a subsequent production model, whereas others were far more radical and were designed to the imagination of their creator. A good number of them from over the years are housed here.

1956 C-10: One of a series of concepts created by Citroën from 1955 to 1956 under the direction of André Lefèbvre, the idea behind this one was to produce a water drop-shaped, very lightweight vehicle, which would be more modern and smaller than the 2CV. The overall look of the vehicle was quite similar to the Messerschmitt bubble car. It was equipped with the same 425 cc engine as the 2CV. The vehicle was also nicknamed Citroën Coccinelle (Ladybird in French).

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1960 C-60: The Ami 6 was always viewed as a temporary stop-gap solution to the chasm between the 2 CV and the DS – a chasm that was not really filled until the launch of the GS. Having rejected the Cocinelle , work started in 1960 on a project to fill this gap – the C 60 – longer and wider than the Ami but employing some of that car’s styling elements such as the reverse rake rear window and with a front end reminiscent of the DS, here was a singularly attractive looking car that has frequently been mis-described as an Ami prototype. It would have been powered by a flat four air cooled engine of either 1.100 cc or 1.400 cc and the larger engined version would have employed hydropneumatic suspension. Development costs escalated and the decision was taken to commence a new project – which nearly brought about the demise of the company and which was indirectly responsible for the Peugeot take over. The C-60 was styled by Flaminio Bertoni who was also responsible for the Traction, 2CV, DS and Ami 6 (he described the Ami 6 as his favourite creation). The headlamp treatment (using the lamps from the yet-to-be-launched Panhard 24) anticipated the restyling of the DS in 1967. The dash of the C-60 contained styling elements of both the Ami and the DS – note the horizontal gear lever and the pédalo brake button. The C-60 offered DS levels of accommodation but with a much smaller engine – important for tax reasons in France where both the DS and ID were heavily taxed. This was not a small car but a small-engined car. C-60 was abandoned in favour of Projet F.

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1972 Urbain 1 Mini Zup: Dating from the early seventies, Mini Zup was the creation of Jacques Né and his team. Conceived as an urban car, it had rear wheel drive, a 602 cm3 flat twin but detuned to 12 bhp and set up in such a way as to provide maximum low speed torque.

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1973 Urbain II: This rear-wheel drive city car concept is equipped with tilting cockpit and swiveling side windows. Compared to Urbain I, Urbain II is more focused on cost-efficiency. It was fitted with the
602 cc flat twin used in the 2CV.

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1980 Karin: The Citroën Karin was a concept car presented at the Paris Motor Show in 1980. It featured a striking, pyramidal design and was designed by Trevor Fiore. The exterior of the car incorporated flush glass panels, faired rear wheels, and butterfly doors. The roof of the Karin was only the size of an A3 sheet of paper due to its truncated pyramid shape. One of the Karin’s most noticeable interior features was the unique three-seat layout with the driver located in the middle of the two passengers. Also among its features were a 4-cylinder engine, front wheel drive, and a hydropneumatic suspension like the Citroën DS.

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1981 Xenia Styling Model

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1985 Eole: Revealed at the Geneva motor show in 1986, the Eole was designed entirely by computer, bypassing the normal stages of such a car’s creation. Geoffrey Matthews who came to Citroën from PSA-owned Chrysler UK did the original drawings from which the computer worked. Eole was based on a CX platform and achieved a CD factor of 0,17 – approximately half that of the CX thanks to fully enclosed wheels. The car was fitted with no roll, active suspension that automatically lowered the ride height at speed. Following these trials, the decision was taken to equip the CX successor with an active system. Characterised by covered wheels and large headlights, the Eole was designed as an aerodynamic estate car capable of seating four people in comfort. Hydraulics linked to the steering system allowed the wheel covers to open outward when the front wheels were turning. At high speeds when steering was minimal and short, the covers remained closed. The windows featured a small portion which could be lowered and raised independently from the larger fixed section. The large side view mirrors obstructed aerodynamics. The interior featured a transmission tunnel separating the four seats. The tunnel was fitted with a computer, video game console, television, and stereo system for use with all passengers. The transmission was engaged via tactile identification buttons. Controls and buttons were placed on either pods on both sides of the steering wheel, or on a flat panel also housing the compact disc player. More unique was the partially-glass roof, with clear visibility over the front passengers. The Eole was also equipped with Citroën’s hydropneumatic suspension which automatically adjusted to load levels. Based on the Citroën XM. the Eole ran entirely on computers.

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1986 Xanthia: Displayed at the 1986 Paris Motor Show, the Xanthia concept car was presented as a modern-day roadster. It featured the subframe of the future AX, which was presented a few months later.

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1988 Activa 1: The Citroën Activa and Activa 2 were two concept cars produced by the French manufacturer Citroën as a means to test and to showcase features intended for future use in their production cars. Both were unveiled at the Paris Motor Show in 1988 and 1990 respectively. The name Activa was later used to refer to the production Xantia fitted with Activa suspension. Among the features seen on the Activa models was the electronically controlled hydropneumatic suspension (known as the “Hydractive” system) combined with an active anti-roll bar. This married Citroën’s famous hydropneumatic suspension system to sophisticated electronics, enabling the handling of the car to automatically adapt to how it was being driven as well as virtually eliminating body roll (one of the main criticisms of Citroën’s hydropneumatic system was the amount of body roll). The Hydractive system was soon to become available to the public first in Citroën’s XM model 1989, and Xantia model 1993. In 1995 Activa prototypes’ active anti-roll-bar was introduced in the Xantia Activa, making it one of the few production cars to have active suspension. The Activa 1 included full hydraulically connected, single wheel independent four-wheel steering, anti-lock brakes and traction control, which were high-tech for the time, while the Activa 2 was more conventional, except the anti-roll-system and featured a centre console keypad instead of a gear lever and a navigation system. In addition, the Activa 1 featured electronically operated doors which could all be opened at once using a remote control. Mechanically, the Activa 1 was powered by a 3.0L SOHC PRV 24 valve V6 engine producing 200 PS at 6000 rpm and 260 Nm (192 lb/ft) of torque at 3600 rpm, coupled to a 4-speed automatic transmission. This gave the Activa 1 a claimed top speed of 136 mph (219 km/h).

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1992 Citela: The Citroën Citela Concept was an electrically powered car that featured a modular body that allowed it transform from a coupe to a mini estate, to a saloon. Many of the styling cues were borrowed from the earlier ECO 2000 project. The concept was first shown at the French pavilion at the Universal Exposition in Seville in 1992. The Citela Concept had a top speed of 110 kph and could travel 210 km before requiring a re-charge.

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This is the 1994 Xanae. A revelation at the 1994 Paris Motor Show, it focused most on driver and passenger comfort. The first true compact MPV, Xanae felt like a welcoming living room, complete with rear hinged doors without a central pillar, pivoting front seats, plus a central rear seat that folded down to provide a table. The current core Citroën principle of modularity starts here. Adding to the sense of wellbeing and space was the exceptionally large glazed area, with the windscreen sweeping up into the roof pannel. A whole range of driving aids were easily accessed via two LCD screens and positioned just where they could safely be used. With the mechanical underpinnings from the Xantia, there was nothing to stop this master class of comfort and versatility from developing into a real production car. The finishing touches were applied and in 1999 the Xiantia Picasso was launched to an appreciative public. It enjoyed a very successful career.

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1998 C3 Lumiere: This was presented at the Mondial de l’Automobile, the Paris Show in 1998 and illustrated a new architecture and aesthetic for cars in the Segment B class. With this vehicle, Citroën was proposing a new way of imagining the compact vehicle of the near future. Conceived by Création Citroën, this car marked the renaissance and renewal of the marque’s reputation for creativity. Designed to be as at home on the motorway as in town and featuring the most sophisticated levels of safety, versatility, economy and functionality, C3 (Centre de Création Citroën)combines style with functionality in a way that few concept cars manage. The front end features vertically arrayed headlamps – apparently this will be the principal design motif of Citroën’s range for the new millennium – and also has four symmetrically opening doors and a rear hatch which opens with the lower half sliding under the top. The sunroof comprising glass slats is positively ingenious. Innumerable seating permutations are possible thanks to four equidistant longitudinal rails and seats which have interchangeable squabs and back rests with built-in seat belts. The show car even comes with a handbag/pocket book as standard! The production version, the C3, was slightly lower, and lacked the “suicide” rear doors and the double jointed tailgate when it arrived in 2002.

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1999 C6 Lignage: Citroën surprised the public and the media when it arrived at the 1999 edition of the Geneva Motor Show with a brand new concept called C6 Lignage. The sedan broke all visual ties with the XM by adopting a more rounded silhouette that was openly inspired by the CX. Its design was characterised by sharp headlights that stretched well into the front bumper, suicide doors, boomerang-shaped tail lamps and a concave rear window. It measured 193 inches (492 cm) long, 74 inches (189 cm) wide and 57 inches (144 cm) tall. The cockpit featured a floating centre console, the inexplicable presence of a tree branch between the seats, and the four-seater layout were the most over-the-top aspects of the interior. The spec sheet read like a brochure for a brand new 2015 E-Class or 5 Series: The Lignage was equipped with a heads-up display, an adaptive suspension system, an electronic parking brake, adaptive cruise control, an infrared camera, a driver fatigue sensor, a voice recognition software and navigation. Precise technical details were never published, but Citroën explained the concept was designed to use direct-injected gasoline- and diesel-burning engines as well as a sequential transmission. Citroën stressed the Lignage was simply a design study, but rumours that the XM wouldn’t be replaced turned out to be completely false; the C6 Lignage concept was toned down slightly and added to the Citroën lineup as the C6 in 2005.

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2000 Osmose: Always seeking ways to redefine usability, Citroën revealed a very futuristic prototype at the Paris Motor Show in 2000. It aimed to create a new kind of relationship between drivers and pedestrians. Here was a concept car that asked fundamental questions about responsible use of the car as a means of sharing transport. Before a journey, the driver would display their availability and destination on a panel, allowing them to pick up people as they went. The journey information could additionally be accessed by mobile phone. Osmose also had a radical layout, there were three seats in the front, with the driver positioned in the middle and slightly further forward than the passengers on each side. In the rear, a sliding panel revealed a two seats bench that faced backwards. The overall shape of Osmose was a real departure. Because of its height and similar front and rear designs, it was essentially cubic, like a light filled mobile living space. Equipped with audio and video systems and a frontal pedestrian airbag. Osmose was powered by hybrid technology called ZEV, which stood for Zero Emission Vehicle. Overall lenght 3.35 m; width 1.75 m ; height 1.7 m

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2001 C-Crosser: Offering an extreme illustration of what a Citroën sports utility vehicle of the future could look like, the remarkable four wheel drive, four wheel steering Citroën C-Crosser concept car raised a few eyebrows with its world debut at the 2001 Frankfurt Motor Show. Taking design cues from the Citroën Pluriel concept car, the extremely versatile C-Crosser is capable of morphing from a spacious six seat sports utility vehicle into a semi-roadster and then into a pick-up capable of carrying even the bulkiest lifestyle accessories as well as three adults in comfort. At the touch of a button C-Crosser’s glass roof and tailgate stow away neatly under the rear floor, whilst the rear seats can be folded flat to create a perfectly level load area. Protection from the elements for the front seat occupants comes from an electrically-operated glass screen that is integrated in the back of the front bench seat. C-Crosser is wider than most conventional vehicles, only slightly longer than the Citroen Xsara hatchback, and offers remarkable levels of space. This is greatly down to the absence of pedals and the elevated seats which combine to free up leg space for both front and rear passengers. The spacious cabin has a light and airy feel thanks to the large glass windscreen which extends back over the heads of the front seat occupants. Featuring the very latest drive-by-wire technology, the C-Crosser does away with the need for a steering column and pedals, allowing the driver to sit anywhere in the front of the vehicle, whilst the movable steering control unit also operates the accelerator and brakes. Not only does the lack of pedals considerably reduce the risk of foot and leg injuries in a collision, but the ability to easily switch between left or right hand drive helps to ease driving during trips abroad. Citroën’s unique Hydractive 3 suspension, with its variable ride height, comes into its own over rough terrain, allowing C-Crosser to automatically increase its ground clearance by 60 mm and giving it suspension travel of some 150mm. Easy access to the rear is helped not only by the variable height, which is controlled by a single button that allows the vehicle to be lowered by up to 100 mm, but also thanks to the two rear side sliding doors. Equipped with the latest 2.0 HPi direct injection petrol engine, ESP and ABS brakes, the Citroën C-Crosser is equally adept on and off the road. In addition, electronic control of the speed sensitive hydraulic four wheel steering, with as little as 2/3 turn from lock to lock, helps promote pin sharp steering at high speeds as well as making easy work of awkward manoeuvres such as parking in tight spaces.

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2002 C-AirDream: The Citroën C-Airdream is a concept car first presented at the 2002 Paris Motor Show. The C-Airdream is designed to be very slender and very aerodynamic. The C-Airdream has a naturally-aspirated 3.0-litre V6 engine, producing 210 bhp, and 260 Nm (192 lb/ft) of torque. The 2-door C-Airdream features an aerodynamic design with an all-glass roof and has a drag coefficient of Cd0.28. The interior features no foot pedals or a gear lever, with all the resulting drive-by-wire controls located on the steering wheel.

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2003 C-AirLounge: Unveiled at the 2003 Frankfurt Motor Show, the C-Airlounge Concept was not just another design study, but a different take on the executive car segment. The concept was designed under the guidance of Jean-Pierre Ploué, who led Citroën’s design studio from 1999-2009 before assuming his current role as Groupe PSA Head of Design. Back in the early 2000s, besides offering an array of affordable models, the French brand was also seeking alternative ways of competing with the likes of BMW and Mercedes-Benz in the premium segments. Citroën always chose a different path for its flagships, with models like the revolutionary DS (1955), the CX (1974) and the XM (1989), leading to the controversial C6 (2005). So what was the C-Airlounge? Well, it was the second concept car of Citroën’s new era, following the C-Airdream (2002) and preparing the world for the significantly revamped design identity of the brand. The mono-volume shape of the 4.88m long prototype, made it a premium Grand Tourer in an aerodynamic and practical MPV bodystyle, something like the Renault Avantime. The front end of the C-Airlounge might look familiar today (mostly because of the later C4 hatchback which adopted its styling cues), however it was something different back in 2003. Most of the character lines originate from the expanding double chevrons which gradually became the core design element of all Citroën models for years to come. On the very long front overhang, the bumper was integrated with the sleek bonnet and the aggressive boomerang shaped headlights reached as high as the sloping windshield, giving it an opulent look. The weird shape of the A-pillars made it clear this car originated from France while the dropping window line on the profile was a nod to the legendary flagship models of the past. The crease towards the end of the side windows made you look twice to understand its unusual shape, but it also brought more character and strength to the slightly bulging rear wheel arches. The rear end was equally eccentric. The long tail-lights featured a “melting” look and abstract graphics, expanding from the roof all the way down to the rear bumper. The curved rear windscreen complemented the vertical tail and in combination with the large sunroof, shed more light into the spacious cabin. The drag coefficient of the concept car was an impressive 0.26cd, thanks to its overall shape and some clever details like wheel fairings, special air ducts, rims that sucked air-reducing turbulence, and the Blade vortex generators positioned on the roof, creating swirls of air and making up for the absence of a rear spoiler. From some angles, the C-Airlounge looked like a Space Shuttle, thanks to its floating lines and the overall stance. Its futuristic design is more evident when you compare it side to side with the Citroën C8 (2002), a large MPV that looks considerably dated and uninspiring by today’s standards. Under the bonnet, the 3.0-litre V6 engine produced 152kW and was mated to a sequential automatic gearbox with paddle-shifters behind the steering wheel, providing respectable performance figures for the highway. The Hydractive 3 suspension system offered Normal and Sport settings with automatic height adjustment, combining comfort with good handling. The revolutionary self-levelling suspension remained the main feature of every top of the range model in Citroën’s history until just a few years ago. Moving on to the interior, in typical concept car fashion it was full of gadgets and technologies. The modular cabin could comfortably seat four or five passengers in separate seats, with up to 650 litres of luggage space. At the front, the dashboard featured only a few buttons and a retractable screen, with most of the functions operated from the fixed hub steering wheel (a feature that debuted on the Citroën C4 production car in 2005). The minimal design with sci-fi elements was complemented by premium materials like leather, silk and thick wool carpet. The white upholstery served as a canvas for the passengers to create custom atmosphere using the video projectors, choosing between Pure, Convivial, Intense, Romantique and Baroque themes – a predecessor to the customisable ambient interior lighting of today’s world. Rear passengers had access to touch-screen tablet computers stored under the armrest, allowing them to play games, watch movies, work or even surf the internet (here we should remind you that the revolutionary iPad debuted in 2010 so Citroën was way ahead of the game). All that was very impressive for 2003, however we could say that the “ribbon” shape on the doors with contrasting bright red colour was a bit over the top, even for the space age people.

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2005 C-Airplay: This was presented by Citroën in December 2005 at the Bologna Motor Show. This is a 3-door, 4-seater city car. Its slightly rounded body shape is similar to that of the Fiat 500. One feature of the car is that the doors have tinted glass inserts in the lower half portion. Although it looked good when revealed, and indeed still does now, it did not proceed beyond the concept stage.

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2005 C-Sport Lounge: The Citroën DS5 was prefigured by the Citroën C-SportLounge, a concept car presented by Citroën in September 2005 at the Frankfurt Motor Show, and designed under Citroën design chief Jean-Pierre Ploué. The Citroën C-SportLounge inspired the DS 5 in 2011, and has rear suicide doors, while the production car has normal-opening doors. The C-SportLounge is a front-wheel-drive concept car that includes a 1,997 cc engine, with a six speed automatic transmission and twenty inch alloy wheels, with 255/40 tires. Its body has a drag coefficient of 0.26 and features an interior design inspired by aeroplane cockpits.

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2006-C-Metisse: The Citroën C-Metisse concept car is a four seater coupe with striking design illustrating Citroën new styling with extreme sober contours. Propulsion is based on similar principle as C4 hybrid prototype introduced in early 2006 with a diesel engine at the front and two electric motors at the rear. The vast interior has four separated seats covered with leather. Driver headrest is supported from the roof. There are four doors tilting forward at front and rearward at the back for easy access to the cabin. Length is 474 cm, width is 200 cm and height is a low 124 cm. Weight is 1400 kg including batteries. The body aerodynamic shape was developed in wid tunnel and has Cx of 0,30. Front Diesel engine is V6 HDI FAP connected to 6 speeds automatic transmission. Claimed power is 208 hp. There are two 15 kW electric motors in the rear wheels.

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2006 C-Buggy: The Citroën C-Buggy was a concept car that was initially presented by Citroën in May 2006 at the Madrid Motor Show, as well as the British International Motor Show in July 2006. It is a two seater city car, with styling influences of both dune buggy and sport utility vehicle. It was made with some protection against off road grievances, such as having a slightly raised suspension, and also including sump guards. It had tinted glass inserts in the lower body side panels, and no doors.

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2007 Air Scape: Citroën unveiled the C5 Airscape at the Frankfurt IAA in 2007. This concept car was a new take on the most beautiful of vehicles, the cabriolet. The C5 Airscape features powerful, dynamic exterior styling and an interior of exclusive design, made for driving pleasure and the comfort of three passengers. The original mechanism of the folding roof underlines the overall sophistication of design. This concept car presaged the second generation Citroën C5 which was launched in 2008, but that car remained as a conventional Saloon and Estate, with no sign of a Cabriolet version.

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2007 Jumpy Taxi du Futur

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2007 C-Cactus: First seen at the 2007 Frankfurt Show, the truly innovative C-Cactus is built on the Citroen C4 platform, yet uses only around half the components of a conventional car and incorporates many recycled components. It offers fuel economy of 83mpg, CO2 emissions of just 78g/km and even a ZEV (Zero Emission Vehicle) mode whilst maximum speed is deliberately capped at 93mph. Fitted with an ultra-clean Diesel Particulate Filter System, this ultra-efficient hybrid HDi drivetrain combines a 70bhp HDi diesel engine with an electric motor that provides an additional 30bhp of power. For urban driving, the ZEV mode provides silent, all-electric operation, and for journeys requiring successive acceleration and deceleration, the hybrid system limits fuel consumption by using both types of energy. A fresh look at design helps to keep production costs down meaning that the diesel hybrid car could be sold for a similar cost as a conventional car. Citroen engineers focused on an original approach that sets the C-Cactus apart from its peers.To do this, they streamlined the number of parts and mechanisms required, incorporated several functions into a single part and removed all features that are non-essential to the running of the car or to the comfort and safety of the occupants. This is clearly illustrated by the cabin, which consists of just over 200 parts, only around half that of a similarly-sized conventional car. One of the first moves involved the removal of the dashboard, with the original functions and loudspeakers, gearbox controls and navigation system now grouped on the central console and Citroen’s signature fixed centre controls steering wheel. The ignition key is also an MP3 player. C-Cactus has a unique personality and style yet the focus was very much on simplicity. The front bumper section, which includes the headlamps and trademark Citroen chevrons, also makes up the lower part of the rear tailgate. The design of the car’s front end consists of just two parts: the fixed bonnet comprising the front wings and a flap giving access to the vehicle maintenance functions. The door panels are made of just two parts, compared to 12 in a conventional car, and because the automatic air conditioning system virtually makes it unnecessary to open the windows, Citroen’s engineers have removed the opening mechanisms and replaced them with simple sliding panes. The spacious and light cabin, with its panoramic glass sunroof and large windscreen, is optimised by the simplicity and effectiveness of the interior design. The front seats comprise just two parts: a comfortable, moulded, integral-skin foam part for the seat and a solid monoblock frame to hold the former in place and fix it to the floor rails. Maximising the car’s green credentials, the C-Cactus uses a significant number of recycled or recyclable materials. The windscreen, windows and tyres are all recyclable, as are the steel door panels, that are unpainted but which have been treated for corrosion. The interior materials also reflect the innovative ecological direction of the C-Cactus’ design. Environmentally-friendly cork and felt are used for many parts and the patterned floor uses recycled leather taken from off-cuts. The 21″ wheels are another standout feature of the C-Cactus’ design, adding to the contemporary look of the car. Developed in conjunction with Michelin, the large-diameter and low-profile tyres help to reduce ground friction area, boost fuel efficiency and keep production costs down. The stylish decor that is featured throughout the cabin, symbolising nature and the environment, has often been created by removing material. For example, the patterns cut out from the door panels show the felt inserted between the panel and the metal. Another ingenious design feature is a clip-on bag replacing the passenger side glovebox, saving space in the cabin. The C-Cactus also boasts impressive levels of equipment. The touch screen on the central console includes the navigation system and onboard computer, while two high-quality loudspeakers are built into the central console, minimising wiring and installation costs. With similar dimensions to those of a family car, at 4.2m long and 1.8m wide, Citroen’s C-Cactus has a generous-sized boot, offering up to 1,000 litres of load space. The rear seats can slide up against the front seats while the floor pan, which is integral with the rear bench, slides forward to reveal a sub-floor that provides an almost flat surface for loading bulky objects.

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2007 Cruise Crosser: André Citroën organised the first motor crossing of the Sahara in 1922. Five half-track vehicles, tough enough to cross rocky and inhospitable terrain, were the first to journey from Algeria to French West Africa. Galvanised by this exploit, André Citroën followed it up with the Croisière Noire in 1924 and the Croisière Jaune in 1931. The public was thoroughly captivated by these truly adventurous Asian and African expeditions, which were recognised at the time as important economic, humanitarian, scientific and cultural missions. Citroën is alluding to this past with Cruise Crosser, a rough and ready all-terrain concept car produced by the Espera Sbarro School in partnership with Citroën Styling. This off-road concept, based on Citroën’s first luxury SUV, the C-Crosser, is fitted with three axles and six wheels that, just like those first half-track vehicles, give it traction in the harshest possible conditions, come snow, sand or mud. The orange-coloured Cruise Crosser is easily spotted wherever it roams. The large red compasses on each side of the vehicle underline its mission to travel everywhere and anywhere, north, south, east or west. Cruise Crosser has a big open space at the back to provide seating for extra passengers (removable row 3) or a vast loading area for trouble-free transport of luggage, shovels, tents and other accessories. The opening mechanism of the tailgate makes loading easier, while step plates on both sides of the vehicle facilitate access to the rear compartment.

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2008 Hypnos: he Citroën Hypnos is a concept mid-size luxury crossover produced by Citroën at the 2008 Paris Motor Show. It has a 5-door SUV body style and is powered by a diesel hybrid drivetrain with a rear axle-mounted electric motor. The car’s most distinctive design feature is its interior, with rainbow-coloured, offset seats, and a system which analyses the driver’s face to gauge his state of mind and adjust the cabin lighting and scented air freshener fragrance in consequence. Citroën announced that diesel-hybrid engine would be available in all models by 2015. The concept car has appeared in several auto shows, including the 2011 Goodwood Festival of Speed. Some of the styling features of this car later appeared in the Mitsubishi ASX-based Citroën C4 Aircross compact SUV, available from the first half of 2012, as well as the Citroën DS4 and DS5.

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2009 Revolte: The Citroën Revolte is a hybrid concept supermini that was presented and produced by Citroën at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show. The design of the Revolte is based on the historical Citroën 2CV. The concept car shows the changes that have been happening in terms of the role superminis and that style and elegance have become as important as economy and practicality. The Citroën Revolte is related to the Citroën Survolt. The Revolte concept features Citroën’s bold design, which has become part of its history bringing a new contemporary approach to its superminis. The Revolte is 3.68m long, 1.73m wide and 1.35m tall. With well defined wheel arches, curving bonnet, forceful lines and sculpted sides, matching the roof line, the Revolte has a sleek and elegant profile, similar to that of the Citroën Survolt, a concept hybrid supercar developed in 2010 by Citroën. The concept car was fully manufactured in the workshops of Estech France. The concept car is powered by both a rechargeable electric engine and a small-capacity conventional combustion engine. The Revolte is able to deliver zero-emission driving thanks to its all-electric ZEV (Zero Emission Vehicle) mode. The combined engines make 323 bhp, 142 lb⋅ft (193 N⋅m) of torque, allowing for a top speed of 140 mph (225 km/h) and 0-60 mph in 5 seconds.

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2010 C6 Paris

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2010 Lacoste: The Citroën Lacoste is a concept mini SUV which was designed by Citroën and Lacoste for the 2010 Paris Motor Show. It is an economical no door mini SUV, featuring a 1.2 litre petrol engine emitting lass than 100g/km of CO2. It was expected to enter production by 2013. The concept is 3.45 metres (11.3 ft) long, around a half metre shorter than the Nissan Juke. The concept has special features including an inflatable roof, which emerges from the centre roof rail. It also has a movable steering wheel to improve access. The concept has no doors. This concept was inspired by the Citroën Méhari of the 1970s, and the 2007 Citroën C-Cactus Concept

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2010 GQ by Citroën: Launched at the 2010 Geneva Show, this is GQ by Citroen, a new concept car designed to provide “the ultimate gentleman’s drive”. It features a new plug-in hybrid powertrain, which features a 1598cc, four-cylinder direct injection petrol engine. It travels from 0-60mph in 4.5seconds, has an electronically limited top speed of 155mph and Co2 emissions of 80g/km. No other details have been given. The car has officially been created as a collaboration between Citroen and GQ magazine, and insiders say there are no production plans for the car. It was designed to a brief set out by GQ editor Dylan Jones and created by a design team headed by Mark Lloyd, who most recently styled the DS3. The car’s cabin is accessed by rear coach doors. The interior has been designed to be “spacious, comfortable and futuristic”, and its interior details and interior were created by Patrick Grant, the creative director of Savile Row tailors E.Tautz. Lloyd said: “Where this car works so well with GQ is that it fits with the current attitudes of conspicuous consumption. It is understated rather than in-your-face and sleek rather than too macho.”

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2010 Survolte: The Citroën Survolt (later known as the DS Survolt) is a concept electric racing car produced by Citroën and presented at the 2010 Frankfurt Motor Show. The Survolt is a full-sized racing car based on the earlier electric concept car Citroën Revolte presented at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show. Because the car runs on batteries, it is classed as a zero-emissions vehicle. The Survolt is 3.85 meters (12.63 feet) long, 1.87 meters (6.14 feet) wide and 1.20 meters (3.94 feet) high and features a design with the front dominated by the vehicle’s badge located above the large oval-shaped grille. The car has horizontal LED headlamps which have lower power consumption than traditional filament bulbs — important in a battery-operated vehicle. At the back, the Survolt maintains the light cluster design used on the REVOLTe, and has a spoiler to increase rear downforce. An Art Car based on the Survolt has been designed with the collaboration of Françoise Nielly in 2011. The Survolt is powered by a pair of electric motors with a combined power output of 300 bhp. Its top speed is 260 km/h (162 mph), and it can accelerate from 0–100 km/h (62 mph) in less than 5 seconds. Citroën claims that the batteries provide a range of 200 km (124 mi). The DS Survolt made its first appearance on a racetrack at Le Mans on 12 July 2010. Vanina Ickx was the first driver to get behind the wheel of the Survolt. Although it has not been confirmed that the Survolt will ever be produced, there are rumors that Citroën wants to create a limited-production of a compact-sized concept based on this car, and start a one-make racing series. The DS Survolt makes an appearance in Asphalt 6: Adrenaline (as the Citroën Survolt), Asphalt 8: Airborne and GT Racing 2: The Real Car Experience, all of which are mobile racing games by Gameloft. It’s also available on Driveclub for PlayStation 4 as a free downloadable content. Top Gear has driven the car around their famous test track and has given it high marks except for the fact that it is exceptionally hard to climb in and out of.

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2011 Tubik: The Citroën Tubik Hybrid4 Concept, a 9-seater vehicle whose styling and characteristics reflect the prestige cues of a modern saloon. Tubik was inspired by Citroën’s renowned Type H, fondly referred to by the general public as the “TUB” (the name of its predecessor). Citroën design teams gave Tubik distinctive, offbeat styling, with colours and materials that aim to meet the highest standards in sophistication and comfort. The design lines of Tubik are a nod to the Citroën TUB (from the French acronym for low front-wheel drive commercial vehicle) and its ingenious upgrade, the Citroën Type H, whose versatility and style made it a best-seller of its times (half a million units in 34 years on the market). Sporting a similar body shape to its illustrious predecessor, Tubik is big enough (2.08m wide, 2.05m tall, 4.80m long) to carry up to nine passengers. The front end, which stands apart from the main body, brings to mind the corrugated metal of the Citroën Type H with its ribbing, while the windscreen pillars are reminiscent of the Type H’s two characteristic ridges. To make Tubik look even more protective, Citroën designers combined two contrasting colours: the metal grey of the body shell envelops the pearlescent white at either end, marking the position of the combustion engine (at the front) and electric motor (at the rear) used by the full-hybrid diesel drive train. With this simple but attractive exterior, the large two-way panoramic window and two large doors giving access to the driving position and living area are barely visible. The driver’s door is rear-opening while the side door runs in a circle to free up the entire side of the vehicle. When you get behind the wheel of Tubik, you enter a high-tech world designed around the driving position. This area is dominated by what Citroën designers call the “cyclotron”, a system that groups – in one circular line – the seat, pedal assembly, steering wheel and circular head-up display The aluminium grey of the bodywork is also present on the cyclotron, to accentuate its robust, protective looks. Installed in the black full-grain leather seat, the driver is identified by a system of fingerprint recognition. Around him/her, on the head-up display and the screen positioned in the centre of the steering wheel, is all the information required for navigation. The living area of the Citroën Tubik Hybrid4 Concept is a lounge-style cocoon. The living area features materials borrowed from the worlds of architecture and interior design: felt seats, silken backrests and door panels, and a leather floor. Passengers can arrange the three rows of seats as they wish. Each seat is independent for maximum comfort. The first row of seats lets two people sit facing the road or facing the other passengers. The middle row can seat up to three people or, alternatively, it can be converted into a small table, be folded onto the last row to free up an area of almost 2m², or be folded out completely to create a meridienne-style seat. Tubik is not only an exceptionally spacious vehicle, it also has an eye on the environment. With the Hybrid4 technology, it is able to keep CO2 emission levels close to those of a conventional saloon. The full-hybrid diesel drive train increases vehicle range over an internal combustion engine and also maximises traction with its four-wheel drive mode (the front wheels being driven by the combustion engine and the rear wheels by the electric motor). Tubik is fitted with 22-inch wheels equipped with tall, narrow tyres with very low rolling resistance, in order to optimise fuel consumption. For a better compromise between comfort and roadholding, Tubik features hydractive suspension, a technology exclusive to Citroën. Vehicle height is controlled in real time and so remains constant, regardless of load. At high speeds, the car is automatically lowered to promote aerodynamic performance and contribute to cutting fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

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2013 Cactus: This was a very close relative to the production C4 Cactus which was launched in 2014. A number of concept and Show versions followed, including the 2014 Cactus Paris Aventure and the 2015 Cactus M.

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2015 Berlingo Mountain Vibe: This was unveiled at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show. Just before the production model makes its debut, Citroen offered a preview in the guise of an upbeat, energetic concept car: the Berlingo Mountain Vibe Concept. Equipped with a full range of body reinforcements and accessories to drive over hill and dale in search of wide open spaces, the BERLINGO MOUNTAIN VIBE CONCEPT is the ideal vehicle for all those looking for field sports and freedom. A vehicle of bold exterior design, the Berlingo Mountain Vibe Concept is an invitation to explore uncharted territory. The topographic lines on the body give the vehicle its signature, inviting you to leave the beaten path and head for the hills. This original Pink graphic feature reinforces the personality of this concept car. Also found on the fog lamp surrounds, the Pink is a perfect match for the Mountain Green bodywork, forming a fresh and upbeat duo. The exterior styling is completed by sill panel and wheel arch reinforcements. The tyres are equipped with pink snow chains, while the roof bars are covered in Pink foam. All these features give it a cheery go-anywhere look that is both modern and high-tech. With the Grip Control function, it is easy to imagine this vehicle scaling the Swiss mountains, its boot full of equipment for mountain sports: climbing, snowboarding or snowshoe walking. Inside the car, the front seats and three independent seats in row 2 are upholstered in LIBERIA, an embossed marl grey technical fabric. The Pink topstitching adds a cheerful note to the cabin, underlining the friendly personality of the Berlingo Mountain Vibe Concept. Passengers will appreciate the light and exterior view offered by the glazed Modutop® roof and generously sized opening rear window.

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2016 Space Tourer Hyphen: First seen at the 2016 Geneva Show, this eight-seat MPV is claimed to offer the practicality of an MPV with the off-road, go-anywhere ability of an SUV. The styling features a raised ride height, chunkier bodywork than the standard Spacetourer, and is finished with 19in matt black aluminium alloys. An all-wheel-drive powertrain matches the rugged looks of the Spacetourer Hyphen while the Hyphen moniker stems from Citroën’s collaboration with the French pop group Hyphen Hyphen. The quirky three-colour interior Nappa leather upholstery and trim design is finished in teal, neon orange and pale green, with each seat adopting a different variation using the three colours, while orange strap detailing mirrors the orange exterior trim. A panoramic sunroof also features. The Spacetourer Hyphen concept is powered by Citroën’s BlueHDi 150 S&S engine, with claimed CO2 emissions of 110g/km, ‘vastly reduced NOx emissions’ and a six-speed manual gearbox. The engine is also currently found in the C4 Picasso and Grand C4 Picasso, with which the concept also shares its underpinnings. Although the Spacetourer Hyphen concept will not make it to production, the standard Spacetourer will go on sale in the UK in short-, medium- and long-wheelbase formats, accommodating up to nine people. An on-sale date around the start of September is expected, with pricing likely to start at around £24,000, rising to more than £31,000 for top-spec Spacetourers. The standard Spacetourer was revealed in December 2015 and is built alongside the Peugeot Traveller and Toyota Proace, as the three brands’ deal for shared underpinnings continues. All three brands’ versions of the car will feature at the Geneva motor show on their respective stands, in addition to the Spacetourer Hyphen concept.

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2016 e-Mehari Courrèges: Some 50 years after the Méhari appeared on the scene in May 1968, two visionary french Brands teamed up on an exciting project the Citroën e-MehariI styled by Courrèges concept car. It’s based on Citroën e-Mehari, which was unveiled in December 2015, a car inspired by its no less revolutionary forebear. Citroën e-Mehari is an all-electric four-seater cabriolet. It’s fun, modern, environment-friendly, and eminently true to the values of creativity, freedom and optimism that Citroën has been advancing since nearly a century ago. At the 2016 Geneva Motor Show, Citroën showed off the e-Mehari styled by Courrèges concept car, fruit of cooperation between two figureheads of French creativity with long track records of revolutionizing their respective industries through each successive era. French fashion House Courrèges and Citroën e-Mehari, an all-electric cabriolet, are the most natural of partners. Citroën e-Mehari styled by Courrèges examines space and functionality through the lens of liberty, with the play of colours and materials focused on White, the Courrèges signature colour and symbol of light. Brimming over with positive energy and optimism, this exciting concept car illuminated the Citroën stand at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2016.

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Not a lot is known about this 2CV 2000. It first appeared at the 2019 Centenary celebrations, and is clearly based on the iconic 2CV. It is believed that the car was actually created many years earlier but had ever been seen in public.

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LES PRESIDENTIELLES

The DS 21 Presidentielle, a massive 6.53m long limousine was built in 1968 for President Charles de Gaulle, by renowned coachbuilder Chapron. This imposing machine was longer than the special Lincoln for the American President. With a weight of 2.2 tonnes, the standard 106 bhp engine struggled to deliver much in the way of lively performance, but that was not really the point , as it was the car’s luxury fittings which matter more. And there were plenty of those, as the presidential DS 21 was equipped with interphone, curved separating window, electric operated windows and an additional seat for an interpreter.

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It was joined by the next car that Citroën produced, the 1971 SM Presidentielle. Two of these were ordered by Georges Pompidou. These were also created by Chapron and were delivered in April and May 1972 and they remained in service for the Presidents who followed, Francois Mitterrand and Jacques Chirac, before finally being retired in favour of a rather less bulky DS5.

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And that DS5, as used by Fancois Hollande was also here.

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Final car in the quartet was the very latest presidential machine, which is based on the new DS7 Crossback. I have to say that this rather lacks something compared to those splendid and bespoke earlier machines.

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DS CARS

PSA originally consisted of three automobile brands, Peugeot, Citroën, and the soon dropped Talbot, but none was considered a “premium” brand. Since 1976, PSA has experimented with differentiating the brands by price level, similar to Chevrolet/Buick or Volkswagen/Audi, but neither brand had the strength to justify premium pricing. And so DS Automobiles was created to be a French premium automotive marque. At inception, in 2009 it was part of Citroën, but since 2015 (2012 in China) it became a stand-alone brand. DS can be an abbreviation of Different Spirit or Distinctive Series (although it also refers to the Citroën DS designed by Flaminio Bertoni and André Lefèbvre). The name is also a play on words, as in French it is pronounced like the word déesse, meaning “goddess”. By launching the DS line, Groupe PSA decided to build on the design heritage of the original Citroën DS (1955–1975) by Flaminio Bertoni and André Lefèbvre. The DS line started with the Citroën DS3 in the beginning of 2010, a small car based on the floorpan of the new C3. The DS3 is based on the concept of the Citroën C3 Pluriel model and the Citroën DS Inside concept car, and customisable with various roof colours that can contrast with the body panels. It was named 2010 Car of the Year by Top Gear Magazine, awarded first supermini four times in a row by the J.D. Power Satisfaction Survey UK, and the second most efficient supermini (Citroën DS3 1.6 eHDi 115 Airdream: True MPG 63.0mpg) by What Car? behind the Citroën C3. In 2013, the Citroën DS3 was again the best-selling premium subcompact car with 40% of the market share in Europe. First and second generation DS3 models were on show here

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The DS series remains deeply connected to Citroën, as the DS4, launched in 2010, is based on the 2008 Citroën Hypnos concept car and the DS5, following in 2011, is based on the concept car of 2005, the Citroën C-SportLounge.

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Latest model in the range is the DS7 Crossback, launched in 2018 and this is the very first off the production line.

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In China, DS vehicles have been sold in separate dealerships since 2014. DS models for sale in China were produced by the Changan PSA joint venture based in Shenzhen until May 2020, when the factory was acquired by the Baoneng Group. The DS 5LS and DS 6WR are only sold in China, and there were examples of both here, along with the Chinese market DS4S which is the hatch version of the 5LS.

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DS partnered with Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Racing team for the second season of the FIA Formula E Championship. The team competed under the title of DS Virgin Racing, finished the season of 2015 to 2016 in third place, and fourth in the season of 2016 of 2017. For the 2018–19 Formula E season, DS moved to partner with Techeetah, ending its relationship with Virgin. The newly renamed DS Techeetah, using the DS E-Tense FE 19 powertrain, won both the drivers and teams championships with Jean-Eric Vergne becoming Formula E’s first two time drivers champion. This feat was repeated in the following season with António Félix da Costa becoming driver’s champion and DS Techeetah winning the teams title for 2019–20.

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OTHER DISPLAYS

Around the side of the building are various other artefacts. Most interesting were a series of scale models of prototypes of some designs which became familiar when they went into production.

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There are some much smaller Citroën here, too, models that you can or could buy and these made for an interesting display in their own right.

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AND OUTDOORS

Parked up outside were a number of other classics from the recent Citroën and indeed Peugeot back-catalogue were a handful of other models which caught my eye and my camera.

Among the Citroën were examples of the BX Break, the facelifted CX and ZX.

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The two Peugeot cars that caught my camera were a 306 Cabrio with the rare hard top and a 205.

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This is an amazing collection. It’s obviously a must for every Citroën fan, but I would say that anyone who loves cars could hardly failed to be captivate by what is on show here. It’s a shame that there is little publicity that the Conservatoire is open to the public, as relatively few people know of it, let alone will have been. Whilst it is not as glitzy as those German and Italian factory museums, there is far more to see here than any of those offer, and it is easy to get to even without a car.

More details, including how to make a reservation to book can be found on the official website: https://www.Citroën.fr/univers-Citroën/Citroën-heritage/conservatoire-Citroën.html

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