Archive for citroen cx

That Prince Rainier sure had good taste…

Posted in Desirable machines with tags , , , , , on 27/06/2012 by Alexander

Prince Albert of Monaco is auctioning off some of the cars in his dad’s collection. Many interesting cars are up, but the one that caught my eye was the lovely 1980 Citroen CX. Rainier knew his cars, but Albert probably doesn’t, otherwise why would he want to get rid of such a gem? And the article also states that 38 cars are up for sale. In a country the size of Monaco, where did he get the space to park so many cars?

Anyway, forget all that, the Autoblog article linked above has, at the end, a link to catalogue in PDF with the absolute crackers up for sale. There are some pretty exclusive machines as well as some wonderful, down-to-earth, bread’n’butter classics. If you’re in Monaco on the 26th of July, you might want to check it out.

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Too much space

Posted in General opinions with tags , , , , , on 06/09/2011 by Alexander

My late father’s favourite car was the Citroen CX Safari (the estate version of Citroen’s 70’s and 80’s flagship, pictured above). It was perfect for him because it could lug around a huge volume of the textile-based merchandise he had to carry around to different parts of London during the week (a function it performed as well as any van), and when emptied and the back seats propped upright, it was great family car. There was so much space in the back, me and my sister could brawl as if we were in an arena, and could avoid our dad’s outstretched hand when he wanted to smack us because we had driven him to the brink of sanity with our brawling. There was also its usage for our holidays to Portugal, when we’d brim-fill the boot with our stuff and drive 1,300 miles from Ilford to Porto. The CX was a perfect all-rounder for a man with my father’s needs, and he had four different CX Safaris, and I loved them, but the young autophile in me wished he had a saloon version instead.

In my young, superhero comic book-reading mind, all that empty space behind me when I travelled in the back seat was a perfect place for a children-eating ghoul to materialise and chomp bits of me off. It felt like I was in a long windowed corridor, with a lot of ominous empty space to my rear. I preferred the snugness of my dad’s various saloon CX’s, with the feeling that nothing could get behind me.

I still feel more or less like that today. When I bought my Volvo S60, I could have bought a cheaper, larger V70 with the same trim and same engine for around €1000 less than I did. From a purely logical standpoint I should’ve done, since it was more car for less lolly, and on top of that, more practical and multi-purpose. So on the face of it, I did a silly thing, yet I haven’t regretted my decision for a single minute in the three years I’ve had my car. Now to be perfectly blunt and shallow, I don’t appreciate driving a brick-like version of a fantastically good-looking car. Yes, looks mean a lot to me (I’ve never said otherwise) and if you walk away from your car without looking back as if it were to check out your hot girlfriend, something’s wrong. Either your car’s ugly or you don’t care. I couldn’t stand having to look at a four-wheeled box instead of the swooping, looking-fast-while-standing-still silhouette of my S60.

Let’s get to the practical side of the argument. If I had bought the estate version of my car, I’d have spent most of the time lugging around a lot of empty space by myself, and I’d have felt pretty stupid for doing so. When I see lone drivers in big estates and people carriers it seems like an awful waste with all those unoccupied seats and headroom. Let’s face it, how many times a year do you really need that extra cargo area? Twice? Probably, unless you carry a lot of stuff around like my dad or own big dogs. An argument can be made that those with children need that extra boot volume, but this summer I transported my daughter and nephew all over the place and I didn’t miss having some more room to put their crap in the back of the car. And why do estates have that horrid square grid behind the rear passengers? Is it mandatory? Doesn’t it impair vision? How does it feel driving and feeling like you’re in a cage every time you look in the rear view mirror?

To back up my view, there’s a small fact that speaks volumes. When new, most (if not all) estates are more expensive than their saloon counterparts, yet on the second-hand market, they’re considerably cheaper. It’s the simple market rule of supply and demand in action. Lot’s of people want to get rid of their estates because they realise it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Advertising shows hip young families loading up their station wagons with dogs and surfboards with huge smiles on their faces before embarking on a sun-drenched road trip. But when it dawns on estate owners that those adventure weekends don’t materialise and that they’re only good for the first and last day of the holidays, and they’ve spent a wad of extra cash on a car that’s main feature is useless for 363 days of the year, it’s time to downsize and get rid of the thing.

If I need additional stowing area for my saloon, I’ll get a roof rack and one of those torpedo-like cargo cases. I can take it off if when I don’t need it so I won’t feel like a wally.

Dream garage #7 – Citroën CX

Posted in Desirable machines, Dream garage with tags , , on 07/01/2010 by Alexander

citroen-cx-w
Perhaps readers who are a more than distracted may have noticed a motif (that is, if I actually had any readers). In seven cars, four are French (five if you count the Bugatti, it’s made in France and named after a Frenchman) and three of these are Citroëns. There’s a reason for that, and it’s probably embodied by the Citroën CX.

This was the car I grew up with. My father owned more than half a dozen of these big beauties, and the impression it made on a young car fan was, to say the least, indelible. The looks, the size, the interior quirkiness were enough to make me believe that all other cars’ design were simply wrong. Why do other cars have indicator stalks instead of the clever boxes? Why do they use large, round dials instead of the space-saving revolving drums? Why do they have levers to pull to open the doors instead of the trigger-like mechanism of the CX? I could go on and on, since one of the advantages of having observed this car so much as a child is that my attention to detail was obsessive.

The CX had big shoes to fill. It had the task of replacing one of the most revolutionary cars of the 20th century, the DS. Now I won’t go into the debatable realm of whether it succeeded or not, but I think it will suffice to say that the CX’s run lasted for fifteen years (the DS had a twenty year stint), in an age where automakers had to keep changing, evolving and continuously upgrade models in order to stay afloat on the market.

The overall design was the brainchild of Robert Opron, who had joined Citroën under Flaminio Bertoni, the man responsible for the design of the DS. Opron appreciated the importance of aerodynamics, and implemented the DS’ swivelling headlamps that were glass-covered, as part of the DS’ 1967 makeover. This design element was also present in the Citroën SM, which, when looked at closely, heralded some design characteristics later included in the CX. In fact, personally I think it’s easy to see the similarities and Opron’s designing consistency in his Citroën designs, from the revamped DS passing through the GS and SM and on to the CX, what with them all sporting the same swooping rear and slightly curved-ness and horizontal-ness of the front.

I’ve always thought the CX as one of those cars that has stood the test of time extremely well. I remember how 80’s youths such as myself absolutely loathed the 70’s, yet this very openly 70’s car was irresistibly attractive even in the thick of the Thatcher years. It’s beautiful, sleek profile and tapering end gave it the necessary reminiscence to the DS to remind the drivers of the huge shoes it was filling. And like the DS, at the heart its look was the drive to find as aerodynamic a shape as possible, hence the name “CX” (“Cx” is the acronym for drag coefficient). I loved the curving shoulder-line, the long bonnet with the single, asymmetrical vent, the huge sloping windscreen, the rubber bits beneath the front bumper, the slightly concave rear windscreen on the saloon models, and especially those smiling front headlamps.

And that interior. I could dedicate an entry to the inside of the CX alone, such was the attention to detail and uniqueness bestowed by the geniuses who dreamt this car up. The single-pronged steering wheel, the absence of stalks behind it, the revolving drum speedometer and rev counter, the trigger door handles, the space, the comfort, even those crazy door-mounted ashtrays.

But enough of my slobbering praise. I’ll save some of my opinions for the captions in the following pictures.

Citroen CX gallery