Car Show Capsule: 1983 Citroën CX Orphée by Deslandes – Hello Strangest

In a slight deviation from the JDM stuff I’ve been posting lately, here’s a little something I found in an old stash of photos I took back in August 2008 at the International Citroën meet-up in Italy. Just when you thought Citroëns couldn’t get weirder, something like this happens. This is one of a handful of Citroën CX cabriolets made in 1983-85 by Guy Deslandes, who called his creation “Orphée” for mysterious reasons.

The same car at the 2005 Rétromobile – source: Wikicommons


Deslandes was an engineer and a Citroën fanatic who wanted a CX convertible four-seater above all else. He did try asking the few remaining coachbuilders – Heuliez said they didn’t feel up to it; Chapron were game, but quoted an astronomical price. So Deslandes just hired a few extra hands and did it on his own. By the summer of 1983, he had a finished prototype, which he later displayed at the Geneva and Paris Motor Shows in 1984. I believe this white car with a red interior is the show car. Citroën weren’t too keen on the idea, but Deslandes wasn’t about to ask for permission, either. He went ahead with his project completely independently.

The rear section of the car was made in GRP, except the first car, which was all-metal. The doors were lengthened by 11cm to enable access to the rear seats, which entailed getting Saint-Gobain to custom-design the window glass and required moving the B-pillar back. It was sheer madness, but Deslandes did it. Four cars were made, all based on the 2.3 litre CX GTI. The five-dial binnacle seen here is a relatively rare Jaeger period accessory.

In early 1985, a fifth CX special was created, the Avrilly coupé. Soon after, Guy Deslandes gave up on his commendable but curious obsession. It could be argued that a four-door convertible might have been slightly simpler to pull off than a two-door, but obviously this Deslandes character didn’t care for taking the easy route. I’m not sure the coupé survived, but the convertibles are still around – the strangest CXs ever devised. And that’s saying something.