(first posted 12/6/2015) Here’s a review of a very eccentric car, as all Citroens used to be.
When I was growing up (in Israel), these were quite a common sight. Sadly, almost none are left- and certainly no diesels. Again, this is from R&T’s 1980 May issue:
Sweet looking car. Good article. It’s a shame that Citroen didn’t sell many cars in the USA. From what I’ve been told about Citroens, about most French cars, they would sell cars here in the USA, but would not offer service centres to provide maintenance to keep them running.
I’ve had a lot of Citroens, all of them Hydro-pneumatic… the 1993 to 1998 Xantias had a marking under the hood that read something like: ‘This vehicle is not to be sold in the USA and will lose all warranty if driven in the US’
The story goes that Citroen had designed the CX to be US legal, but after cars were already built for the US market, the US passed a last minute law mandating a fixed from bumper height and outlawing the CX.
So Citroen vowed to never sell a car in the US. Every Citroen from the CX on wards in the US is privately imported and not supported by Citroen.
In the mid-eighties the 120 hp CX 2.5 liter turbo (plus intercooler) diesel was world’s fastest diesel car, top speed 195 km/h.
French presidents preferred the LWB CX Prestige, like the 1989 CX 25 Prestige Automatic below. Regarding Citroën’s renowned hydropneumatic suspension, its successor will be introduced in 2017. It will be -and I quote- a “revolutionary” new suspension.
I think the (petrol) Turbo 2 was also briefly the world’s fastest 4-door car for its capacity or perhaps I’ve conjoined that with the diesel stat
Must be the diesel. The CX never had a bigger engine than a 2.5 liter inline-4, both gasoline and diesel.
The CX GTI Turbo 2 from the second half of the eighties was the most powerful, 169 hp from the 2.5 liter injection engine with a turbocharger and intercooler.
Here’s one accelerating from 0 to 140 km/h.
I want one of these so badly, or – better yet – a Prestige Turbo 2 (BTW, I believe they topped out at 185HP). The unofficially imported ones still come up for sale over here every so often, and when they do they’re usually pretty cheap.
If I had seen this at the time, I definitely would have bought it… probably would have ended in tears or I would have gone broke trying to keep it on the road, but oh my god, who cares? The privilege of owning something so special would be worth the risk. Slightly adjusted for inflation and converted to EU at today’s rates, that’s €3,750
Makes me wonder if any of the CX’s are still running today. Yes, I want you.
You guys like broughams. This is the car I’d love to see all broughams crushed into. This is the anti-brougham.
Of course these are still running today. Plenty of them, and since they’re all more than 25 years old…
Around € 10,000 to € 15,000 for a (very) good one. That is, in my neck of the woods. Much cheaper than a (very) good DS, that’s for sure.
Asking price for the excellent 136 hp Prestige (special !) in my comment above is € 12,500.
I saw a plastic bumper model the other day. I pulled up next to it hoping for a cheerful chat. The beleaguered-looking owner only mumbled about how much trouble it was, impossible to find parts and having to take it off the road sometime soon. Still, it was nice to see it on the road.
In today’s world the availability of parts and knowledge can’t be a problem. Right around the corner here there’s a PSA-specialist (basically a warehouse full of PSA stuff) who will gladly send parts all over the world, website in English and all.
Knowledge about specific cars and models is out there for free. Just join a Citroën forum in Europe. Or send an email to a specialist. Ask the guys who know, that’s all.
If you don’t look beyond your own town, them I’m sure it’s hard to get parts for an old Citroën.
Yep, I figured that by now anyone still driving one of these around would be in the know, but this guy showed absolutely no pleasure when I wanted to chat. The look on his face haunts me. Poor chap. Conversely, chatted to another guy about his black XM, and despite his having just spent $7k on the gearbox, he was full of joy about his steed.
The company that imported these was probably responsible for the CX featured in a CC article last year:
Oh yes some CXs are still running. Granted, it’s not a car you’ll see every day on the road in France or its neighbouring countries, but it is making huge inroads as a cool youngtimer. Most of them have quite high mileages so good ones aren’t that easy to find, but in any case they are still much cheaper than an equivalent DS. A few CXs are even still in use as daily drivers. My dad had a CX wagon in the early 1980s, it was a no-frills, entry-level Reflex, and a fantastic family car.
C/D in 2011 did a thing where they took a worn out late CX from those imported by that CX outfit in Pennsylvania and drove it from NYC through Nova Scotia then by car ferry to Newfoundland then by another car ferry to the Atlantic island of St. Pierrre which is French territory. There the car was to be junked having returned to it’s homeland. This would honor the 20th anniversary of the last French automaker leaving the USA market. The car quickly broke down and was towed by an Escalade through Canada, but the ferry to St. Pierre would not allow a broken down car on the ferry so they towed it back to NYC and junked it there.
Read that article which might still be on the C/D website. They were knocked out that after driving up North America there was a PSA dealer with Euro spec cars!.
That CX outfit imported the cars as Grey imports and converted them to
Meet Fed and EPA specs. During the diesel craze of the early 80s emission
standards were lower than gas engines.so easier to convert. Proberly more in Quebec than elsewhere..
I shot one for the cohort a couple of years back and it aint there no more so one still goes though in all honesty these are quite reliable cars given proper servicing.
I wouldn’t label the CX as trend-setting, as its most distinctive & revolutionary feature, oleopneumatic suspension, has been ignored by everyone else. Now its Diesel, FWD, & aero styling have definitely become trends, but then, Citroën wasn’t unique here (e.g., Benz, SAAB).
Rolls Royce licensed it, but I don’t think they had very good results.
Ginaf uses hydropneumatic suspension on their big off-road trucks. From their website:
HPVS standard features:
Full compensation of axle loads
Best possible driving comfort, both on and off-road
Automatic load leveling
Variable load platform height
Quick response to bumpy roads
Liftable disengageable axle for 8×4 ,8×6,10×4,10×6 and 10×8
Transverse leveling regulator
Vehicle weight indicator
Container lifting system
Read somewhere that US legislation was adapted to keep Citroën out of the USA by making the headlight hight fixed, which is impossible on a CX.
I thought it was more about their “steerability,” but I have trouble believing it was anti-competitive only because the French were never a threat to domestic makes, least of all a brand way too avant-garde for most Middle American “philistines” despite their phenomenally good ride. My mother’s aunt & uncle drove a burgundy DS, but they made a point of being unconventional. That was my 1st Citroën experience.
The 1963 Chicken Tax & the 1981 Voluntary Export Restraints were examples of how the US Congress hindered competition. The Japanese were much more persistent than the French in working around such Yankee nonsense.
The laws that kepts Citroens out of the US were aimed more at Mercedes which was a much larger threat to GM and Ford.
Easy to find in France:
I can’t load the image, but Erich Honecker loved the Citroën CX.