Bless me father for I have sinned. It has been four years since my last Citroën.
My first car was a Citroën BX which I bought off my sister for £2000 in about 1992. A complete and utter piece of crap. God I loved that car. A month after I bought it, I discovered the front sub-frame was rusted through and needed to be replaced. That cost over a grand and after that the car sat pointing towards the sky. I also replaced the carbuerettor to improve fuel economy and succeeded in getting it from 20 mpg to 21 mpg. It had some big problem with air temperature too and would choke and die after an hours driving or so. But dammit it was fabulous. Supremely comfortable, utterly ergnomic and very fast for a 1.6 due to the use of plastic for the boot and bonnet and roof. The dashboard was the old style with non-cancelling indicators and sliders and switches where others would have stalks. In a later revamp they removed it to make it more “normal”. Fools. But eventually it had to go. Rust started winning and the fuel thirst was bankrupting me.
A generic BX:
Of course the ultimate would have been a DS or CX but they would definitely have left me penniless. So I went mainsteam and got a 1.1 AX. Not a bad wee motor. Again quite fast for a small engine due to the use of tin foil where others would have used actual steel. So a death trap but a perfectly fine appliance for a few years. It’s fatal flaw lay in the electrics and it randomly needed a push start in the morning. Luckily our car-port was on a hill and I could usually do it myself.
Someone else’s AX:
As the pay improved, I set my sights higher and got a 1.6 Xantia. This was a schizophrenic car, being both classically a Citroen with hydropneumatic suspension and nice ergnomic touches but very mainstream in styling. Unfortunately, it was way too heavy and the 1.6 was not powerful enough. But like the BX it was fabulously comfortable and great for long distance driving. It didn’t really have too many flaws but was getting old and the lack of over-taking ability was a big problem.
A random Xantia:
With the windfall I got in 2000 from the Integral sale, I could finally afford to buy a new car. I waited with bated breath for pictures of the Xantia replacement to appear. Expectations were high. Finally I bought my monthly copy of CAR (every month since I was 14 years old - how sad is that?) and there it was, the C5, the dog, the car designed by a blind person, the guppy on wheels, the travesty.
Avert your eyes:
And so I bought the perfectly sensible car for a man with a wife and kid - a Ford Mondeo. Now don’t get me wrong, it is a great car. Inoffensive looking, very fast, very comfortable, reliable and handles beautifully. I paid extra for the ESP and it has saved my life on more than one occasion. Without it, there would be a little cross remembering me on the way out of Clifden. I was booting it after Paul Sheehy’s wedding when I lost it at 40 mph on a newly gritted road. As the rear end headed towards the rockface at the side of the road, ESP kicked in, straightened the car out and off I went. Whew.
Any old Mondeo:
But, but, but the local taxi driver has the same car as me. The car was designed by the same guy who did the last VW Passat. It is a total clone, down to the pattern of the material on the inside of the door. It is an appliance. It does not move me the way a car should move me. I still smile every time I see an old Citroen or a modern Alfa or something rarer like a Lotus or Porsche or Ferrari. I will never forget thumbing from Stuttgart to Munich with Pat Reidy in 1988 to catch a flight home to repeat 2nd Eng exams. We were not given a lift by a passing Porsche 959. But the joy of seeing one in motion. Ahhhhhh. Eventually we got a lift from a hippie in a Beetle - a car the 959 can trace its genes back to.
So, the Mondeo is fine and I’ll probably drive it until it falls apart. It actually no longer makes sense as it cannot take the whole family now. So it’ll be replaced either with something small and commutey like a Civic (but a Type-R :-)) or something deeply obnoxious like a second-hand Range Rover.
But then I saw pictures, the like of which I thought would never come again. The new Citroën C6 on Autoblog
Oh my dear god, I have to have one of these. Images of De Gaulle and The Jackal floating through my head. André Citroën has stopped spinning in his grave. Citroën is back and let us all cheer. Style, real style is back baby.
The Telegraph has a review of it too: Citroën a Grande Vitesse