After more than a few dull years, French cars have enjoyed a mild resurgence of late - thanks to the Alpine A110, mainly. But the advent of electrification opens all sorts of opportunities for the French manufacturers to do what they do best, which is to be absolutely nothing like everybody else.
The Renault 5 is returning as an EV just as the world turns its back on the conventional city car; a roadgoing version of the stunning DS E-Tense Performance hasn’t been ruled out, either; and the wingless Peugeot 9X8 is unique in world sportscar racing. From runabouts to racing cars, it seems the big three are slowly but surely returning to being properly French again. And that must be good news.
Because this is the type of car people think of when the French icons are up for discussion - the Citroen CX. The bold, innovative, futuristic and distinctive Citroen CX. The last true big Citroen, some will say. It was launched almost 50 years ago, in 1974, with the unenviable task of replacing the DS. The CX would run all the way until 1991 when it was superseded by the XM as Citroen’s large, quirky, hydropneumatically suspended family car.
It remains hard to grasp a car this audacious arriving as long ago as it did. The very name, CX, is the French symbol for the drag co-efficient, such was Citroen’s focus on aerodynamics. Famously, the rear window was concave to do away with the need for a rear wiper; even having a transverse-engined, front-wheel drive car was novel in the mid-70s; the CX arrived at the same sort of time as the Mk1 VW Golf. And a whole separate feature could be reserved for the interior. Suffice it to say the single spoke wheel, absence of column stalks and rotating drum dials look no less wacky decades later. Those that really hate the modern fondness for steering wheels festooned with buttons ought to love it, at least, because there’s barely a steering wheel at all.
Despite a long production run and a decent number made, finding a good CX is challenging. The DS is the more iconic Citroen, and it seems more of those have survived. Combine that with a few expensive idiosyncrasies (a lot of the CX’s major panels are welded on, for example) and the fact production ended more than 30 years ago and it’s easy to see why so many fell by the wayside.
Not this one, though - this one is glorious. A 1979, Series 1 CX 2400 GTI in Beige Opal with Brun velour upholstery, this is surely as good as a Citroen CX now gets. Owned for 35 years by a Monsieur Andre Gilbert in Mirande, the car was always garaged and never saw rain. It was sold to a Citroen dealer in 2014, and found its way to the UK in 2017. Still now showing just 58,000km, or 36,000 miles, and believed to be one of just 10 left in the UK, it’s a spectacular old Citroen.
No car is flawless, but it’s hard to imagine many presenting as well as this after more than 40 years. Every aspect of the CX seems to have been used so sparingly and considerately, nothing really wearing out how you might expect. The advert speaks of ‘much recent expenditure’, so perhaps that’s it; whatever the case, it looks superb. The CX is being sold with stacks of history, too, including paperwork from the original dealer.
What does it cost? Don’t know. Does anyone know? The Citroen is listed at POA, the CX has been appreciating of late and a regular CX Athena is for sale here at £10k - but they’re all the clues we have. Is it £20k? £50k? More? Any input welcome. All we know is that this CX is brilliant, and we like it very much. Bring on the battery-powered, 50th anniversary remake come 2024…
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