1976 Citroen CX Prestige Review

Encore Again! Archie Vicar tests Citroen’s long-wheelbase CX Prestige.

1976 Citroen CX Prestige Profile

“Driver & Motorist”, July 1976.Photographs by Dick Trevithick. Owing to poor quality originals, stock photographs have been used.

Despite producing some technically intriguing cars such as the GS, Citroen’s finances are not in the best condition. And despite this, Citroen devoted more of their precious francs to developing the CX yet further, with this long wheel base limousine, the Prestige. At least this proves that Peugeot are not going to interfere too much in Citroen’s engineering activities.

We don’t have space here to recapitulate the many interesting features which the CX demonstrates. Suffice to say that luxuriant ride is courtesy of Citroen’s famous “hydropneumatic” suspension. This system also operates the super-direct steering which is quite unlike anything offered on comparably-priced British cars such as Triumph, Rover or Jaguar. Progress being what it is, we can expect the CX to set the standard for steering in future. Does such progress also imply that by 2005 cars will have virtually instant steering? This we can only hope but the auguries are good in this respect, if this CX and Alfa Romeo’s nimble Sud are any gauge.

Lots of room
Lots of room

Citroen’s engineers invited us to Chantilly, deep in the heart of the French countryside to test the CX Prestige. With a measuring tape, they showed us the car is 25 centimetres longer than the standard car. We brought our own ruler and discovered that what they meant was that the CX Prestige is ten imperial inches longer. Those inches should more than satisfy President D’Estaing for whom this car appears to have been solely designed. Other owners, few in number, I think, are mere accidental beneficiaries of Citroen’s urge to ensure the Presidential legs have plenty of liberté as they are conveyed from crisis to crisis.

We didn´t sit here
We didn’t sit here

Chantilly is famous for its horses and so we ate some as part of a “working lunch”. We scoffed horse meat tartar as a starter (and heard a little about the revised bushings, front and rear). The starter arrived with a resplendent 1965 Chateau Lapignac. Then, we enjoyed a horse-tail soup which is akin to a finer ox-tail soup. It was made with a stock derived from veal and blended with a lesser Margaux (and was paired with a small lecture on the new gearbox ratios). The main course was horse liver.

To drink, 1971 Pomerol worthy of the Pope’s own cellar. I had to drink two bottles of this as the man from the Daily Evening Post was unable to attend. Stylist Monsieur Opron chatted amiably about the door handles for some reason. We kept on eating. Perhaps some of Citroen’s money worries stem from the lavish level of entertainment they afforded us. Between us we seem to have eaten a whole racehorse. A fine desert wine from Yquem was chased by two 1934 cognacs. Merci, Monsieur Peugeot!

And so we proceeded to the race-course itself to drive the limousines at the highest possible speeds over the same turf our late steed once trod. Since the purpose of the test was to demonstrate the comfort of the rear accommodation, it fell to our photographer Dick Trevithick to do the honours at the tiller. And yours truly was poured into the back of the car to check the upholstery and other details.

First things first, the ashtray is located right in front of the passenger. This inspired me to fire up my havana. The combination of the supernaturally floating ride, the undulating terrain and Dickie’s leaden right hoof somehow inspired the racehorse I had eaten to want to revisit its old stamping ground. With the horse and the Cuban nicotine in mortal combat, I hunted desperately for a means to open the door.

Long after Trevithick had tested the CX’s excellent brakes (to the surprise of the speeding demon Mr Setright from “Mini and Small Car”) I was still struggling to affect egress. The good news was that the Prestige is fitted with leather which is easy to clean. The thoughtfully supplied footrests are removable and, indeed, replaceable. The door release mechanism is a trigger-style switch hidden behind the grab handle. Good to know if your tummy is a little delicate!

The CX comes with a 2.4 litre unit and will make Citroen’s Car Of The Year 1974 even more desirable. A vinyl roof is standard.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

12 thoughts on “1976 Citroen CX Prestige Review”

  1. The rear legroom in the Prestige is fabulous for the passengers, I think. If I didn’t have my roomy glam XM I’d have a Prestige and enjoy ferrying friends around in it. I also like the extra length of the Prestige as it appears from the outside. It’s very imposing. And compared to a Mercedes limo it doesn’t look too long.
    The XM was ready to have a LWB version in that the rectilinear styling really lent itself to having an extra 20cm added between the front and rear doors. It would have looked really nice and I would certainly have lapped it up.
    There was a LWB Renault 25 (circa 1984 to 1986) – I have the brochure somewhere. I bet nearly none survive but it would be a really interesting alternative to a CX Prestige. One version had a special nook for attache briefcases. I’ve never seen one in the flesh and internet searches turn up very little.
    The unlamented Opel Signum is a car I like mainly because the rear legroom is so massive but it also looked intriguing, like the much hated Vel Satis. I think this Signum was unnecessarily slammed in the market. Neither fish nor fowl, the motoring journos and buyers simply didn’t “get it”. Shame really as it was a rare attempt by Opel to do something actually interesting and different. They won’t do that again in a hurry.

  2. It’s possible that François Mitterrand might have given him a lift in his CX presidentiale during some European summit meeting or other. Charlie liked his Charvet shirts, but he gravitated towards Germany in his car choices – official cars being predominantly W123/4 Mercedes’, although he reputedly owned an XJ12 during the ‘wilderness years’of the early 70’s.

  3. According to Eoin, Haughey favoured Mercedes while junior ministers had to use Peugeot 604s. That meant a nicer rear passenger compartment and a vastly better ride quality. Haughey, as ever, was wrong. I doubt Prestiges ever saw service in Ireland on the government fleet.

  4. I’d venture a CX Prestige would have been considered ‘decadent’ in austerity Ireland during the 1980’s, while a sombre looking Mercedes or be-suited 604 would have passed largely unnoticed. Incidentally, the W123 was also a favoured funeral director’s conveyance – which may or may not have been coincidental.

    Since Haughey wanted to preserve his aura of fiscal rectitude and keep his lavish personal spending habits under wraps, his choice of official car was probably apt.
    As an aside, during the 1960’s, Irish Presidential cars were American models – possibly because the government of the day wished to distance itself from British influence.

    1. Nothing as fancy as that. I seem to recall a photo of a Chevrolet or something equally prosaic. I’m guessing that it was only after Ireland joined the EEC in 1973 did we lessen our assiduous gaze towards the ‘land of the free’.

  5. Francois Mitterrand’s presidential transport were mostly Renaults in those days (30, 25 and Safrane), for obvious reasons of state ownership. But I’ve just found out that his private vehicle was indeed a CX prestige, which says a lot about the duplicity of the character:

    http://www.citrothello.net/cx-prestige-francois-mitterand/

    With regards the stretched R25 (aka ‘Limousine’) Richard mentioned in an earlier post, I used to see one of those almost every day in my home town. It belonged to one of my school mates’ parents, who would pick him up from school and ferry him and his brother around like royalty. They had bought it second-hand around 1986 or 87 as a family car.

    1. Duplicity is perhaps one area of commonality between Mitterrand and Haughey – there may be others. I suspect Charlie would have aspired to the qualities the CX represented, but in 1980’s Ireland, you wouldn’t get elected demonstrating you had ideas above your station. So although the palatial estate in Kinsealy and the private Island was widely known, showing up in a CX – Prestige or otherwise would have said ‘intellectual’- a definite road to nowhere in Irish politics.

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