Theme: Special – Citroen AX K.Way

DTW looks at a Special Edition that was remarkable for its ordinariness.

citroen-AX-Kway-1
1988-1990 Citroen AX K-way: source

I feel duty bound to contribute something on the above theme, having agitated for it a couple of themes ago. I mentioned then a particular special edition that lodged itself in my mind, kind of like a piece of apple-peel between two molars: the AX K.Way. On scraping the back of my mind as to why this particular special had held a certain fascination for me, I think it was the very fact that, come to think of it, I could not detect what exactly was so special about this edition.

In the scholastic year ’90-’91, I was a very English student attending a very French university in Paris. A direct consequence of deciding to pursue this opportunity was that I gave up ownership of a beloved AX which I had purchased and owned from new. I recall a pining for said Alpine (?) White 11RE (4-speed – I have always regretted not paying the extra for 5, in spite of being a poor-ish student) and, hence, noticing these similarly attired cars that were quite prevalent on the streets of the City of Light.

citroen-AX-Kway-intérieurBrief research reveals that the Citroen AX K.Way was the product of a brand collaboration between innovators in, respectively, automobiles and pac-a-macs. Given that the latter were successful with young French students (I am assuming because they were cheap, versatile and managed a hint of what passed for style in the 70’s and 80’s), it seems that enough marketing thought was given to this special AX to ensure that it would be, above all, affordable.

Hence, the car was based on a basic, 4-speed, 954cc AX in “Blanc Meije”. Special equipment extended to blue and red stripes down the side of the car, K.Way logos of the same colour at the rear and on the right (as one faces it) leading edge of the bonnet, colour-keyed and logoed wheel trims, and, logoed seats with red and blue stripes on a light grey background cloth (synthetic – I know because a friend of mine managed to melt a patch of it by accidently dropping a lit cigarette-end). And that was it.

No radio (pre-radio equipment preparation, though), no split rear seat, no rear wiper, no glove box. Fortunately even the basic AX (labelled E – from memory) came with head-restraints, heated rear screen, a cigar lighter, and, front and rear ash-trays, betraying its French origins. No wonder my tired and emotionally vexed brain was bemused.

citroen-AX-Kway-4The K.Way was launched in March 1988 for the grand total of FF47,200. 6,500 of these limited edition specials were sold – 4,000 of which were 5-doors – and it was so successful that it became a permanent range member for ’89, ’90 and even survived the facelift of ’91. Given how little was on offer, this seems baffling, but those were different times, and so I can only guess that a cheap, jolly, honest little car held a certain appeal in socialist France.

Happily, from Citroen’s perspective, as those 80’s icons Dire Straits would have put it, the K.Way was profitable case of “Money for Nothing”.

(references: l’automobileancienne.com, Autosphere.fr)

Author: S.V. Robinson

Life long interest in cars and the industry

5 thoughts on “Theme: Special – Citroen AX K.Way”

  1. “Citroen AX K.Way was the product of a brand collaboration between innovators in, respectively, automobiles and pac-a-macs. Given that the latter were successful with young French students (I am assuming because they were cheap, versatile and managed a hint of what passed for style in the 70’s and 80’s)”

    By the early 80’s KWay was generally considered naff, but it became the brand of choice for hip hop and street-dance, probably because it was cheap, colourful and hard-wearing.

    In the decades that followed PSA also teamed up with Lacoste, Quicksliver and Oxbow if my memory serves me right.

  2. Having long ago fixed on the idea that Citroen were a highly creative, yet very serious car company, that’s probably why I bristle so much at Linda Jackson’s crusade for FUN. Equally, back then, I despised every special edition Citroen that raised its head – Charleston, Leader, Tuner, St Tropez, all of them. I used to think ‘Citroen, you’re better than this’. I always felt the Special Edition was a way to shift otherwise unsaleable Hillman Avengers, not suitable for proper cars. I know, I’m no fun and should lighten up about these things.

    1. Sean, I know what you mean and Citroen in particular did get carried away with a constant stream of special editions. The thing is that they did seem to sell – so why would they stop a winning formula. I have wondered whether prospective buyers saw it as some kind of lazy form of personalisation – albeit personalisation did not really exist as a phenomenon in the era of that K.Way. As further evidence for this, note that Mini AG still produce special editions Minis even though its prospects and customers can personalise to their hearts discontent, so it seems that, perhaps, the attraction is in a particularly alluring/ popular combination of features at a discount price (not always the case, I know). I don’t think I’ve ever bought a “special edition” myself as I think I have the same kind of aloof perspective on them.

  3. Thanks for that little postcard from 1990. The colours are harsh. A certain clear sky blue appeared around the place then. It’s on that car.
    Evidently that exact combination of stuff for that price appealed and here I think it was despite the special edition trim. Could it be that Citroen wanted to ensure that only the very price conscious bought the car by making it a bit cheap-looking? Without that colour some people might have opted not to pay a bit more but the colour forced them to by deterring them up into a higher price class.

  4. How times change. Now there’s a DS3 ‘Benefit’ special edition, presumably for the better off Social Security claimants.

    http://www.citroen.co.uk/about-citroen/news/citroen-by-benefit-ds3-special-editions

    And does anyone else recall the ‘Jesus’ special edition of one of the PSA small cars? Most likely a 106, Saxo, or 206. The Jesus in question is an Italian outfitter, I believe the trademark was frowned upon in the UK but is popular among young people in southern Europe, where I thought religion was taken seriously.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s