Something Rotten in Denmark: 1986 Citroen CX 2.2 TRS Estate

Periodically I look around for an interesting car I might want to see in the metal. As is usually the case they are never within easy reach of my front door. This one, a grey and sad CX is in Copenhagen.

1986 Citroen CX 2.2 TRS with its usual feature: source
1986 Citroen CX 2.2 TRS with its usual feature: source

With every passing year Citroen made the CX less and less desirable. Some of it was not their fault. The world began its turn against colour in the middle 1980s. By 1986 most CXs came in dispiriting shades of grey. This one has rumpled and worn nylon upholstery and cruelly dull pale grey plastic everywhere. The forms are less pleasant than the first series cars and the quality of the plastic markedly inferior. Even if this car was in good condition, it would still be a whole mass of drear.

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What does the owner say about this?

“Citroen CX 2.2 TRS, automatic estate care, four doors (five actually), 1986. It is a CX 25 estate with an automatic gearbox. It was imported from France a few years ago. It has only driven 176,000 kilometres and had motor certification in 2014. It’s not perfect but it drives wonderfully, starts every time and definitely has the potential to be restored to a high grade. It has a few dents and 2 deep scratches on the paint of the rear door but has a new alternator and front brake pipes. It is a youngtimer which is appreciating in value now.”

I don’t get that. The first line says it’s a 2.2 and the next line says its a CX 25 estate. The idea that the car has the potential to be restored to a high grade is intriguing. The more potential it has the more work is involved, I would say. Actually, regardless of how much it is restored it will always have sad grey plastic and grimly sagging upholstery.

Really, you’d need to spend €2000 on getting entirely new and decent cloth fitted to this and to hell with originality. Also, it’s an estate. And the little covers on the centre console will always be frail and prone to falling off. On the plus side, it is remarkably cheap for a semi-interesting old car, just 26,000 kr or €3400.

On the downside, this much more lovely 1979 GTi (below) is only €1600 and has few km on the clock. And it has the ball-shaped ashtray and brown velour.

No. The car for sale above is awful.

1979 Citroen CX GTi: source
1979 Citroen CX GTi: source

Image source for slideshow: here.


Author: richard herriott

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

16 thoughts on “Something Rotten in Denmark: 1986 Citroen CX 2.2 TRS Estate”

  1. With an automatic gearbox, I suspect it must be a 2.5, not a 2.2 litre. Being an estate could actually make it more desirable, as these are becoming increasingly rare in halfway decent condition. Only that this one isn’t… But you won’t find this amount of load capacity in another car this side of a VW van. And not with that ride comfort and driving safety in any case.

    I’d still go for a series 1, as you mentioned the nicer looks and better quality plastics. Only exception would be a GTi Turbo in a nice colour (e.g. dark red inside and out – yes, they still made things like that in the 80s, but hardly anyone bought this).

  2. The advert isn’t helpful. It says it’s a 2,2 and a 25. I think a header and paragraph got mixed up. It’s a clue the seller isn’t a marque afficionado, doesn’t it? The car is spacious, I agree. Are they so rare?
    The Dutch GTi is cheaper and nicer. This CX is the only one for sale in Denmark – there must be one person who wants it.

    1. Was it in a used car portal? They sometimes seem to have drop down lists of versions to choose from which don’t always cover the variety of combinations out there. So you have to pick what comes closest… Or the seller just clicked one line too high or low.

      On the rarity of these vehicles – I don’t know the ratio between saloons and estates, but saloons must have been a majority. What’s more, the estates often served as workhorses in various trades, so they haven’t been looked after as well as some saloons (let alone Prestiges) might have been.

    2. I can see busy families and tradesmen wrecking these cars. They aren’t as golf-clubby as a 760 estate. The Omega A comes close: simple and very modernist.

    3. The engines and chassis of a CX are pretty solid and long-living. It’s the rust-prone bodies and flimsy interiors that make them wear out quickly.

  3. Loved the headrests with press studs to adjust the height and the single spoke wheel. Many cars disimproved with age, not just the CX. Maybe it was something to do with the ’70s but early Renault 5s and the BMW 6 series were much nicer pre 1980 I thought. These are just the first 2 that spring to mind.

    1. Early 6 series were made by Karmann exactly to Paul Bracq’s design. BMW weren’t happy with rustproofing and finish so took production inhouse. The look of the car was subtly changed at this point (reputedly by Manfred Rennen). There was less chrome, reshaped kidney grille which made the shark nose less pronounced and new rear light cluster. When you look at two side by side there is a real difference. As the eighties progressed it became less and less delicate and as a result began appealing to the kind of people who bought 911s in that decade. When you compare a 1975 model to a runout from ’89 they are almost different cars. The “ellipsoid headlights” were the nail in the coffin as far as I was concerned.

    2. The later cars have a heavier look: the front bumper is bulkier. The 76 car is quite delicate, in a good way. It’s a marvelous example of a properly proportioned coupe. Paul Bracq was a talented chap: Mercedes, BMW and Peugeot got great work from him.

    3. It’s hard to find fault with any of his cars. He still paints and sculpts, you can check out what he’s up to on his site – something like Les Ateliers Paul Bracq. Love those multispoke alloys on early models.

  4. Daniel: the BMW’s copper metallic is very fetching. That might be accepted on an i20 if the owner was brave. That’s their loss if they didn’t. I’ve seen some of their non-greys on the street and they are great looking.
    With the CX it’s as if Citroen wanted it to have the same shades as a Ford Granada 2.0 L. Whereas the higher spec Grannies had some appeal, the base models were as attractive inside as a “keep off” sign. They’re the ones I can remember seeing the most of. Citroen’s alternative interior trim colour was black. Brown was deleted by 1983, I’d guess.

    1. The 70s and early 80s saw some very interesting trim options for the CX. Besides black, brown and grey, blue (real, bright blue!) was quite a common sight. Very early cars could also have a reddish-orange colour on their interior plastic bits. I don’t remember that there was ever a green(ish) option.

      And there were brown or beige interiors even after 1985. My brother had a Prestige with this. While in theory this may sound nice, reality was awful: a lot of parts in different types of plastic and beige leather seats – 50 shades of beige, and not two matching.

  5. There was one grey trim i really do like at the Citroen CX – the “bicolor” CX Leader – sadly not available as Break or Familiale.

    The BX and the Visa in this trim were even more attractive – silver was a pretty rare colour for small and midsized cars in the eighties.

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