Some Photos For Sunday: 1986 Citroen CX Prestige

Or parts of one. The photos were taken by our Dublin correspondent, Mick, who has a new post at his blog. You may want to take a gander…

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It’s a small world and in Dublin you can get to know the fleet of older classics. I am pretty sure I have seen this car driving around. I believe it might belong to a member of the Citroen Car Club and was once owned by a mining and energy magnate whose name eludes me. He had a Citroen dealership hence the car.

We’re thinking of material this month and with that in mind, we’ll draw attention to the vinyl roof. So, when was the last car sold in Europe with an OEM vinyl roof? I suspect that honour might go to Rolls Royce or Bentley. One of the Silver Spurs or perhaps Bentley Turbo from the late 80s. They’d say it wasn’t vinyl but Everflex. It looks broadly the same. Vinyl roofs carried on a bit longer in the US. I’d say they were still available on stretch Lincolns and Cadillacs. And Buick’s second-last Riviera.

The Citroen also features the plastic bumpers of the later models along with a fetching stainless steel C-pillar with its florid script.

Author: richard herriott

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

42 thoughts on “Some Photos For Sunday: 1986 Citroen CX Prestige”

  1. This post got me thinking about vinyl rooves on cars, an odd thing to think about but there you go. They are a curious addition, originally intended to make a car look like a convertible; clearly, nobody was fooled. In the early 70’s I remember them being an important status symbol for cars of a transatlantic flavour. The Cortina GXL/2000E, the Vauxhall Ventora, the Humber Sceptre among others just wouldn’t have had the necessary aura of luxury without vinyl on the roof. Some cars, however, just looked preposterous with vinyl; I grew up in Epsom where one of the largest dealers was a Renault dealer who also had a sideline in retrofitting sunrooves and vinyl rooves. Consequently the town was full of 70’s Renaults with their modern styling besmirched by acres of beige vinyl in addition to Renault’s own “Boutique” line of go-faster stripes.

    1. Feel a bit foolish but never realized that the vinyl roof was there to make the car look like a cabrio. I just thought it was meant to add a little exclusivity. Never really liked them even on capris but it is arresting on the CX. I quite like the mish mash of details on this car, it caught my attention immediately. I’m guessing that this was the most exclusive French saloon car available at the time? Surely the Renault 25 or Peugeot 604 were less expensive cars?

    2. Mick, I don’t remember which was more expensive but I remember that Renault offered a 25 Limousine (sans vinyl roof). I suspect the Renault was the rarer of the two.

    3. The Renault 25 Limousine was definitely rarer. German Wikipedia mentions 832 of those built. The Renault was probably superior in interior equipment and quality, as well as noise reduction, and it had 6-cylinder engines while the CX always had to go with the rather rough 2.5-litre unit. So it’s kind of a riddle to me why the Renault could not supersede the CX as the Limousine of choice. Did it have to do with the ride comfort or the image?

    4. The Renault Limousine came out a fair few years later than the CX Prestige and became the Presidential car of choice. Maybe not enough to say that it had superseded the CX (with whom? by what measurement?), but it certainly made the Citroën look like the older car that it was by then. I don’t remember seeing one used in an ‘official’ function until 1995 when Chirac won the Presidency, and by then it was noted as an oddity.

      Personally I quite like the mix of vinyl roof, chrome and stainless and still think it gave it a fair bit of cachet.

  2. The same seems true for this CX as for the Renaults you mention, Mark. The vinyl roof is totally against the CX’s design. This becomes especially evident at the rear sides, where the roof’s lower chrome strip bisects the rear quarter panel in a totally wrong angle.

    Anyway, the later CX Prestiges were an odd amalgam of bits: Vinyl roof and stainless steel pillars that say seventies, brittle plastics for interior trim and bumpers that speak a mid-eighties language, terrible fake wood inserts in the door cards and this ghastly gilded ‘Prestige’ script which both look wrong at any time in history. That said, nothing equals it for detached travelling with stretched legs on a rear bench, at least this side of a DS.

  3. Could the vinyl roof be hiding a join? That roof is a big panel, and was only required in small numbers. Most other Prestige panels came from the wagon or the SWB CX, so there might have been a bit of bodgery which paint wouldn’t conceal.

    I’m put in mind of the Jaguar XJ coupe. All production cars had vinyl covered roofs as the panel flexure resulting from the pillarless construction caused the paint to crack and delaminate. During its (quite brief) production life, paint technology advanced sufficiently to address the problem, but the vinyl roof remained. A lovely, but troubled car.

    1. A good point with the join, but I rather doubt it. There are Prestiges with standard roof out there, and I think it was a factory option. Then there was also the “Limousine”, which had the Prestige’s body, but a more standard equipment and mostly (or only?) diesel engines. I think it was used a lot as a taxi.

  4. I’m with Mick: the vinyl roofed cars bore so little resemblance to a cabrio that it never crossed my mind anyone thought there was a link.
    I saw an R25 Limousine for sale (once) for about €10,000 in Luxembourg. The conversion looked good and the in-fill trim blended in. I suppose “image” and price held it back.

    1. 832 R25 Limousine seems like a decent number. Any idea how many CX Prestige were built?

    2. There seem to be 10CX prestiges left on the road in the UK with 6 sorn. Doesn’t seem that there are any 25 limousine left though. Not very surprising I would have thought.

    3. According to WIkipedia, Renault stopped selling the R25 Limousine in right-hand drive form less than 2 years after it was introduced. As always you can’t draw too many conclusions from UK sales.

  5. Mick: that’s very few indeed. You’d imagine such a distinctive car might find, say, 50 adherents. I’d have bought one in 2000 if I’d known about them then. Maybe I should have bought a standard CX but I was too nervous. So I got an XM…

    1. Still seems a fair few to me – it’s not like the Prestige was a common car, even on French roads.

    2. Richard, it seems that there are well over 300 hundred XMs left on UK roads, more than half are turbo diesels. Only 4 nice V6s survive though (is that the engine you have?).

    3. Back in the time, it was not exceptionally unusual to see a Prestige on Swiss roads. It might have to do with the Swiss preference for higher specs on a car. I guess there are still mor of them here than in the UK.

    1. Whichever way you want to look at it, as long as you do it with a sense of perspective.

  6. The genealogy of vinyl roofs is probably this: actual convertible two seater – convertible four seater –
    vinyl roof on hardtop versions of bodies which were also convertible four seaters – vinyl roofs on ordinary saloons – vinyl roofs on limousines to hide welds.
    Was there ever a vinyl-roof estate car?

    1. The Zephyr / Zodiac Mk.4 estates had vinyl roofs across the entire range. The conversion was sub-contracted to Abbott of Farnham, but they were very much an official part of the range. In this case I’d be very surprised if the vinyl wasn’t hiding a join.

  7. Looking at pictures of the more downmarket CX Limousine, there is no vinyl roof, nor conspicuous welds. So I guess we might need to concede that someone at Citroen just thought it looked good. Probably the vinyl roof didn’t have the same stigma of suburban pretension in France as it did in the UK (and Germany?). I didn’t like the look at all in period, though not enough not to recommend it to my Dad, who bought both a Series 1 and 2. Now, however, I tend to agree with Laurent that, if I free myself of the connotations, it looks quite well – not the florid script though. Only 10 left in the UK – I saw 10% of those just the other week.

    1. ‘the more downmarket CX Limousine’

      Which model is that?

    2. Never knew it existed, or I did and forgot a long time ago.
      I still prefer the Prestige though.

    3. I remember seeing a few in France. I guess the thinking behind it was that it would make a great taxi, in that passengers would have a great rear seat experience. Unfortunately, from the number of ill-chosen cars I’ve encountered in my time, as well as a comment on these pages from a driver once, the comfort of rear passengers isn’t high on taxi driver’s list of priorities. Ease of parking and cost (probably neither a CX Limousine virtue) would come much higher.

    4. For a long time the vast majority of French taxis only chose between Peugeot (404, 504, 505, 406) and Merc-Benz (200/300, E-class). I guess because they offered optimum size, reliability and good diesel engines. Now there’s a bit of everything, with Peugeot still a strong supplier and lots of VW-group products (Skoda Superb in particular).

    5. Your comment reminds me that I’d never reported to Richard a trip in I had in a Tagora taxi in Paris once. I wasn’t in the best of moods – my motorcycle had just been stolen – but I remember it being comfortable with a big boot that swallowed all that remained of my bike (panniers and helmets) into a little corner.

      Does anyone actually design primarily with the taxi trade in mind? You imagine that Mercedes almost ignore the number of E Classes that end up in lines outside airports, but the Superb could almost have been purpose built for the trade.

  8. Racking my brain not too hard, Austin FX series, Beardmore, Winchester, Checker, Metrocab (at one period Reliant-badged), Nissan Crew, Toyota Comfort, Isuzu Bellel.

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen a VAG Rapedo that’s not a taxi, but that’s maybe just a British peculiarity.

    1. Sorry Robertas, I should have been a bit clearer. Living in London for over 40 years I have become aware of the purpose built taxi cab. What I meant was a saloon for what used to be called the minicab trade. The majority of Priii I see are in fact licenced taxis, but do Toyota think about that when they design them?

    2. By which I mean, do Skoda, for instance, say “we’d better leave an area where you can fit a meter / make sure there’s decent headroom in the back / ensure you can reach the rear handles from the front seat / etc”? Probably not.

    3. Sean Patrick – I know what you mean; Ford used to offer a taxi pack on the Granada diesel which I think consisted of toughened up front seats, rubber flooring, possibly vinyl uphostery (says a lot about the customers) and space for a taximeter.

  9. Funny as it may sound but a Nissan Pulsar to have as much rear legroom as a Prestige. It may be trumped by a Skoda Superb. I don’t see many Pulsars. The nice shapes inside are not shown off by the dreary colours.
    Mick: my XM is a 2.0. The V6s are too thirsty and unreliable. As it is the car now only gets 30 mpg/22 mpg country/town and in Denmark I don’t need the speed. When I drove from Cologne to Aarhus I valued the range allowed by the petrol 2.0. I managed 600 miles on one tankful. That’s an 18 gallon tank. To fill it is a financial event. My most recent test car got 51 mpg. That is a huge difference.

    1. Yes Richard 2 extra cylinders certainly add to the fuel bill. Thats pretty thirsty already as a 4 cylinder. Didn’t know that the v6 was so unreliable.

    2. “Funny as it may sound but a Nissan Pulsar to have as much rear legroom as a Prestige.”

      What exactly were you trying to say, and are you sure about it?

  10. Sean: that was deftly phrased “living in London for forty years I have become aware of…”
    Not only is the taxi market there to influence car design, there’s the legendary Chinese chauffeured car market. We here how Chinese business men sit in the back. Do they drive around more than Eurobusinessmen? Are there really so many – hundreds of thousands of pampered executives for whom rear leg room is *the* decider?

    1. There are questions hanging over a fair amount of the received wisdom of the Chinese market, which are worth asking, since nowadays that affects the cars we get today. Would Mercedes look so self-important for instance if (slightly patronising?) assumptions weren’t being made about how the Chinese perceive a car’s status.

      But, in a country where labour is cheap, even middle income types can afford to hire a driver, so it is certain that there is a real demand for rear legroom, and being tall I can only approve of that. Complement that florid script on the C pillar with a big chrome radiator and the Prestige would be a perfect car for China.

  11. Mick: the Douvrin V6 made an appearance in the early XMs and then there was a 24V of an entirely different design. All I knew in 2000 was that V6s spelled trouble and got through fuel at a fast rate. It could be that the problems of the V6s were normal V6 problems but I was not very experienced at the time (and very short of cash) so went for the L4 and it has worked out. It´s a crap engine but its reliably crap.

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