The genepool of the Monovolume is littered with evolutionary cul-de-sacs. Today, we present two examples from a highly likely source.
It should surprise nobody to discover that Citroën were at the forefront of monospace research. Indeed, studies into such a vehicle began under the supervision of André Lefèbvre as far back as the early 1950’s. A series of mono-volume prototypes were built under the Prototype-C nomenclature, culminating in the 1956 C 10 seen above. This teardrop shaped four-seater, alternately dubbed Coccinelle or Goutte d’eau was constructed from a welded and bonded aluminium monocoque, weighing only 381 kg. The undershield was glued in place – a precursor to the early DS’s bonded roof panel. It was powered by a flat-twin 530 cc engine from the 2 CV, driving the front wheels. Suspension was by oleopneumatics. Said to be the first to be designed with the aid of computers, the body achieved a cd of 0.258. Unsurprisingly, it was decided the public wasn’t ready for such advanced thinking and it was decided to proceed with the more conventional (if visually bracing) Ami 6 instead.
The 1960’s saw Citroën’s bureau d’etudes chasing blind alleys with the abortive C 60 and disastrous project-F before once again investigating the mono-volume in earnest with the G-Mini, a putative replacement for the 2CV. Robert Opron’s styling team created an innovative single volume shape which then morphed into the 1969 EN101 concept. Encompassing a diamond seating formation with the driver in the centre, two passengers seated on either side with the provision of a fourth folding jump-seat in the rear. Powered by the familiar flat-twin engine of 602 cc, the EN 101’s suspension was by double wishbones, torsion bars and a transverse leaf acting as a roll bar at the front with torsion bars at the rear. This concept which recorded a cd of 0.32 could be said to have inspired Citroën’s Eco 2000-series of research concepts initiated under Carl Olsen during the early 1980’s.
Given Citroën’s reputation for advanced engineering and styling, a monospace would have fitted their brand to a tee, yet despite these and many other innovative and (in some cases) quite attractive proposals, the chevron arrived late to market with cars that really didn’t move the genre forward. On the basis of these early concepts, it’s quite clear it wasn’t for a lack of ideas.