Summer Reissue : Visa? That’ll Do Nicely Madam…

This weekend finds Simon in less peevish form. Well, only slightly…

Image credit: Partsopen

I love the smell of floor polish in the morning. Floor polish is an excellent product for cleaning the wood trim in Jaguars. I don’t own a Jaguar incidentally – in my experience, one really ought not. Like all examples of the treacherous genus Felis, it owns you, and one might reasonably add, one’s bank balance.

But I haven’t asked you here today to talk about Jaguar (the fervent Doyle should not be encouraged). In fact I’d rather you hadn’t stopped by at all – it’s a pleasant summer’s day, the bees are flitting merrily outside and a rather fine bottle of Sanlucar de Barrameda’s finest awaits my full and undivided attention.

However, prior to pleasure, one must first mortify oneself, and since the meddlesome Doyle continues his high-handed ways, I am tasked to write a few words regarding the Citroën Visa, which as my importunate cohort points out, marks its 40th anniversary. When I enquired however as to what way, shape or form this mattered to me, I received nothing but sulking and pointed silences. He really is quite intolerable.

My abiding memory of the Voiture Diminuée, which I recall caused great merriment amongst the more puerile of the English-language rotters, was my first and only experience as co-pilot with dear, demented Leonard Setright. It was foolish of me of course; we had all heard of his fearsome reputation as wheelwright, but with no other seats available, and a rather tiresome editor breathing upon my lapel, Leonard solemnly promised to leaven his cloven hoof.

Dear me, what an experience! Mercifully I recall little of it, apart from vivid flashbacks of a life ill-spent. I also lost my hat. It made a break for freedom through the open side window (it was a warm day I recall) as we negotiated a particularly tricky reverse camber left-hander. How I envied that hat!

Remarkably, we all arrived at base with limbs and body panels as our creators originally envisaged, but only several large medicinal brandies later was I capable of coherent speech. LJKS was aghast, adamant to those in attendance that he was the meekest of all drivers. Dear Leonard!

I never in fact gained the opportunity to drive a Visa – that experience put me off for life, but the industrious Archie Vicar (don’t allow his casual style to fool you) provides abundant critique here.

For those who feel impelled to immerse themselves in Vélizy’s more oblique adventures into driver interfaces, stalwart DTW contributor, SV Robinson provides a detailed and studiously researched precis of Citroën’s PRN Lanules here. Finally, those of a more nautical bent might derive some enjoyment from DTW’s profile of the wilfully obscure 1980 Visa Sextant special edition.

Now if you will excuse me…


3 thoughts on “Summer Reissue : Visa? That’ll Do Nicely Madam…”

  1. I recall LJKS referring in one of his Car columns to driving a Citroen Ami “mostly on the doorhandles” – sounds like he did the same with the Visa! Possibly he was reviewing the Ami Super (with the GS 1015 cc flat-four engine) – in which case what was not “on the doorhandles” would have been at 6000+ RPM. When I first got my driving licence we had a GS 1220 and that would scream along thanks to very short gearing. Apparently the 1015 revved even harder. The sound – being flat-four and aircooled – was brilliant to my 18 year old ears.

    1. The air cooled flat four was the GS’s weakest point. 1015s didn’t start in damp weather, early examples had a life expectancy of a mayfly, they all lacked torque and even the X3 didn’t have enough power.
      All these underpowered French cars perfectly suited the local driving style: going flat out on bumpy back roads with “passages à niveau” that were anything but was greatly helped by soft suspension, for driving at 120 or 130 kph down the N7 on the yearly summer holiday trip to the Midi the feeble engines were enough.

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