You Shall Go to the Ball

French designer, Tristan Auer reimagines Citroën’s CX Prestige, delivering something unique and rather special.

© Amaury Laparra for Tristan Auer/ Classic Driver

The Hôtel de Crillon on the Place de la Concorde has been something of a Paris institution, at least for those well-heeled enough to stay there, since it opened to the public in 1907. The neoclassical 18th century palace – one of a matching pair situated at the famous Paris landmark – was built in 1758 and through its history, saw its fair share of drama, not least of which was its use by the post-revolutionary French government as a place to house King Louis XVI and his Queen, Marie Antoinette prior to their execution in 1793.

The hotel, having hosted the great, the good, and the filthy rich for over a century was closed in 2013 to allow for a major refurbishment, carried out by a team of designers, headed by Aline Asmar d’Amman, working alongside Tristan Auer, Chahan Minassian, Cyril Vergniol and the late Karl Lagerfeld – reopening to notable acclaim in 2017.

When designers apply their craft to an area outside their traditional skillset, the results can be, shall we say, uneven. This was certainly the case for Mr. Lagerfeld, whose bespoke BMW Seibeners were a little on the rococo side. Not knowing a great deal about his couture work, it nonetheless raised questions about his taste.

Even car designers, who really ought to know better, have tripped and fallen when applying a creative makeover to a pre-existing automobile. The most recent and possibly egregious example being Mr. Ian Callum, former doyen of Jaguar’s Whitley design studio. Having previously created a steam-punk resto-modded Jaguar Mark 2 for enthusiasts to have various forms of apoplexy over, he more recently followed it up with an unfortunate redux of his first generation Aston Martin Vanquish. And while Callum and Largerfeld appear to have little in common otherwise, questions of taste must also be asked.

Not so France’s Tristan Auer, who has recently transferred his talents with furnishings and interiors from the likes of the Crillon to re-imagine a mid-70s Citroën CX Prestige on the behest of the carmaker as part of its centenary celebrations. Auer is clearly a man of discernment, with sufficient sympathy for the original car’s design intent to retain the CX’s essence, rather than overwhelm it with ill-judged contemporary markers of ‘modern luxury’.

Even more telling is what he has chosen to excise from the Prestige’s exterior, the process of removal (bodyside moulding and vinyl roof covering) serving to enhance the big Citroën’s unmistakable lines.

I’m not usually a fan of these kind of designer re-imaginings, preferring to see cars left in their original form. However, executed to this level, its an entirely different proposition. This magnificent car is now on extended loan to the Hôtel de Crillon, replacing a similarly enhanced Citroën DS as a courtesy car, collecting and ferrying guests around the city of light.

The full story of this impressive makeover is told at Classic Driver, along with an array of photos which show the CX to best effect. The article, which I recommend wholeheartedly, can be accessed by clicking here.

 

Author: Eóin Doyle

Founding Editor. Content Provider.

13 thoughts on “You Shall Go to the Ball”

  1. For first thing Sunday morning this is borderline pornographic.
    What a fantastic recreation; subtle, intuitive, classy and sexy. Can’t wait to see what else Monsieur Auer is doing for Citroën in the near future. The one downside I anticipate is the rich nobs who won’t care what is whisking them to the fancy hotel.

  2. This is glorious and a lesson in less is more when it comes to this reimagining lark.

    Interesting comment in the linked article about the hotel owners/ managers being less keen as the CX is less iconic than the DS. They have a point, but icons only get a chance to become icons when forward-sighted people start to recognise them as such. The CX is iconic of its era and still looks relevant to today in my opinion.

    I hope we see more like this; such a lovely find for a Sunday morning. Thanks.

  3. I’m afraid I can only partly agree: the exterior is nice, a nice CX Prestige; taking out the vinyl roof is a wise move as it has always been there only because it was fashionable in the Seventies; I never liked it on that car.
    However the interior fails to struck me positively: I can’t remember those compartments on the dashboard so I suppose it is an intervention of the designer.
    The nice curves of the dashboard disappear however under the applied van-like compartment walls, and the snake-scale/heraldic (maybe Mr. Auer wanted to recall the way mountains are drawn in heraldry, being the passengers so special) texture on the seats does not also impress too much.
    My overall impression is that Mr. Auer had to do something within the car, but there was not much to do, so he ended in applying those details.
    It is of course only a matter of taste, so it can well be that as a CX ex-owner, too much time ago, I am negatively biased against such casual modifications.

    1. The storage tray on top of the dashboard is a cheap and nasty aftermarket item that was popular at the time. Not all Prestiges had a vinyl roof which was deleted at the first half facelift in 06/1982.

  4. That re-upholstering is very impressive. Gosh. I am impressed that an already very lovely vehicle can be modified in a respectful and also innovative way. Does not it also so show up the absence of this kind of low-key loveliness in modern cars? I have fallen in love with the CX Prestige all over again.

  5. Nothing to do with the remodelling, but those wheel covers are confidently simple, and utter perfection on the CX. Is it possible that the CX is ageing even more gracefully than its predecessor and successor? The earliest versions, with chrome bumpers and those wonderfully smooth flanks, are just sublime:

    1. The wheel covers were standard fare on early CX 2200s, the semi-luxury version at the time the DS was still in production. The first Pallas and Prestige versions had much less attractive French kitsch wheel covers

      I like the Turbo aluminium wheels

    2. That is lovely. Beautiful colour – and yes, love the wheel trims.

    3. Daniel,

      I agree.

      The “first generation” CX was perfect.

      I was lucky to own and drive a late 1970s CX 2400 GTi for a couple of years. Other than the mildly fussy alloys, it was a visual delight.

      The interior was bizarre. Bizarre in the sense that it was simultaneously complicated and minimalist.

      And that was before you drove the thing.

      Driving it was something else.

      One of my favourite cars.

    4. Zer0thian, I’m afraid to inform you that someone else is using your IP address and posting on this site under a different handle. I’m sure you’d want to know about this matter and take appropriate steps. Kind regards.

    5. Here’s a 2400 GTi and one more CX in a bold colour:

      Note the non-flared front wheelarches compared to the S2 shown above (or late S1s).

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