Creativité, Rationalité, Pragmatisme

A trio of Citroën oddities in this take on that famous French creed – Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité.

1982 Citroen BX Coupé prototype

Seasoned Citroën fans are no doubt aware that Citroën toyed with the idea of a BX Coupé but never allowed it to reach the production stage; a full size mockup, looking somewhat like a mix of BX and Renault 11 3-door hatchback has survived and can be viewed at the Citroën Conservatoire.

There was however another, far more ambitious BX-derived Coupé in development for a time, also styled by carrozzeria Bertone. This project was initiated early in 1982, some months before the introduction of the BX hatchback at that year’s Paris Motor Show. Surviving documents reveal that this coupé was intended for a higher marketing segment and was also to be sold in the United States.

Vélizy BX Coupé proposal. (c) SA Citroen

Translating the six theme philosophy brief notes brings the ambitions of Citroën to light:

1) 4-seater Coupé with acceptable rear seating.
2) Overall size close to that of the BX Berline but lower.
3) Originality and a personality to distinguish itself from the competition.
4) High class and refinement, especially concerning the interior.
5) Sportiness and aggressivity. (sic)
6) Flagship for the Citroën model range.

In September of 1982 a full scale model was available for viewing at the Stile Bertone premises in Caprie. It was in the style typical for Bertone concepts during this era, (created under the supervision of Marc Deschamps) as exemplified by, for instance the Mazda MX-81 Aria or Corvette Ramarro. Most of all however it invites comparison with the later Citroën Zabrus of 1986, also by Bertone.

In the treatment of the windshield, rear view mirror and A-pillar as well as the kick-up in the beltline at the end of the door, embryonic elements of the XM are already clearly present in the BX Coupé proposal. The later Zabrus on the other hand reveals little or no XM DNA – did Citroën instruct Bertone not to give away too many XM styling cues to the public?

Alas, like its more conventional sister, this BX Coupé was also ultimately destined for the dustbin of unrealised plans; Citroën boss Xavier Karcher ultimately deemed the projected price of the car too high and its market chances too uncertain.

1977 Citroën Elysée

This ambitiously named version of the Ami 8 (it’s difficult to imagine monsieur le Président arriving there in one) was an Argentina-only luxury version of Citroën’s popular air-cooled light family car.

Offered only in vert élysée, the car continued the green theme inside as well with reclining front seats and colour coded bouclé carpet on the floor. Both front and rear doors were fitted with armrests and an AM radio was standard equipment. Mechanically everything remained unchanged- the air-cooled 602cc two cylinder engine delivering 35 SAE hp allowing for a maximum speed of 77 Mph.

Interestingly, the protective side strips along the flanks look very much as if they are based on the same items normally fitted to the DS Pallas although it is difficult to fully confirm this from the small photos. First introduced in 1977, the élysée was offered only until 1978 (that year white, ochre and blue were added to the colour choices) at which time it was discontinued together with its more sparsely equipped relatives in Europe. Citroën Argentina SA ceased all activity and left the country a year later.

1963 Ami Coupé D’Ieteren

(c) Citroenami6.nl

D’Ieteren was a Belgian coachbuilder that produced several creations on luxury car’s chassis; in 1948 the company started to assemble VW’s. In 1963 Daniel D’Ieteren presented this Ami Coupé that had been designed and built by his company to the management of the Citroën factory in Vorst where the regular Ami was being produced. Vorst was not interested and the one-off Coupé was eventually sold to a Citroën dealer in Liege; unfortunately it is believed to have been scrapped later on.

The D’Ieteren company was sold to Volkswagen in 1970 and currently imports and distributes several makes of the Volkswagen Group in Belgium.

1986 GS Chic

GS Chic (c) PT Alun

When cars have run their course in the Western World, some enjoy a second, or extended life elsewhere. The Citroën GS as built and sold in Indonesia is an example. The GS Chic was offered there in 1986 and 1987, two years after the last GSA was sold in Europe.

In France, Citroën introduced the GSA Chic as a special edition in 1985 in an effort to counter falling sales after the introduction of the BX. In all 1200 GSA Chics were made. With their GS Chic, Citroën Indonesia produced a peculiar hybrid – from the front it looks just like the regular GSA, but when we walk around to the rear there is no hatchback. In fact the rear is identical to the old GS with the exception of a GSA rear bumper. If the brochure is to be believed the interior of the GS Chic was the modernised GSA version with the unique to Citroën Lanules by the steering wheel.

Why this unusual halfway house between GS and GSA? The answer probably lies in the fact that Citroën Indonesia did not receive (or did not see the need to purchase) the altered pressing dies for the GSA. By cleverly substituting as many new GSA parts as possible which fit the old GS body they were able to modernise the car by relatively simple means.

Author: brrrruno

Car brochure collector, Thai food lover, not a morning person before my first cup of coffee

8 thoughts on “Creativité, Rationalité, Pragmatisme”

  1. Good morning Robertas. That’s an eclectic collection you have brought us this morning! The word Élysée, for me at least, conjures up an image of a highly polished black DS Prestige carrying the French president sweeping into the eponymous palace past crowds of curious onlookers. For Citroën, however, it seems to mean something much more prosaic:

    The glamorous couple quaffing Champagne next to a gussied-up Ami is hilariously incongruous, while the Ami Coupé D’Ieteren looks to be pointing in two directions at the same time!

    Bertone was onto something with the BX coupé, which is rather more convincing than Citroën’s effort. Shame it didn’t make even limited production.

  2. Daniel. I can’t claim any credit here — many thanks are due to Bruno for another interesting collection.

    The Indonesian GS has been a subject of fascination for me since I first became aware of them, possibly through Citroënet. Making such a complex and unconventional car in small numbers with labour-intensive facilities in an “emerging economy” nation seems to defy the principles of hand-me-down manufacturing.

    Things like Fiat 124s, Morris Oxfords, and Hillman Hunter make perfect sense, indeed all of these were devised with “world car” potential, but the GS with its complex flat-four engine and hydropneumatics suspension goes against conventional wisdom.

    I’m wondering how much local content there was, and how parts supply was sustained until 1994, eight years after French production ended.

    1. Bruno and Robertas, my apologies to you both! It was early (for me, at least) and the caffeine hadn’t kicked in. Stupidly, I knew it was Bruno’s piece but still managed to type the incorrect name.

  3. The BX coupe looks as if it had some role in the gestation of the XM. In the title image you can see the XM´s pointy nose and the little quarter light behind the A-pillar. On the inside I see something reminiscent of the 780 ES interior.

  4. The Bertone BX Coupé proposal is a fascinating thing, with clear pointers to both the XM and (at the rear) the 3-door C4 of the early 2000s.

    Is it rude to say I am glad the in-house BX Coupé didn’t make it to production?

    1. The labelling on the images could be clearer, chaps. I now understand the side profile (second image block) to be the Citroen in-house BX coupe while the little studio image with the human figure (paired with the brown interior) is Bertone´s effort. We see in the pair of cars two common failings, one each. One is the coupe variant where the new work does not gel with the old. Citroen´s car is the front of the standard BX glued to the back of another car. The tailgate and rear lamp area is a mess, a separate matter. This is reminiscent of the Ford Focus CC which is a collage of carry-over and new elements (I like it anyway). The second failing is that the Bertone coupe is not very much like other Citroens of the time, and as such makes the usual carrozeria error of moving too far ahead of the current ranges. Both mistakes have in common a failure to capture the essential style needed either to apply it all over a new proposal or to apply it at all. The Bertone proposal could be plausibly for some other brand (take your pick) because Bertone was often rubbish at identifying the essence of other brands. What they did for Citroen was always given a Citroen brush-up. The Astra coupe of 2000 was an exception.

      The XM´s a lovely car but the nose cone shutline is problematic; it cuts across the feature lines running along the body side. I see the Bertone coupe above also has a nose cone (bigger than the XM) and it does the same thing. I don´t think the nose cone principle works without removing any line crossing from fore to aft. The Xantia does not have a nose cone and probably for this reason. Citroen saw the principle did not work and dodged it when given the chance.

  5. It’s interesting that, before the hammer finally fell, with the XM adopting that genius front door innovation, Bertone apparently “offered” it also
    on the prototype for a 3dr. Favorit, which was a properly good one.

  6. ‘Big Car’ has had a gentle canter through the BX story. It’s well done, I’d say, as it shows concepts and models that are new to me. For some reason, the video is divided up in to three sections. I’d just ignore the very short breaks.

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