From the ridiculous to the… ridiculous. 

I like walking at night. There is a meditative quality to the endeavour —the mind drifts into neutral, you navigate by instinct and by curiosity — ‘where does that street lead, and what might I discover down here’? There’s a frisson to the streetscapes at this hour of night that appeals to the dramatist in me, but also the chance toencounter the unexpected, the unusual, or the downright strange.

Now under normal circumstances, a Citroën Pluriel wouldn’t elicit much by way of comment on my part, remaining a sufficiently unremarkable sight both here in Spain and back in the UK (Ireland of course is a different story entirely) to ruffle anyone’s feather boa. This particular example however got mine in a twist (just as well I brought it along); indeed I almost danced on the spot. A Pluriel Charleston — have I been taking crazy pills?

While I accept that people often do strange and wonderful things with their time, am I truly to believe that someone went to the trouble (and it would have been considerable), not to mention, expense (also considerable) of not only having their pride and Pluriel painted in duotone, but also having the decals made just so they could enjoy the retro² experience of an already pastiche-laden 2CV special edition?

Of course it could equally have been a factory (or local dealer) job, although personally, the idea of it being someone’s mad vision brought to life rather appeals to me. Either way, it does exhibit a certain sense of humour. Not my brand, you understand, but I can appreciate the craft.

Some shapes are unmistakable and the Renault 5 in any of its forms is now a highly noteworthy (and pleasing) sight under any ambient lighting conditions. This rather well used example of the SuperCinq was unbadged and clearly some way from the specification which it left the factory, having had a least one replacement panel fitted along a clearly eventful life.

There is a pleasing air of nonchalance about this particular R5, evidence of an owner who cares enough to keep it going, but who is anything but precious about it. Unlike its Sochaux arch-rival however, which seems to have survived around these parts in much larger numbers, the SuperCinq appears to have been a more frangible product. Renaults usually were.

But if there could be said to have been an element of comedy to the sight of ‘our’ local flapper Pluriel, the final nocturnal sighting for this particular outing falls more into the tragi-comic camp. I keep returning to these cars as one would to the scene of a terrible accident; out of some misplaced need to understand exactly what went so horribly wrong. To be honest, I hesitated about taking these photos at all, but relented for two primary reasons.

Firstly the fact the early X200s are vanishingly rare sights now (rust and apathy, although you could reverse the order and get the same answer) and secondly, I wanted to establish whether the combination of a more exotic locale and the sultry cloak of nightfall might lend the hapless S-Type a little more by way of fascination.

I’m afraid that the answer to that remains firmly in the negative. After 25 years, the X200 remains a joke whose punchline entirely escapes me. Case dismissed. Redemption denied.

Author: Eóin Doyle

Co-Founder. Editor. Content Provider.

20 thoughts on “Nightcrawling”

  1. Make sure you’re wrapped up warmly, Eion. Thanks for the frontal shot of the X200, quite markedly, to a huge extent, it’s only good side.
    As for that Pluriel… just why? Even the 2CV Charleston was pointless. What is the point of a riff on a parody?

    1. Never try to rationalise a sense of humour David – you’ll always be on a hiding to nothing. The Charleston was a French thing, you either got it or you didn’t, it’s entirely inexplicable. Personally I love it; of course it’s completely pointless, which is the whole point. The Pluriel version (of which I was previously unaware – thank you Eóin) takes it to an entirely new level. Brilliant.

      The Jag. on the other hand was British humour at its clunkiest. The front promised much but the rest of it failed miserably.

    2. When I first laid eyes on a Charleston, although I am not French something in me jumped up and down and said “YES!” Reprising the curve of the windows down onto the rear door and extending it forward as a faux fenderline sweep was an inspired piece of design. In my eyes anyway.
      This Pluriel? I can see what they’re trying to do, but it comes across as disjointed. You’ve got this great thick silver beam of an A-pillar (I’d paint two-thirds of its bulk black), then a black roof (which needs some silver to carry the theme through to the rear) with the line being taken up again at the rear as stripes do the Charleston.
      It’s disjointed, but I see what they were after. Now whether an homage to the humble 2CV is appropriate for a (somewhat more exalted) Pluriel, I’ll leave others to decide.

  2. I’m by no means a fan of the C3 Pluriel – few were – but I actually think the Charleston aesthetic lends it considerably more charm than usual.

    Also, a quick Google reveals that it certainly isn’t a one-off labour of love: rather very definitely a factory special edition!

    1. True – here’s a brief overview of it – I hadn’t realized that the boot opens in 2 ways. I think the Charleston look suits it.

      It’s amazing that the Pluriel made it in to production, although it probably makes much more sense in warmer and drier countries. I’m glad that they made it, but I don’t think I’d like to own one.

  3. Good morning Eóin. I can understand the point of the Charleston special editions of both the 2CV and the Pluriel. They were both intended to appeal to a certain demographic that enjoys cuteness in all things and want their car to reflect their tastes.

    The S-Type has no such raison d’etre. It was just a very poor attempt at ‘British’ retro design that looks as bad today as ever. Even the stillness of a balmy Mediterranean evening cannot rescue it. The X300 XJ was retro done very well, so its hard to understand how they messed up so badly with the S-Type (although using the MK2 and original S-type as a starting point was a bad decision). The front and rear ends were ok, but everything in between was hopeless.

    1. Good evening Daniel. Yes, the S-type was wrong. It was spoiled by having too many bodyside creases; it was un-Jaguar in that respect. I’d have deleted that feature line through the door handles or lightened it to a mere fold; there’s much too much shadow under it. The beltline curvature is all wrong; it goes up at the windows where it needs to straighten out. That side character line emphasises the wrongness. Jaguars always had straight beltlines with a rear kickup which made them look lithe and ready to pounce. This looks more like my overfed pussycat, ready to sleep.

  4. Hi Eóin. I’ll start from the end, with the S-Type. It was praised by reviewers in its day for its sportiness and whatnot, but I think those reviews were a blatant demonstrations of double standards: if the Lancia Thesis seemed awkward and too retro to some, and if the Lybra’s front and rear treatments were gawky and full of pastiche, the S-Type was an even greater offender. Of course, Jaguar’s parent company bought considerable amounts of ad pages, so reviewers were semi-contractually obliged to be nice to it.

    As to the scrappy little Renault, although few have survived, there’s something amiable about them. The five-door version, fully equipped and with the largest engine in the range would be an indispensable part of my “let’s relive my youth” garage.

    And now, let’s get to the Pluriel… I’ll be honest: I’ve always loved the Charleston paint scheme on the 2CV6. Here in Greece, I never saw it on any Pluriel. Truth be told, it’s a paint scheme I’d prefer to see on the five-door C3. Yeah, I know the Pluriel featured the foldable roof and all, but it was such a compromised and impractical car that it couldn’t have been farther from the spirit of the original 2CV.

  5. Good afternoon, Eóin. I’ve done some daycrawling (that’s not a word is it?) and walked past a local Pluriel Charleston.

    Not my cup of tea I’m afraid. I especially don’t like the way the rear wheel arch and silver line are a mismatch.

    I can’t recall the last time I saw a Renault 5, but it’s good to see it here.

    1. Thanks, Eóin. S.V., It does look like Amsterdam, but this is in Delft. I went out for a walk again and I encountered another C3 Pluriel. It’s not a Charleston, though.

    2. Freerk, that looks so much better than Eóin’s one with the silver A-pillar.

  6. The second weekend at an Oltimer meeting and no R5. Where have they gone?

    The Pluriel, especially the Charleston edition, was once on my wish list until I read about the problem with the roof. Absolutely no (in words: no) spare parts and a saddler is not able to repair defective roofs. So this car only goes with a villa in the south of France in the summer with a garage so that you can drive the car all year round without the roof and the roof bars.

    I think the Jaguar is often criticised too harshly. I admit it has its styling flaws, but I think its overall appearance is what often makes you smile – which is more than you can say about its successors and rivals.
    My wife would want to drive it in a heartbeat, so stop badmouthing it. (at this point there should be something like an irony tag or a don’t-talk-badly-about-my-wife’s-taste tag).

    1. Fred: I have no argument whatsoever with anyone who appreciates the styling of these cars. Automobile enthusiasm is after all, a rather broad church. I think it is possible to achieve S-Type ownership with an ironic nod and wink. However, it’s not something I myself could carry off with any conviction.

  7. Having last been to Europe in 1997, I was not familiar with the C3 Pluriel, so I Googled it. I watched an original Citroen video on how the top mechanism operates, and I was surprised at how long it takes. I’ve been a fan of convertibles/dropheads/cabriolets since my first one, a 1966 Plymouth Fury convertible, when I was in high school.

    I’ve [mostly] enjoyed many very different convertibles over the past 5+ decades, including 1914 Buick touring, 1929 Roosevelt convertible coupe, 1938 Ford convertible sedan, 1948 Packard Super 8 convertible [I still own], 1951 Packard 250 convertible, 1954 Mercedes-Benz 300 4-door cabriolet, 1955 Packard Caribbean, 1958 DKW Munga, 1959 Ford Skyliner [retractable hardtop], 1959 Cadillac Eldorado convertible, 1963 Chrysler 300 convertible, 1964 Dodge Custom 88o convertible, 1965 Chrysler Imperial Crown convertible, the aforementioned Plymouth, NSU Wankel Spyder [2], 1964 Triumph Herald drophead, Several Tr-3, 4, 4a, & 6 roadsters, 1966 Lincoln Continental 4-door convertible, 1967 Mercedes-Benz 250 roadster, 1971 Dodge Challenger convertible, and lastly, a 1975 Cadillac Eldorado convertible. Possibly a few more I don’t recall, but I’ve played with so many cars over the years I’m bound to forget a few.

    I mention all these open top cars because NONE of them take as much time and effort to open or close the top [although the 1914 Buick comes close] as the amount of time and effort the Citroen C3 Pluriel appears to require. I can only imagine being caught in a pop-up thunderstorm, trying to assemble the Pluriel’s complicated top system as the rain comes down in torrents.

    The easiest tops to raise and lower were [no surprise] the 1959 Ford Skyliner and the ’66 Lincoln convertible sedan, both cars having fully automatic tops, only requiring the push of a switch up or down.

    Concerning the Charleston sweeping line; They remind me of the 1980s-90s in America when car companies were adding Gold plated “deluxe” trim kits, and upgraded interior and paint colors combined with the names of famous designers. These add-on options were very good at creating additional profits for dealers.

  8. Call me crazy, but I rather like that C3 Pluriel Charleston! Too bad it’s probably just as bad a drive as the regular C3.

    Many years ago I worked in a car hire office, prepping the cars, driving cars, vans, and even some small trucks to other offices to exchange with other vehicles, etc. One of the cars I was excited to try was the Citroën C3 Mk.1 as it was recently on sale and was a car I really liked. It turned out to be an awful drive, which to me was down to its video game electric steering which felt artificial and rubbery, with no feel whatsoever. The ride was nothing like I thought a Citroën would be like, either. Finally, the centre console brushed my right knee on turns, which would drive me crazy if I had to live with it, the front seats were mushy and unsupportive, and the rear legroom was very limited. A big disappointment.

    But yes, every time I see a well kept Pluriel in a happy, bright colour or even better in Charleston trim I smile.

    1. I love the Charleston as well.
      It is of course a French private joke, but it makes some kind of sense: some cars are meant to be ‘serious’, some cars (mostly small) may be jokes (jukes?).
      The Pluriel Charleston is of course a joke refering the 2CV Charleston, and this was a joke about a number of late 20’s and early 30’s Bugattis.
      And it was not so historicaly misplaced, since the 2CV is fundamentally a 1930’s car.
      Let the people laugh, I say!🤣

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