Despite the enormous size of the automotive industry and the enormous importance of aesthetics, the academic literature on the topic is sparse.
There can be found in any bookshop a shelf of ten to thirty books on marques, full of glossy images and I am not talking about these. A few books supposedly on automotive design exist and these are inadequate. This has a few nice pages on rendering. The rest is fluff, sorry to say. The same goes for this book which is mostly about drawing not design.
It’s now autumn, a time to reflect. Recently, DTW has been driving Lancias and we have discussed the decline of this once noble marque. It is not the only brand to have faded away.
In the diagram I have marked the timelines of two other defunct brands: Rover and Saab. Rover closed in 2005 and Saab shut up shop in 2011. You’ll notice that while Rover had no new models in the Phoenix years (I don’t count the MG versions), Saab had new product in the pipeline right until the last minute. Lancia’s demise is more muddled.
First, the badge engineering of Fiat cars increased and then swapped around 2011 to the relabelling of Chryslers. The Lybra (1998) and Thesis (2002) count as the last proper Lancias. The Delta (2008) is a superficially restyled Bravo but nowhere near the quality of the 1998 Lybra. The latest Ypsilon is a reworked Fiat 500. As of 2014 FCA gave up rebadging Chrysler (I left one out – which?). And perhaps Alfa Romeo could be added to this chart… Continue reading “Leaving Off The Saws”
Luxury isn’t what it used to be. Jean Pierre-Ploué had a good go at imbuing the 2005 Citroen C6 with some high-quality touches. However…
… all the money was spent on exotic wood and the world’s biggest plastic rear bumper. By the time he worked his way around to the upper doors there remained only enough resources for a remarkably tiny door-mounted tray. It’s not chromed either. This one is unusual in that it is not in the centre console. I had to check it was the front: it seemed so natural to have a rear passenger ashtray on the door. Presumably the same assembly works in the back too. Continue reading “Ashtrays: 2005 Citroen C6”
[First posted Nov 28, 2016, but well worth a second read as it’s a first rate bit of research.]
Here are as many of the influences I can find, not counting the aspects of the car that draw on Citroen’s own general heritage. The roll call is long and not exclusive. However, it begins with the 1974 Lotus Eclat which has a similar dropped window line, one of the XM’s signature features. Deschamp’s drawing looks like a saloon Eclat, if you Continue reading “DTW Summer Re-Issue: “Let’s Sort This Out, Shall We?””
Visiting different places is always an opportunity to see different cars. This is obvious when going to other countries or even continents, but even a one-hour journey to the nearest bigger city can prove interesting.
After having lived for twelve years in an Alpine setting, I know that the taste for cars here is rather conservative. You will find the most mainstream brands (which nowadays often are the ‘premium’ ones) and everything that offers cheap four wheel drive. Colour-wise, people will stick to greyscale, blue or red. When I recently had some time for a walk in Zurich, I wondered if I’d find more inspiring cars than I usually encounter on our streets. Continue reading “A Stroll Through Zurich (and Other Places)”
In this final part, Steve Randle concludes his proposal for a latterday successor to the seminal Citroën DS.
Previously, we explored styling, power unit and drivetrain. Today, Steve Randle outlines his thoughts on body structure and vehicle dynamics.
Structure:“Aluminium and magnesium would dominate the vehicle. The recycling problem with composites – particularly thermosets – are a concern. While both Aluminium and magnesium alloys are expensive in the first instance, they are easy to recycle.”Continue reading “Idée Fixe ”
With Citroën occupying our collective minds this month, we celebrate the romance of the double chevron in this piece from the DTW archives.
Originally published by Richard Herriott on 7 November 2015.
Let’s accept there is not a lot of romance left in motoring today. That means we have to look back to when it was still romantic.
That’s around 1979 when Quatre Saisons was published. The book comprises a photo essay with the Citroën CX as the subject. Andre Martin’s images are themed around the four seasons, hence the title. The car speeds through snowy passes, through lavender fields and pauses in autumnal woodland: each shot evokes the mysterious potential of a motor car trip and also sings a hymn to the timeless modernism of the CX. Continue reading “Theme of Themes: Romance – The Four Seasons”
Autocropley ran this list some time back: “The market didn’t want these cars but you should”, it writes.
So, it works like this: they jeer at these cars when they are new and when they are rare and used Autocar tells us how jolly good they are. It can’t be both (the list included the XM, the Scorpio, Rover 75 V8 estate, Volvo S80 V8 and Renault Espace Quadra and Opel Zafira VXR and 607). Continue reading “Microgripe: A Silly List”
Working within the brief as set out by Steve Randle at the outset, Driven to Write’s Richard Herriott draws upon his design background to produce a series of sketches for our putative Citroën Grande Berline.
In this second part, Steve Randle commences his treatise on how he would shape a credible modern-day successor to the original Citroën DS.
Steve Randle: “First and foremost, while this car would carry the history of its ancestors proudly, it must above all not be a ‘me too’ exercise. The questions have changed since the DS, and hence so too must the answers. An attempt to recreate the DS would be self-defeating by its own definition. We should pause to consider the vehicle from which Monsieur Macron will emerge before the waiting world. It most certainly is not a DS7 Crossback.”Continue reading “Idée Fixe ”
The idea of an authentic full-sized Citroën now appears entirely beyond imagination. But some of us still think otherwise. Thought experiment or idle fancy, we make no apology. Citroën matters.
Why Citroën matters is a question worth asking, although why it has ceased to matter; both in the minds of its PSA masters and more importantly still, the wider public is perhaps a better one. But how to make Citroën matter again is the question we are here today to address. Continue reading “Idée Fixe ”
After quite a hiatus, it is time to have another focus on ashtrays. Today we admire the dainty ashtray of the 1976 Citroen CX.
This fine pair of photos has been sent to us by our Hamburg correspondent, Kris, who appears to have been inside one of the cars recently. Lucky him.
This ashtray is quite well positioned: on the top of the rear door. The chrome frame is a generous touch. I have my doubts about the crackle-finish of the flap. Why not neutral chrome too? It is a rear-hinged flip-over design and, in terms of affordance, a little unhelpful. Does one press the front or back edge to open it? This could be quite a good place for the tray but it must be a small bowl. Citroen could have made the door a bit deeper here to allow for a more substantial ashtray.
Was it the 2CV’s slightly duller brother, or the car the 2CV should have become?
In all practical respects the Citroën Dyane was an improvement on the 2CV. The sliding front windows were more convenient, the two position fabric sunroof easier to use, the hatchback more versatile, the bodywork a little more slippery. Yet, despite comprising nearly 17% of total 2CV derivative Citroen production in its 15 years, against the 2CV saloon’s 45% over 42 years, it is a bywater in Citroën history because, of course, it isn’t a Deuche and, in terms of original intent, it isn’t even strictly a Citroën, since it was intended to be a Panhard. Continue reading “The Citroën Dyane is Fifty This Year”
Vélizy’s 1994 riposte to Renault was no masterpiece, but perhaps the best of a bad bunch. It’s not saying much, is it?
It’s relatively difficult to imagine now, but in the early 1990’s, the future was looking decidedly MPV-shaped. Particularly amongst European manufacturers, who were falling over themselves to get something vaguely monospace to market, following the creative and commercial success of the innovative Renault Espace. The MPV concept appeared to especially chime with the French motorist, who was generally characterised by preferring pragmatism over pretension. In 1991, Renault once again set the pace with the Scenic concept, but it wasn’t until 1994 that Art Blakeslee’s Citroën studio presented Xanae. Continue reading “In the Kingdom of the Blind the One-Eyed Man Is King – 1994 Citroën Xanae”
The opposing polarities of the double chevron are unlikely ever to be satisfactorily reconciled, but was this any way to go about trying?
There are those content to view Citroën’s role as being that of the pre-Traction Avant era: fundamentally a purveyor of pragmatic, rather ordinary cars. The earthbound Goddess of course (temporarily) put paid to such notions and forms the boundary for an opposing camp who view Citroën’s descent from those Olympian heights as being somewhere between tragedy and outright crime. So if the car we’re gathered here to commemorate today falls into the former category, how should we view it, twenty years later? Continue reading “Opposite of Avant – 1997 Citroën Xsara”
We look at two proud Frenchmen who were really quite similar and so very different.
There are certain notorious rivalries in motoring history. Many of them were sporting ones, in the Senna-Prost mould, which sometimes went beyond good sense and risked the lives of those involved. But there are also rivalries that at first seemed less visceral, but that had equally grim endings. One such is that between André Citroën and Louis Renault. Neither were self-made men from humble backgrounds in the vein of Herbert Austin or, even more so, William Morris. Both had comfortable upbringings, André’s possibly less stable due to the suicide of his father. Born within a year of each other, they actually first met as young children attending the same Lyceé. André studied engineering at the prestigious École Polytechnique whereas Louis was self-taught, building his first car before the end of the 19th Century and becoming part of the early history of motoring after forming a company with two of his brothers. Continue reading “Theme : Rivals – The Light and The Dark”
We drive a C6 and discover there’s nothing penitential about Citroën’s swansong big saloon.
On my return to Randle Engineering in November 2016, I re-introduced the subject of the C6, but this time with a more contrite tone. I ask Steve to tell me more about his example. By UK standards at least, Randle’s C6 has a virtually unique specification. It’s a 2007 C6 2.2 litre model with a six-speed manual transmission, one of 38 in the country. Continue reading “Act of Contrition – Citroen C6 (part two)”
A decade apart, two brochures illustrate how Citroën’s marketers viewed the evergreen Tin Snail.
1975: Two years after the oil embargo and deep into a period of political instability and economic austerity. Frugality was back, as was a yearning for a more authentic mode of living. In keeping with the mood music of the time, BBC sitcom, The Good Life portrayed a professional couple turning their backs on the rat-race, embarking on a ‘back to the land’ subsistence in their Surbiton semi. Continue reading “Theme: Brochures – Pushing Tin”
Making amends for past indiscretions, Driven to Write takes a long look at the last true Citroën.
Despite its premier position in Citroën’s iconography, the incomparable Déese never really represented the double chevron’s stylistic North Star. That position is occupied by its less well loved successor, the 1974 CX. Despite being viewed by some ardent Citroënists as the lesser vehicle to its definitive forebear, the CX’s silhouette remains not only the one best associated with the marque, but also one which most aficionados would welcome a return to. Continue reading “Act of Contrition – Citroën C6 (part one)”
It might look like a stretched Peugeot 308 to you, but this was the finest PSA concept in years.
I’m somewhat amazed I’ve made it so far with this series. I’d expected hoards of irate Citroënistes burning effigies of me for having the nerve to make these (admittedly loose) connections, so either I’m on the right track or I should spend more time looking skywards for falling anvils.
Here are as many of the influences I can find, not counting the aspects of the car that draw on Citroen’s own general heritage. The roll call is long and not exclusive. However, it begins with the 1974 Lotus Eclat which has a similar dropped window line, one of the XM’s signature features. Deschamp’s drawing looks like a saloon Eclat, if you Continue reading “Let’s Sort This Out, Shall We?”
For a few years Citroen produced the CX in Arica, Chile.
I saw this one in Sweden: nearly all GTi CXs that I see are like this: immobile and decaying. Owners seem paralysed between scrapping and repairing.
From 1978 to 1984 Citroen delivered knocked down CX’s to Chile for assembly. There a few for sale in similar condition. Information on the Chilean version is sparse- perhaps our Chilean readers can fill in some details on engines and trim. I’d guess the range was narrower on options such as colour, trim and motors. Or was it? I must say how appealing the idea is of a Prestige negotiating dramatic Andean scenery.
What you say isn’t always necessarily what you mean.
As Europe’s leading car design consultancy, Ital Design has always been in the business of ideas, and while they could to some extent predict the future in styling terms, they couldn’t necessarily convince the industry to follow their lead, which saw many promising styling studies on the cutting room floor. But in the industry’s defence, the price of failure has always been high. Continue reading “Cars That Could have Been Citroëns – 1980 Ital Design Medusa”
Autumn’s in the air, the nights are closing in and it’s really no time to be hanging around graveyards. For one thing, you’ll catch your death…
It’s probably about time I owned up to having a morbid interest in revenants. I know, it’s unedifying at best and potentially illegal, but I really can’t seem to help myself. Time and again I make the same vain promise: no more loitering around dank graveyards, only to be escorted home by the local constabulary amid muttered admonitions of ‘not you again?’ But it’s no good, the lure of broken soil and the troubled sleep of the eternal is just too strong. So imagine my reaction to Autocar running a story on Citröen’s plans to retake the large saloon market? It’s simply another one way ticket to the back seat of a blues and twos Astra. Continue reading “Cemetery Polka”
Sufficient time has elapsed now for Citroen to admit to making the CX.
Make that 25 years in the dog house before they could bear to put the name, or something like it, on their latest concept car, the Cxperience. Thancx, Citroen. Extrapolating from this we may have the Xmination concept car in 2026. The car is showcasing the drivetrain and not the appearance. We’ll see what others have to say about the oily/electrical bits first. Continue reading “2016 Citroen Cxperience Concept”
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. Continue reading “Morphologie du Monospace”
Ital Design’s M8 styling concept was all about the CX – in just about every sense of the word.
Amid the raised eyebrows surrounding the 1978 announcement of the radical Megagamma concept, this Giugiaro styling proposal, diametrically opposed to Ital Design’s landmark mono-volume, was largely ignored. Frankly, the M8 is more of what one would have expected from Giorgetto’s magic marker in 1978, even if its uncanny resemblance to the Citroën CX was possibly its most notable aspect. Continue reading “Cars That Could Have Been Citroëns – Ital Design M8”
Britain’s decision to leave the EU has rung alarm bells throughout the industry, but PSA is lovebombing Blighty with this: the DS 3 Puretech 110 Givenchy Le Makeup.
Since Britain’s engaged and informed electorate voted for Brexit last month, a quiet but concerted campaign is being waged by our European cousins to lure us back. Most of this has been met with slavering rebuke, but like a patient and loving parent soothing a petulant child with too much sugar in its bloodstream, efforts at rapprochement continue. The latest being this. Continue reading “Making Up is Hard to Do”
People judge the Sorrento-Amalfi coast road to be among the most beautiful in Europe and I drove it. But…
…night had fallen even before I got there. The last shred of daylight flickered out as I turned off the motorway for Sorrento. How did I leave it so late? The car rental process wasted a precious 40 minutes of my time and it took an hour to escape Naples. The walk from the terminal to the car rental bus-stop took a while. So two or more hours slipped through my fingers after touchdown. Continue reading “2016 Citroen C1: Not Really a Road Test, Not Really a Drive”
Or parts of one. The photos were taken by our Dublin correspondent, Mick, who has a new post at his blog. You may want to take a gander…
It’s a small world and in Dublin you can get to know the fleet of older classics. I am pretty sure I have seen this car driving around. I believe it might belong to a member of the Citroen Car Club and was once owned by a mining and energy magnate whose name eludes me. He had a Citroen dealership hence the car. Continue reading “Some Photos For Sunday: 1986 Citroen CX Prestige”
Seeking a scintilla of substance beneath the style, Driven to Write’s Swiss correspondent is not impressed.
As every year in springtime, my C6 recently got serviced and had its tyres changed for summer conditions. My dealer, while not exactly around the corner, is capable and friendly, and has grown up in a family of Citroën lovers, so shares my preferences in cars. As a bonus, I often get interesting courtesy cars while my car is being looked after. This time, I was surprised with a DS5. It has long been on my list of cars I wanted to drive, so I happily accepted and looked forward to a new experience. Continue reading “Out of the Comfort Zone – 2012 Citroën DS5 Hybrid4 Road Test”
A quick game of word association around the kitchen table with select members of my tribe provided a 100% consistent response: I say, ‘values’ – tribe members respond, ‘family’. Looks like I’ll be writing about our family car, then.
Ladies (out of interest, does DTW have any female readers?) and gentlemen, I give you the Citroen Xsara Picasso. By the end of this September, we will have owned our Xsara Picasso for 10 years. This is a record for me. It’s almost certainly down to the fact that my wife uses it more than I and she’s perfectly happy with it. My wife appreciates my passion for automobiles, but does not really share in it, so the Picasso is a utility which causes little or no grief and performs its function without fuss – ergo, why get rid? Continue reading “Theme of Last Month: Values – Head over heart?”
As the ever quotable Oscar Wilde wrote, a cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.
As prices have escalated over the past three decades, that aphorism certainly applies to many contemporary classic car collectors. If you have an interesting looking car, people come up and talk to you about it. My Citroën SM is now entering my 21st year or ownership so, over the years, I’ve got reasonably used to this, though my social grace occasionally lets me down. Sometimes the speaker is highly informed and might tell you something you don’t know. Sometimes they are like-minded enthusiasts who just want to make a pleasant comment or know a bit more. Continue reading “Theme : Values – 1973 Citroën SM (Very) Long Term Test”
Before I get to my handy compendium of other people’s opinions, I’ll offer my own.
It’s not a Citroen C6 but something going by the same name. A proper Citroen C6 would be a vehicle for the French market which shared more than a badge with its illustrious* predecessor. Now that raises a problem relating to Eurocentricity. Quite fairly our Chinese cousins could ask why a car sold in their rather huge market doesn’t count. Would a hydropneumatic study in French elegance that sold one copy in Europe be more properly the bearer of the name even if 215,000 of these rebodied Peugeot 308s found customers.
One sunny morning during the Easter period I spied this with my little eye.
There was not much time to stand and really take the car in. I had a six-year old waiting exasperatedly in my car. What I did notice was that the interior was better than I remembered it. Journalists wrote disparagingly about the centre console carried over from the Peugeot 407 but as I can never recall that car’s interior, the duplication does not strike me. It would have mattered if it had been a 406 as I have that interior engraved on my mental screen. This 2007 car had the beige leather and so looked nicely spacious and, indeed, seemed to be bearing up well which is unusual for cars in Dublin. The climate, the roads, the indifference of Irish owners to tidiness all Continue reading “A Photo For Sunday: 2007 Citroen C6”
Citroën has a mountain to climb. Is quirkiness the answer?
Unless you are won over by the C4 Cactus, or still dreaming the MPV dream while the world turns to SUVs, you will find the current Citroën collection dreary and dispiriting. Old cars, odd cars, Mitsubishi ‘captives’. So what’s the solution, apart from More Airbumps, as promised by CEO Linda Jackson? Continue reading “Geneva Bites – Citroën: Back in the Wacky Races”
Periodically I look around for an interesting car I might want to see in the metal. As is usually the case they are never within easy reach of my front door. This one, a grey and sad CX is in Copenhagen.
With every passing year Citroen made the CX less and less desirable. Some of it was not their fault. The world began its turn against colour in the middle 1980s. By 1986 most CXs came in dispiriting shades of grey. This one has rumpled and worn nylon upholstery and cruelly dull pale grey plastic everywhere. The forms are less pleasant the the first series cars and the quality of the plastic markedly inferior. Even if this car was in good condition, it would still be a whole mass of drear. Continue reading “Something Rotten in Denmark: 1986 Citroen CX 2.2 TRS Estate”
Marcello Gandini designed the BX and it appeared in 1982. The design resisted tinkering and looked freshly out of this world even towards its end in 1994.
Twelve years is a very long run for a car in the competitive middle-sized class and it’s a credit to the original engineering and styling that it still remained believable right up to the end. However, even Citroen had to face the realities of the market and succumbed to a succession of special editions to try and generate interest in their car. Continue reading “Theme: Special – 1992 Citroen BX Millesime”
Despite being assembled by Citroen UK in Slough between 1954 and 1960, the 2CV only became popular in Britain when it was reintroduced in 1975.
This success was partly due to the oil crisis, with the call for more economic transport, but also (and this too was in part an indirect result of the oil crisis) because the turbulence of the 1970s had put paid, for a period at least, to those petty hierarchical differences that have usually been so important in British society. Continue reading “Theme : Special – By Any Other Name.”
DTW looks at a Special Edition that was remarkable for its ordinariness.
I feel duty bound to contribute something on the above theme, having agitated for it a couple of themes ago. I mentioned then a particular special edition that lodged itself in my mind, kind of like a piece of apple-peel between two molars: the AX K.Way. On scraping the back of my mind as to why this particular special had held a certain fascination for me, I think it was the very fact that, come to think of it, I could not detect what exactly was so special about this edition. Continue reading “Theme: Special – Citroen AX K.Way”
Yesterday we ran a small celebration of the Citroen ZX. Here’s a small gallery…
…showing the car as it is, with some window-lines marked up and then some small revisions which I think are in keeping with the designs of the period. The third side glass is neither fully aligned with the lines from the main DLO nor is it markedly different. I chose to make it more clearly different.
For the third image I raised the line of the third side glass to the same height as the top of the wing. Now there are two lines. One is the hypothetical line going from the top of the bonnet to the third side glass and the other is the line of the base of the windows. This can be interpreted as a dropped window line (the base of the doors’ glass is dropped relative to the bonnet-to-tail line).
I reduced the extent of the third glass at the top, echoing the BX as well as the XM. And the headlamp assembly is brought around so it is visible in the side profile. Lastly I got rid of the ugly rubber bar running along the base of be B-pillar.
In response to Simon’s suggestion I chamfered the sideglass and then I extended the third window to meet the frame of the rear door. To really polish this one would need to adjust all the corner radii so they looked the same. At present they are a mix of sizes. I found I had to add thickness to the C-pillar but to the rear. It seemed to thin otherwise.
To give a fresh look at the conclusion I mirrored the car.
Let’s look back at a quarter of a century of disappointment from Citroen. The ZX is 25 years old today.
Such was the let-down of seeing the first photos of the Citroen ZX that I can remember exactly where I was and what I was doing at that moment. You don’t normally remember this kind of thing. If you recall that Citroen’s previous big launch had been the XM, then you can understand the shock of the ZX’s all-round ordinariness. Continue reading “A Quarter Century of the Unexceptional – Citroen ZX”