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Double Chevron Renaissance.

Ok, this is for all car geeks out there. I guess I am also one of them. And the post is extensive, text and picture wise, so I am putting it behind the cut.

Here's just one picture to give you the clue...

Once upon a time...

Yes, there used to be this great factory, called Citroën, a factory that was bold enough to put on the roads some of the most extravagant, extraordinary, avant-garde cars of their time. Cars that were landmarks when it came to design and technology used. Cars that are still very present in European automotive history; cars that were pure symbols of their time. Almost everybody knows about cars like 2CV or amazing DS19/21 series. And when I was a child, I was always happy to see cars like CX and GS. Floating lines, unusual hydropneumatic suspension, covered rear wheels, shape that was visually totally different from just about everything from that era. Yes, Citroën used to be something really special. And here are some gems from days of yore...

Traction Avant (1934-1957) - front wheel drive and unibody construction; two definite automotive milestones.

2CV (1949-1990) - simple, Bauhaus style design, that put afterWW2 France (and Europe) on roads.

DS19/21 (1955-1975) - Italian designed flagship. A car like no other.

SM (1970-1975) - Citroën bought Maserati in 1968 and this was the result: Citroën avant-garde with Maserati engine.

And then came the 80's...

Ok, but the problems started in the 70's and the oil crisis that made Citroën withdrew from the American market and it was doing particularly well in Europe either. Peugeot took over the company in 1976 and at first things looked okay. Citroën still produced advanced cars, but eventually Peugeot put a lid on all that and Citroën cars became terribly generic, blunt, anemic and... yes... ugly. It was a definite low for the company image. The 80's and early 90's saw some of the most boring Citroën cars of all times. Here are a few.

BX (1983-1994) - the only original feature on this car was hydropneumatic suspension.

ZX (1991-1998) - technically correct, but the avant-garde was gone.

Saxo (1996-2003) - minimalistic in just about anything, originality included.

Xsara (1997-2004) - Sorry, what? I just fell asleep.

The Awakening

Things started to move back to Citroën style a few years ago. New trend started with new designation. It's actually funny. Great Citroën cars of the past wore short "names". DS, SM, CX, DS, GS, XM... Boring stuff of 80's and 90's tried to do with proper names like Xantia, Saxo, Xsara. Letter "X" was actually almost a must, because it should represent the eXtraordinary personality of the factory and its products. So, goodbye "X", enter "C". The C-series of Citroën cars are slowly bringing it all back. Great design, some pecularities that were always a trademark of French cars and... a totally different spirit. More on that a tad later. Meet the C-cars.

C4 (2004) - one of the most attractive small family cars in Europe, special also because of fixed middle of steering wheel.

C6 (2006) - new Citroën flagship in good old esprit.

C5 (2007) - the second generation of this family sedan is just what a large Citroën should be.

C3 (2009) - desing is finally entering also the smallest classes of cars.

Different Spirit and beyond

So the basis set in the last few years is a very good one and Citroën is surely going to use it well. Company is celebrating its 90th birthday and the time is right for new, bold, different plans. The first one was refreshing the company logo, famous double chevron. Citroën is refreshed and it's going to launch a new line of cars next year. Cars will wear new designation, DS as Different Spirit. The DS-cars will technically follow some of C-cars, but they will move upmarket when it comes to design, material used and overall impact and image. In my eyes, Citroën is becoming one of leading European automotive brands. Again. It's been a while, but they are really moving in the right direction. So, here is Different Spirit, Citroën style.

DS3 (2010) - the first in line, based on the new C3 and moved upscale.

DS4 (2011) - C4 based car will bear design clues from 2005 C-Sportlongue concept.

DS5 (2011) - C5 based crossover will have design similar to 2008 Hypnos concept.

GT (2008) - and to spice thing up Citroën announced a very limited production of its GT concept, originally designed for Gran Turismo game.

Automotive future hardly ever looked that sexy...




( 32 comments — Leave a comment )
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(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - paterson_si - Jun. 30th, 2009 11:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - paterson_si - Jun. 30th, 2009 11:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 1st, 2009 12:00 am (UTC)
Ever since I was a boy I listed after those slippery shapes of the original DS'. it's good to see a return to form.
Jul. 1st, 2009 12:28 am (UTC)
Yes, finally they discovered a strong design language. Again. :)
Jul. 1st, 2009 12:07 am (UTC)
When I were a wee lad we had a banana yellow Citroen estate. The Ami, I think.
Jul. 1st, 2009 12:28 am (UTC)
Ami was a fun car. :)
Jul. 1st, 2009 12:13 am (UTC)
I'm loving the DS3, though I will not be able to get one here in Mexico. Citroen only sells cars in Brazil and some other South American countries :(

What do you think of the new Fiesta?
Jul. 1st, 2009 12:29 am (UTC)
So import it. :)

New Fiesta is a very beautiful car. Strong, intense lines and very good technic basis.
Jul. 1st, 2009 12:59 am (UTC)
Pinner's right There were no great car designs in the 1980's. The new C-series designs are beautiful. It makes my inner gear-head smile.
Jul. 1st, 2009 02:11 am (UTC)
As an American car enthusiast, I think I have an interesting perspective on Citroens.
I remember first becoming aware of then when my dad pointed one out to me in Philadelphia traffic in the late '60s. The high-mounted directionals made a DS (still a very rare sight...) unmistakable among the sea of cars in traffic. I always thrilled at the sight of one. But still, of all the imports I knew of, Citroen seemed the most alien...even compared to the most exotic Italian. They seemed so different...so oddly French.
As first, the DS seemed like an oddity of the 50's that managed, like a cockroach to survive the ages. Then, as I grew to appreciate milestones in design, I understood what the DS/ID meant to automotive design and the impact that vehicle made from it's introduction in the 50's right on through the mid-seventies.
By that time, I was a huge fan of the GS and the CX, which of course, weren't available here. And the SM...I remember seeing one at an auto show and being in love....
Interestingly, did you know the CX was available here as a "grey market" import in the late 80's? I remember reading about it and wondering how an owner would secure parts and service for such a car...
As for the BX, I sort of like the "80's-ness" of that car. Yes, it was an attempt to capitalise on the earlier design themes with a "modern" update, but I still like it for some reason. I remember being in Japan in 1995 and seeing quite a few of them on Tokyo streets. The only imported cars I remember seeing in equal numbers there were Ford Taurus wagons and (original) Minis. Strange...
I never saw a 2Cv until after the millenium. Several are running around my area - both the ubiquitous black/burgungy 80's Charleston models...
As for the new generation models, I do like the C3, aside from the hairline windscreen. The DS3 has a bit of new-generation Mini in that picture. Not that it's bad at all, I rather like it.
And I do like the C5. I'd love to see one in person....
(no subject) - paterson_si - Jul. 2nd, 2009 09:19 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - paterson_si - Jul. 2nd, 2009 09:15 am (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 2nd, 2009 09:19 am (UTC)
It was a really extraordinary car. Pure automotive extravagance. :)
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 2nd, 2009 09:21 am (UTC)
A restored 2CV great and yes, I agree with you on DS. Technical problems that might occure.......

Ami6 was funny. Well, yes, weird. :)
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 2nd, 2009 09:22 am (UTC)
I think that the DS line might also be somehow connected with their plans to move to other markets. Might be.
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 2nd, 2009 09:24 am (UTC)
Thanks! :) Yes, VW indeed has a very special place in car history, but I chose Citroën this time, because it seems like they are moving back the their slightly eccentric roots. Which is good. :)
Jul. 1st, 2009 07:46 am (UTC)
Speaking about the 80s you forgot the Visa aka Axel in Romania... Ugly as hell. But I have to say that I liked the BX and the Visa because of the oddity of their design.

I do agree completely with the early 90s models, which were mostly rebadged Peugeots. Saxo is yuck. I got my driver's licence on a ZX (which I have good memories of, but it's ugly) and the Xsara is FUGLY (although I like the Xsara Picasso).

The problem with large sedan cars is that they no longer sell them. The C6 is doomed... Why spend 35000 on a non-premium car when you can buy a BMW or an Audi for that price?

You also forgot the C4 Picasso, Europe's current leader in compact minivans
Jul. 2nd, 2009 09:26 am (UTC)
I just wanted to give some examples of Citroën way. :)

As for C6 and C4 Picasso - C6 is a marvellous design for me, so I included it and monospace cars don't do a thing for me, so I left it out. :)
(no subject) - gorkabear - Jul. 2nd, 2009 12:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dan4behr - Jul. 2nd, 2009 03:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - paterson_si - Jul. 2nd, 2009 10:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - paterson_si - Jul. 2nd, 2009 10:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 1st, 2009 09:11 am (UTC)
Nisem vedel da si fan od Ciroena. Moj oče je predsednik Citroen kluba v Subotici in pogosto z njim hodim na oldtimer srečanja. Drugače, Slovenci se enkrat na leto dobivaju v Laterni pri Poreču, bil sem enkrat z starši. Doma imamo Spačeka, Ajkulu, Traction... in še 6 oldtimerov, a od novih Citorenovih modelov tukaj je Picasso.
Ko smo že pri Francozih čekiraj mojeg najljubšeg. Pozz
Jul. 2nd, 2009 09:26 am (UTC)
Ja, Citroëni so mi bili od nekdaj všeč. Vidim, da jih tudi ti zelo dobro poznaš.

Bagheera pa je ODLIČEN avto. :)
Jul. 2nd, 2009 04:34 am (UTC)
wow those last few had me getting worked up.
very sexy very different
wonder if I could fit you in the backseat with me? ;-)

Jul. 2nd, 2009 09:27 am (UTC)
Yes, they are very different and yes, definitely sexy.

I think we'd fit in perfectly! :)
Jul. 4th, 2009 11:15 am (UTC)
Citroen and Alfa Romeo
Really interesting article!
As a big fan of Alfa Romeo I can say that Alfa and Citroen had a similar story.
Both brands have always (almost) been the top concerning design and technique, even if Citroens are more "confortable" cars and Alfas are "sporty".
We don't have to forget that Alfa in the past was compared to Ferrari in matter of competitions.
Anyway, just to mention some glorious cars: Alfa Giulia, Giulietta, Alfetta, Spider Duetto, Alfa 75 etc... and then?
Fiat bought Alfa Romeo in 1985.
The first thing they eliminated was the rear traction and gearbox: one of the most typical features of Alfas, that permitted to have the right distribution of weights: 50% in the front, 50% in the back. And so dsappeared many other features (taken as well from formula 1 experience).
Fans of Alfa, called "alfisti", recognise as the last real Alfa the 75. Then... front traction for Alfa 155 and 145 (great cars but... remember that they were built on the basis of the Fiat Tipo!!! - not so sexy, though).
And how can we forget the most shitty car (I couldn't call it Alfa): Alfa Arna!!! An old Nissan Cherry dressed as an Alfa, a big shit.
And then, fortunately, in the late 90s Alfa came back with great cars and techniques: Alfa 156, 166, 147, Brera, Mito...
Luckily Citroen and Alfa Romeo are now glorious (almost) like in the past!
Jul. 5th, 2009 03:33 pm (UTC)
Re: Citroen and Alfa Romeo
Yes, there are a lot of similarities between the two brands. And, yes, they are slightly coming back. Although some pictures I have seen of new Alfa Romeo Milano.....hmmmmm. Don't know, need better pics, I guess.

And I am still waiting for Transaxle to come back.
Jul. 4th, 2009 09:30 pm (UTC)
that concept car is hot.
i mean, damn.

and as much appreciation i have for cars and style, i feel, especially as the years go by and i grow older, that it doesn't matter.

Jul. 5th, 2009 03:34 pm (UTC)
It doesn't matter, really, but I still dig car design big time. That's why I tried to stay away from technological side. :)
Jul. 5th, 2009 03:38 pm (UTC)
That's exactly what I meant! :-)

I'm just waiting for my new 147... black & white
Jul. 5th, 2009 03:42 pm (UTC)
Very chic! :)
( 32 comments — Leave a comment )