Tuesday, August 2, 2016

London Tony offers up a beat-down merde gris croûté from across the pond!

My own brother lives in a lovely little storybook village in London. It's the sort of place where A-list celebrities can stroll to a cafe without being bothered, where rose gardens abound in the front yards of bucolic little homes, and where gas-lit streets can suddenly turn into brick paths with views of the city below. However London is huge, and somewhere along the way he stumbled upon this fallen child star: 
Oof. My best guess is that this is a 1988-ish Citroën CX in Gris. Actually we know this is a CX 25 DTR Turbo 2 from the cartoonishly long nameplate on the back. The brochure for this ride back in 1988 stated THE CITROËN CX. ONE OF THE WORLD'S GREAT CARS. Lofty salesmanship to be sure but it was indeed something else when new. For now just dig how long this thing is!
The first thing I said when this brick weighed down my inbox was "how did this thing get an MOT?" The MOT stands for Ministry of Transport and it is the equivalent of an automobile safety and emissions inspection in the States. The test is pretty difficult when compared to most countries in that the condition of the body, including spoilers, wings, and any additional doo-dads all needs to be in good shape. The final pass or fail grade is up to the tester and the test is not cheap.
Look at this funky facade; the grill is creased in a way to have a trapezoidal front. The headlight on the right is nicotine stained and generally unhealthy looking. the last time this crumpled body was washed by anything but rainfall was probably the day before it was bought new. 
This rather frumpy shooting break (the British term for a station wagon though in its French homeland this would be known as a break-de-chasse, or hunting-break) was the height of technology when it was first introduced in 1974. It was the modern replacement for the iconic DS from the '50s. The most incredible aspect of this design is the Hydro-Pneumatic suspension that was self-leveling. Supposedly the suspension was so effective that bumps and potholes could be seen but not really felt. Rolls-Royce even licensed the suspension design for their Silver Shadow!
The letters CX refer to aerodynamic design (CX is the French equivalent of Cd for drag coefficient according to my friend Wikipedia). One misconception is that the name CX was chosen because it was originally designed to be powered by a rotary engine. However like almost every company that isn't Mazda they couldn't get it right in time and on budget so a traditional inline 4 cylinder was installed under the hood.
I love how they manage to add cool style cues in the era of sharp angles. That crease below the side view mirror fades towards the rear while another emerges above it for a little origami.
A hooptie is a hooptie the world over so here's some tape used as a repair. This is particularly troubling because it looks like it was holding the skirt onto the vehicle but the tape is now mostly missing.
One wiper in the front and one in the back. That 4 slot vent on the rear pillar is probably functional as a part of the ventilation system for the passenger compartment. The turbocharger breathes through some small openings on a slight bulge on the hood.
The interior is gnarly! We've got paper jammed everywhere, a spoon at the ready, rags tossed about, and a grody blue pillow for the drivers bum. It is a stick shift which means this would've been fun to cruise in when new. These days who knows how much action you'll find if you mash the pedal to the floor.
This is the sort of car you almost never see in the States. Citroëns are always rare on this side of the pond but when you do encounter one is tends to be a tiny 2CV or the classic DS. There was even a Citroën SM from the early '70s powered by a Maserati engine that seems more common than the CX. Regardless the MOT gave this one a stay of execution so if you happen to be walking around London keep your eyes peeled!   

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