By on October 2, 2018

Huge amounts of interior space, a silky smooth ride, and quirky features inside and out. These are the qualities one expects from a large Citroën, and all are present and accounted for in today’s Rare Ride — the CX 25 Prestige, from 1987.

We’ve featured a couple of Citroëns before in this series, appropriately starting with the groundbreaking Traction Avant from 1955, followed by the modern and angular 1994 XM liftback. Let’s backtrack a bit today, and talk more about Citroën flagships.

The CX was designated as the executive flagship offering from Citroën after the 20-year reign of the DS (which we’ll feature eventually here) came to an end. By this time, the DS’s 1955 design was overdue for replacement, and the CX shared space at dealers with its DS grandfather for model year 1975.

Citroën wanted to maintain the same basic shape of the DS in its new model, so that’s what they did. Immediately recognizable as a Citroën, the CX wore the same fastback proportions as its predecessor and boasted the same small trunk design — even though its appearance suggested a large liftback aperture.

Power was provided by inline-four engines of gasoline or diesel guise, ranging in displacement from 2.0 to 2.5 liters. Transmissions varied as well, with between three and five speeds, in manual, automatic, or semi-automatic form. Power figures were minimal, staying between 102 and 112 horsepower in all cases except the very rare, limited-production GTi Turbo, which produced 168 horses.

The new model proved an immediate success with the loyal DS buyer. Featuring many of the technological advancements found in the sleek SM (which we’ll also feature eventually), Citroën’s CX was rushed to market, and initial builds had some quality issues. Fixing these problems was a slow process, which is one of the many tales of woe in the saga of CX.

In Part II of Rare Rides Citroën CX Edition, we’ll cover the other issues with the company and the car. We’ll also find out how the CX seen here immigrated to the United States legally in 1987.

[Image: seller]

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34 Comments on “Rare Rides: A Large, Luxurious Citroën CX From 1987 (Part I)...”

  • avatar

    Did it again, Corey. How you keep coming up with these obscure cars is amazing. Since I’ve always had a thing for the Citroen SM since it’s introduction I actually knew this Citroen existed. Kind of a SM four-door. Great find!

    • 0 avatar

      Guess you’re American because there is nothing “obscure” about the Citroen CX!
      Excellent cars, I have owned 3 over the years. Best one was a series 1 (stainless bumpers and revolving drum speedometer) automatic (3 speed) 2.4 IE Pallas. This had the engine of the GTi (128 hp). Loved that car, but sold it because the rust issue became too big.
      The car shown is a series 2 with the ugly plastic bumpers (and more conventional instruments). It is the long wheel base version (Prestige) and I see has the pretty rare air conditioning. Which probably was standard fitment for the handful cars that got to the USA I presume.
      The comfort of these cars are at a top level, something which is not to be found in the much too harsh modern cars.

      • 0 avatar

        Yes, I am an American so we don’t see a lot of Citroens here, but I used to love going to Canada to “Citroen hunt”

      • 0 avatar

        around 2010 I was broke… I had no car and bought a 1978 CX. Base model, 4 speed manual, off white. US$500 or so… (in Chilean pesos).

        I drove it for about a year until I got back on my feet and sold it for more or less the same money.

        It was a beater… the syncros where toast so I learned to double clutch. Battery was almost dead but it always started. I never should have sold it.

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks! Absolutely is a four-door SM equivalent.

  • avatar
    GS 455

    The Citroen CX intrigues me like few other cars and if I could find one (and someone who knows how to fix it) I’d buy it in a heartbeat.

  • avatar

    There was a dealer in Cleveland’s West Side by the name of CX Motors that imported grey market CX’s many years back, a gentleman by the name of Andre LeBlanc owned it. Used to be an honest to gosh Citroen dealer in the ’60s and ’70s, it’s where my father bought our ’63 ID19 Cabriolet. Boy, did I LOVE that car!!! Sad to say my father drove it in the winter and the road salt ate it up :( . Seeing what ID19 Cabriolets sell for today makes my heart ache…

    • 0 avatar

      Citroen Auto Sales, 10717 Detroit Ave, kept countless numbers of Citroen’s running well after Citroen formally left the U.S. market, and was one of the few places to buy a CX throughout the 1980’s and early 1990’s. I had to fortune to ride in the back seat as Mr. LeBlanc took a prospective customer out in a new CX Prestige sometime around 1986 over the pothole covered roads of Cleveland and still remember what an amazing experience it was not feeling any of it as the big Citroen seemingly glided over them. Put Ride in a Big Citroen on your bucket list if you haven’t already done it.

      In the early 1970’s the showroom usually had a new car or two for sale or could have been storing a race car or two and the shop was a line of DS’ with their hoods fully open at 90 degree angles and maybe an SM in for either a carb adjustment or another timing chain issue. You could also see an occasional Maserati or Panhard there because where else would you have taken one for service?

      Even though they sold Alfa Romeos in the late 1970’s into the mid 1980’s it was always a Citroen place at heart. As the legions of DS’s left the road for good many of them ended up in their side yard and hopefully were able to keep the remaining cars going just a bit longer.

      For many people the only place they ever saw a CX was at the annual auto show and after it moved to the International Exposition Center next to the airport a fortunate client could get a demonstration ride in the expansive parking lot in Mr. LeBlanc’s car parked outside.

      • 0 avatar

        Huh.. Never knew.. Grew up in cleveland.. Can’t say I’ve ever seen a single citroen on the road

      • 0 avatar

        One of my favorite memories of Andre LeBlanc was when he pulled up next to me in a yellow Maserati which looked similar in style to the yellow Detomaso Pantera I was driving. As he approached behind me, I thought for a second that I was looking at my car in the mirror. We raced down the highway side by side approaching Cleveland Airport and Brookpark Rd. So fun.

        We used to keep time for Andre when he raced at Nelson’s Ledges. Sitting on the roof of his car hauler near the false grid,I was positioned with my camera and a 400mm lens because I knew actor Paul Newman was racing that day and I was determined to get his picture wherever he was in the park. As luck would have it, his car was positioned right next to the car hauler and he was so close that I couldn’t focus in on him with that long lens. Got to talk to him though and got a picture later on his scooter.

  • avatar

    A charming quirk of this and the the other Citroëns featuring hydropneumatic suspension is their ability to ‘lift a leg’ for changing a wheel. On the minus side I wouldn’t want to fish out that spare from behind the engine.

  • avatar

    Pretty much any Citroen from the 70’s-90’s I’d just buy as a museum piece rather than a driver, since actually operating one would be such a PITA. I’d just be happy looking at it every morning.

    • 0 avatar
      miles solo

      “. . . CX wore the same fastback proportions as its predecessor and boasted the same small trunk design” NOT!

      The trunks on these cars are very respectable in volume, given that they are very deep.

  • avatar

    Is this one of the Citroens that came with the hydraulic suspension? Would that explain the super-low ride height?

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    How is it that French women are so beautiful but French cars are so Godawful ugly? I’ll never understand those people.

  • avatar

    I’ll second that, U G L Y. how many times did the tire in the engine bay catch fire?

    • 0 avatar

      The spare wheel in the engine compartment was a typically unconventional but incredibly practical Citroen feature on the GS/GSA as well.

      Anyone who ever got a flat with a trunk full of luggage rejoiced, as did anyone who wanted to use all of their trunk for luggage. While you can crawl around under a truck to get at a spare wheel, the same for a car is a much more miserable experience.

      Sure, the wheel and tire would get warm under the hood but never too hot and in the winter that was a real bonus.

      Now, Corey, find us an example of the CX Break – the successor to the DS Safari – which was the mainstay of French ambulance fleets and undertakers for many, many years!

      • 0 avatar
        miles solo

        The front mounted spare tire was an integral part of Citroen’s amazingly effective front crash crumple zone. It was part of the DS design and perhaps other Citroens as well. As I recall, the DS could be crashed straight ahead into a wall at 60 mph+ and damage would be contained to the front crumple area – the windshield would be undamaged and the front doors would open normally. If the crash impact was severe enough, the engine and transmission would move down and under the passenger area. I owned a 66 DS and it remains a favorite of all the cars and trucks I’ve owned.

  • avatar

    I guess beauty is in the eyes of the beholder but in my mind, the large Citroens (up to the XM) are more beautiful than any large sedans out there. As for quality, the same can be said for any American cars from the 70s and 80s.

  • avatar

    Love it, Corey, but I disagree that this was somehow a four-door SM. The CX might have shared all the well known Citroen oddities with the SM, but the latter was a sporting coupe with a properly sporting engine (the Maserati V-6), while the former was underpowered.

    Still a cool vehicle, though.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    Great article. I wish I could see on of these in the flesh, maybe the next time I get to go to Europe or Canada. I have a big crush on late 80s Peugeot 505 STIs.I have fond memories riding in the back seat of a black 5spd with tan leather as a 14 year old. One of my older brother’s friends Dad let him hoon around in it .I could tell even at that age the car handled well.iirc it was the NA version .
    I’d imagine they didn’t sell too many in SW Missouri, but I imagine given the excellent driving roads in the Ozarks ( cue the Netflix references) swayed him toward the mark.

    Incidentally , I’d like to see more articles like this, as the new car reviews have been more miss than hit of late.Even better , a test drive review of these sort of cars or owners perspective.

  • avatar

    Can’t speak to the aesthetics, but I doubt that spare tire fires were an issue. I drove FIAT 128s for years; 128s carry their spares in the same spot.

    As an American, I initially found the under-hood spare tire disturbing, as you do, but: 1) In normal operation, the engine compartment doesn’t get hot enough to hurt the spare. 2) Hiding the spare up front frees up lots of space in back (very important in a tiny car like a 128). 3) If you have an under-hood fire, a burnt spare is the least of your worries.

    Thus, after many years of living with 128s, I came to prefer the under-hood spare tire arrangement.

  • avatar

    Came here to say it looks like a 6000 SUX!

  • avatar

    Love the first picture. Sooo low to the ground and that was by design. I can hear the kids arguing now…”It’s a car!”. “No, it’s a lawnmower!”

  • avatar

    I want to say those are Morette headlight adapters but they’re not quite the right shape. Since the CX never came to the US it didn’t need sealed beam adapters so it’s not a Citroen spec light, is it?

    And besides, by 87 even Americans were allowed to have separate bulbs and lenses.

  • avatar

    I have a friend in the UK who owned one of these and absolutely loved everything about it except one small little detail – the engine electrics would just suddenly shut down leaving him completely stranded. Citroen replaced every piece of electrical kit in that car and it still didn’t fix it. He was actually quite sad the day he got rid it – he thought it was the most brilliantly engineered car ever.

  • avatar

    I have two comments:

    1) So _that’s_ where GM got inspiration for the bubble butt last-gen wagons!

    2) Is that car stanced? It looks like the unholy love child of a Fuego and an Integra.

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