Every Friday we take a look back into the annuls of time and look at a car from yesteryear, sometimes the car is a classic, sometimes it is considered a classic by certain people and other times it is just ever going to make it into that bracket at all. No matter where it sits, each week the car in question has it’s place in the story of motoring and this week is no exception; the Citroen BX.
For many people the BX was frankly a ugly car when it launched and it has got no better with age, but this is rather a simplistic view and somewhat fails to see the point of the car itself. As is often the case with cutting edge ideas; they don’t always look pretty, and they can arrive with a bump. The BX was not pretty, but nor was it crushingly ugly for the sake of it, there was clear design in there and the look is intentional even if it is not altogether pleasing.
The BX was launched at the same time as the Ford Sierra, this meant it was up against the successor to the all conquering Ford Cortina so it had it’s work cut out from the start, However, in Europe the brand was considerably stronger than in the UK so the job may not have felt quite so big. The car was designed by a man called Marcello Gandini who just so happened to have a great deal of experience designing cars in the 70s using a lot of straight lines. Gandini clearly wanted to hold on to his favoured style and completely ignore the smoother and rounder lines other makers were looking at during the early 80s.
When it was launched in 1982 the BX had a raft of ancient dials and switch gear in the car, the idea was to keep the die hard Citroen fans happy by keeping things as they had always been. This didn’t hold with the new buyers and certainly didn’t work with fleet buyers so after 4 years a new facelift version came out with “normal” dials and switches, this brought the BX up to date so it could start it’s life properly. One of the really big marketing points for the brand was the reliability and ease of servicing, just like today, buyers wanted to not have to worry about their car and wanted to know it would not cost a fortune to run.
Unlike many successful models the BX only really had one iteration. There is no giant list of new versions every 5 or 6 years, the BX was the BX and that was good enough for Citroen. In fact the car only ran for 12 years so it did not have that much time to be re invented. However, within the 12 years it was being made there were a few different specs on offer, most of which had a sporty feel. There was the Sport, the GT, the GTi, the 16 Valve model and a very rare rally version called the 4TC. The power of these models ranged from 100 bhp to around 200 bhp, the top power award falling to the 4TC rally car of which only 200 were ever made and almost none exist today.
It may have looked a bit funny but the BX was a dream car to ride in, the air suspension which actually raised up when you started the car was a revolution for most UK drivers. Coming from standard cars a journey in a BX was one of comfort and calm if not exactly external style. Due to it’s plastic body parts rust was not really an issue, however these days it can also hide all manor of chassis corrosion problems as time has taken its toll. The turbo diesel engine that was launched was hailed as a massive success, until that point diesels were harsh and unrefined, Citroen really made big inroads into changing this and bringing the diesel firmly into the mainstream.
You can easily pick up a BX now for under £1000, it is somewhat stuck in the “banger” class rather than the classic one so it might be time to pick up a clean one and store it away for 20 years until the dust settles on this cutting edge but rather awkward car.