On Track: Citroën ZX 16v

The annual MOT is always a nervous affair. That 60 minute wait to confirm whether or not your car is roadworthy. So it was with some trepidation that I took my Citroën ZX 16v for its test. In the nine months I’ve owned the car, I’ve amassed a mere 4,000 miles, but enough time for me to conclude that I’d bought a good ‘un.

But you never can tell, can you? There’s always that anxious fear that you may have missed something trivial. Or worse still, something catastrophic.

I took the opportunity to book her in for a full service, too. Even though it was only 5,000 since her last service was completed, a couple of years have passed and, given the age of this Citroën ZX 16v, a general ‘freshen-up’ wouldn’t hurt.

On track: PetrolBlog's Citroën ZX 16v

As it turned out, I chanced upon a pair of Citroën enthusiasts to work on my ZX. As much became evident when – during the drop-off process – I was regaled with stories of customers’ BXs, ZXs, GSs and ZXs. Heck, even their courtesy cars are a pair of ZX diesels. Respect!

Anyway, after a nervous day of waiting, it turns out that I have indeed bought a good ‘un. Aside from a pair of misaligned headlights and an insecure rear fuel hose, the MOT was plain sailing. Not bad for an 18 year old Citroën.

Furthermore, the chaps were full of praise for the car in general. The engine is incredibly sweet and the underneath is the best they’ve seen on a ZX for many a year. Hearing stuff like that just makes it all seem worth it. And to think that I nearly walked away from the deal, fearing that £1,000 was too much to pay for a Citroën ZX 16v with cosmetic issues.

But with hindsight, I reckon I got a bit of a bargain. Not least because – quite incredibly – there are only 14 Citroën ZX 16vs left on the roads of Britain. And only a further 30 listed as SORN. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I feel incredibly fortunate to own one. But I’m also desperately sad to see so few survivors.

The advice from the garage is to see to the cosmetic issues and turn her into the best in Britain. Which is indeed the plan.

On track: Citroën ZX 16v

But bodywork parts are in short supply. The chances of finding a set of wheel arch covers are slim to zero and as I’ve already discovered, rear side window rubbers are already obsolete. And I’m still unsure whether the red paint will ever return to its former glory.

Spending most of its life parked by the side of a Fulham street has been a mixed blessing for this low mileage Citroën ZX 16v. On the one hand it has managed to escape the ravages of winter road salt – and indeed, sea salt – but it’s also been exposed to too much sunlight and the very worst of London’s drivers.

So what’s next? Well now that her mechanical strength has been confirmed, it’s all about the cosmetics. Plus, having found a place I think I can trust, it’s time to start Project AX GT. I can wait no longer. Even if the restoration takes a year, I will put the AX GT back on the road. And hey, if there’s a little body rust, it will only serve to make it even lighter!

But back to the ZX – I’m planning to take it along to The Guild of Motoring Writers’ Big Day Out at the Rockingham Race Circuit.

It’s a Guild-run track day open to members and non members, which is taking place on the 22nd August. Up to 100 cars will be on track and, I’m reliably informed, plenty of bacon sandwiches will be on offer, too.

On track: side view of Citroën ZX 16v

I’ve never taken my own car on a track before, but as the Citroën ZX 16v is running so well and I’m in need of an excuse to get shot of some pretty iffy tyres, this looks like the best opportunity to pop my track day cherry.

And besides, Nissan is offering passenger rides in the GT-R and there’s a chance to drive the Fiesta ST, Mustang GT500, Evo Tommi Mäkinen Edition and Willy’s Jeep on track. It’s not everyday you get to drive an eclectic mix of cars like that.

In the meantime, I must go. I’ve got a Citroën ZX 16v to drive and an AX GT to restore…

Check out the Guild’s Big Day Out here.

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ABOUT AUTHOR
Gavin Big-Surname
The chief waffler and founder of PetrolBlog in 2010. Has a rather unhealthy obsession with cars from the 80s and 90s, and is on a one-man mission to collect the cars nobody else wants. Also likes tea and Hobnobs.

8 comments

  1. July 12, 2013
    Simon Hingston

    Do you think most of them dies in scrappage?

    Reply
  2. July 14, 2013
    Tom

    The car looks fantastic in those pictures, the camera must be flattering these cosmetic issues you speak of!

    Awesome sticker too 😉

    Reply
    • July 15, 2013
      Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

      Cheers Tom. The camera does a good job of hiding the ZX’s multitude of sins, but as they’re mostly cosmetic, I’m not that worried. Paint is badly faded on the roof, bonnet and filler cap, plus the bumpers need work. But it’s certainly presentable.

      Oh, and that sticker, it’s hiding a nasty dent!

      Reply
  3. July 18, 2013
    Dav Wayman

    The car looks cool to me. Love the color.

    Reply
  4. September 8, 2013
    Ahmad Zaki

    I like this car. how can i buy this car

    Reply
  5. July 14, 2015
    Aeg

    This looks exactly like mine. Except for the sunroof, color and and all! same! Of course i can’t find replacement hub caps anymore. thinking about new rims, but that will loose the ‘original’ feel of my 16V. A bit tuff to get certain parts nowadays. I thought i could find a car drives better than this…after all, 20 years is a long time for other manufacturers to catch up. Tried the Gen 7 VW GTi. Excellent power. But STILL doesn’t drive quite like the 16V. Seating position and ‘Character’ of the chassis aren’t quite like the 16V either. Thought of selling it, but, really can’t imagine what I could replace it with.

    Reply
    • July 14, 2015
      Gavin Big-Surname

      Mine has been off the road since last August, but now has a fresh set of tyres, MOT and service. Look out for an update over the coming days.

      Don’t sell yours! My quick drive back from the MOT station suggests you’re spot on with your assessment. I had forgotten just what a great drive it is.

      Reply

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