The French Car Critical List: Citroën

The French Car Critical List: Citroën

PetrolBlog’s regular reader may remember the post from a month ago when – with a distinct whiff of PetrolBloggyness – we took at a look at the rarest French cars in Britain. Well, as promised, we’re now turning our attention to the individual makes, kicking off with a brand very close to our hearts – Citroën.

Are there any surprises on the list? Well that’s for you to decide. But one thing’s for sure – there are one or two Citroëns that are definitely on the life support machine. It’s our job to keep them alive. And – as before – these are cars from the PetrolBlog era, so think 1970s to 1990s, with a slot for the C6.

16th – Citroën Saxo
Number left: 83,000

Citroen Saxo

There’ll be some who scoff at the inclusion of the Citroën Saxo on this list, but at PetrolBlog we happen to think that it has real PetrolBloggy potential. And of all the cars on this list, it’s the one that’s most likely to spiral into oblivion. The numbers are high, but then the used car values are low, which is a recipe for impending doom.

The decline has started. At its peak, there were some 229,000 Citroën Saxos on the roads of Britain. Today, that number stands at 83,000, with the most PetrolBloggy of them all – the Saxo VTS – already down to 1,400. A future classic.

15th – Citroën Xantia
Number left: 7,900

Citroen Xantia

From over 100,000 to under 8,000 in ten years, the Citroën Xantia’s decline has been dramatic. It doesn’t help that the Xantia is considered to be a car for the enthusiast, often in need of specialist care in order to keep it running.

Of course, the one we all want is the Xantia Activa which, despite sounding like a stupidly healthy yoghurt drink, featured a pretty trick active suspension set-up. Sadly, there are only 41 left on the road today.

14th – Citroën ZX
Number left: 7,100

Red Citroen ZX 16v

Ah, the Citroën ZX – a car much loved here at PBHQ. Well, we do run a ZX 16v.

Numbers are down to just over 7,000 now, but with values typically ranging from £500 to £1,000, it’s a car you just know will be down to a few hundred in a few years. Of the key models, the number of ZX 16vs sits at 20, with the Volcane (petrol and diesel) down to just over 200.

13th – Citroën AX
Number left: 4,100

Citroen AX Reflet

The AX is likely to spiral into French car oblivion even quicker than the ZX. Numbers are already down to just over 4,000, with 500 disappearing off our roads every quarter. At that rate, the Citroën AX will be extinct in a few years.

There are just 55 Citroën AX GTs left on the road, although it’s encouraging to see values are on the up as people finally see their potential worth.

12th – Citroën 2CV
Number left: 3,300

Citroen 2CV Charleston

The Citroën 2cV is a perfect example of a car that’s been long cherished, with numbers stabilising over the past dozen or so years.

Don’t be surprised to see the 2CV as the most familiar car on the list if we recalculate the numbers in a few years.

11th – Citroën C6
Number left: 727

Black Citroen C6

The most modern Citroën on the list, but already one of the scarcest and indeed, the most PetrolBloggy.

Citroën C6 values are now down to the magic £5,000 mark. Who dares to take the plunge?

10th – Citroën BX
Number left: 688

Red Citroen BX with sunroof

The Citroën BX is one of those cars where closer scrutiny of the survival data is required, with many model variants down to single figures.

Like the GTI Hurricane, of which the data suggests there is only one left on the road. Fortunately the BX is now widely considered to be a classic, so we’d expect the number of survivors to stabilise.

9th – Citroën XM
Number left: 541

Citroen XM

It’s a similar story for the Citroën XM, where the days of rapid decline seem to be behind us. At its peak, there were 18,000 XMs on the road, but that number had dropped to just a thousand by the end of 2010.

Today there are 541 on the road, with good examples commanding strong money.

8th – Citroën ID/DS
Number left: 337

Citroen ID

It needs no introduction, does it?

Many of these will be cherished and values are very strong. Eccentric and wonderful, but sadly outside the realms of PetrolBloggyness.

7th – Citroën Dyane
Number left: 253

Citroen Dyane

Is it wrong to say we’d prefer a Dyane over a 2CV? Well we would.

Introduced to the UK in 1968, it was designed as a more luxurious and more practical version of the 2CV, indeed with the aim of replacing the popular car.

Existing owners of the likes of the DS and ID welcomed it as a second car within the household, but it was never the success Citroën had hoped. You only need to look at the survival numbers as evidence of this. But hey, the chap above seems to be enjoying the drive. Oh, wait…

6th – Citroën CX
Number left: 183

Citroen CX Estate

Who remembers the CX Safari being used by the BBC for its outside broadcasts? In 1975, ‘Auntie’ bought one to replace the DS-23, which itself had replaced the DS-21 it bought from Citroën UK.

To some, the Citroën CX – introduced at the 1974 Paris Motor Show – was the last true Citroën. Naturally we hanker after the delightful Series 2 CX-25 GTi Turbo 2 – the fastest French car of the period.

5th – Citroën GS/GSA
Number left: 84

Red Citroen GS

We’re down to critical numbers now, with the Citroën GS the first car on the list to fall below the 100 mark. And for such a remarkable car to be down to such tiny numbers, this makes for rather sad reading.

It made its debut at the 1971 London Motor Show and duly scooped the European Car of the Year award, beating the sublime SM in the process. Available as a saloon and an estate, all models were initially powered by the same 1.0-litre flat-four air-cooled engine. It brought hydro-pneumatic suspension and all-round disc brakes to the masses. And a coolness factor that was simply off the scale.

4th – Citroën Ami
Number left – 75

Citroen Ami and model

You had to be a true Citroën enthusiast to appreciate the Ami – it was a proper Marmite car. Why else would Citroën rely on ridiculously pretty women in order to promote its challenging styling?

Even marketing it as ‘the world’s most comfortable medium-sized car’ couldn’t help its cause. There are only 75 left today.

3rd – Citroën SM
Number left – 58

Citroen SM on Autoroute

What a combination – Citroën and Maserati working in tandem to produce the SM.

Nearly 13,000 SMs were sold worldwide, before the Maserati V6-engined car was killed off by the Suez crisis. Today, there are 58 SMs gracing the roads of Britain.

2nd – Citroën Visa
Number left – 44

Black Citroen Visa

It’s dreadfully sad to see that there are just 44 Citroën Visas left on the roads of Britain.

But it’s even worse to note that there are only six GTIs on the road. But take encouragement by the fact that at the end of 2010 there were thought to be none enjoying daily service. So that’s a reason to be cheerful right there.

1st – Citroën LNA
Number left: 8

Citroen LNA

But there are no such signs of joy for the unloved Citroën LNA, of which there are only eight cars left on the road.

This makes it the rarest of all the PetrolBloggy Citroëns in Britain. Show it some love. Look at its cute little face.

All images © Citroen. All data courtesy of How Many Left?


Written by Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

The chief waffler and person responsible for getting PetrolBlog off the ground in February 2010. Has a deep fascination of cars from the '80s and '90s, especially if they originate from France. Also likes tea and Hobnobs.

16 Comments

  1. Ant

    The most heartening thing is that many of these should remain at roughly the numbers they are now. I can’t see any SMs disappearing for instance, unless they’re unlucky enough to be written off in accidents or stolen.

    The Saxo actually worries me though. I’ve been saying for absolutely years that down the line, a nice VTR or VTS will be as highly-regarded as a 205 GTI is today – just witness how the previous oik’s car of choice, the Vauxhall Nova, is considered something of a classic these days. The bodykitted ones have all died, and the good’uns are left. Same will happen with the Saxo, but makes me want to get one before the prices go up…

  2. Darren Leslie

    I great shame to see some of these cars on the endangered list. On my cycle to work, I pass by three BX’s, all owned by the same chap. Unfortunately, it seems as though two manybe spares cars for the third.
    I forgot just how good those XM’s looked as well!

    Oh, and the picture on the main page for the feature with the Visa contains probably the best model possies in the world…..ever.

  3. Tristan Hudson

    One of the DS’s is mine and hopefully will keep running for the foreseeable future!! One of the GSA’s is my old motor that I sold on in 1999, I know it’s still on the road as I’ve seen the evidence through the club. The Dyanes that my Mum used to own I think have probably gone to the great scrap yard in the sky! :((

    1. Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

      You’d think that DSs and GSAs are beyond the years of needless scrapping now, whereas the Dyane is still unloved by the masses.

      Shame, as I’d choose one over the 2CV. Fond memories of holidays to Wales in the back of my parents’ blue Dyane. XEL 32S, I think.

  4. DSdriver

    Do you think that as the owner of a DS23 Pallas, a Safari (daily driver) and an XM estate I could persuade the French Ministry of Culture that they should give me a grant or some sponsorship?

  5. Ti

    I think I may have gone through a Citroen phase in the early nineties- AX GT, Visa Gti and the risible ZX; sorry Gavin, the halo of the Volcane made me buy a ZX Reflex in all-white and it totally characterless! (it was also a lemon which didn’t help.)

    The Saxo shouldn’t count but I get the interest in the VTR and VTS.

    I recall my Visa Gti with great fondness…..

  6. Andrew

    I’ve owned Xantia and currently own an XM. Main reason why there’s so few left on the road is because Citroen in its infinite wisdom (tongue firmly in cheek) they sent most of the parts, panels and trim to be recycled/scrapped after the scrappage scheme. Once saw a near mint estate XM 2.5 TD in metallic red get chopped in for a plasticky looking C2 thing. The annoying thing was, the saleman was a youngster who didn’t realise the fan base for the XM. The owner could have sold it many times over but no – it was slabbed. Still get chills thinking about it.

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