Buy­ing Guide

Never one for con­ven­tion, it’s more than 40 years since Citroën’s unique take on the large saloon and es­tate hit the mar­ket. Here’s what to watch out for when choos­ing one today

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - News - WORDS Chris Ran­dall PHO­TOG­RA­PHY Magic Car Pics

Citroën CX

Citroën never played by the stan­dard car de­sign rule book, and when it came to the CX, Robert Opron and his team kept that book firmly locked in a desk drawer. The DS was a dif­fi­cult act to fol­low, though the CX is con­sid­ered the last true Citroën prior to Peu­geot’s in­volve­ment. But its re­place­ment is as strik­ing today as it was back on its launch in 1974, some­thing that ac­counts for its strong fol­low­ing among those who ap­pre­ci­ate de­sign flair.

It’s also af­ford­able, so what do you get for your money? Space, for one thing, es­pe­cially if you opt for one of the cav­ernous Sa­fari es­tates that could also be had in eight-seater Fa­mil­iale form. There was plenty of room in the saloon too, along with a typ­i­cally quirky cabin – Se­ries 1 cars have ro­tat­ing drum in­stru­ments, re­placed by nor­mal di­als for the 1985-on Se­ries 2.

The per­for­mance of the early diesels was leisurely, but there was plenty else to en­ter­tain, in­clud­ing the magic car­pet ride qual­ity pro­vided by the hy­drop­neu­matic sus­pen­sion. There was also the nov­elty of the DIRAVI self-cen­tring steer­ing fit­ted to most ex­am­ples, along with a semi-au­to­matic C-Matic trans­mis­sion that ar­rived in 1977. En­gines im­proved over time but for real pace buy­ers had to wait for the 168bhp CX GTi Turbo in 1985. By 1989 saloon pro­duc­tion ended to make way for the XM, and the es­tate dis­ap­peared two years later. Today, the CX re­mains as fas­ci­nat­ing as ever and for re­laxed, com­fort­able and charis­matic classic mo­tor­ing it’s al­most un­beat­able. It’s not with­out fault – cor­ro­sion and parts scarcity are bug­bears – but try one and you’ll be hooked.

STRONG STOP­PERS? GAL­LOP­ING GAL­LIC RUST AVOID GROT BE­NEATH HEALTHY SUS­PEN­SION Prop­erly main­tained, the all-disc brakes are pow­er­ful and ef­fec­tive, so any­thing less points to is­sues. Rear calipers can cor­rode and stick through lack of use, and check the front-act­ing hand­brake – de­te­ri­o­rated ca­bles weaken it. Later mod­els ben­e­fit­ted from ABS although flaky wheel sen­sors and ECU glitches can be dif­fi­cult and costly to sort, so be wary. As for the DIRAVI steer­ing, it’s bril­liant once you’re used to it, and although set­ting it up prop­erly is for ex­perts, it’s es­sen­tially re­li­able. Build qual­ity im­proved af­ter 1981 but cor­ro­sion is a con­stant threat so ex­am­ine the in­ner and outer wings, lead­ing edge of the bon­net, and bot­toms of the doors and boot lid. Check around the sun­roof where fit­ted – re­pairs here are awk­ward and po­ten­tially ex­pen­sive. Also check the hinge area of the es­tate’s tail­gate and for A-pil­lars turn­ing frilly. Rust bub­bling at the back of the rear door shuts is bad news, and be sure to ex­am­ine the edges of the boot floor where the rear sub­frame mounts are lo­cated. The front floor­pan seams and in­ner/outer sills are prob­lem ar­eas and ter­mi­nal rot in the lat­ter can be hid­den by stain­less steel or plas­tic trim on some mod­els. Avoid cars with crusty sub­frames or signs that the main chas­sis longerons have been com­pro­mised by clumsy jack­ing or ac­ci­dent dam­age – ma­jor re­pairs are un­likely to be cost-ef­fec­tive. Ob­tain­ing re­place­ment parts – both body and me­chan­i­cal – can be dif­fi­cult. There is a sup­plier in Ger­many but parts can be pricey. Find­ing a solid car is im­por­tant. As­sum­ing that the hy­draulics are fine, ex­am­ine the sus­pen­sion mount­ings for cor­ro­sion, and en­sure that ball joints, bushes and track rod ends aren’t worn as re­place­ments aren’t cheap. Creaks from the rear sus­pen­sion or un­even rear tyre wear will be failed rear arm bear­ings, which cost around £200 a side to re­place. Re­place­ment met­ric TRX tyres fit­ted to some mod­els are also rare and pricey, so check their age and con­di­tion.

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