Clas­sic World

James Walshe won­ders where our engi­neer­ing courage went.

Practical Classics (UK) - - CONTENTS -

We cel­e­brate the ge­nius of the hy­drop­neu­matic Citroën range.

This is a Con­corde moment. Once upon a time, trav­ellers could sip cham­pagne in com­fort while trav­el­ling at 24 miles a minute. Years be­fore that, mankind was danc­ing about on the moon and plan­ning ex­cur­sions to the outer reaches of the gal­axy. There was also a time when mo­torists could glide across the planet on a bed of gas in ve­hi­cles that main­tained a con­stant ride height ir­re­spec­tive of load, to­tally un­trou­bled by bro­ken tar­mac.

The hy­drop­neu­matic car was an engi­neer­ing mas­ter­piece of com­fort, safety and con­trol ef­fi­ciency, un­veiled to a world used to sus­pen­sion made up of me­dieval leaf springs and old metal coils.

For years, we’ve been told we want sporty cars. Even the most mun­dane MPV has rock-hard springs and the ride com­po­sure of a three-wheeled skate­board. Low pro­file tyres add an ex­tra dose of dis­com­fort and for what? To imag­ine you might one day get to swap the Arm­ley Gyra­tory for the Nur­bur­gring?

In 2017, we took a great leap back­wards. It’s not Citroën ’s fault – I’d imag­ine the man­u­fac­tur­ing costs were as pro­hib­i­tive as su­per­sonic flight was to most of the air­lines. But it doesn’t mean Con­corde wasn’t dy­nam­i­cally su­pe­rior to ab­so­lutely ev­ery­thing else in the sky. It’s so typ­i­cal of the hu­man race. Mankind pulls a blinder and then chucks it all away.

‘We took a great leap back­wards in 2017’

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