James Walshe wonders where our engineering courage went.
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’