Citroën XM (Series 2, 1994-2000)
Well, I went to Paris and all I got was pictures of this one car (to be fair I was there for work). Disappointing, but the XM is probably one of my favorite modern Citroëns, ever since I saw it in that awesome Ronin car chase scene.
Regarded as one of “the last true Citroëns”, the XM was styled by Bertone, with a long low hood and quirky angular rear proportions that echoed it’s CX predecessor. It also retained the classic hydraulic suspension, something that I am sure is just another thing to worry about, but is so damn cool.
So, is it a DS or SM? No, but I am sure if mechanically looked after these rust resistant XMs will be future collectors items. I just learned several of them were legally imported to the US from ‘91-97, something else to look out for…
Seen on a recent trip to Paris
Citroen H Van (1947-81)
Quite simply the most practical and beautiful service vehicle ever made, the H Van never officially made it to the US, but that only makes me happier to come across one, and in such great condition as well.
Since first seeing one in Germany, I’m still struck by the scale. I always assumed they were UPS truck sized, but in reality they’re about the same size as a first-gen Dodge Caravan, only taller.
Powered by a Traction Avant motor, the body is made of flat sheets, corrugated to provide strength (an idea taken from the aerospace industry). It’s monocoque chassis makes for a nice low load floor and lots of space. Front suicide doors with a courtesy step are a nice feature as well.
The body has a nice way of opening up to sell merchandise (in this case premium cycling gear), and a quick search found that you can even get your own personal miniature of this exact truck if you’d like.
Seen in NE Portland
Citroen DS (1955-75, this is a Pallas trim level from 1970-72)
It’s not often that you come across a near mint condition DS just parked on the street (wearing Moroccan license plates, no less), though Portland’s eccentricity once again beats the odds.
In terms of offerings, the Pallas was the top of the line DS, though it was on its way out in the ’70s as Citroen had just introduced a replacement; the amazingly beautiful SM.
The body is in great shape and all of the trim seems to be intact (though the rear chevron badge is upside down). Yellow bulbs adds a nod to French heritage, though the gold trim around those US-spec lamps may be a bit much.
Like it or not, all the little details on this Citroen really make an impact; and if you’re driving a DS around town, isn’t that the point?
Seen in SE Portland
Ceci n’est pas une DS. It is a Citroen D-Special (1970-75). An entry level alternative to the higher end DS models, the D-Special had a smaller engine and lacked key features like hydraulic suspension and many electronics. To be perfectly honest, probably the reason this one still runs. I love these cars, but this one’s yellow exterior is a bit over the top…a French banana.
Seen in NE Portland
Citroen DS Break (1958-1972 in the US), depending on where you live it could have been called a Wagon, Safari, or Familiale.
While it’s definitely in disrepair, I am happy just to have found it. What an awkward, lumpy, peculiar version of the DS. That gap between the quarter panel and hatch is so bizarre, it looks like it was done by an aftermarket coachbuilder. Regardless, it is distinctly French and I think I would happily drive it, after removing the trailer hitch and adding the aero headlamp covers.
Seen in SE Portland
There are few things I will interrupt other people’s time and obligations to get a shot of, and it seems that the lowly (but lovely) Citroen 2CV has taken up the lion’s share of those circumstances. On a trip to meet friends for dinner I made my wife and one of her closest friends sit patiently in my truck while I parked and ran half a block to get these shots. I have no regrets.
This is a Citroen 2CV Fourgonnette (French for “van”), and my apologies, but the year is pretty much anyone’s guess. I have never seen one in the States. It was meticulously cared for and filled with two very fluffy white puppies keeping guard inside. Sadly I did not get a picture, but I did not want to be too intrusive.
Seen in SE Portland
Citroen 2CV, I’m not even going to guess the year, looks to be post 1960, that’s about all I know. I literally made my coworker stop the car in the middle of the road so I could get out and take these pictures. Not too often that I see one of these in the US and even then they’re never just sitting on the street. Such a fantastic car with great history (excluding that time Billy Joel drove one into a house).
Seen in SW Portland
Immobile Citroen street art.
Seen decomposing in SE Portland.
It’s a nice surprise to come across a Citroen now and then in the States. They are usually beat up and sidelined due to lack of interest or more likely, lack of parts (though minutes after this photo was taken I found myself shocked to be following a white DS down Sandy). These two are no exception. I’ll cover the DS tomorrow, but what seems more rare to me is this grey market Citroen GX (1970-80). It was designed to fill a gap between the brand’s economy models and the DS, and, though this one does not have one, it was available with a 2 rotor Wankel engine. Combine that with a hydraulic suspension and quirky French aesthetics, and you have one very eccentric car.
They were never legitimately imported into the USA so this one is obviously Grey Market, and has all of the signs of one, most notably the horrible DOT mandated sealed beam headlights. Talk about destroying the look of a vehicle.
A great find in SE Portland.
The French theme continues today, with a remarkable car, the Traction Avant, seen in Amsterdam in full wedding regalia.
The car responsible for bringing FWD to Europe (yay?). This version, the 11CV, was manufactured from 1934-1957 (this is a post ‘52 model due to the extended trunk).
As usual, Citroen was ahead of its time, introducing modern FWD, ditching body-on-frame construction, and adding independent front suspension. Spending money on all that research caught up with them, and the Traction Avant bankrupted the company in 1934, selling out to its biggest shareholder, Michelin until 1976. The things you learn on Wikipedia….
The amazing Citroen 2CV, seen in near Oosterpark, Amsterdam.
Great color scheme.