Khodrocar - If you’re looking for a rare component to keep your classic Citroen on the road, this is the place to come. The company has never been very good at maintaining parts supplies of its own cars over the years, but thanks to the efforts of enterprising and enthusiastic specialists, a lifeline has been kept open.
There were cars for sale at Citromobile, too – most at very reasonable prices – and for a fan, it’s difficult talking yourself out of putting your hand in your pocket with a half-baked plan to drag a hopeless heap home.
But the show’s jewel in the crown is the car park. Here you’ll see all types of Citroen – from pre-war Traction Avant to the latest C3 Aircross – all treated as welcome guests, driven in from all over Europe. Owners field questions about the cars they’ve driven to the event, and then spend the rest of the time drooling over other peoples’ cars.
But rather than deliver a standard show report, we thought we’d instead use the opportunity to highlight 10 of the most interesting and significant innovations from Citroen during its 99-year history, illustrated by some of the finest cars of the show. Enjoy the gallery.1) 1934 Citroen Light 15 ‘Traction Avant’
Innovations: Front-wheel drive, unibody construction
For people of a certain age, these will be forever known as the ‘Maigret car’, but the Citroen Light 15 was a technical tour de force when launched. It was low-slung in stance, thanks to being of unibody construction (rather than the more typical separate chassis of its rivals), and had front-wheel drive. It wasn’t the first car to feature this by a long chalk, but it certainly popularised FWD decades before many rivals cottoned on.2) 1955 Citroen DS
Innovations: cutting-edge aerodynamics, swivelling headlights, magic carpet ride
Where to start with the DS? Here’s a car that revolutionised the French middle-classes by giving them a car that rode like a presidential limousine, and gave them just as much legroom. Interconnected Hydropneumatic suspension meant a level and astoundingly comfortable ride at all times, but the car’s piece de resistance was its highly aerodynamic lines as penned by Flaminio Bertoni – its drag coefficient of 0.355 still cuts it today.3) 1970 Citroen SM
Innovations: speed-sensitive power steering, six headlights, amazing aero
Where to start with the SM? Powered by a quad-cam V6 built and designed by Maserati, this ground tourer had the same maximum speed as a Jensen Interceptor using the power. Great aerodynamics were the reason for this. In many ways, this car was the template for all modern GTs, featuring speed-sensitive power steering, swivelling headlamps, self-levelling suspension, and the ability to run all day at more than 100mph.4) 1989 Citroen XM
Innovations: up to 14 windows, computer-controlled suspension
The XM replaced the CX and DS before it, and was named and styled to evoke memories of the gloriously unsuccessful SM. (Glass) sunroof-equipped cars were also available with an additional window behind the back seat, which kept the passengers snug even when the tailgate was opened. It gained computer control for its Hydropneumatic suspension for the first time, stiffening up in corners, and also at rest to stop the car dropping when passengers get in.5) 1993 Citroen Xantia
Innovations: (re)active suspension, ability to beat Porsches at the elk test
Okay, so the tidy-looking Xantia didn’t actually get its computer-controlled anti-roll suspension set-up until the arrival of the Activa model in 1995. But when that car arrived, it looked set to revolutionise the way we look at suspension, thank to zero-roll cornering and impressive comfort. Still cited as the fastest volume production car in Sweden’s legendary Elk test, the Xantia Activa’s dynamics are only now being replicated in rivals’ active air-suspension set-ups.