Rare cars: grey Citroën CX Coupe

The Citroën CX is a large, front-engined, front-wheel-drive executive car manufactured and marketed by Citroën from 1974 to 1991. Production models took the form of a four-door fastback sedan, station wagon (estate), and a long-wheelbase fastback limousine. The CX is known for its hydropneumatic self-leveling suspension system, and its low coefficient of drag, underscored by its nameplate CX.

Voted the 1975 European Car of the Year, the CX has been described by some enthusiasts as the last “real Citroën” before Peugeot took control of the company in 1976. The CX was also the final successful model of the “big Citroën” era, dating back to 1934.

The CX’s flowing lines and sharp Kammback were designed by auto stylist Robert Opron, resembling its precursor the GS. Citroën had been using a wind tunnel for many years, and the CX was designed to perform well in aerodynamic drag, with a low coefficient of drag of 0.36. Indeed, the car’s name of CX is to refer to French term for drag coefficient, or coefficient (‘C’) along the X-axis (‘x’, being the longitudinal). A notable feature was the concave rear window, designed to clear rain from the rear window without the need for a rear window wiper.

Mechanically, the car was one of the most advanced of its time, combining Citroën’s hydro-pneumatic integral self-leveling suspension, speed-sensitive DIRAVI fully-powered steering (first introduced on the Citroën SM), and a uniquely effective interior design that did away with steering column stalks, allowing the driver to reach all controls while both hands remained on the steering wheel. A Citroën design principle was that turning signals should not cancel themselves – this should be a conscious decision of the driver. The CX perpetuated this feature, which is not shared by virtually any other contemporary automobile, limiting the CX’s potential use as a rental car.

Design variations

CX was available from the factory in three body styles, with 13 different inline-four engines.

The original CX design was a four-door fastback, with a shorter Wheelbase. It was sold in a variety of trim and engine options, the highest designated Pallas. The factory never offered a conventional three-box styling notchback, nor a hatchback.

The CX sedan was always a fastback sedan with a separate trunk, like the current Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class four-door coupe, but unlike almost every other 1970s sedan, which had either a hatchback — like the successful Saab 99 and Saab 900 or the less successful contemporaries as the Rover SD1 and Renault 20/30 — or received an ungainly modified notchback roofline, like the Lancia Trevi.

Hatchback conversions to the CX were offered by Caruna and Beutler, but not available from the factory.

Citroën’s own small GS and the Alfa Romeo Alfasud were also released as fastback sedans, but both received a hatchback in the late 1970s.

Coupe version was available only by Henri Chapron coachbuilder.

Henri Chapron (30 December 1886 – 14 May 1978) was a prominent French automobile coachbuilder. His carrosserie, created in 1919, was located in the Paris suburb of Levallois-Perret.

Chapron was born in Nouan-le-Fuzelier (Sologne), and began his career developing custom body designs for French luxury vehicles, like Talbot, Delage, and Delahaye, in the 1920s.

France ceased building vehicles of this type in the 1950s, due to tax legislation that made luxury vehicles prohibitively expensive in France.

Henri Chapron died in Paris in 1978, and the company itself survived for some time under the direction of his widow. Less than five months after Chapron’s own death the company presented a Landaulet bodied conversion constructed for a rich Dutch customer, based on a lengthened Peugeot 604. There were hopes this might lead to a low but steady production of similar conversions, as had happened during with Chapron’s lengthened specials based on the Citroën DS. That did not happen, but the company did produce some special luxury versions (including landaulets) of the Citroën CX with lavishly equipped interiors.

The Chapron workshops prepared several Landaulet (car) vehicles based on the CX 2400 Prestige, including a wedding car, delivered in 1981 and used for the first time for the wedding of Henri de Passau, Prince of Bourbon Parma and Grand Heir and Maria Teresa Grand Duchess. It was then used for the wedding of King Harald V of Norway, the Crown Prince of Norway, and Archduke Christian of Austria and Princess Marie Astrid, and finally Prince Nicolas of Liechtenstein and Princess Margaretha of Luxembourg for their respective weddings.

Operations finally ceased in 1985. However, plans have been announced for the return to production of Chapron’s creations, this time in electric form. Production is due to recommence in 2023, beginning with the 2023 All-Electric Chapron EV Décapotable, based on Chapron’s much lauded Citröen DS conversion. “Chapron EV”.

In the 2018 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, Citroën appeared as a featured marque and was represented by many Chapron variants.

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