1983 Citroën CX Prestige
Geoff Matthews (Series 2 refresh)
|Body and chassis|
|Class||Mid-size luxury / Executive car (E)|
|Body style||4-door fastback
4-door fastback long wheelbase
5-door brake (estate)
2.5L Diesel I4
|Wheelbase||2,845 mm (112.0 in)|
|Length||4,666 mm (183.7 in)|
|Width||1,730 mm (68 in)|
|Height||1,360 mm (54 in)|
|Curb weight||1,265–1,520 kg (2,789–3,351 lb)|
The Citroën CX is an executive car produced by the French automaker Citroën from 1974 to 1991. Citroën sold nearly 1.2 million CXs during its 16 years of production. The CX was voted European Car of the Year in 1975. The name CX is the French equivalent abbreviation of Cd for drag coefficient in English, drawing attention to the car's aerodynamic styling, which was uncommon in 1974.
It is considered 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, which began in 1934.
Available models were a four-door fastback, a station wagon (shooting brake, or estate car), and a long-wheelbase model built on the estate chassis. The CX employed Citroën's unique hydropneumatic self-leveling suspension system.
The CX was launched at the 1974 Paris Motor Show and was scheduled for inclusion in that year's London Motor Show. It was withdrawn at the eleventh hour, possibly because Citroën was unable to schedule right-hand drive production of the car until well into 1975. The CX was initially a huge success in Europe, with more than 132,000 being produced in 1978. It found customers beyond the loyal DS customer base and brought the technology of the advanced, but somewhat impractical, SM to the masses. Unlike its principal competitors, the CX did not have worldwide distribution—the cost of development and improvements had to be met from a geographically small sales base. According to Driving & Motoring Month the CX "provides a startlingly intelligent set of solutions to modern motoring problems".
The CX's flowing lines and sharp Kamm tail 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 (Cd in English;CX in French) of 0.36.
Mechanically, the car was one of the most modern of its time, combining Citroën's unique hydro-pneumatic integral self-leveling suspension, speed-adjustable DIRAVI power 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.
The CX suspension’s ability to soak up large undulations and yet damp out rough surfaces was extraordinary, with a consistent ride quality, empty, or fully laden. The suspension was attached to sub frames that were fitted to the body through flexible mountings, to improve even more the ride quality and to reduce road noise. The British magazine Car described the sensation of driving a CX as hovering over road irregularities, much like a ship traversing above the ocean floor. This suspension was used under license by Rolls-Royce on the Silver Shadow. The Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 was not built under license, but copied the Hydropneumatic suspension principles after the less effective Mercedes-Benz 600 Air suspension installation.
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 (less successful) contemporaries 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.
At launch in 1974, the CX was rushed to market, with some teething troubles. Some very early models did not have power steering and proved difficult to drive - the CX carries 70% of its weight over the front wheels.
Originally, the CX was developed as a rotary-engined car—with several negative consequences. The CX engine bay is small because rotary engines are compact, but the Comotor three-rotor rotary engine was not economical and the entire rotary project was scrapped the year the CX was introduced. The firm went bankrupt in 1974, partly due to a series of investments like Comotor that didn't result in profitable products. Production versions of the CX were always powered by a modest inline 4 cylinder engine - only the very rare 168 PS (124 kW) GTi Turbo (1985–89) ever had the engine power to match the capabilities of the chassis. At launch, the carburetor 102 hp (76 kW) CX was positioned below the 141 PS (104 kW) DS 23 Pallas Injection Electronique and the 180 PS (132 kW) SM Injection Electronique.
There was a choice between three differently powered versions. The "Normale" CX car came with a 1985 cc version of the four cylinder engine from the predecessor model with a claimed maximum output of 102 PS (75 kW), which was slightly more than had been available from the engine when fitted in the DS. The "Economique" version of the car (reflecting the continuing impact of the 1973 oil price shock) came with the same engine as the "Normale", but the gear ratios were changed, along with the final drive ratio, giving rise to a 7 km/h (4 mph) reduction in top speed in return for usefully improved fuel economy. More performance came from the "CX 2200", fitted with a 2175 cm3 version of the engine and a twin carburetor, resulting in a claimed maximum output of 112 PS (82 kW).
Contemporary reports also indicated that the cost of setting up a new production facility for the CX, on the northern edge of Paris, at Aulnay-sous-Bois, also played a role in undermining the company's finances to the point where it was obliged to surrender its independence to the more financially cautious Peugeot company. On 12 July 2012, PSA announced that it is permanently closing the Aulnay-sous-Bois plant.
The parent company, PSA Peugeot Citroën, was fielding three cars in the executive car segment, the slow selling Peugeot 604, the abortive Talbot Tagora and the CX, all competing for PSA's scarce financial resources. Developing and exploiting the CX design was not the top priority. The seeds of PSA's competitive retreat from this traditionally important segment were sown during this period of diffused efforts.
In 1974, the DS featured a relatively powerful 141 PS (104 kW) fuel-injected 2.3-litre engine, while the 1974 CX 2000 generated a much less generous 102 PS (75 kW), giving it a sedate acceleration from 0-60 mph of 12 seconds. The later 2200 improved on this, and eventually the 2400 engine (actually the same 2347 cm3 unit as used in the DS) arrived; originally only in the Prestige. A regular CX 2400 arrived at the 1976 Paris Salon, subsequent to the discontinuation of the CX 2200.
In 1977, the CX GTi received a modern Bosch L-Jetronic injection system, with 128 PS (94 kW).
In 1984, turbo-powered 2.5 L diesel engine did make the CX Turbo-D 2.5 the fastest diesel sedan in the world, able to reach speeds up to 195 km/h (121 mph). (Diesels account for more than half the market for executive cars in France.) 
In 1985, the GTi Turbo gasoline model, with a top speed of over 220 km/h (137 mph), gave the CX the powerful engine that finally used the full capabilities of the chassis.
The CX eventually acquired a reputation for high running costs, which over time cut sales. Ironically, it was the components standard to any automobile (steel, door hinges, starter motors, electrical connections, etc.) that proved troublesome in service, not the advanced components. The quality of construction improved too slowly to eliminate this perception.
Although the minor 1985 Series 2 changes did create initial interest from press and public alike, they did little to revive sales, with 35,000 units being produced in 1986 and 1987.
While the revolutionary and timeless DS achieved its greatest sales success at age 15 (1970)  the CX design was subject to more intense competitive pressures, peaking at age 4 (1978). Other automakers succeeded in using the CX design as a template for improvement. In particular, the Audi 100 introduced an aerodynamically restyled variant in 1983.
1,170,645 CXs were sold from 1974 to 1991.
Racing the CX
One notable achievement was in the 17,500 mile  1977 London–Sydney Marathon road race, driver Paddy Hopkirk, driving a CX 2400 sponsored by Citroën's Australian concessionaire, staged a come-from-behind sprint to obtain third place.
Replacing the CX
Successful competitors in this market segment have adopted a cycle of redesign and substantial improvement every seven years. Despite the success of the CX design (and the company's unbroken legacy of dominance in this segment stretching back to 1934) there was no new and improved "big Citroën" model on the horizon by 1981. CX sales began to slide and never recovered.
Citroën tried to operate independently and design a CX replacement that updated the flowing CX design (in 1980 and again in 1986). Each time, the parent company PSA Peugeot Citroën killed the project and fired the Citroën designers responsible.
The CX saloon was finally replaced by the XM in May 1989. This vehicle was based on the same chassis as the Peugeot 605. It was styled in a distinctive, angular fashion, and fitted with self-levelling hydropneumatic suspension, and featured new electronic controls and branded Hydractive suspension. It also featured a hatchback and a conventional interior rather than the "spaceship" instrument panel of the CX. The XM was clearly related to the BX in layout and construction, but incorporated little design and technology from the CX. The estate remained in production until July 1991, when an estate version of the XM was finally launched.
The XM at first achieved annual sales similar to the modest totals of the CX in the last decade of its life, before a total collapse in demand set in during the mid 1990s. It was retired without an immediate replacement in 2000. Total sales were 333,000 units, less than a third of CX sales, but twice those of the earlier Peugeot 604.
The 2006 Citroën C6, first announced as the C6 Lignage concept car in 1999, appears to be the direct descendant of the CX. The design of the Citroën flagship is directly inspired by the personality of the CX. It remained in production until the end of 2012 but barely 20,000 examples were sold, the lack of an estate version also hampered sales.
In 2016, Dongfeng Peugeot-Citroën introduced a new large sedan - the Citroën C6 (no relation to earlier models) - a car based on the Dongfeng A9. The CX, which had briefly been sold in China, was referenced in the promotional materials.
CX was available from the factory in three body styles, with 13 different inline-four engines.
Four door SWB fastback
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 'estate ("Safari" in the United Kingdom;Break in France), produced from 1975 until 1991, was a 10 in (25 cm) longer car. It was also offered as the Familiale with three rows of seats, seating 7 people. These models had increased load capacity (baggage; equipment; passengers), taking full advantage of the CX's self-levelling suspension.
The Estate was the last CX to be replaced. It was one of the largest, and because of its suspension, most practical, family cars available in Europe. The Safari was very popular with speedway riders and other motorcycle racers, as the capacious design meant a bike could easily fit in the back.
The CX short wheel base fastback had insufficient rear legroom to function as a chauffeur driven limousine (a common use for the spacious DS model), so in 1976, Citroën introduced another 10 in (25 cm) longer version, the "Prestige" variant. The Prestige offered more rear legroom than any other standard-sized sedan in the world. In 1977, it also gained a raised roofline to improve headroom. Prestiges often came equipped with a vinyl roof. Contemporary reviews of the Prestige were favourable. In 1976 the UK's Driver and Motorist praised its comfort and interior fitments. In 1980, a diesel engine variant was introduced, the Limousine.
Manual, semi-automatic ("C-Matic") and, ultimately, fully automatic transmissions were fitted, the fully automatic ZF transmission replacing the C-Matic in 1980. Luxury trim-level models were badged as Pallas, and sports variants as GTi. The long-wheelbase models were badged as Prestige (petrol engine) or Limousine (diesel). The factory never produced the CX with both the powerful turbocharged petrol engine and automatic transmission in one car.
Both petrol and diesel-powered models were available in various engine sizes including turbocharged versions. The top-end sports model, alongside the CX Prestige luxury model, was the CX 25 GTi Turbo, launched in autumn 1984, rated at 168 hp (122 kW) and a top speed of 220 km/h (137 mph).
- 2.0 L (1985 cc) I4
- 2.0 L (1995 cc) Douvrin I4
- 2.2 L (2165 cc) Douvrin I4
- 2.2 L (2175 cc) I4
- 2.4 L (2347 cc) carburetted I4
- 2.4 L (2347 cc) fuel-injected I4
- 2.5 L (2499 cc) fuel-injected I4
- 2.5 L (2499 cc) fuel-injected I4 with turbocharger
- 2.5 L (2499 cc) fuel-injected I4 with turbocharger and intercooler
- 2.2 L (2200 cc) diesel I4
- 2.5 L (2500 cc) diesel I4 75 bhp (56 kW)
- 2.5 L (2500 cc) diesel I4 with turbocharger 95 bhp (71 kW)
- 2.5 L (2500 cc) diesel I4 with turbocharger and intercooler 120 bhp (89 kW)
Series 1 and Series 2
The Series 1 vehicles (1974–85) were characterised by stainless steel front and rear bumpers, hydropneumatic suspension as compliant and soft as the DS, a "spaceship" style dashboard featuring a revolving drum speedometer and similar tachometer. A similar version of the revolving drum speedometer was used earlier in the 1958 Edsel for only one year.
The Series 2 vehicles (1985–91) can be distinguished by the use of plastic bumpers. The cars lost some of their earlier distinctiveness, but maintained the "stalk-free" layout, where turn signals, wiper controls, horn and headlights could be operated by the driver's fingertips while his/her hands remained on the steering wheel. The suspension became stiffer in most models, with arguably a more aggressive look, as opposed to the more elegant Series 1 design. Although the dashboard retained the "pod" housing for the instrumentation, it lost the revolving-drum instruments and received a sloping centre dash area, and the radio moved to a position sideways and between the front seats, with the height corrector and heating controls moving to the centre console.
The CX was frequently used as an ambulance and camera car, applications where the cosseting suspension was especially valuable.
A number of CX estates were elongated and retrofitted with a second rear axle, mostly used for high speed bulk transport such as carrying newspapers across Europe. They are known as the "loadrunner" variant. Most of them were prepared by the French company Tissier. 
In 1984, Guy Deslandes Design constructed four CX Orphée two door convertibles.
International sales and production
The CX was popular in most European nations, and also sold in some Asian and Latin American countries. In 1984, Citroën sold 2,500 CXs to China and nearly succeeded in getting the "large car" contract that would have made the CX the most common vehicle in the People's Republic, which only had 20,000 private vehicles at the time. The Chinese government decided to award this contract to the Shanghai Volkswagen joint venture, and instead gave Citroën the rights to the "compact car" segment. This joint venture, located in Wuhan, is today known as the Dongfeng Peugeot-Citroën Automobile factory, producing over 700,000 cars a year. Ironically, Dongfeng Motor rescued the ailing PSA Peugeot Citroën in 2014, with a cash injection in exchange for an interest in the control of PSA.
The CX was assembled in South America from 1978–1984 starting with the CX 2000 Super in Citroën's facility of Arica, Chile. The car achieved good sales numbers despite being one of the most complex cars built in the Americas.
In Australia and South Africa, the CX was imported, unlike the DS, which was assembled locally.
CX in North America
The CX was never sold in North American markets by PSA Peugeot Citroën, but Americans were still able to obtain the car by other means. In 1974, the final nail in the coffin of Citroën selling autos in North America was delivered—the decision by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to prohibit passenger vehicles with height-adjustable suspension. Citroën actually built 1974-model-year cars for the U.S., but was barred from selling them. For many years, Citroën had been running into issues where U.S. design legislation fixed older technologies in place, and prohibited certain engineering innovations "not invented here", including items in many automobile designs today, like mineral oil brake fluid, aerodynamic headlights, and directional headlights. The wisdom of these regulations has since been reconsidered and most have been repealed in the light of developing technology.
Since the height-adjustable suspension was an integral feature of the CX design, there was no way to engineer around it. Even financially powerful Mercedes-Benz had to remove the height adjustment switch from its flagship 6.9 while retaining the hydropneumatic suspension in the U.S.
A few CXs came to North America under unclear circumstances (some related to diplomatic immunity) during the 1970s, but the situation was eased when U.S. Government repealed the ban on height-adjustable suspension in 1981. As with any other grey market car, the CX could be imported and brought into compliance with the unique design regulations applied by the U.S.
In addition to personal imports, several companies began converting and selling CXs to Americans. In some cases, these were not even "grey market" cars, but officially imported vehicles re-manufactured and type approved for the U.S market, with the Citroën badges removed. The importing companies suffered legal harassment from PSA Peugeot Citroën, but despite this, and with no advertising and only a minimal service network, the powerful cult brand of Citroën still managed to sell about 1,000 cars. Price was the biggest hindrance - for example a US market CX GTi cost 107% more than the factory US-model Peugeot 505S.
Today the U.S. government exempts cars older than 25 years from all design legislation, so most CXs can be freely imported. The Canadian government applies a similar rule after 15 years.
In addition to the numerous CX models owned by Erich Honecker, head of East Germany, many other officials found the car suitable as well, with their government purchasing 5,000 of the Citroën GS model.
Elena Ceaușescu, Deputy Prime Minister of Romania (and wife of Romania's Communist leader Nicolae Ceaușescu), was given a CX Prestige by King Juan Carlos I of Spain, which she used until her execution in 1989.
Italian investigative journalist Carmine Pecorelli was investigating former prime minister Aldo Moro's 1978 kidnapping and murder, when he himself was shot and killed by an unknown assailant, while driving his CX in Rome, in March 1979.
The singer Grace Jones sported a haircut shaped like a CX in a prominent series of controversial advertisements for the GTi Turbo in 1985, and featured the CX prominently in her 1985 music video Slave to the Rhythm.
Many episodes of the long running German police procedural television show Tatort (Crimescene) feature the CX, often as the car of detective Horst Schimanski, who first drove a CX in the 1985 Tatort feature film Zahn um Zahn (A Tooth for A Tooth).
The character Jasper Palmer, played by Michael Caine in the movie Children of Men, drove a vehicle based on a CX Safari. This fitted in with the director's vision of vehicles being futuristic designs based on familiar cars but with an unfamiliar disguise. Similar avant garde vehicles such as the Fiat Multipla and Renault Avantime were also used. During the Summer 2010 season, popular BBC motoring show Top Gear hosted a challenge to its presenters to build a caravan out of an ordinary vehicle, whereupon Jeremy Clarkson built a three-storey house out of a 1988 Citroën CX Break.
According to Internet Movie Cars Database, the CX has made over 800 film/TV appearances, including the 1987 film made in the People's Republic of China (PRC), Fei cui ma jiang (The Mahjong Incident), featuring a China market Series 1 CX. 
Other notable appearances include a young Mel Gibson in Tim from Australia, Reisender Krieger from Switzerland, Olsen Banden: Deruda from Denmark, the 1980s ITV (UK) children's Sci Fi drama Chocky, Spike Lee's Mo' Better Blues from the US, and John Woo's The Killer (1989 film) with Chow Yun-fat.
Parts used in other vehicles
Common parts from the CX were used in other more exclusive cars. For instance, the rear view mirrors of the "Series 2" CX were found on many – mostly British – sports cars, like the Lotus Esprit, the Jaguar XJ220, the TVR Chimera and the (French) MVS Venturi.
In 1982, Robert Cumberford built the Cumberford Martinique, an open two seater with engine and transmission from a BMW 733i, and steering and suspension from the CX. Pricing was 60% higher than its closest competitor, from Clénet Coachworks, and only two cars were built. Both still exist, one in France and one in San Diego.
- 1974: 28 August: Introduction of the 2000 and 2200 fastbacks, with engines inherited from the Citroën DS – positioned between the bottom of range DSuper and the exclusive DS 23 Pallas
- 1975: CX voted 'Car of the Year' by 49 journalists from 14 European countries. July: Introduction of the long-wheelbase saloon, the CX Prestige October: Introduction of the Estate version .
- 1976: January: Introduction of the 2200 Diesel saloon and estate. Semi-automatic "C-Matic" transmission introduced as an option. July: Introduction of CX 2400 Carburettor model. September: Introduction of the CX Ambulance. October: Introduction of the CX Familiale Estate, a 7-seater version. December: The President of France receives a CX with electronic fuel injection, 5-speed gearbox and a raised roof.
- 1977: May: Introduction of the 2400 GTi with fuel injection and the larger motor from the DS 23. July: The CX Prestige receives a raised roofline and fuel injection as well as a 5-speed gearbox. All CX 2400 models are given the optional extra of a 5-speed gearbox. December: Introduction of the CX 2400 Pallas Injection with semi-automatic, C-Matic transmission and vari-power steering as standard.
- 1978: January: Introduction of the CX 2500 Diesel model. July: CX 2500 Diesel saloons and estates have the option of a 5-speed gearbox.
- 1979: July: Introduction of the bottom of range 2000 Reflex and 2000 Athena Saloons, as replacements for the previous 2000 Super and 2000 Confort Saloons. Reflex and Athena have the new 1995 cc Douvrin engine shared with the Renault 20 TS, with a 4-speed gearbox on Reflex and a 5-speed on the Athena. November: Introduction of the CX 2500 Diesel Limousine, which combines the CX Prestige bodywork and the engine and transmission of the CX 2500 Diesels.
- 1980: July: The CX 2400 engine receives a horsepower and torque performance increase. 5-speed gearboxes are standard fitting on the Athena, CX Diesel, Super, and Pallas. New gearbox ratios for the CX Break, GTi and Prestige. Rear aerodynamic spoiler fitted to the CX GTi.
- 1981: Automatic transmission made by ZF Friedrichshafen AG replaces C-Matic as an option - available on CX Pallas and Prestige models (both carburettor and injection). Wider front track introduced throughout the range to accommodate the ZF automatic. Introduction of the 2000 Reflex Safari, 2000 Reflex Familiale, 2400 Reflex Safari and 2400 Reflex Familiale Estates. July: Cruise control offered as option on the CX Pallas (5-speed manual and automatic), CX Prestige automatic and CX GTi.
- 1982: New enlarged front wheel arches are introduced throughout the range to match the wider front track introduced 6 months earlier and allow for the fitment of wider Michelin TRX tyres. Michelin TRX tyres are standard on the CX GTi and optional on the fuel injected Pallas and Prestige models.
- 1984: March: Introduction of the CX Entreprise models, the CX 20 Entreprise and the CX 25D Entreprise, having only front seats fitted and the rear lined for carrying loads and targeted towards businesses. April: The limited edition CX 20 Leader is launched. 700 examples are produced and the model has the same technical characteristics to the 5-speed CX 20. October: The CX 25 GTi Turbo is introduced — the first genuinely fast CX model.
- 1985: March: ABS braking becomes optional on the CX 25 GTi Turbo. July: Introduction of the model year 1986 S2 (Series 2) CX, restyled in appearance. Plastic bumpers, a completely revised interior, new mirrors, and protective body strips are among the most obvious changes.
- 1986: Introduction of the 25 GTi Turbo 2, with new intercooler and improved performance.
- 1989: CX production at the Aulnay-sous-Bois factory ceased. All saloon models discontinued. Heuliez, famous French coachbuilders, were given the contract for continuing to produce CX estate models. Introduction of the re-badged 25 TGI Familiale estate, formerly the TRI.
- 1990: Introduction of the 22 TGE Safari, 25 TGI Safari, and 25 TGD Safari Turbo Diesel estates.
- 1991: Last estate models discontinued.
Citroën CX values strongly reflect condition, as befits a high volume car with complex components. Value was bolstered in 2015, when one of the Erich Honecker CX's, a 1984 CX 2500 Injection Prestige, was sold for EUR €95,360 (USD $108,621) at Artcurial.
The most collectible CX models are the very rare Series 1 GTi Turbo, and the Series 2 Prestige Turbo.
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