Turbo fascination with a difference - Citroën CX GTI Turbo 2

30 years ago, shortly after my first Saab, another turbo pulled into my garage. A Citroën CX GTI Turbo 2, built in 1987. The turbo of a different kind, the alternative to the Saab 900. But no less fascinating. The CX stayed short, the 900 a few years longer. But somehow I still cry for the CX. Which is rare for me, and extends to a maximum of a handful of vehicles.

Turbo lettering on the steering wheel and boost pressure gauge under the rev counter
Turbo lettering on the steering wheel and boost pressure gauge under the rev counter

The CX GTI Turbo 2 was green-metallic, pictures from that time no longer exist. The vehicle pictured here is similar, shares year and equipment with my CX and will be made in Sweden auctioned. At that time, the CX GTI came first-hand, from a nearby Citroën dealer, and the checkbook was serviced. The dealer no longer exists, and probably neither does the CX. Because the story didn't have a happy ending.

Turbo fascination different

Of course, the CX was the alternative to the Saab. What was ruthlessly logically arranged on the 900 was not on the French counterpart. One only has to think of the car radio that had made itself comfortable in the center console between the seats. This resulted in a great, tidy cockpit. Best Citroën Design, a sculpture and beautiful. But with terrible usability for the radio. The control satellites and the switches in the headliner were cool and much better than their reputation.

Because it was awesome when you hit the right button of this otherness.

Interior, dashboard like a sculpture
Interior, dashboard like a sculpture

In general, the CX GTI Turbo 2 was a fascinating car and the survivors still are today. The Citroën was the Concorde for the German autobahn. Super comfortable, casual. 168 turbo hp from a generous 2,5 liter displacement meet the hydropneumatics and an unladen weight of an estimated 1,4 tons.

It is this daring composition that makes the vehicle unique.

Citroën CX GTI Turbo 2
Citroën CX GTI Turbo 2

The Concorde for the German autobahn

After what feels like a slightly larger turbo lag, the charger kicks in, lifts the vehicle slightly out of the hydropneumatic springs and accelerates it vigorously. The experience is something of a fast-paced sofa and plane takeoff and is a very idiosyncratic mix. These Citroën Turbo experiences, they are 30 years ago, are still present with me. As if it was yesterday. Of all the CXs ever driven, the GTI Turbo 2 made the most lasting impression.

At the same time it was also my last CX until today.

Because the Citroën also knew how to impress in another discipline. He was a regular at the shop. In general, the CX stood more than it drove. Which, in hindsight, had to do with my lack of experience when I was young. Today I would approach old car problems systematically, back then I trusted the local mechanics. A mistake, because the CX developed into the most expensive car of my youth.

Large signature rear spoiler of the CX Turbo 2
Large signature rear spoiler of the CX Turbo 2

The Citroën CX GTI Turbo 2 loves the workshop

This couldn't go well.

Of course not. The bills for all the ailments reached astronomical heights, the psychological pressure mounted, and eventually I gave up. I did one last lap in the CX, floated around town one more time, and then parked it at an uncle's. He sold – as I heard at the time – decent cars. So no Citroën, which was maliciously translated as lemons in the family. But good German brands. My heart bled and with the CX my Citroën story ended for years.

I already missed the car 10 minutes later, but the facts were clear. I had no choice. You can ruin yourself with cars, I had learned the hard way and learned a lot.

The radio - user-unfriendly between the seats
The radio - user-unfriendly between the seats

The Citroën takes revenge in its own way

The story, of course, went on. Apparently it didn't end well. My uncle sold the CX, I got some money in my hand. My stressed bank account recovered and the Citroën headed east with its new Russian owner. It is unclear whether he ever reached Russia, the trail of the car and the Russians is lost near Erfurt.

What happened?

The CX GTI Turbo 2 had an immobilizer. One that asked for a numeric code and was hidden under a small flap. A pretty fancy gadget at the time. But also a devilishly dangerous one. In the car itself was a small piece of paper with a handwritten code from the previous owner. Since I'm already suspicious of electronic things because of my job, I refrained from even looking closely at the keypad. Let alone activate it.

Because, with the wrong code, the control unit blocked and the CX was dead.

The Russian was much naive.

In the evening in Erfurt he activated the immobilizer, went to his hotel and entered the certain code the next morning. Which, no surprise, of course, was incorrect. The CX was getting his own revenge for the eastward transfer. He was refusing to work, the phone lines were glowing, the Russian had a real problem.

Nobody could help. A new control unit was probably due, or an expensive invoice from the Erfurt workshop. It may be that the Citroën was loaded and came to Russia on a van. However. I never heard from him again, but I still miss the other turbo fascination. A little.

With pictures from bilweb

14 thoughts on "Turbo fascination with a difference - Citroën CX GTI Turbo 2"

  • I like the thing about the Concorde on the autobahn. And the CX...yes...I like it a lot too! It is a diva. But still - in the truest sense of the word - gorgeous.
    As I write these lines, I am sitting in the ICE to Paris, we thundered past a parking lot at 300 km/h. And my eyes were drawn to this cappuccino brown CX from the first series with an old French number plate... only the yellow headlights were missing.

    What a design, what a ship......

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    • Yes, tempting. Still. Do people learn from their automotive stupidities?

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      • That's a rhetorical question, Tom, isn't it? 😉

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  • Such a CX was never cheap to maintain. But every kilometer driven was great fun, the CX is unique and stands out from the crowd.

    And, it doesn't necessarily have to be a turbo 😉

    The other CX are just as fun!

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  • strong character

    Just wonderful how different and individual the cars were back then. At a party, a 900, a CX and a 245 stood one behind the other in front of my parents' house. Each of these three cars was the exact opposite of the other two ...

    There was only around 30 square meters and quite naturally a technically conceptual and creative range of interiors and body design, which you can no longer find on a Saturday morning in front of a large supermarket on a whole and completely parked hectare ...

    I miss that strength of character and individuality in automotive engineering, the presence of "quirks" and unique selling propositions that were once crucial to purchase.

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    • This won't get any better. Now come the Chinese in uniform. It's hard to tell the brands apart. It's becoming more and more uniform. And more boring.

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      • Unfortunately that's the way it is...

        I find it absolutely fascinating that the spectrum I have touched upon in automotive engineering and design is not based on niche products. They were all bestsellers and mass products of their time...

        Differentness and character were once selling points. The number of spokes on a steering wheel alone could be decisive for a purchase. Or a chassis. Or what ever. Today, the only thing that counts is which model of which brand comes as close as possible to a generally valid (?) ideal ...

        Small cars are fully equipped and "off-road vehicles" are optimized for the left lane of the German Autobahn. Every car can always do everything and always do its best. No wonder they are becoming more and more alike. The day will come when small cars will be just as heavy and big as an SUV. Fiat 500 and the Mini are not far off. And vice versa, even luxury SUVs as coupes shrink their trunk, headroom on the rear seats and other dimensions to the level of "small cars".
        Everything meets in the “golden” mean. Everything becomes a single mush...

        And that's exactly why we continue to drive Saab and look left and right for other young and oldtimers. It's just more fun than looking for a new car.

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        • And that's why I love my 9-4X and prefer to put it
          Next to the oh so rare Porsche Chayenne or scare them on the Autobahn….
          Go4saab

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          • I know something like that. But is that really necessary?

            With my 9-5 I once stuck elastic* on the left lane on the bumper of a Panamera.

            *Elastic? The distance was variable. On the one hand, it is simply appropriate to keep more distance at a higher speed. And on the other hand, the 9-5 just barely accelerated above 220 ...

            Ultimately, it was much more important for me that I drove just as badly as the idiot in front of me. I was able to keep up (more or less confidently) in every discipline - just sticking elastically to the bumper, ultimately driving the same route in the same time ...

            But probably also with a similar consumption and little time saving. The purest ego trip. It's nice that a Saab can do that too, but today I'm more ashamed to have recalled the deer than it would satisfy me. For me personally, the really cool thing about Saab is that you can drive it properly and don't have to prove anything to anyone ...
            That's exactly what the Porsche driver can't do...
            As soon as he drives sensibly, he is immediately under general suspicion that his income is not enough for both – driving an unreasonable car unreasonably. Am I glad that I no longer allow myself to be measured by such standards...

            No Saab in the world needs it anymore, and no Saab driver either. Protect your treasures and drive them safely and relaxed. We all know what they could do if we wanted to. It's enough to get quickly from A to B and that's all it takes...

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        • I can absolutely understand! I'm probably the only one on the planet who traded a Carrera 4S for a Saab 9-3 2.0T XWD with HIRSCH performance. I just didn't feel comfortable in the Porsche, for whatever reason. In the Saab I was at home again!

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          • I think being able to do more than having to and being more than appearances is ultimately a feel-good formula...

            Sitting in a car from which the "audience" (other road users) constantly expects a certain performance - a quick start at the traffic light, a quick corner on a country road, more sound and noise, or whatever the image of the brand , model and driver - I imagine it would be very exhausting ...

            Saab you drive or "fly" under the radar without any pressure and exactly how you want to be on the road yourself. This is a piece of individual freedom and priceless. I have never encountered a less image and fewer prejudices. In a Saab you are free ...

            (Apart from national clichés, like the man named Ove...)

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  • CX and how infatuated I was with this car! In 1981 I bought a used 2200 Pallas in dark gray metallic, what a nice car. A ship, rather a sedan chair and space without end. But the same thing happened after a year……. You guessed it, I had similar experiences as Tom and the CX was just too expensive for me! But once in a lifetime you should have driven a DS or CX, nothing else compares.

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    • So my father-in-law is still crying about the Xantia he sold 20 years ago
      Andreas

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