Citroën GSA - the spaceship for the bourgeois galaxy

Did Citroën once build cars, or earthbound spaceships? The question arises when looking at the command center (cockpit) of an early CX, BX or a GSA. Was the past really that futuristic, and how boringly perfect is our present? The Citroën GSA came up again and again in my childhood, which was shaped by the brand with the double chevron. Sometimes as GS (the original version), later as GSA Club or Pallas. And the instrumentation always attracted increased attention.

Futuristic command center Citroën GSA
Futuristic command center Citroën GSA

The fascinating futurism of the Citroën GSA

He had it all. This unique futuristic mix of control satellites that could puzzle the uninitiated and magnifying speedometer plus digital-looking displays and pictograms whose importance shouldn't be questioned.

Because the weighty red “stop” display was enthroned above all of this. It glowed when the hydropneumatics didn't report that it was ready for take-off, or when something had gone wrong with the planned jump into hyperspace.

An aunt of mine drove a GS, then a GSA, and the car was so much cooler than the Ford, which was our family car. The GSA could hover, it had received a simpler form of hydropneumatics, but it wasn't as impressive as the DS and later all the neighbor's CX.

GSA in Sweden version with headlight cleaning
GSA in Sweden version with headlight cleaning

It lacked the luxury that distinguished the large Citroën. In direct comparison, the GS/GSA series, which represented the rise of 2 CV and Dyane, was a tin can. Plenty of bare metal adorned the interior, especially if you were traveling with the basic version called “Club”.

It got better with the switch to the well-equipped Pallas variant, if the basic tone of the boxer engine hadn't been present, which always made it clear that there were family ties to the cheaper models.

Magnifying instruments in detail
Magnifying instruments in detail

The only thing that I remember as fascinating was the futuristic command center. She had something of a starship for the bourgeois galaxy and made the GSA special. That was really big cinema, not just the Starship Enterprise ZDF, but in real life.

Long story short, I liked the GSA.

Unfortunately, however, the tin spaceship made ample use of the stop light, so that the aunt and space glider were welcome guests at the local workshop. At some point, after two, three or more GS/GSA, the curve of enthusiasm flattened out considerably. Instead of traveling through galaxies, the aunt preferred to use a vile VW Golf, which seemed incomprehensible to me at the time.

X1 stands for the sports model of the GSA family
X1 stands for the sports model of the GSA family

In the future, I punished offers of transport with childish disregard, preferring the bicycle to the golf course, because without a spaceship everything had lost its appeal.

The Citroën GSA in the present

Only a few GSA survived. Thin sheet metal, loveless owners, and only bourgeois middle class gave her the rest. She is largely forgotten, beyond the circles that are still loyal to her.

The memory of the compact space plane from France reignited when I saw one at a Swedish auction. A Citroën GSA X1 (1983), the sports model of the range that you have to know existed at all.

The boxer engine of the Citroën GSA is hidden in the depths of the engine compartment
The boxer engine of the Citroën GSA is hidden in the depths of the engine compartment

The command center is still fascinating and deserves an award for good, bold design.

The rest is more plain, simple, from today's point of view. After all, the doors are covered with plastic on the sports model, which looks cheap and reveals plenty of bare metal, but was already something upscale back then.

The sports model has 65 hp, which shows how far back in time the bourgeois spaceship was beamed. But the large spoiler at the rear leaves no doubt as to the seriousness of the claim at the time.

Large tailgate of the GSA
Large tailgate of the GSA

The GSA was particularly versatile; in contrast to the GS, it had a large tailgate with a corresponding storage space. The offered GSA X1 was a Swedish first delivery, with only around 114.000 kilometers, which the speedometer reveals. The vehicles are still not expensive, despite their rarity.

Almost €6.000 as the highest value, the estimate of the auction house Not. The GSA on offer ended up going for a lot less. What was the issue? Perhaps the condition, which speaks for care, but does not give reason to expect a collector's condition, but is only casually good.

After all, and this is important, a second module of the command center was included in the package.

Redundancy is important, also important in starships. Because the shelves of Citroën have long been empty at the GSA.

With pictures from bilweb

13 thoughts on "Citroën GSA - the spaceship for the bourgeois galaxy"

  • As children we sat in front of it and couldn't stop being amazed.
    Spare parts came to the GDR via relatives from Alsace, which was super exciting even for us children, even though we had no idea why-why-why at the age of 6.

    Camshafts, spark plugs and above all the balls for the hydropneumatics came to us in a suitcase.
    And yes, it was a coincidence that Skoda's weren't available and that's why I was asked if I wanted to order one of the 5000(?) Citroen.

    Nothing Stasi, nothing party, just like that.

    VG Andreas

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  • There used to be a whole pack of GS/GSA from GDR stock. Are they all gone?

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    • In the end, ours completely rusted away within a short time, nothing could be done about it.
      We had the one from 82-83 up until 1992 or something.

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      • The crucial 10th of a millimeter?

        As a child, I met enthusiastic Citroënists on the beach. They were on holiday in Scandinavia with a CX and we with a Volvo ...

        Her boy and I were talking within earshot of his father. His son said proudly, Citroën! I'm even prouder, we drive a Volvo (I thought it was also appropriate for the holiday destination) ...

        Father: Oh, Volvo, they weigh two tons and have such thick sheet metal.

        It turned out that we didn't live far from each other in Germany and met several times at home. Nice people and, the absolute hammer, even a SM at home.

        The father had massively exaggerated. At that time, no Volvo weighed more than 1.400 kg. The sheet metal was not thicker by millimeters, but only by 3 to max. 4 tenths), depending on the make, model, comparison and reference point. Today I ask myself whether these were perhaps decisive?

        Rust and rusting through are also familiar to Volvo drivers from cars of this vintage. Perhaps it is much more decisive whether there was (still or ever?) enough substance to be able to weld at all even as a relative layman?

        Maybe those few tenths made a difference and still make it today?
        You have to start somewhere in order to draw a clean seam and maybe even grind it. Maybe Citroën just went too far too soon? Who knows?

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  • Funny/PS

    The placement of the spare tire is soooo so French. I find her very charming and pragmatic. On the one hand, the German horn of my toenails rolls up when I think of the thermal stress of the rubber or the fact that hot exhaust manifolds, fuel lines and an additional fire load can be brought under one hood without hesitation. A 5 l canister in the spare wheel and an impact detonator in the front bumper are still missing...

    On the other hand, a spare wheel under the trunk floor and possibly luggage or cargo on top is also pretty stupid - at least it's not very French 😉

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    • Under the trunk floor is already French, but then just right. Not just below the trunk, but below the car. You can get to it reasonably well even with a loaded trunk, but the spare wheel is then just dirty and, unluckily, also wet when you change it.
      But you have to die a death...

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      • For this reason, quite a few back then packed the spare wheel in a plastic cover to keep it clean (and dry).

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      • But a death (...) ...

        That sums it up perfectly. It was a great time in automotive engineering when you still had free choice and real alternatives 😉 ...

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      • Is that extraordinary? I'm familiar with that from larger VWs (e.g. Sharan), and it usually seems pragmatic to me.

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        • You always learn something new, I'm actually surprised that this is available from a German manufacturer. Possibly implemented because of the third row of seats and seems to have been inspired by the Voyager.
          However, the solution with the cable winch seems to me to be more sensitive and requires more maintenance than the one with the wire basket and spindle screw that I know from AX or Saxo.
          But it is interesting what has been developed by whom.

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  • Star Wars

    Truly a funny cockpit. You are immediately reminded of older sci-fi movies.
    Funny how old-fashioned and conventional the operating concept and the controls of their spaceships seem to us today...

    The Star Wars saga, which was told and filmed backwards, is almost disturbing. With the (unintended side) effect that technology and design also seem to be developing backwards in the future!

    I like the magnifying instruments. Here, Citroën has very intelligently anticipated the future with analogue means and displays and HUD in that, for example, a speedometer only shows the current speed. A clever reduction to the essential information ...
    On a narrow, winding country road at 80 km/h, you don't have to keep constantly in mind that the car can also do 0 to 79 or 81 to 270.
    But the Lupentacho is older than the GSA, it used to be nicer, bigger and more central. I find the GSA's displays and controls as retrograde as the technology and design within the Star Wars saga. Citroën has done that better before, right?

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  • The display, which is an electronic display, is iconic. I have not had any contact with the GS or GSA so far. But unfortunately it's cool!

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  • ... oh, those were still automobile times! 😉

    I can still remember such strange/confused "command centers" at the Swiss friends of my parents (always visiting us in the summer at the North Sea) ....
    (and the “butter soft” rear seats) …. 🙂

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