The Citroën BX - 40 years of lightweight innovation
40 years ago, on September 23, 1982, Citroën presented under the Eiffel Tower a new model that is still remarkable in every respect. The Citroën BX was one of the most innovative vehicles of its time, visionary and bold. A success for the brand, which sold more than 2,3 million BX. At the same time, the new Citroën middle class also represented a turning point. Because a lot was different, unfamiliar and even shocking at the time.
The angular body attracted the most attention. She was unusually factual and completely different from the customers of the Citroën CX or the GSA was used to. The design was created by Bertone. Marcello Gandini designed the shape of the new middle class, which started as the XB project in 1979.
The body brought a CW value of 0,34, which was good at the time, but the main innovations lay in the material used.
Citroën pushes innovative lightweight construction
The basic version of the BX weighed just 885 kilograms, which is remarkable for a mid-range sedan that offered enough space for 5 people plus luggage. The reason was, on the one hand, the thickness of the sheet metal used. The BX was the absolute flimsy car, which the whole neighborhood knew at the latest when the doors slammed shut.
The strong innovation, however, was the extensive use of composite materials, which did not previously exist in the brand. Plastic bodies were predicted to have a great future back then, and the BX anticipated the future that hasn't happened to this day. The flap of the hatchback was made of light but strong plastic. Parts of the C-pillar, the bumpers and even the bonnet.
The BX is a real Citroën
Although the angular body was unfamiliar, Citroën remained true to all other values. The BX had the legendary hydropneumatics that cemented its exceptional position in the segment. It floated over the worst roads, forgave overload, and provided reassuring raised ground clearance on country lanes.
There were no doubts in the interior either. The typical sofa-like upholstered furniture of these Citroën years, which was so often not understood in Germany, turned long distances into casual events.
The now objective control satellites, which became more angular following the exterior design, were still idiosyncratic. They have always been highly controversial, somewhere between genius and madness. Then there were the legendary magnifying instruments that were simply expected in a Citroën at the time.
Citroën cleaned up the first facelift of the BX with the operating satellites and the magnifying speedometers. The so matter-of-fact French alternative in the middle class then became a bit more matter-of-fact and lost some of its flair. In return, she had become more acceptable to the masses.
From now on you no longer had to take a diploma for the operating satellite for the error-free operation of the indicator.
The harbingers of the new era
The Citroën BX stood for innovation and originality, but also for a new era. Because the era of great extravagance was irrevocably coming to an end, the price that the brand was allowed to survive. Landlord Peugeot was in charge and he tolerated one or the other peculiarity, which he is doing again today.
But the engines in the BX were for the first time purely corporate drives, which some long-standing customers may have regretted or found shocking.
For Citroën, the BX represented a revival of the brand, a great success, and maybe even survival. Over the years I've had more than one BX, it dominated the company fleet at times and my co-workers loved it. But that's another story, which you can read here soon.
With media material from Citroën Communication
14 thoughts on "The Citroën BX - 40 years of lightweight innovation"
Sympa cet homage, meme si la traduction automatique donne malheureusement de curieux résultats ^^
Le bruit caractéristique de la fermeture des portes, le fameux baaaongg ! fort peu qualitatif c'est vrai, est surtout du à l'absence de plaque d'insonorisation goudronnée collé à l'interieur… ce qui sera fait après quelques années de commercialisation. Concernant l'épaisseur des tôles, à l'époque tous les constructeurs optimist leur épaisseur avec l'emploi de plus en plus d'acier à haute limite élastique.
La BX n'est pas une auto particulièrement fragile, ni plus fragile que les autres autos de son époque, elle propose une sécurité passive aux normes de son temps. Les éléments en matériaux composites ne sont pas moins robusts, c'est une question de croyance popular negative à l'égard du plastique face à l'acier.
D'aucuns font les memes reproches ou ont les memes idées reçues sur, exemple au hasard, l'AX ! c'est classique, on préjuge negativement sur la sécurité d'un vehicle surtout à cause de son aspect non statutaire, sa finition légère et sa relativement mauvaise image/réputation.
Une voiture qui se déforme en dehors de l'habitacle est une auto qui absorbe l'énergie, c'est ce qu'on demande à la structure pour permettre aux occupants de mieux supporter un choc et lutter contre le risque des lésions internes.
Chaque accident réel est un cas particulier et on ne peut pas comparer directement les effets de deux accidents différents, ni me tirer des conclusions définitives (aidé par les biais cognitifs) de deux vehicles impliqués dans un même accident … c'est pour cette raison que the crash test normally exists for comparing the vehicles between the two vehicles, and the procedure for the test and the notation is different with the times for the adapters that are realised.
I still remember when my brother proudly (I can understand) presented his BX GTI. I can't say how much power it had, but it got down to business quickly.
The GTI was (if I remember correctly) from 125 HP to 160 (16v). My Citroën workshop once gave me the fun with the 16v. A dream. But: I was way too young back then and had other priorities and not enough play money.
160 HP with this lightweight. Wow, that must have been a really dashing Frenchman...
Was it. Very impressive, because hydropneumatics + sporty driving performance is something very special. It was a well-tuned chassis and even back then it was my dream.
It's fun to keep learning about Citroën here through articles and comments...
Especially about the history of this brand, how it managed to be highly recognized in France with (in a global context) unconventional models and to inspire people beyond national borders.
The relationship between Peugeot, Renault on the one hand and Citroën on the other is really reminiscent of the Swedish conditions, of the conservative Volvos on the one hand and Saab on the other.
The rather disappointing PRV engine (Peugeot, Renault, Volvo, 2,7 l V6) from the Swedish-French Conservative consortium fits in perfectly with this.
You never stop learning. Saab and Citroën fit well thematically - especially in the retrospective on the innovative and unconventional automobile construction of a certain phase in European automobile construction. Chapeau!
Our neighbors had one. A diesel. In red.
We drove through the GDR in February and March 1990. I don't remember the roads being bad...
The seat belts in the rear seats were notably different. There were no retractor belts. They were clamped and tightened. In an accident on one of these tours on the A2 east of Hanover, the seat belts proved that they are worth something. The traffic was heavy, suddenly the cars stopped in front of us. Our neighbor slammed on the brakes and we slightly touched the Kadett in front of us. And then it really banged. The driver of a new, gold-metallic Audi 80 did not recognize the situation. He got into the back of the BX when he was about 60. He was pushed into the cadet. The front seats in the BX had been partially torn from the rails; however, our neighbors were also heavyweights. I had to kick the rear door open from the inside, the car was a bit squashed.
The front of the Audi was flat and the radiator was torn open. The Kadett had the shape of the front of the BX stamped into the rear. And the BX…..the bonnet was bent, you could see the GRP material there. The frame was compressed by about one centimeter. That was it. Of the three vehicles, the BX cut the best figure.
Then in this (accident) scenario, the flyweight was even the winner...
I would very much like to believe that exactly, I am firmly convinced that we need lighter cars again.
But a little caution is required when interpreting the accident and its consequences. A broken radiator (Audi) doesn't mean much. In this model, it sits directly in the front, far in front of the vehicle frame, is deliberately part of the crumple zone and occupant protection, and can be easily replaced during repairs. A frame (BX) compressed by a centimeter and doors that have to be pushed open from the inside sound comparatively violent, are relevant for the (self-) rescue of the occupants and also mean a total economic loss in a new car...
In this scenario, I would not hang the broken radiator of a vehicle supposedly traveling at 60 km/h that high. That speaks more for the Audi ...
There has to be so much fairness.
Definitely, I appreciate the Audi 80 and 100 from that time as solid vehicles. The solidity of the Frenchman was amazing. And yes: it was an economic total loss.
The ratio of weight - ultimately the use of energy and resources - and capacity almost makes my eyes water...
It is somehow absurd that other manufacturers at the same time let bodies with eternal value roll off the assembly lines with great effort, thick sheet metal and full galvanization. Very well aware that these cars shouldn’t run forever and never would, that they and their engines are less easy to repair than those of their ungalvanized predecessors, that they ultimately also end up in the scrap press with a similar mileage and duration as a consumer object that has become uneconomical would end up - just without rusting through, as if waste were a valid design goal, as if you could only step on the "catwalk" into the scrap press with dignity or collect a scrap premium with dignity if it also represented a certain waste ...
That also makes you think.
2,3 million, where are they? I haven't seen one in ages.
Comme toutes les autos à partir d'un certain age, à plus de 99% detruites
The BX even made it into our family fleet, making it the only Citroen that I've driven significant distances in. I think with only 75hp, it was still fast and just as practical as my 900NG.
Some alternative e-car manufacturers try the thing with lightweight construction, the X-Bus and also the Aptera are partly well under a ton and that with battery!
75 hp is coming. My first BX had 72 - and that was enough for the lightweight. What times back then!