The Citroen BX 19 GT

20 Oct 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on The Citroen BX 19 GT
Citroen BX

The Citroen BX 19 GT

I’m quite unreasonably excited at the moment because I’ve made an agreement to buy one of my all-time favourite cars and dream garage entries – a Mark 1 Citroen BX 19 GT.

Advocates of proper classic cars would no doubt sneer at my entry into the dream garage canon but this is a car that’s really important to me, because it’s the car that got me into hydraulic Citroens. See, my parents had one when I was little (probably around seven) a C-plate example in silver.

I remember, on the rare occasions I was allowed to travel in the front, being allowed to turn the indicators off once we’d successfully turned into the drive (because they didn’t self-cancel). I remember the central rear arm-rest that kept my sister away from me on long journeys (and the way to fold it up if I did want her company after all).

I remember being entranced by the sheer luxury of windows that rolled themselves up and down – and being too short to reach the switches (what the hell are they doing on the centre console anyway?) so having to ask my parents if I wanted the window open or shut. I loved the map light in the ceiling – the way I imagined aircraft to be laid out – which could be swivelled each way.

Most of all, I loved the sensation of it rising up in the air when Dad turned the engine on. That kindled a slightly embarrassing interest in hovercraft, which has never really gone away. Oddly I don’t really remember being captivated by the looks – I’d been far more impressed aesthetically by the gruff bluntness of the Mark 1 VW Passat we’d had before.

I always blame my youthful experience with this car for the affairs I’ve had with various hydraulic Citroens – a CX, two BXs and three GSs – and I’m really pleased that it’s come full circle and I’m about to own my very own BX 19 GT. Normally I would counsel against meeting your heroes, because you’re bound to be disappointed, but I’ve driven more BXs than any other single model of car now and I know what to expect – but hopefully a bit quicker.

My prospective purchase has also led me to some thought about the BX 19 GT’s place in overall car culture history. It’s an interesting vehicle – one that’s riiiiight on the cusp of so many things.

Citroen BX

Just about every current car in 2007 has integrated, body-coloured bumpers. The BX was a very early – if not the first – attempt at this look and while it’s not 100% successful you can credit it with starting a trend. It was also in at the beginning of that ’80s trend for cars without grilles (I’m looking at you, Ford Sierra) which sadly didn’t last, and smoothed wheeltrims (KITT).

Even more odd is the 19 GT’s position in the marketplace. If you Google Citroen BX GTi, you’ll come across a dozen pages advising it as a cheap entry into the hot-hatch market, not as desirable as Golfs or 205s but holding their own against 309 GTi’s and 405 MI16s. The Mark 1 GT though is a different animal. the Golf GTi was still a novel concept and when the 205 arrived it would be a sector down, in the supermini bracket.

The hot-hatch market had grown enough by the arrival of the BX Mk 2 GTi to allow it entry, but the Mark 1 was too big and frankly too old-fashioned. It got by without that all-important i for a start, with just a larger engine and a different carburettor to differentiate it from the 1.6litre TRS. It’s big brother, the Sport, went the twin-carb route, reminding me of the difference between an SC or TC Rover 2000 from the sixties.

This was traditional Sporting Saloon engineering – true Grand Tourers.

Trim backed this up: the GT had more luxuries than its family-car brethren, and a traditional, sports-car style speedo and rev counter rather than the futuristic drum/LED combo of a cooking Mk 1 BX. This was a car which looked both forwards and backwards – all the ground-breaking looks and technology of a BX, but with engine tweaking, trim and equipment from an earlier age of Sporting Saloons.

I’ll be driving my GT with cloth cap and pipe – it owes more to the Hillman Avenger Tiger and Triumph Dolomite Sprint than it does to its younger GTi brethren.

Oh, and I promise never, ever to call it a hot hatch. All content copyright (c) 1998-2007 Stuart Hedges

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