Part 1 (DS, SM and CX model reviews to follow)
by Arian Smits images by Arian Smits and Doug Breithaupt
15CV - Matchbox
2CV6 - Buby
2CV - Corgi
2CV6 - Corgi
2CV - Tomica
2CV6 - Siku
2CV6 - Edocar (plays Happy Birthday)
2CV6 - Maisto
2CV6 - Darda
Dyane - Corgi
Dyane - Majorette
Dyane Raid - Majorette
Acadiane - Majorette
GS - Norev
GS - Majorette
GS Camargue - Majorette
Visa - Norev
Visa (1789-1989 commemorative) - Majorette
BX - Norev
BX - Guisval
BX Racer - Majorette
XM - Majorette
Xantia 1.8X - Siku
André Citroën was born in Paris in 1878, he was not French, but of Dutch Jewish origin. His parents moved from Amsterdam to Paris two years for his birth. The history of the French brand of Citroën dates back till 1902. The factory produced cogs with a special tread in a V-shape that operated more silent than the normal treads. This tread became the symbol of the Citroën factory and is carried on all the cars. (the double Chevron)
After the end of the first world war there was not a great market for the firing shells the factory produced during the war. André Citroën started to produce cars in 1919. The factory quickly became a major player on the European continent and being the largest factory of France in a few years time.The cars they build were of good quality and reliable. But above all the marketing of the cars was genius. André even lit up the Paris Eifel Tower with 10.000 of light bulbs so everyone in and far around Paris could see the Citroën name day and night.
André also thought that the car drivers of tomorrow are today's children. So he wanted to involve them to the car market as soon as possible. So he produced pedal and electrically powered cars in a big scale. He also thought about the less fortunate children and produced tin plate 1/10 scaled models and 1/43 plaster models of his own cars. So Citroën was at those days not only a car factory but also a model car producer.After the second world war this system of producing their own models ended and the models were produced in a normal way by toy car manufacturers.
Many of their cars have inspired world wide affection. Cars like the Traction Avant, the 2CV and the DS19 are the most famous. All three of them reached the car of the century finals, with the DS19 becoming third.
These cars are very characteristic and evolved into many models. The factory produced several other interesting cars in the sixties and seventies. In 1974 the factory was near bankruptcy because the designing of the CX as successor to the DS was far too expensive. How do you top one of the best and most advanced cars of the world? The first fuel crisis was a year earlier that didn't help ether. That was the year that Peugeot took over the controls of Citroen.
After the introduction of the BX in 1982 few cars of character were built and that can be seen in the model list below. Cars like the AX, ZX, Saxo and Evasion have not been done in miniature by any manufacturer. Maybe the collectors luck is changing as today's cars are getting more interesting, like the Picasso and the C5. Sports or Rally can also bring attention to a car. You can see that at the very nice Xsara Kitcar made by Guisval. This is the first small scale modern Citroën in almost a decade!!
Now it is time to look for the models produced in 1:64 scale. The first model is the 11CV from Solido in their baby range. This is a rare, and the only, model of the 11CV. This is also the oldest Citroën model in around 1:60 scale to be found.
In 1983 Matchbox introduced the famous 15CV. This is the six cylinder version of the Traction Avant. This car did not only have a bigger engine but also had a bigger body. This car is known as the gangster Citroën because it was used a lot as a get-a-way car. It was fast for its day and had very good road holding with its front wheel drive, monocoque body and four wheel independent suspension. It could easily outrun the police cars. So the police started to make use of this car as well.
In 1948 the 2CV came into production and has resulted in many models over the 42 years of its production. Like the VW Beetle, It has been done by almost every toy car maker. The most beautiful example is the 2CV van from AHC/Pilen of Spain in the version of the Dutch autoclub "Wegenwacht". Buby of Argentina also produced a very nice and rare model. Tomica of Japan still produces an excellent 2CV model that has been offered in many colors. Siku and Maisto continue to offer examples as well. The Siku was in production in open and closed roof versions but they deleted the closed one this year. This Siku model is of the known Siku quality even though the line is not perfect, it is nice that the Germans have this great French car in production because the big French brands like Majorette and Norev never had one in 1/60 scale. The Asian manufacturer of MCToy (later Maisto) produces a 2CV also. This model is not correct as its rear is to wide (many models have this problem). It has been available across the globe with many different names on its base.
In 1955 the DS was introduced. Many models have been made. The Majorette is the oldest and it was first available in 1966 in the single headlamp version and in 1968 transformed into the newest nose with the four headlights behind glass (for the European version). The DS is the only car that Citroën sold considerable amounts of in the US. In a future article we can go more deeply into the history and models of the DS.
1961 brought us the nice AMI 6 with its reversed rear window like the English Fords. No models of this car are done. The car was changed in 1969 to the AMI 8 and lost its characteristic rear window. The Italian Polistil company made a nice model of this car. Buby of Argentina made a break (station wagon) version of the AMI 8.
In 1967, the successor of the 2CV was introduced. It was called the Dyane. This car sold well (1.5 million cars) but was not as popular as the 2CV (it sold 5 million). Nice models have been done by Polistil, Norev and Corgi Juniors. Efsi of Holland made a early one with just 2 side windows. This model has a sliding roof that could be pulled back so the car becomes a convertible like the real car.
Majorette made this car like a funcar for the oil sheiks of Saudi Arabia. The Maharadja has a parasol that turns while the car is pushed along. When the oil kings changed their cars to the expensive gold plated English limousines, Majorette changed the casting to a Dyane raid. In 1981 they added the Acadyane of 1978. This car was very popular by bakers, butchers and the French post offices. The Dyane based Mehari is not modeled by any maker. This car is a 'plastic' terrain car on the Dyane chassis. In 1978 a 4x4 was introduced and is quite rare today.
In 1970 two cars saw the light of day. The powerful SM and the popular GS. The SM was powered by a Maserati engine and had the DS's hydraulics. This involved into the fastest Citroën made to that point. It reached 150 mph and came in range with the real sport cars of the early 70's. In a future article we can go more deeply into the history and models of the SM.
The GS was a popular family car and also Citroën's first midrange car. The gap between the small two cylinders like the 2CV, Dyane and AMI and otherwise the bigger DS models was too wide so they designed the GS. This car was the DS's little sister, combining the hydraulics and comfort of the DS with the economical running of the 2CV and friends. More than 2.5 million of these cars have been made.
Nice models have been made by Polistil, Guisval and Norev. Majorette also made a GS and a GS Camarque. This Camarque is a Bertone prototype of 1972 based on the GS techniques. The Camarque model is very well done and one of the more common Majorettes. The GS is quite a rare model because it had a very short production run. It has suspension and opening front doors. It features a nice little antenna on the rear.
In 1974 the futuristic CX was introduced. Many models have been made, enough to make a future article.
The LN model of 1976, which was the first proof of the Peugeot involvement (it was a Peugeot 104 coupe), did not bring us any models.
The Visa of 1979 brought us two models. This, also a Peugeot 104 based car, was more unique as it had a body line of its own. It was a popular rally car in the early 80's as it was lightweight and four wheel driven. A nice model of this Visa Chrono is done by Majorette, but does that luggage belong in a rally car?
The other Visa model is of the type I from Norev (the Majorette Chrono is from after the facelift so it is a type II). This Norev is a bit bigger than the earlier Norevs. It has a plastic interior and the line of the car is very well done. It has no features such as suspension or opening parts.
The last model that has delivered us a variety of Citroën models is the BX of 1982. This car had to follow up the very popular GS. It was an instant success as the BX became even more popular than the GS. Guisval, Gisima and Guiloy made nice BX's. Majorette made the not so successful BX 4TC rally car. A very nice model is done by Norev. It was the last small scale car done by this famous manufacturer. This Norev BX had no opening features or suspension but the line of the car is very nice. It has clear headlamp lenses which is not seen on too many models and makes the car more realistic.
Now a time of silence has come. The only small-scale model cars done after the BX are the XM of 1989 from Majorette and the 1993 Xantia from Siku. The XM is a nice model but a bit rough. It is still in production today as a SOS ambulance. The Siku Xantia is of the second type with the famous Double Chevrons on the grill and not on the bonnet as the type one had. This car is nicely done though its wheels are to wide and the rear of the car is not correct. The color of the car makes it all good. This dark blue metallic was the best selling Xantia color. This model had a short production run and was available between 1997 and 2000.
Missing models are the already mentioned AMI 6, Mehari and the LN. But
in the post BX times the 1986 AX, the 1991 ZX, the 1994 Evasion and the
1996 Saxo are still missing. From the new cars, the C5 and Picasso are not
done. But perhaps they could become nice Majorette or Siku models. Don't
forget the Spanish Guisval as Citroën is one of the best selling brands
in Spain. And their Xsara Kitcar is very nice