Five Decades of Citroen in 1:18 Scale
by Doug Breithaupt
Citroen is better represented in 1:18 scale than many larger automotive manufacturers. This is largely due to the combined efforts of Solido and Majorette, both French diecast producers. Five Citroen cars have been done to date in large-scale diecast. Each represents in it's own way, a milestone in the history of Citroen.
The original version of the 15CV was first produced in the 1930's. It survived with many variations but few visual changes for over 20 years. The Maisto example is complete with opening doors, hood and trunk. It is available in gray or black, appropriate to the actual cars. This advanced car for it's day was the first in a long line of front wheel drive Citroens. Considering how few pre-war cars are represented in 1:18 scale, Maisto is to be commended for offering this excellent example.
In 1955, Citroen introduced the DS model and continued to add to their laurels for innovation and engineering excellence. While the styling was uniquely Citroen, the advantage in aerodynamics was clearly visible. In addition to front-wheel drive, Citroen now offered four-wheel independent, active, hydro-pneumatic suspension. Four-wheel disc brakes also became a DS standard and the DS body style lasted into the mid 1970's. Solido offers several versions of the DS. The one pictured here is the DS19 Presidential used by French heads-of-state. Like many Solido 1:18 scale models, it lacks engine detail but does offer three suspension levels via a lever on the underside. The DS is shown at the lowest level.
1952 Citroen 15CV by Maisto - 1963 Citroen DS19 Presidential by Solido
The two 2CV models shown below represent a car that rivals the VW beetle for longevity and utility. Designed before WWII, the 2CV was produced until 1989, as represented by the burgundy and black Charleston model here. The light blue model dates to the 1960's. The Charleston model is of special interest to the author as it is the twin to the real car used for a month in the south of France in 1989. We leased it fresh from the factory in Paris with 10 km on the odo and drove it for 2,500 km. It was like having a new, vintage car. Again, Solido offers the 2CV although Maisto also offers a 2CV from the 1950's. Solido's example does have engine detail, and realistic 2CV suspension.
1965 Citroen 2CV by Solido - 1989 Citroen 2CV6 Charleston by Solido
The 1991 Citroen ZX Rally car represents the newest Citroen in the collection and can be hard to find in the U.S. It is a reminder of the long and successful history of Citroen in long-distance rallying. Offered by Majorette as one of their 1:18 scale selection, this is a well-detailed model. The full-rear cover is removable to show the engine and suspension, very correctly represented. The doors open on a competition interior, complete with rally computer on the dash. This may be the only pro-rally car available in 1:18 scale.
The last Citroen here, an XM, is one I had wanted for many years. A limited number of these Solido-built models were commissioned by Citroen in 1989 for promotional purposes. I saw one in the early 1990's for $75 U.S. and passed it up due to the cost. Recently on a trip to Victoria, British Columbia, I came across this one in a dusty box and made a very good deal. Many consider the XM as the spiritual successor to the great Citroen models of past decades. The XM name and styling cues gave cause to consider it as an SM sedan for the 1990's. With a transverse V6, FWD and active, four-wheel suspension, the XM offers little new from Citroen but at least it is not a re-badged Peugeot. All of the other cars pictured here are currently available for about $20-30 U.S. The XM is easily worth the double the $75 price asked back in 1990, due to it's rarity. The hood and trunk open but not the doors. It has working suspension and is truly a favorite in my collection.
What other Citroen models should be done in 1:18. As the owner of a 1972 SM, I am far from objective in asking someone to do this unique sport GT car. A case could also be made for the CX or one of the marvelous Citroen half-tracks used in the Sahara before WWII. Even so, the existing variety of Citroen 1:18 models is a treat to the collector.
1991 Citroen ZX Rally by Majorette - 1989 Citroen XM by Solido