Unsung Heroes : Citroën BX

Keith Adams takes a sideways look at one of those bangers, which once littered the streets of the UK. This one was loved and admired as a repmobile for a while, then fell into the hands of minicabbers, and bangerdom surely followed.

But we’ve always loved the Citroën BX – perhaps unhealthily so – at AROnline Towers.

The Citroën that came good

My first Citroen BX - I kept it nearly four years, and it was the start of a lasting obsession.
My first Citroën BX – I kept it nearly four years, and it was the start of a lasting obsession

‘My name is Keith Adams and I am a Citroëholic.’ There, I’ve said it. But in making this dirty little secret public, I feel I’ve finally had the weight lifted from my shoulders. Funnily enough, although I’ve never hidden the fact that I’ve utterly adored the SM, GS and CX since my formative years, what was actually responsible for me owning well over 20 of the things was, in fact, our good old friend, the Rover 214Si.

My first Citroën BX

It’s 1992 and, as a young Blackpudlian who’s somehow managed to default into working in the Civil Service, I found myself with a reasonable amount of disposable income. I’d started out as a pen-pusher for the Information Technology Services Agency (ITSA) in St. Annes, but soon my management realised I had something of a flair for programming computers – and sent me off into a more technical role. Within weeks, I was working shifts in a data centre, on a good salary and in a position to buy a house – and a nice family car. It was luck, of course… but I grabbed the opportunity with both hands.

As a slightly cocky 22-year old, I walked into John Barnett’s – a large used car supermarket (which subsequently became a Peugeot dealer) looking for a nearly-new Rover 214Si, the car that had been foremost on my mind since its gloriously successful launch in October 1989. However, for those old enough to remember the days, this Rover had strong residuals and, when it came to making the deal, I was talked into buying a slightly newer Peugeot 405GR Injection – which began a decade of near-continual French car ownership. The Pug was lovely, in Graphite Grey, fully equipped, and pushing out 130bhp, and everything a 22-year old needed… and it should come as no surprise that I ended up crashing it (into a Nissan Bluebird SSS – sorry!) after a year behind the wheel. Ouch!

The insurers repaired it, but I never felt the same about that car again, and chopped it for something far more sensible – a 1992 Citroën BX 19TGD. I bought it for rational reasons – it was economical, low-mileage, economical, practical and was potentially very economical. Did I say it was economical? Well, that was my intention – I was part of a young family growing fast, and wanted to cut my fuel bills – there was nothing else for it… it would be a diesel Citroën for me.

Switching to diesel

Back in 1994, diesel cars were still a relative rarity on UK roads, and it took a little while to acclimatise myself to driving a 71bhp normally-aspirated XUD-powered example after my super-rapid Pug. But it didn’t take long for me to get my head around that – and years of happy ownership followed. The thing is, the power unit might have been super-rational, but the rest of the BX was just so charismatic, that I found myself enjoying it so much that I felt a little bit of a fraud, beating the system. I mean, this thing would go as fast as everyone else on the road, corner like it was on rails (once I slung on a set of GTI wheels and super-wide 195/60 tyres), and still go at least 550 miles on a £40 fill-up. Those were the days…

Very quickly, I ended up loving that Citroën. Poor old J554 RAV was quickly treated to a raft of improvements – a GTI 16V interior (justified as the original shapeless tweed seats were giving me back-ache), those alloy wheels, a steering wheel from a TVR Griffith (I had a mate at the factory, okay?) a big stereo with bazooka subs, 16V bumpers and bodykit, a tailblazer (so cool in the 1990s) and even a long-range fuel tank. I went on several holidays in France, as well as a number of Grands Prix in it, and it was there, that I still have one of my most vivid car memories (in 1994)… the £20 fill-up. You know, when France had Francs and diesel was half the price of petrol.

I didn’t just love going to France in the BX because of the cheap fuel, though – it seemed to go even better there, like it knew it was home, and would make mincemeat of vastly quicker cars on those lovely Routes Nationales.

An inspiring drive

I still remember a time in the mountainous Midi-Pyrénées region, on one of those lovely sweeping roads being easily able to keep a determined local in his Volkswagen Golf 16V Mk2 at bay. Three-up… With luggage… It was trips like this that absolutely convinced me of the superiority of fluid suspension over its steel counterpart.

I kept this BX 16V for four years, and loved it as a daily hack.
I kept this BX 16V for four years, and loved it as a daily hack

However, once my circumstances changed, and I had more space – the BXs followed. While I owned J-RAV, I picked up my first GTI, and was blown away by its performance. Then followed my first drive in a 16V, and I was blown away again. It wasn’t just the straight line performance of the 16V (of which it has plenty thanks to 160bhp and a kerb weight of 1070kg) that had me hooked, but the dive-free braking, limpet-like grip and addictive engine note. Needless to say, as soon as the opportunity arose, I’d buy another. And another… And another… At last count, seven 16Vs have passed through my hands (including one that came back), two 1.9Ds, a pair of 1.9 Turbo Ds, a 8V GTI (that blew up on the way to Silverstone) and a 1.4-litre TU-engined example, which went far better than it ever should have.

My addiction was finally cured when I bought a Rover 800 Vitesse in 2003 and my head was turned by instant and devastating mid-range torque. Or I thought it was, as rather disturbingly, and thanks to a family member (who enjoyed so many of those trips to France in the 1990s) who’s selling his, I’m now umming and ahhing about buying another one…

The UK loved it, too…

The UK enjoyed a love affair with the BX, too. Probably not as intense or lasting as mine, but the cleverly-styled French midliner became a surprise hit over here quite late in life. In 2012, the BX celebrated its 30th birthday and, when it was first unveiled under the Eiffel Tower, a bright future was predicted for it. As was so often the case, Citroën found itself with a yawning gap between the small cars (the Visa/LNA) and the large ones (the CX) that the ageing GSA wasn’t really effective at plugging.

There was no Cavalier-class car that could pick up mass sales – and that was what the BX was created to do. Citroënistes bemoaned the BX’s conventionality – but, with Hydropneumatic suspension and lightweight (but not flimsy) build, it was certainly a mile away from the rest of the herd.

When it came to the UK the following year, it was offered in a limited range of 1360cc Douvrin and 1580cc PSA-powered five door hatches. The styling, by Bertone’s Marcello Gandini, was the final flowering of his ‘Origami’ phase, and hit the market just as the rest of the automotive world was going aero. It seemed outdated and out of step and, unsurprisingly hard to shift, despite the ‘Loves driving, hates garages’ strapline applied to the adverts at the time.

Loves driving, hates garages

More than that, the BX was hard to get on with because its interior, complete with bathroom scales-style speedometer (a long-lived Citroën feature), was uninviting and just a little strange. A lack of PAS on all models (which were saddled with heavy, low-geared steering as a consequence), certainly didn’t help with those customer test drives either.

However, Citroën plugged away at BX development and, year-on-year, continued launching increasingly appealing cars. In 1984, the XUD powered 1.9D arrived, followed by the delightful 105bhp 1.9GT, and then the roomy estate (cleverly converted by French carrozzerie Heuliez). Slowly, surely, the BX was becoming more desirable.

But, in 1986, the tipping point came, with a subtle facelift. Out went the digital speedo and baffling switchgear and in came a PSA-standard switch-set. New bumpers also toned down the styling, while the arrival of the 130bhp GTI, and a much widened range of diesel and petrol models – at VFM pricing – had the customers flooding in.

The fast ones arrive

In 1987, things just got better with the launch of the 160bhp 16V (135mph and 0-60mph in 7.5s) and the 90bhp turbodiesel models while, in 1989, the wonderful 1360cc TU-engine was dropped in to created the surprisingly lively entry-level model. The range was now effectively complete and, all of a sudden, sales went skywards. For year-after-year, the BX threatened the UK Top 10, and rallied on as UK’s best-selling diesel car. Not bad for a range that struggled to gain acceptance at launch. But what of the BX itself? Why did did it end up proving so popular? As we know, a VFM price is always a good starting point, but it only goes so far.

For a start, the BX’s lightness might have had casual viewers tut-tutting at its flimsiness, but this was a huge boon on the road – all models performed beyond expectations and were exceptionally economical. My experiences back this up – 60mpg was easily achieved in any of the diesels, while at the traffic light Grand Prix, a 16V would make mincemeat of much flashier cars. Inside, it’s airy and roomy and, even though headroom is tight, there’s plenty of acreage for sprawling. And as for showroom appeal, all were well-equipped, with electric sunroof and windows being the norm – as well as that useful adjustable suspension. It was plasticky, but well-trimmed, and welcoming.

However, with the arrival of the next generation of midliners that ushered in the 1990s – such as the Rover 200/400, Nissan Primera and the remarkably impressive Vauxhall Cavalier Mk3 (you’d forgotten that, hadn’t you?) – the BX started ageing quickly. Sales remained strong, but the 1970s-looking car suddenly seemed as appealing as yesterday’s Chicken Biriani.

Descent into bangerdom

With the arrival of the ZX in 1991, and subsequent replacement, the Xantia in 1994, bangerdom followed far too quickly… and just as quickly as it picked-up in 1986-’88, the BX fell off the motoring wishlist in 1992-’96. But it still shows that us Brits will go for a technically interesting car in large numbers, given half the chance.

Apart from my first TGD (and a subsequent TZD bought from a main dealer in 1996), all of my cars were bought at rock-bottom prices, reflecting their perceived undesirability at the time. In 1995, I remember test-piloting an F-registered 16V (with broken reverse) that the seller was desperate to sell for £300 – quite a depreciation hit over eight years – and walking away. Diesels and turbodiesels became of the budget taxicabber’s hack of choice, while the rest rapidly disappeared at the merest hint of an LHM leak or rusty pipes. By the turn of the 21st century, a mere six years after production stopped, the BX had become as desirable as a wild case of herpes – and I loved ’em.

As a jobbing IT manager, post-Millennium, I used to travel all over the country in GXI 9500 (above), a black Phase 2 16v, I picked up from the local bombsite for £195 (yes, £195). All that was wrong with that one was a couple of failed rear suspension spheres, which I duly replaced for £50… and, from there, came another lasting period of Citroën BX ownership. I’ll never forget taking it to the 2003 French Car Show and topping the rolling road figures with 167bhp. Ahead of the modified BXs… All that I’d done to mine? Put on a chrome exhaust finisher.

Despite the passage of time, these cars have genuine classic appeal and prices are rising strongly. The high attrition rate and individual styling has a lot to do with this – but there’s more to it than that. The BX used to be street furniture in the UK – and now they’re all gone.

You could say the same about Sierras, Mk2 Cavaliers and Montegos, but the French hatchback now really does stand out from the crowd and is still a pleasure to drive. You’ll marvel at the lightweight plastic panels and interior now but, in terms of build quality, it’s easily as good (if not better) than the others mentioned (Cavalier aside) – and it’s actually really quite easy to work on a BX. A true practical classic, no less.

The suspension’s no great shakes to fix (Octopus aside – Google it if you don’t know what this means), and the outer panels will always look smart (faded red cars aside), even if there are some critical rust spots to look out for underneath. Finally, rear radius arms can be a worry if not properly maintained but, as Metro-loving AROnline readers, we all know this pain only too well.

In conclusion, an unsung hero, a great starter classic and bangernomics treat all rolled into one. Would I have another? Watch this space…

On of 13 Citroen BX 16Vs I've owned during the last 15 years. Will there be any more?
One of 13 Citroën BX 16Vs I’ve owned during the last 30 years. Will there be any more?
Keith Adams


  1. Funnily enough, if Brits feel BXs can be special cars (just like the Dutch…) in France it’s still more or less in total bangerdom and seen as totally passé. As with DS and all great Citroëns, Dutch enthusiasts are raiding France at the moment, looking for genuine cars at rock bottom prices. The 16V sold more in the UK than anywhere else I think. How many of those ended up as donor cars for 205GTIS? 😉

  2. My name is Julian Mildren and I am a Citroëholic (as well). Excellent article as ever Keith – I still love Citroens, but only the old ones after having a naff C8 that was built on a Friday afternoon in Valenciennes! Three clutches and two gearboxes in teh first 10,000 miles were only the start! BUT, I had a GS Estate when I was poorer, which was excellent, and I got talked out of a BX Estate when I bough my 405 Estate – hohum – here’s to the dream of a Traction Avant (from Slough, of course)one day – to join, naturally the P5B and Stag already in the garage! (or will it be an SM? someone talk me out of that one please!).

  3. @Dmitri In total bangerdom, eh? So if I go to a French classic car meet could it work the other way around. Will I find myself in pools of Maestros and Montegos. Stranger things could happen, I suppose. I heard that the Montego was quite popular in France.

  4. Love the BX – got the balance between Citroen character and some Peugeot underpinnings dead right

  5. I had a 1.9 TRS Auto fifteen years ago and loved almost every minute with it. Having to drive 150 miles home one day with leaking LHM wasn’t fun. I bought four bottles from a store and kept topping up every hour or so.

    There’s an immaculate 16V two minutes from where I live and would have it tomorrow if I had the chance.

  6. I went through a Citroen phase a few years back, starting with a 1990 AX GT 5dr. I later owned a 1995 Xantia TD and then a 2000 Xantia HDi. The Xantia was another underrated car, especially with the HDi engine.

    I maintain a longing for a DS at some point…

    At school BXs were always deemed seriously uncool, which was a pity. They always seemed to have a budget reputation, however undeserved.

  7. I used to have a BX 1.7DTR Estate – probably the best (non Mini) car I’ve ever had. I still wonder why the Honda Accord Tourer I have now, which was designed 25 years later for goodness sake, can’t manage to do some things as well (and I dont mean relatively, I mean absolutely).

  8. Brilliant!

    Yet another one of those cars that’s on my list of ” will `ave one of those buggers one day ”

    Part of me still regrets not taking the plunge with your one! – pah!

  9. I had one of these BX’s 1.9, bloody quick car, Very quirky, sold it after a month for a trailer and then got myself a 418SLD. But a great insight to the other side. Being a Rover nut all my life. The other car I had was a Ford Onion 1.6 GL also for a short time, way before the Citroen. I now drive a Pug 107 Verve cheap, cheerful and plenty of fun. Miss the Rover’s much.

  10. The way the doors seemed to bulge outwards inside always scared me!

    I remember getting a terrifying lift home ( I live near one of Essex’s Citroen breakers) with a crazed Nigerian from work back in ’91 (Kingsley Baffi whose only grasp of English was either movie quotes or docker grade swearing!) barrelling along in a pale metallic blue BX whilst I tore chunks of blue tweed out the seats with my finger nails!

  11. An old mate of mine had a 1.9 TRS Auto – awesome car. He picked it up for next to nothing, and it was pristine. Far and away better than the Punto I had at the time. I loved the way it ticked and gurgled at idle, and of course the rise and fall of the suspension. The seat fabric though was that awful tweed you mention in your article, and the opera windows had crazed. Other than that, what better way to travel than to waft around Worcestershire in a Citroen. 2 questions Keith – what is a ‘tailblazer’, and are those alloys on GXI 9500 of an Alfa GT?

  12. @Simon

    1) A tailblazer is the plastic reflective panel that the number plate is sitting in – in the top picture. A £35 option from Citroen when new – and rare as hen’s teeth now. Generally that panel was naked – or in the swisher versions, painted satin black.

    2) The wheels were OZ Super Touring aftermarket items, bought new from Halfords for the pricely sum of £450.

    I’m agonizing over buying this one from aforementioned family member. I’d get it cheap – he’d rather sell it to me than a ‘random’, and well, he probably doesn’t want to see the back of it. It’s not a flattering pic, and it’s in lovely condition – probably the best one left.

  13. My Dad had two and I drove quite a few miles in both. The first was a normally aspirated diesel complete with the ’86 facelift. It was the top spec 19DTR, recognisable by the extra little windows in the ‘C’ pillar. The standing start acceleration was leisurely to put it mildly, but not too bad once it was up & running. The car was a relaxing, dependable cruiser. This car passesd from being my Dad’s works car and stayed in the family for some years. My Dad then got the 1.7 Turbo Diesel, this time in estate guise. A positive rocket compared to the 19DTR that my Mum now pootled about in. The turbo looked much better in red too, with a black interior, as opposed to the tweed of the older car.

    Would love to have tried a GTi, but never drove anything but a diesel BX.

    A long way from today’s larger, heavier family cars.

  14. A friend at uny in Preston had an F redge BX auto in white, as a passenger, I loved it – amazing road holding, really quite fastt for an auto and as mentioned before, the noises it made at tick-over were amazing. I also liked the way the suspension pumped up at start up! from memory, it was ultra reliable, but he sold it on in 1995 for a fiat puntto, probably a more sensible choice for him at the time, but not half as interesting! I wonder how many BX’s are left now, I doubt there are very many, although I did see a couple at a classic car show up at Nebworth last summer I think.

  15. A-ha – thanks Keith. In answer to your dilemma – I’d buy it – you obviously love the things, and like you say, this one is a beaut, and you know it’s been looked after well……you know it makes sense!

  16. This was mine,[URL=http://s739.photobucket.com/albums/xx36/meexi/?action=view&current=CitroenBX.jpg][IMG]http://i739.photobucket.com/albums/xx36/meexi/th_CitroenBX.jpg[/IMG][/URL].

    Fantastic car as you said bought when diesel was dirt cheap and you had to go to a dirty pump in the corner.

    My mate would swap his Rover 200 TDi for a weekend cause you can see the stuff that gets taken up to Tiree for Surfboarding.

  17. As borrowed from the forum – an FAQ

    Posting an image from an offsite URL

    1) Decide what image you want to post
    2) Copy its address e.g., http://www.image.com/image.jpg
    3) Paste it into your forum thread
    4) This is a URL-based forum, so the image address needs displaying like a HTML webpage. Eg., <img src=”http://www.image.com/image.jpg”>
    5) Your image will now show!

  18. Great cars. The old an had a couple of diesels late 80s / early90s, when the dieselpump was at the HGV end of the petrol station!

    A 17RD that was n/a, slow but a workhorse. Then one of the last 92 Meteors before the Xantia, turbocharged with PAS, blinds and 16v seats!

    Had a Xantia myself, great car, interior felt stronger than the BXs of old.

    Was offered a BX estate a few years ago, great loadluggers but it was rotten around the front subframe.

  19. A great car that managed to keep enough of the exoticness, while appealing to a wider audience. PSA had a lead in diesel engine technology at the time, which gave the BX a big boost as a more exciting option than the smaller 309!

    A shame modern Citroens like the DS4 and DS5 have such horrid underpinnings and bumpy rides when the fine chassis was such a feature of their predecessors

  20. The bx, possibly the last classic Citroen, the xm never did it for me,mand the xantia was plain awful.

    I remember the earlier ones with the glass on the rear pillar.

    Used to work on a lot of these when working at John fields Citroen in Exeter, was around the time the ax was launched with its popping rear windows, Citroen were on a real high in the uk at that point..

  21. I had a lift in a BX 19 GTi one Friday tea time in 1989 from Unilever (in Sharnbrook, near Santa Pod) to Penarth in 2 hours 45 minutes). I must admit to not being that blown away as we had done the trip a fortnight before in a twin turbo (an after market conversion) Vauxhall Senator that did the trip in 2 hours 20 minutes. Both trips were outrageously driven and apart from the driver beating the synchromesh on the Cireoen’s gearbox, the French car was far more refined.
    I seem to recall the BX topping 120mph on the A45 just after Allesley and the Senactor doing 135 along the same stretch. The driving was so aggresive that the Senator blew a piston hence we were in the BX.
    How perceptions of speed have changed.

  22. Grrr I hate you.. I am now looking at cold weekends repairing the exhaust manifold gasket on my overgrown BX.. (AKA XM) rather than waiting for spring..

  23. Just buy that grey one Keith, really!

    I have an unashamed love of Citroëns prior to the C5/Xsara – originally, it was prior to the Xantia, but then I had one. The BX was the car I wanted when I was 17, more than any other car, and I didn’t regret it – migrated onto XMs and CXs, but the BX was always held in high regard. I’ve had 16 RE, 19 TRS, 16 RS and GTi 4×4 models, though what I really wanted was a GTi 4×4 estate.

    Claire: It’s odd, the thing with speed. B-roads and A-roads feel slower to me, and modern cars definitely make me miserable, yet motorways, the pace feels almost too high – if you want to do the speed limit, it seems almost impossible to maintain correct lane discipline. Yet I remember considering well into three figures on certain bits of the M6 more than normal in the XM, which I just wouldn’t risk now – the C6 was capable of effortless 130mph, yet I would never dream of using it on British roads – 10 years ago, 12 years ago, I probably would have routinely done so and not been that unusual on the M74.

    Stewart: 2.0 Turbo? That’s what killed my last Exclusive manual 🙁

  24. always reminded me of a rover 800 series or later sd1 at the front with eyes squinted. nice car. suddenly all gone!!!

  25. @Richard Kilpatric
    Yes it’s a TCT! and a 5 speed one at that, alleged to be only 11 left, only 2 are ’94’s like mine thanks to the turbo suffing the same problems as the 16V BX with regards to ‘Modders’.
    I have the parts, but the job is a LOT of labour! and it means taking the drive shaft out, and probbly skimming the mating face of the manifold. Other than that the car all works, even the AC and mirror heaters as proved at the weekend when I moved it. I will also fit the reconditioned strut tops (done in polutrethane). It’s a lovey car really and has never been serviced in the UK (apart from in my ownership), as the owner for most of its life spent 6 months a year in Geneva and so all its service history is french!

  26. Nice on KA

    I too am a Citroen Slut and have owned a CX Gti, CX TRS, XM VSX Turbo and several BX’s including a 19TGD a 17TZD Turbo which had a 1900 XUD fitted under warranty with the turbo charger bunged on. More recently early last year my daily was a 19 Gti (8V) a seriously accomplished car and a great balance of practicality versus handling and my current daily a 1990 BX16 Meteor..essentially a tuned up 1600 XU engine with a twin tube carb on it. Easy to fix and maintain, resiliant to rust, reasonably economical, comfortable, £100 per annum classic car insurance and because it weighs as much as a pram, quick enough even with the 1.6. These mid spec petrol powered versions are rare now – most of the survivors are either 16V, Gti or 17/19 diesels. The 1.6 engine feels much more like a CX/DS powerwise – the point of the citroen being the complete suspension/power/steering/brake set up ensuring maximum efficiancy out of what is a modest power unit. The 1.6 Meteor gives the same BhP as a 17Tdi but no turbo lag – drinks more though and is a lighter unit. The Gti and the 167V are very different drives – the suspension spheres are harder and on the 16V the wheels are wider as well – personally I find that the BX loses it’s supremely comfortable ride with the larger petrol engines…but that’s just me. Compared to our other daily, a 2001 Subaru Legacy estate, the BX is civilised and poised to drive, the suspension and steering and brakes are all sharper than the Subaru which as we all know solves these problems by lumping in a very powerful boxer and 4×4. The BX16 is less brutal in every way without embarassing itself…

    If I were Obi Wan I might describe it as a:

    “more elegant car from a more civilised age”

  27. I too am a Citroenaholic, but specifically, only those with hydropneumatic suspension. This came from 2 mates’ parents both having GSs when I was growing up and sitting in one of the last DSs (the greatest car ever in the history of the universe).

    By the time I could consider a proper Citroen, we were deep into BX-dom and i remember taking a 1.9D low mileage out from a local dealer. Gearbox was totally stuffed at 7,000 miles which out me off a bit, but I did finally succomb to 2 Xantias; a 1.9TD SX hatch in 1995 and a wonderful 2.1TD SX estate in 1997. the latter was the best car i ever owned until my present Volvo, but I felt they lost the way with the previous C5 and I can’t get excited over their ordinary cars.

    DS, CX and XM though -the business!

  28. I had 2 in the 90s – the first was a 1.4 Leader, which was surprisingly nippy but had horrendous problems with the carburettor in cold & damp weather. This was then replaced with a GTI 8v. Both were cars, magic ride and the GTI was quick. Sounded great as well with it’s massive downpipe.

  29. An acquaintance of mine still runs a BX as his daily driver.
    A 1.4 litre “14 RE” model on an F plate in white. 210,000 miles on the clock, relatively rust free, and as reliable as the tides.
    Funny how French cars were always panned for “poor build quality” in the contemporary road tests. It seems in exchange for their comedy interior plastics you got underpinnings that were as tough as old boots.

  30. I’d agree with that – the plastics do feel cheap but in my experience rarely actually break on you! Not quie the Caramac of the likes of Yugo but not far off!

    Folk always confuse light build with weak build on these cars – they are certainly not weak. My late dad totalled a BX17 TZD hatch in 1990 on the A84 – hit a stag (deer) at 75mph – rolled the car 5 times – hit a tree and landed in the loch – car floated nicely and he swam then walked away – the only injury being mild hypothermia from the loch (well, it WAS June!) and a nasty seat belt bruise. Car was an obvious write off but copper with 20 odd years RTA experience was seriously impressed with how tough it was -= ok there were 200 yards of plastic bits everywhere and the shell looked like that Hindustan in the ‘206 elephant’ advert from a few years back but the car saved him.

    Mechanically the early 1.4s were chain timed douvrain jobbies – tough as old boots and the petrol XUs that came after it – I think the 1.6 is an XU5 – tend to be overlooked by the more famous XUD – the engine that launched the ‘modern’ diesel car. The petrol XUs are also very tough engines and have are good for 200k if coolant and oil are changed when they should be.

    My main complaint with my BX is the quality of the paint was a bit pish so the roof and bonnet are both worn through to the primer. That and the fact that the assembly workerd seem to haver gone out of their way to sharpen EVERY edge behind the trim/in the engine bay etc – to razor sharp levels..never had so many cuts and scratches whilst working on a car or perhaps all those old Volvo’s spoiled me? Mind you the 306 I had was equally eager to drink your blood so it must be a PSA thing…

    Modern Citroens – they all just don’t float my boat EXCEPT the C6 which I would have in a flash roulette depreciation or not!

  31. “the C6 which I would have in a flash roulette depreciation or not!”

    Worst of the bloody lot, frankly. I’d consider a C5 Tourer, still, but you couldn’t give me a C6 free now.

  32. A former colleague of mine had an Alfetta company car which he replaced with a Citroen BX Leader in 1985 (big change!) It served him and the company till 1994 when the company closed down… I dont think it had any major running issues.

  33. Some BX’s used GRP for the bonnet & tailgate IIRC which must have kept the weight down.

    I do spot the odd one around, even the occasional estate.

  34. I ran two secondhand BXs in the 90’s. A 1.6 Meteor – a special edition with the GTi interior – and a 1.9 diesel without the turbo. I don’t look back with the enthusiasm expressed by KA or other posters.

    Neither car was reliable. The petrol one was a terrible starter, and suffered constant hydraulic leaks from the flexible return pipes to the front struts and another return pipe to the pressure regulator which would pop off from time to time resulting in a trail of fluid to catch out following motorcyclists for several miles until the reservoir fell low enough to trigger the red STOP light on the dash.

    The diesel one was a sluggish dog. I never got anywhere near 60mpg from it and it too was a terrible starter, and suffered various fuel problems, once breaking down seven times in one day. Add in head gasket failure, over heating, random power steering failure, more hydraulic leaks from failing return pipes, water leaks, the list goes on and on.

    And yes they were flimsy as hell, rattled and squeaked, had a terrible driving position and I was never convinced the over-complicated suspension gave any real world ride/handling advantage over Peugeots built on the same platform that made do with steel springs and shock absorbers.

    Sorry …

  35. Estates used GRP for the roof I think, some diesels used metal bonnets (I now cannot remember, but I do recall the plastic ones going all the way to the bumper, the metal ones having a small grille, when I tried to figure out what the differences were). The C-pillar trims, clear or not, are plastic too.

    But Jeep Cherokees had GRP tailgates. Clios have plastic front wings. The BX’s use of plastic was interesting, but surprisingly not that unusual.

    I miss having a BX, it’s been about 13 years since i last drove one, and they have a vaguely rose-tinted existence in my brain I suspect. But, as stated before, I wanted to hate Xantias for being new and so forth, and actually really liked the 1.8i estate I had, driving it in preference to the C6.

  36. Another BX freak here! Needed a cheap diesel in the early ’90’s, and got a (then) 6 year old BX1.7D for £375 from the auctions-never looked back!! It was an early rusty hydraulic pipe job, but I remember losing the pressure with a startling hissing on a rapidly darkening, misty night ,in Thetford forest (pre mobile phone days as well).Rolled a handy log under the chassis before the whole lot lost its life blood, cut through the offending pie with side cutters, bent the ends over to seal the 2 halves off, topped up and drove home! Drove like that for 2 weeks before the weather warmaed up enough to investigate what the pipe was!! The 4 later ones I had were 1.7turbo-diesels- stunning economy, but like slugs til you hit 2200 when the turbo kicked in! The Xantia though….heavy, much more refined feeling, but slower and drinks the diesel.

  37. This was mine,Photobucket
    Fantastic car as you said bought when diesel was dirt cheap and you had to go to a dirty pump in the corner.

    My mate would swap his Rover 200 TDi for a weekend cause you can see the stuff that gets taken up to Tiree for Surfboarding.

  38. There’s an immaculate metallic blue estate round the corner from my friend in London.. And I do mean immaculate… looks like it’s done 20k tops!

  39. Re: The plastics- they maybe a bit passe nowadays, but were pretty revolutionary in the mid-70’s when the car was developed. It appeared as a design study in a 1989 technical treatise “motor vehicle fuel economy” by R. Stone; in the use of special plastics(not just Reliant fibreglass),and also for its exceptional aerodynamics- odd looking design strakes and little plastic projections on the flush glass windows amongst other things being very deliberate attempts to guide the airflow in the right direction! I heard a rumour years back that the temporary switch to metal bonnets was due to the plastic moulds being destroyed in a fire at the factory producing them.

  40. I had one. A mate had one. They went wrong often. Despite that, they were so good to drive that we both want another. Badly. They really are fantastic cars – they contained genuine sophistication and drove superbly, at a time when most cars drove rather poorly.

  41. Great article. I had a 1992 BX diesel (non turbo) special edition. I bought it in 2000 while working in France and it had done 141k miles. Took it everywhere – Spain, Germany, France etc. Most comfortable front seats and ride in any car. 500+ mile range from a smallish 45 litre tank. Fitted wheels from a 205 GTi bought from mate for £20 which made it look great.

    It seriously overheated once while stuck in traffic on the North Circular driving to Wembley stadium (to see the last concert held there before it was demolished) and abandoned it at Acton. Fault was the rad thermostat – easily replaced and no damage to the cast iron motor. Imagine what would have happened to a fragile K series???

    Sold it to a mate who ran it for a few more years before it expired at 190k miles.

    It converted me to diesels – current motor is a ZTT CDTI with a relatively modest 105k miles on it.

  42. Remember my grandad always berating BX’s because they use to win Tow car of the year, and he was adamant they should not win as front wheel drive can’t tow. 20 years later he use to tow with a Ford orion – ironic

  43. Fantastic tow cars the hydraulic Citroens. The old man used to tow trailerfuls of industrial equipment and the speedboat for the diving club with the BX, you lower it down, reverse it up to the trailer, hitch the trailer, raise it to normal, and the self levelling suspension stopped it from sagging at the rear.
    The diesel also had useful towing torque.

  44. An old friend had a diesel one some time back, nice comfortable car, nice ride, bit of a work horse,he went everywhere in it, and he later bought Xantia estate,I also went to market research session all about the Xantia. Regards Mark

  45. “you lower it down, reverse it up to the trailer, hitch the trailer, raise it to normal,”

    If you’re good you lower it, reverse under the coupling then raise it and clunk it hitches its self. 😉

  46. Great article, I share your love of the BX and was lucky enough to work as an apprentice in a main Citroen dealer through the times they were “getting better”. Even luckier I worked in one of the warranty investigation appointed dealers, I’ve done just about every job on a BX and was a dab hand at octopus replacement! (memories)

    All I ever wanted to own was a 16valve GTi and years later much like yourself I must have bought most of the 16V’s that were imported into Ireland, the one car I truly miss and I’ve gone through my fair share.

  47. #Andrew – interesting to read about your hydraulic issues – in 25 years of owning and driving most citroens I’ve never had a hydraulic problem.

    As mentioned I use a BX16 Meteor as a daily and would say that cold starting is as challenging as any car of the period fitted with an autochoke and a carb. No more no less

    The NA Diesel is a sluggish car but then again – it wasn’t sold for performance and 60mpg was achievable at 56mph

    Hydropneumatic suspension is pretty simple really – much more so than the 2000 subaru suspension I spent fixing last week and is priceless in rough terrain/rural roads – cobbled streets – hence these were quite popular in Edinburgh. As far as suspension and handling is concerned – I was tailgated by a new Golf the other day – when we hit the bendy bit of the A68 on the English side of the border I simply went round corners faster..he was in a modern sprung car and couldn’t keep up until the road straightened out. The only cars I have owned that cornered as well as my old CX were either sports cars like my Westfield or 4×4 beasts like the Legacy Quad Cam or the Volvo 850 AWD (think 4wd T5)

    I’m still with KA on the build quality – PSA cars of the period were leaders in rust proofing mainly due to their uncomplicated floor plans. Yes there is a lot of plastic but it keeps the weight down. the structural integrity of the cars is impressive – get under the skin and you can see why.

    My main gripe with the BX is the gear box which lacks the rifle bolt firmness the modern driver looks for.

  48. I really ought to get another BX one day, if only to alter the perception left by the absolute heap of shit i had that lasted 12 miles before it expired.

  49. Just a couple of points concerning some comments above,

    Return pipes didn’t just pop off for no reason, yes on the BX they were rather exposed and tended to perish but most of them were a cheap easy fix (strut return pipe and clip set approx £12.00) if the pipes were popping off then you had a problem with the pressure side leaking over to the return side. This could not be fixed by just replacing the pipes or putting cable ties to keep them on, ignorance of the system by whom ever was fixing it was your problem here.

    Cold hard starting Diesels were either incorrectly fitted timing belts or people only fitting 3 new heater plugs (not bothering to replace the one behind the pump as it was awkward). Or as time went by both of these issues became common place.

    As for the 60mpg, it certainly was possible but remembering the state of most of the air filters people were running I doubt it was often achieved.

  50. My dad had a bx 4×4 estate,j299 yoo bought from a main dealer when a couple of year’s old ,great when it worked which unfortunatly wasnt often,constant suspension/hydralic problems leading to sinking suspension loss of power steering,gear linkage broke changing down for a corner,all work done under warrenty but the hydralics never were reliable despite almost everything being replaced!
    Final straw was when the clutch started to slip and the garage wanted £800 to do it as it was an engine out job being a 4×4. Traded it in for a diesel montego estate which was a lot more reliable,just needed regular panel replacement under warenty due to the rust.

  51. @Scooters

    Fair points. “Constant hydraulic leaks” was on reflection a bit harsh.

    But the front strut return pipes did break regularly – probably because of flexing from suspension movement, I suppose.

    For me, the BX ‘plumbing’ was a bit fragile compared with older Citroens, and the front struts were a design compromise to fit the PSA platform.

    I never had a hydraulic problem with five GS/GSAs and a CX ran by me and other family members in the decade before.

    Perhaps that’s why ownership of the two BXs ‘cured’ my Citroen addiction.

  52. I love BXs & Citroens! Even the dodgy Lucas drive by wire throttle didn’t dampen my spirits for the brand.

    One day I’ll own another…

    Although the new Citroens aren’t as characterful, the 2011 C3 my Pop has is actually a fantastic car in my eyes.

  53. @Andrew

    It is true the BX’s rubber return and metal pressure pipes were horribly exposed, the GS and CX did have them well hidden which made for some serious fun when they need replacement 🙂

  54. I have a 1992 BX 1.9 TZi auto hatch here in Bundanoon, Australia,which is between Sydney and Canberra. It is in pristine, original condition and I have driven it all over the place – to Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane, western New South Wales and so on. It is a superb touring car and just as comfortable as our 2007 Citroën C5 HDi. In fact the C5 is driven mostly by my wife, while I prefer the BX. The car has been meticulously maintained and over the years; gearbox overhaul and hydraulic return lines replaced recently. In my opinion it stands up well against many new cars of its size.

  55. Hi everyone,
    glad to see i’m not the only one.

    i own a 1984 Citroen BX 16 TRS and ive just had it restored. Its been hard going, but when it works its ace.

    In fact it really is better than most new cars; superior ride, handling, power/midrange for a 1.6 petrol is amazing, boot space, interior comfort and equipment (powered steering and electric windows!!). Most surpring however is the quietness of it all…..

    Parts are cheap and so is insurance; im only 23! i learnt to drive in a clio dci which had the worst gearbox ever! So the power of the BX combined with the smooth, fluid feeling and easy to handle gearbox was a pleasant surprise.

  56. I love ’em – I’ve got two. Check out BXClub.co.uk for more disciples


  57. Was recently in a BX – again visiting my Citroen collecting pal – and he has a 1.6 automatic. Can’t mind the exact spec.

    Brought back memories, especially the single spoke wheel and anti theft “there’s no stereo here” flap, but the interior also felt a bit flimsy compared to Xantia interiors. Different eras I suppose – the BX had a shelf life similar to that of the Maestro.

  58. Our Meteor had a taller rear spoiler and a bodycoloured (black/very very dark grey) numberplate surround.
    But it does look similar.

    Looked exactly like this:

    Strange that the ‘J’ reg model has ‘Citroen BX’ without a black surround (and as per later models like the ZX) whereas the later ‘K’ reg has the old [BX spec] —– [Citroen] badge plinths.

  59. As I recall the very last BX’S did have updated badging to bring them in line with Citroen badging convention of the time.

  60. To clarify – the green car above is a Hurricane special edition. They were all offered in Triton Green and featured 16V body kit (minus the skirts). You could buy it with a Turbodiesel XUD under the bonnet, or GTI 8V-spec engine with 125bhp. Both were great to drive and look smashing now.

    They’re pretty collectable too.

    As for the badging, in 1991/’92 following the launch of the new ZX, the BX’s boot lid was tidied up to read ‘CITROEN BX’. I can only assume the K-plater in the image above was sat around in a showroom for a while before being bought.

    My J-plate car (top of the article) had this later badging, but it was retro-fitted by me (as was the case with all BXs I’ve owned since).

  61. The green one is a Hurricane. The one in the photo is a TZD turbo with a 1769cc XUD engine.According to ‘howmanyleft’ there are about 17 left on the road. The GTi version is considerably rarer:’howmanyleft’ says there’s only one, but I know of a couple more.

    The silver badging is found on late plate, high spec cars and limited editions. The ‘T’s (TGD,TGS etc.) retained the older badging. The silver car is a 17TGD of which there seems to be only 8 or 9 left. The non-turbo 1769cc engine is a little underpowered for such a big car, which made the 19TGD a much more popular option. The 17 didn’t have power steering as standard either, so it’s quite a heavy car to steer until it gets going. I bought both of them for pennies really saving them from the scrappers, but BX prices are slowly rising and even the classic car mags seem to be taking a bit of an interest.

    Solid(ish) series 2 cars can still be bought for around 4 or 5 hundred quid, with low mileage very tidy TZDs and valvers fetching as much as £2000. Early series 1 cars with the PRN dash are the most sought after and are now very rare. A mint, ultra low milaege series 2 GT is about to come on the market for 5 grand – and worth every penny: 5 grand for a BX!? who’d a’ thunk it!? They’re beautiful cars to drive, very reliable if you keep on top of the maintenance and the XUD engines seem to go on for ever. Cheap insurance too on a classic policy – well, if you’re an old codger like me!

  62. I think the BX GTi 16V and 405 Mi16x4 were great cars of thier time certainly something i would have considered over a sierra 4×4 (very capable neutral handling car)if i had my time again.

  63. Difficult to find one that doesn’t have underbody rot.
    Got offered a 1.7D that needed extensive welding a couple of years ago, but chickened out of the task.

    The interior, sitting in it now it seems flimsy compared to the Xantia onwards, but the seats are like armchairs.

    I recall my dad had his parked up in the residents car park, boot full of heavy tools and equipment.
    It did it’s Citroen thing and hunkered down for the night.

    We got a rap at the door from a concerned passer by, the car – the suspension had broken! He went and checked, and showed the passer by the suspension raising and lowering. At least they had good intentions!

    An American on site commented on it saying it was like some sort of ‘James Bond’ car 🙂

  64. Find a good one and you wont regret it, makes a Sierra feel like a horseless carriage, yes they are flimsy (most 80’s cars are) but maintained properly they will easily see 200000 miles in comfort and style. Light and fun to drive, so different from the big heavy efforts you get now.

    Dont be put off by the suspension, worse case is you have to fit new pipes which is the same as fitting new brake pipes, fit treated ones and you wont have to do it again!

  65. Well I have had many different citroens and I just love them. Its date inhale owned 8 BX’s, 3 Xantia, 1 one visa (convertible) 3 GSA’s, 1 XM, (unfortunately) 1 CX, 1 Synergie, 1 ZX, 1 AX, and currently own a C8 and my beautiful BX

    I now am the proud owner of the BX St. Tropez
    1 owner, and only 32,000 miles from new. Full service history and totally fault free. This car does not even have a single dent or even a scratch on it. I was amazed that even the original wheel covers are scuff free after 22 years!! Totally unreal!

    I would love to put a white GTi aero foil on the back and some genuine BX mudguards on it, if anyone knows where I could source these? Cash waiting and would go to a good home

  66. Our family car of the time was a MK3 Cavalier, which (as a 14 year old with long legs) I refused to travel in the back of. The BX was a revelation in comparison, and could ride over bumps without rolling about in the corner. Fab cars.

  67. @76 – eBay is your best bet for old Citroen parts. I know someone breaking a couple of XMs, but I’m not sure if he’s breaking his BX.

    Does anyone know what the rattle used to be from BXs?
    I recall, when one was driving past, it would make a noise like a stone in a plastic bucket getting shaken.

  68. Thanks for a great article Keith.
    I had BX 16RS Estate – absolutely fantastic car. It used to break it’s Accentuator or something to do with the throttle ( no doubt someone will put me right on exactly what it would have been) every 12 months. – but it was our family car and I loved it to bits!
    I had a Dyane and an Ami 8 Estate too – that’s enough now – I’m getting all emotional and trying to work out if I can get another car in the drive!

  69. Shame to see BXs ruined in adverts because it has a square look and the suspension can handle all sorts of novelty modifications.

    Cheesestrings made one the cheesestringmobile, and Dennis Pennis in the bookies advert ruined one with a rollout casino table.

  70. A friend had a diesel and paid over £1000 at a garage to have all the hydraulic pipes replaced about 1991. That was about what the car was worth! You had to take the engine out to replace the pump inlet pipe? Nice cars, but no wonder so many were scrapped.

  71. I’m currently running a BX 1.7 Turbo Diesel and it’s incredible. Strong performance, 54mpg, amazing comfort, great handling and a healthy dose of equipment. It cost me £375 last September and I’ve spent about 300 on it since, covering 4000 miles in that time. I think the above post about pump inlet pipes really drives home that if you don’t find the right garage or do the work yourself, these cars CAN be a nightmare. For those of us who know our way around them though, there’s nothing to touch them.
    For the record, I did buy a 16v from Mr Adams – but it was so quick I had to sell it for the sake of my (still clean!) driving licence.

  72. @Adrian

    I think that was the CX.

    Don’t recall a BX advert, I had read about ‘Loves driving, hates garages’.
    I just recall the Xantia adverts with an Australian actor approving.

  73. Really enjoyed reading this article 🙂 I’ve just done a deal on a ’91 GTi and am picking it up on Thursday. Can’t wait to get back into something interesting. Interesting what’s said about how the Dutch feel as I’m living in Netherlands now (but am English) and notice there are LOTS of older interesting cars here which are missing from the roads of England and Germany (where I lived for 4 years).

  74. My father traded in a Mk2 Vauxhall Cavalier 1.3 (4speed manual) for a Pearl Grey BX 16RS registered new on 1 Aug 1988 (F251JVJ)

    Happy memories of that day -a real head turner- but sadly the car was a total disappointment. Performance was lethargic compared to what was then a 6yr old Cavalier. Fuel economy was a disappointment. Silly design feature – no way to activate the rear wiper without wasting a burst of washer fluid. ‘Magic carpet ride’ a complete joke; the Blaupunkt stereo spat out the cassette on numerous occasions when we drove over a cattle grid. Finally it simply had to go as it was starting to jump out of first gear (no confidence during rush hour at busy roundabouts). Oh, also the car was riddled with oil leaks (engine removed!) one month prior to the 1yr warranty expiring and we also has issues with rusty wheels within 4-6 months of the car being registered.

    We traded it in for a 1.4 ZX reflex (again, brand new in 1992) and there was a vast improvement in performance and economy. Whilst our BX certainly wasn’t a particularly good car (boy, do we wish we’d bought another Cavalier or the Toyota Corolla), I’d love to experience a BX that isn’t the ‘Friday car’ that ours was…!! 🙂

  75. hi there new to site.i currently own and drive daily a 1993 bx 1.9 non turbo estate, .i bought from a friend couple of yrs ago to get me out of trouble.the car has done 244,000 miles now.im no mechanic but have done rear suspension arm bearings ,disc and pads all round,new octopus pipe since owning this car.all i can say is this car even sat for 2 months whilst i done the work,started on the button the morning i needed it.it still gives me 48 plus to the gallon and is the best thing since sliced bread.the mot station cannot believe how there is no rot on the car.clean as underneath.there is paint/laquer fade on the bonnet and roof but apart from that i cant fault it. for a non turbo she picks up real good.id love to find out how many are still on the uk roads if anybody could answer that it would be much app.

  76. Hi keith

    I ve become obsessed with my red citroen bx txd estate.. but unfortunately two weeks ago they impounded it and crushed it.. GUTTED!! really need to find another one as there is no other car for me… Do u happen to know any online for sale or where i can keep a look out.


  77. My grandparents had a new BX St Tropez (H564 VRH) in 1990-2, apart from a leaking fuel tank when they picked it up it wasn’t a bad car, it was traded for a ZX as it was really too big and heavy for my gran to manage. According to DVLA it was last taxed 2001

  78. I got caught by the same bug regarding the BX, and in the same way too!

    I’d been daily driving my Jag XJ40 4.0l 5-speed for about a year and the fuel bills were starting to get a little worrying (my driving didn’t help).

    Up popped a BX 1.9 TXD on eBay that had failed MoT on rust 7 years ago and sat in someone’s back yard ever since. A quick bout of impulsiveness and I bought it for £256!

    The chaps I bought it from drove it up with no MoT, insurance or anything and gaping rust holes near the front suspension mounts but it ran like a charm!

    I welded up the rust and got to driving and was thoroughly surprised at how non-awful it was. I thought it would be funky looking but dog-slow and boring to drive with the non-turbo diesel but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Peppy enough to get moving and light enough to be fun wherever you take it.

    Drove it for a year before the water pump gave way, then fixed the water pump and it’s developed a leak from the return on the rear suspension. It’s on the list of things to fix and as soon as it’s done I’ll enjoy clattering around in it for many years to come 🙂

    Either that or I’ll see if I can swap in that 8 valve 106 Rallye engine we’ve got lying around…

  79. I used one as a company car in 1994 during a shortlived spell in door to door sales. We used to drive from Carlisle to Lanarkshire every day and even though the BX was a non turbo diesel, it still went well and got 50 mpg. Used to like it when it started up and the suspension started to rise. Had I been with this company longer, we’d have received a Xantia turbodiesel, which would have been very nice on 200 mile round trips.

  80. Were a good car the BX and with hindsight should have been many more private sales of them over stodgy Sierras and Cavaliers of the time.

    As the article says they went out of fashion in the mid-1990’s and were ‘over-scrapped’ – scrapped because of something fairly simple going wrong – and their XUD9 hearts ripped out for fitment to a caned Berlingo van typically.

    The Xsantia was a lovely driving car too but some say the heavier Xsantia gave more suspension trouble.
    Didn’t Chris Goffey, Mister ‘Dr Car’ himself drive a red BX diesel I think? A better move than William Woolard punting a Chrysler Alpine!

    Talking of adverts, I vaguely recall a BX TV advert where the BX was breaking the chain to the petrol pump, ”..why use only one type of fuel..” or something as such.

    Here is a seriously sexy and cool BX ad’, pity this was not campaigned elsewhere.


    Here is a seriously sexy and cool BX

    • One of the main issues was the fact their import operation and dealer networks wasn’t big enough to cope with MASSIVE sales numbers. Also… as still is the case today… fleet sales counted for a HUGE chunk of the total tally. Fleet managers knew if the bought Cavalier’s and Sierra’s by the dozen they could almost guarantee the WLC of the car, its final residuals AND know they would be no headache whatsoever to pump back into the used car network.

      Not to mention they were petrified of the “perceived complications” of the running gear. That said, when a BX failed, it often costed considerably more in both downtime and price over the equivalent GM or Ford machine.

  81. The BX was slightly smaller than the BX & Cavalier, & PSA had the 405 after 1987 that was better suited for that catagory.

    When the Xantia came along they were popular with fleet buyers for a few years.

    Around 1o years ago it was common to see BX’s with sagging suspension, often owned by the sort of people who buy cars cheap & run them until they can’t get them through the MOT.

  82. The engine used on the company car, a K plate, was a 1.9, more than likely the venerable Peugeot Citroen XUD unit. It wasn’t the fastest car on the road, possibly it would hit 100 mph flat out, but it seemed to cruise well at 70 mph and would average 50 mpg on a 200 mile round trip( very good for that era of diesel family cars).

  83. the BX suffered at the hands of the Dealers, even the obvious suspension faults such as seizure of ride height compensation parts was not a first time fix, if only the intertnet had been mainstream of the BX era, plenty of self-help for the capable DIY fixer

  84. @ Hybrid, I think it was always these sorts of issues that made buyers wary of Citroens as they were difficult to fix even for dealers and many non Citroen mechanics hated working on them. Even now, they’re not easy cars to work on and are expensive to fix when they go wrong or need MOT work.

  85. Had a BX 19GTI in white in the late 80’s early 90’s. Was a great car and used to park it in the Ingatestone Station Car Park, drop the suspension and evade the dreaded clamp (they had just introduced car park charges which hacked us all off). Happy days.

  86. As a former Citroën enthusiast, the BX has put me off Citroëns for life. I’ve owned 2 x 19 Diesels (non turbo), and despite meticulous servicing and maintenance, the head gasket went on each.
    My advice to anyone thinking of buying or restoring a BX is don’t. It’s a absolute penance. Air gets in to the fuel system, so called Citroën mechanic gurus don’t want to know, the forum is full of geysers who know nothing and sell spare parts for a fortune, and you can spend entire days working on them to no avail.
    As I write this, my BX is off to the scrapper; the rightful resting place for these abysmal cars.

  87. The XUD engine, which powered the diesel BX, is deserving of an article in its own right. Debuting in the Talbot Horizon in 1982, the engine powered every diesel PSA car until 2001 and was sometimes used by other manufacturers to save costs on developing their own diesel engines. Widely praised for its durability, refinement and economy, the XUD changed the way people thought about diesel cars, which in most cases in the eighties were slow, rough and unpleasant to drive. Also the BX was probably the first car where diesels outsold petrol, as fleet buyers appreciated the superior economy and unbreakable engines.

    • The XUD engine is popular in bangernomic circles as it has enough refinement without being too complex.

      • The XUD was produced in the era before DPFs and complicated electronics, and when diesel engines were simple and built to last.

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  89. The BX was probably the car that made Citroen a big success in the UK: as its predecessor( the GS) was seen as too eccentric for mainstream buyers and the CX was too big for the light to medium part of the market. Once the BX dumped its unusual dashboard and widened its range of models, sales really took off. It was a car I’ve always sung the praises of as it had the right mixture of Citroenism( hydropnematic suspension and distinctive styling), but wasn’t too avant garde to scare away the mass market and probably won over tens of thousands of British buyers. Also the diesel models were light years ahead of the clunkers used by Ford in the late eighties and gained the BX more sales.

  90. I served my apprenticeship on Datsun and in early 1983 in the space of one week my whole family lost their jobs through redundancy.
    At the age of 18 I started my own business with £30 from my grandma.
    I took a job at a Citroen dealership in 1985. First job was a BX clutch cable and pedal box. Wow, what a difficult introduction to the Citroen. I was working on the floor and if you didn’t get the early cables fitted exactly right, the car would be back in a few days with a frayed inner cable and cracked pedal box. The factory couldn’t get it right on our RHD models…
    With the advent of the 1986 series two, the BX was transformed. An absolute bargain. Quality control improved and the new BX was in my opinion the perfect car. For some reason suspension spheres were rubbish on the new model?
    I worked at several main dealerships before working in education for a decade. I started my own Citroen garage whilst teaching before going full-time in 1996. I owe a huge thank you to the BX. It has paid the bills for about fifteen years.
    I’m just about to spend a silly amount on a mint low mileage one. I have a Xantia with a 39k diesel xud engine and box which will replace the current TU motor.
    I’ve owned at least thirty BX over the years. Fifteen years ago I bought lots of mint examples for about £50.
    Lovely cars which beat most contemporary cars on being rust free for at least ten years.
    Great article!
    I will add a few tales of my life working on them in the future, if that’s okay?

    • That’s good to know, a lot of them were scrapped in the 2000’s because people didn’t want to spend money on the suspension if anything went wrong. I remember seeing a BX around Stockport about 15 years ago looking like a speedboat because the rear suspension was lower than the front!

      The Xantia seemed to do even better, with a slightly less quirky design but still Citroen enough to keep the long term buyers happy.

  91. Probably why the BX died out rapidly after the nineties was it wasn’t a car for a home mechanic or a backstreet garage with limited amounts of equipment. Go back 20 years, there were still thousands of Mark 3 Cavaliers running with minimal maintenance as they could be serviced by a home mechanic and all garages knew how to fix them. The BX, while it had no serious engine or transmission problems and was quite well protected against rust, had the hydropneumatic suspension that if it started to go wrong, was beyond the home mechanic and small time garage to fix unless they knew Citroens. Also maintenance costs were higher than Ford and Vauxhall and by the noughties, some Citroen dealers didn’t want to know about faulty BXs, so the car rapidly disappeared from the roads.

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