February 9, 2009

In our garage.

The 4-door GS was introduced in 1970 to fill a market segment that Citroen was absent in- midsize cars. They had the high-end DS and the economy 2CV and 2CV based cars (Ami8, Ami Super, etc) but nothing in between. The GS was a well engineered and successful remedy to that. It was awarded the European Car of The Year award in 1971, a testament to the technology (for its time) that went behind this car. Citroen introduced a wagon version in 1972, making an already versatile car more versatile. The air cooled flat four under the hood was originally a Panhard design and was available in either 1015cc, 1129cc, 1222cc or 1299cc. Worth mentioning that Citroen also experimented with a rotary powered GS that sported a Wankel engine. Production of that was very short and few remain today.

It was finally replaced in 1979 by the 5-door GSA. The styling was essentially the same with minor differences, the biggest one of them being the addition of a hatchback. The GSA was also better put together inside and better rust-proofed, though you can still hear it rust if you listen.

By 1986, this once futuristic design was seriously dated and it was replaced by the BX, a boxier looking GS that wasn't as successful as Citroen had hoped.

I got this 1983 model from the grandson of the original owner. The grandpa took great care of it and the grandson never drove it so it only has 76,000 kilometers. Except for some dings and dents that are standard on a car that's spent its whole life in Marseille, it's pretty flawless inside and out.

It has the 1129cc engine and being a base model, it has a 4-speed manual transmission. More expensive models had a 5-speed and they even offered a pointless 3-speed automatic transmission that often had a mind of its own. The best way to describe it is that it drives like a faster 2CV and rides like a smaller DS, the reason being its Hydropneumatic suspension, a system introduced by Citroen in 1955 on the original DS to create a smoother ride.

Like many cars of this segment and era, most of them have rotted into oblivion or have been junked and good examples like this one are fairly cheap but also fairly hard to find.

The interior is unmistakably Citroen and unmistakably French- the speedometer is a rotary drum, the single spoke steering wheel is inspired by the DS, the handbrake is where the radio should be and the radio is in between the front seats, right by the control for the suspension. There is no turn signal stalk and no horn on the wheel, those functions (and more) are found on the two pods visible behind the steering wheel. The tach above the instrument panel is aftermarket (not my addition), base cars didn't come with one originally. The seats feel like something you'd find at RC Willey with a triple digit price tag; add the all-absorbing Hydropneumatic suspension and it's more comfortable than a lot of new cars:

Outside, it takes some design cues from the DS including an unpronounced rear wheel arch. Compared with the GS, the GSA has less chrome on the outside. While its small engine meant acceleration wasn't brisk, its aerodynamic shape meant it could reach high speeds if you spend enough time with your foot on the gas:

Under the hood, you'll find the familiar green suspension pheres found in the DS and the SM and being a flat engine, there is room for the spare, too. Fuel finds its way into the combustion chamber via a single downdraft carburetor:


Eoinsloan said...

Nice report. I had GS and GSA new in period. I now use a pristine 1972 GS 1220 Berline in regularity rallies like the Tour (de France) Auto and stage rallies as well.
Eoin Sloan Cdr RN CEng

Ronan said...

Vous avez des photos de votre GS?

Quand j'etais gosse mon grandpere avait que ca, il en a eu 3 de succession (et aussi des R4s que sa societe lui donnait), j'ai grandi avec ces voitures. Je fais mes etudes aux USA pour l'instant mais j'ai hate de rentrer en France pour conduire la mienne, il n'y a pas de GS ici!

Eoinsloan said...

By Eoinsloan
Yes I havelots of photos but I am lterally off to Paris and will sort something out for you when I get back
Eoin S

Anonymous said...

Its me back from Paris.. To whom do I send pictures of my GS to ?
Eoin S

Ronan said...

You can send them to Alfa.105 -at- hotmail.com. I'm just interested in seeing it is all, thanks!

jashugita said...

The C-matic in the GS and first series CX was a 3-speed semi auto. In the later CX and BX it was a four speed full auto with computer control.