Obsessions #7 – Citroën CX

| 1 Dec 2011

Like every enthusiast, I have a classic wishlist that even a lottery win, the IMF and Santa working in cahoots would struggle to redeem.

There are all sorts of things on it, but they separate into several basic categories.

1. Dream cars: the ones that I am pragmatic enough to realise will never materialise under any circumstances. The Ferrari 250GT SWB is typical.

2. Dream cars 2: the ones that might just happen in a parallel universe. These might have once been just about realistic propositions (if I had bought the worst and then cried a lot as it bankrupted me), such as the Lancia Aurelia B20GT and Maserati Mexico.

3. Sailed boats: things that I definitely could have once afforded (thanks to their lower prices and my different circumstances), but are now gone – Ferrari Testarossa, Gordon-Keeble, Flaminia, Espada, Quattroporte, Montreal, (decent) 928 et al. This is the most agonising yet, at the same time, weirdly comforting category – it is traumatising that they have gone forever, but reassuring that I can stop worrying about them and can focus on rather more realistic propositions without the prospect of the bills that come with most of those cars.

4. Affordable at a stretch classics: the sell everything and buy one jobs that, on the whole, I wouldn't swap for everything I currently have, but are nice to daydream about. Stuff like sidescreen TRs, Ferrari 308 GT4, Urraco, Sunbeam Tiger, Rover P5B, a tip-top Mk10 etc. This is by far the most bulging sack of contenders, but one that, thanks to my need to downsize rather than increase my fleet (and subsequent classic-related spending), is not really that different from the sailed boats.

5. Affordable must-have nows: these are especially dangerous waters, but at the end of the day come down to a simple question of whether I would trade any of my current cars for them? The answer is usually no. Phew.

6. Affordable must-have one-days: same as above, but less urgent. The stuff I am forever promising myself that, increasingly, I realise will never get to the top of the list. If I were less inclined to become very attached to my cars and to keep them for a long time, and were instead like some of my friends and colleagues who run their fleets like crop rotation – living with a classic for just a few months until they have got it out of their system and then moving on to the next – these choppy waters would also be shark-infested.

7. Super affordable always quite liked thems: this is Def Con 4 on the danger list. More trepidatious even than the must-have groups. These are the commonplace classics that you can oh-so-easily convince yourself on a Sunday afternoon classified and ebay trawl (especially if you are winding down from a Sunday lunch that came with a beer or wine) could be bought and run as moderns.

As an adjunct to that reasoning, many of them tend to be 1980s classics. But more than anything it is their prices, the sort of money that you can always find or, if need be thanks to an inquisitive spouse or partner, lose (if you know what I mean). Can't go wrong, get your money back youngtimers that will probably prove to be anything but in both cases.

These are myriad and cover all the great marques and are simply too tantalising to the reckless whim-purchaser in me. Examples in this massively broad category of about 2000 models include everything from Porsche 944 and Alfasud to A35 and BMW 8 series.

Yet, of all of those that get my mouse hovering on those lazy, hazy, snoozy Sunday afternoons, there is one car that has my finger twitching over it more than any other. It's not an obvious choice for me, I don't think, even though the chaps and chapesses in the office have been aware of my vague hankering for one for a decade or so.

But, perhaps partially because they are such regular ebay fodder, there are times that that hankering turns into a wave of compulsion.

Clements sent me a link to one the other night (a Safari) that had me scanning the lounge to see if there was anything I could sell to raise the requisite. I found a link to one myself this morning which I tried to keep to myself rather than share because I really really wanted it. Instead I pasted it in Facebook and told the world. Idiot.

The car, of course, is the Citroën CX and I am utterly at a loss to explain quite why it has this effect on me. Sure there are lots or reasons to like them and want them, and I have always liked them, but there is nothing that explains the extremity of my need. Nor how, when or why the CX surreptitiously crept up my want-list from mid-table anonymity to challenging for the title.

I suppose there are lots of pretty fundamental reasons, like the looks, the styling, the concept, the steering wheel, the engineering, the interior (on some models) and the fact that, in modern traffic, there is nothing in the world that looks cooler of more right blasting up a motorway overtaking lane at highly illegal speeds.

About six months ago, I spent the best part of a day driving to and from a job on motorways. I didn't think life could get any better than when the silver 275GTB came blasting past, all sex and fury, but a couple of hours later a CX did the same – but without the sex and fury – and out-cooled the Ferrari by a  mile.

Opron's DS update, a long sleek Exocet of a car, was just born for that. Combined with the knowledge that, being the last hurrah of Citroëns freedom to explore dark engineering corridors that others dared not venture down, the CX is bristling with genius that borders on lunacy.

Finally, I can only think of a few cars where there are so many variants that appeal equally. Prestige, Pallas, Safari, GTi, I would happily have them all and that is precisely where the potential problem lies.

I suspect that as soon as you buy one CX, pretty soon after you will find yourself with one of each on your hands… and a need to own every one in the world. And that is a sobering thought, sobering enough even to so far overcome the post-Sunday lunch beer haze that leaves you so open to suggestion and impulse.

If anyone selling a CX ever sets the auction to end a little bit earlier, say 2.30pm on a Sunday before the beer has worn off, I am in big trouble.