The CX was introduced in 1974 to replace the aged but much loved DS. The car was well received and was voted European Car of the Year in 1975. Often referred to as the last real Citroen the CX was designed by a team led by Robert Operon prior to Citroen becoming merged with Peugeot to create the PSA group. Unfortunately the CX had a rather troubled gestation even by Citroen's standards. The car was developed from the Projet L prototypes that were originally planned as a replacement for the BMC 1800 Landcrab. One of the Projet L cars survives in the Citroen conservatory and is powered by a watercooled version of the GS flat four engine. The original plan was to use a tri-rotor Comotor Wankel unit but a six cylinder air cooled unit was also tried. Ultimately the Wankel engine option failed through issues of reliability, excessive fuel consumption and Citroen/NSU/Comotor agreement breaking down. Unfortunately the lack of a suitable engine came very late in the day for the CX's development and the engine bay was too small to allow anything larger than a four cylinder engine. While the body and interior were extremely stylish and modern the mechanicals were a pretty humdrum (by Citroen standards) carry over from the DS. Early cars were plagued with heavy, unassisted steering and the 2.0 litre petrol engines were also rather underpowered, ironically these early cars are now extremely sought after.
The steering was quickly changed for the self-centering, variable power assisted Diravi system from the SM. This change transformed the character of the car making low speed manoeuvres finger-tip light but also giving exceptional stability on high speed motorways. While the 2000 plodded on, the larger engine sizes were increased with the 2200 engine being replaced by the 2400 and the 2200 diesel being replaced with a 2500. The estate was introduced soon after the saloon and proved a very popular car due to its huge load area and carrying capacity. The Safari was the plain estate form and the Familiale offered three rows of seats as an early people carrier. The estate form saw the wheelbase being extended by 23cm (9 inches) and this allowed the creation of the most prized of the CX variants, the Prestige saloon. Originally the Prestige kept the same roof line as the standard car but this was soon raised, reputedly at the demand of President Mitterand. Again, the early, low roof, cars are most sought after. Strangely for an executive saloon there was no fully automatic gearbox until 1980. Until then the closest thing was the C-matic, effectively a hydraulically automated 3 speed manual gearbox with torque convertor and an electrically operated clutch. This was no Citroen special as similar gearboxes were offered by other manufacturers e.g. Hondamatic and Vauxhall's Easytronic. The engineering in the C-matic system is relatively simple but adjustment can be complex and the lack of a torque-convertor lock up makes them very fuel inefficient. In 1980 the 2400 Pallas was offered with a ZF three speed automatic transmission. This is much more in keeping with the relaxed nature of the CX but the automatic is more noted for its durability than its smoothness.
The first of the more sporting variants was the 1977 2400 GTi with Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection boosting power to 128bhp. This engine was also used in the higher specification saloons and estates. In 1981 the 2400 was increased to 2500 and then in 1984 the first of the GTi turbo models was introduced along with a restyled dashboard and other improvements. The Turbo cars were fast and refined, they offered high levels of equipment and performance albeit at the expense of the traditional magic carpet ride. They had a dedicated following in Germany as autobahn cruisers capable of taking on the high performance Mercedes and Porsches of the day. The Turbo II of 1986 offered improved performance by way of intercooling. In more mundane models the long serving 2.0 litre motor from the DS was finally replaced in 1982 by a new aluminium-block OHC engine jointly developed by Peugeot and Renault. The Douvrin engine was also available in 2.2 form. This engine offered substantial improvements due to reduction in weight, greater power and lower fuel consumption. This change also saw an increase in the front track and the flaring of the front arches. Pallas models and above were fitted with metric TRX wheel rims. TRX fit tyres are now exceedingly expensive and many owners replace them with almost identical imperial rims that accept standard tyres. The Series 2 was introduced in late 1985 bringing larger, plastic bumpers and a more conventional interior layout. The revolving drum speedometer and rev counter were replaced with conventional style clock and needle design as previewed in the Series 1 GTi Turbo. While there is no doubt that the Series 2 cars were better built, better rustproofed and have higher specification it is the Series 1 cars that are most sought a