CX Safari: Citroen’s ludicrous slice of loveliness


It was the longest car on the block: and the CX Safari could get you to Dakar in comfort

We would particularly like a later model version. Preferably in gold.

You can do a number of things with this car that are impossible in any other vehicle of its type. You can get a twelve-foot paddle board in the back of it; sleep in it as a family of four, top-to-tail and pretend that the SUV had not been invented and that we are in a car rendered by Gerry Anderson and that everything is precisely as it should be.


The CX Safari was of course inspired by the mind of Robert Opron. It was the UK spec estate version of the CX – also known in its various European guises as Break or Familiale. As the last in a long line of French cars that took the swooping dynamic of the talismanic DS as its starting point, we think the Safari very is at least as outrageous as the goddess. The DS might have been the car that created French car culture as a creative, visionary thing. But the CX Safari brought this creativity into the seventies, applied it to the mass market. And stretched it. To breaking point.

The CX was launched, problematically and gradually, in the early-mid seventies. It was originally conceived with a rotary engine. That was soon done away with. The car was always a bit of a monster. It came with transmission peculiarities, suspension weirdness, and the perennial French electrical problems. Around 70% of the car’s kerb weight was focussed over the front wheels. This is surprising when you look at the car’s sheer length.

It sold pretty well, nevertheless, through its decade-long production, but the CX was phased out in the early eighties to be replaced with the much more modest XM. Shame.

We couldn’t care a jot about problems. Problems can always be solved with aesthetics.