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Citroen AMI 6

At the end of the 1950s, Citroën began research on a new vehicle whose objective was to fill the gap, gigantic, between the DS and the 2CV. For cost reasons, the AM project, for mid-range cars, ignores the technologies of the DS to use the 2CV platform.


The specifications require that the future Citroën be comfortable and must not exceed a length of 4 meters. Taking the base of the 2Cv, it is therefore impossible for the engineers to stretch the wheelbase which is faced with another request, emanating from the boss of Citroën Pierre Bercot.  The latter refuses that the future AMI6 is a so-called utility vehicle, in reality a hatchback. It is therefore necessary to find treasures of ingenuity to succeed in designing a tri-body vehicle in a very small size while taking up an existing base.

It was then that Flaminio Bertoni, brilliant creator of the 2cv, Traction and DS, suggested inverting the rear window to offer rear passengers a lowering roof allowing them to no longer lower their heads to sit in the car. This choice imposes an atypical Z-shaped bodywork which, while it offers the advantage of excellent accessibility and prevents snow from accumulating, is rather difficult to carry. But this so strange rear window was not the only stylistic innovation of this AM project since it offers a very particular front composed of a plunging bonnet and square chrome optics which earned it the inglorious term of toad.


Based on the 2CV platform, the AM project cannot take over the engine because the weight of its bodywork is too great. Also, Citroën engineers decided to modify the engine by increasing its displacement to 602 cm³, in order to remain in the tax class of 3CV vehicles. With a power of 22hp, the engine allows a top speed of 110 km/h which, at the time, was a good performance. From the 2Cv, the future AMI6 also takes up the four drum brakes with a diameter of 220mm for the front brakes, which is slightly larger than those of the deuche. Finally, the suspension takes up the principle inaugurated by the 2 CV with horizontal side springs compressed thanks to a system of connection to the wheels by tie rods. Damping is ensured by four shoes. All four wheels work independently. An inertia beater (or mass stabilizers) is present on each wheel and an elastic interaction system between the front and rear suspension completes the system.


The AMI 6 was presented on April 26, 1961 in the city of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. The origin of its name is multiple: Some indicate that Citroën joined the number 6 in reference to the motorization becoming forming AM SIX then AMICI or AMI in Italian. Others point to a more mundane name meaning Mid-Range Automobile. The AMI6 takes up the best of the 2cv, namely its rusticity and robustness, which it combines with the best of the DS thanks to its more careful finish and single-spoke steering wheel, soft seats or even door and control handles. First manufactured in the Panhard factory in Ivry sur Seine, the Citroën AMI6 will inaugurate the very last factory of the brand located in Rennes la Janais which today manufactures the C5 Aircross. If the car seduces with its comfort and roominess, it struggles to convince customers with its particular style, especially compared to its much more practical competitors. If the first months were encouraging, demand fell from 1963 and forced Citroën to react.

In June 1963, the shoes were replaced by four telescopic hydraulic shock absorbers which no longer required periodic adjustments. This quadruple effect system (springs, shock absorbers, beaters and front/rear elastic interaction) will achieve a particularly high performance level of suspension which will be completed on the Ami 8 by the addition of a front anti-roll bar limiting the effect of roll in curves.


The AMI6 makes the break

Despite his dislike for station wagons, perceived as commercial vehicles, Pierre Bercot had to resolve to offer a station wagon on the AMI6 which proved to be less practical than its competitors due to its inverted rear window which prohibited any notion of versatility of use. Thus, the AMI 6 break will make its appearance at the 1964 Paris Motor Show, taking up a design by Heuliez who had designed and designed a break based on the AMI6 in August 1962. The break, much more classic in terms of style, is also much more practical thanks to its tailgate and increased boot volume. And Citroën will be delighted with the sales figures for the AMI6 station wagon, which has literally saved the car's career. Helped by less strong competition, the station wagon already represented 2/3 of AMI6 sales from 1965, even allowing it to become the best-selling car in France in 1966.


A short but ever-developing career

It was also in 1966 that Citroën switched the electrical equipment of the AMI6 to 12 volts instead of 6 previously, allowing the installation of an alternator instead of the dynamo.

In 1967, Citroën changed the front end, which incorporated twin round headlights and a grille with horizontal bars. The wheels are adorned with Gala hubcaps identical to those of the 2cv AZAM Export. Inside, the upholstery is specific while the trunk is lined with carpets. These modifications are reserved for station wagons and will equip the sedan a year later.


At the beginning of 1968, the rear lights were redesigned, became multifunction and grouped together on a trapezoidal block which would later be on the 2cv 4 and 2cv 6. the final technical evolution of the AMI6 before its replacement by the AMI8.


The Citroën AMI6 saloon left the scene in 1969 on the occasion of the marketing of the AMI 8 while the station wagon continued its career pending the arrival of the AMI8 station wagon. Over the eight-year career of the model, production will amount to 1,039,384 copies including 555,398 station wagons and 483,986 sedans, something rare enough to be underlined, the station wagon therefore sold more than the sedan over a longer period. short of only four years, it is to say if Citroën had the hollow nose while leaving this derivative.

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