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Citroën and biton bodywork: a long-lasting love affair

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In 2016, with the launch of the third generation of the C3, one of the Citroën range's strongest points, personalisation has once again made a splash. But this trend, which continues today from the C3 to the C4 in particular, has a long tradition for Citroën and has been present almost since the beginning. v

Nicolas Poussin, a classical French painter of the 17th century, said that "colours in painting are like lures that seduce the eye, like the beauty of verse in poetry". The two-tone body, present in Europe as well as in other regions (India or Latin America), is naturally present on the new Citroën C3, the only car in its segment to offer this option in Brazil.

Two-tone bodywork first appeared on the Citroën Rosalie, produced between 1932 and 1938, which already featured a combination of two body colours. But it was two decades later, with the DS, that Citroën introduced two-tone bodywork as we know it today: one colour on the body and another on the roof.

Citroën continued with the 2CV Spot, which appeared in 1976, planned for 1,800 units at the base, a model which charmed the public so well that Citroën followed up with a two-tonne offer for the 2CV Charleston, in 1981, and the 2CV Dolly, in 1985. Such was the success that the advertising for the 1986 model year highlighted not the car's technical features but its colours: "Others open the limits of technology. We open the painting".

Since then, Citroën has introduced several Biton models and applications to seduce consumers, offering more than 90 ways to personalise the C3 in Europe. v


What looks like a detail is actually the brand personality and styling of the vehicle. The choice of colour can highlight or hide certain parts of the car, define its shape and proportions, accentuate or soften its lines and influence the perception of speed and dynamism.

The choice of colour can also influence how the car is perceived. Lighter colours such as white and silver tend to be more visible and may be considered popular. Darker colours such as black, graphite and dark blue can convey elegance and sophistication. Bright, vibrant colours such as yellow, red and orange can be eye-catching and are best found on sporty designs.

Inside the car, the colours chosen can also influence the perception of size and space. Light tones, for example, can contribute to the perception of a larger and more spacious vehicle, while dark tones tend to convey a sense of warmth, but also have little effect on the perception of a more spacious interior.


Over the years, two-tone painting techniques have naturally evolved, but this hasn't made them less difficult or less detailed. One of the main obstacles to date has been the need to adapt to the requirements of the style and specific features of each model. As this is a very complex process, it is necessary to apply strict controls to guarantee maximum quality.

Typically, the car comes off the first painting line with a single colour body, and is then re-tinted in sections depending on the model: in some cases only the roof, in others the boot areas and quantities.

In order for this process to be successful, the painted vehicle is protected in the parts that retain the main colour and returns to the passenger compartment to receive the second colour. It is then subjected to Citroën's strict quality controls before it goes on the assembly line.

A curiosity is that, in addition to the maintenance and care that this type of paint requires, which is the same as that of a vehicle with a single colour, in the case of models with a white roof, heat absorption is greater, which helps, in a way, to maintain the interior temperature.

It is all this work that makes up the beauty and unmistakable style of a brand that is constantly evolving in terms of technology and design.


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