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[Words of a Citroënist] The Citroën AMI 6 Wagon

La Citroën AMI 6 Break vue de devant

A new section on the site, Passionnément Citroën gives you the floor to tell us about your passion for Citroën in a free speech on the subject that interests you. Whether it's a test drive of a new or old Citroën or your passion for the brand, Paroles de Citroëniste is your space. Today, Jean-Marc shares his passion for the brand through the Citroën Ami 6 Break that accompanied him throughout his childhood.

I was lucky enough to have a father who was an amateur painter and who introduced us to the concept of beauty from an early age. But he never failed to warn us: "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder". With him, we learned to instantly scan the details of each thing we observe, the sum of which becomes the whole, to the point of moving us.

I am necessarily the heir of this education, and it is in my nature to be suspicious of what I like from the start. For me, it cannot be "beautiful", but a reflex carried by the context of the moment. In cars today, this implicit support comes from Doxa, which is fed by algorithms based on opinion polls. The result is a compendium of ready-made ideas, ready-to-think ideas, trends created from scratch by influencers to generate the strongest collective support. Automotive illustration is what we call the consensual silhouette: Don't make waves, don't shock, don't take risks, model to reassure. This is certainly the recipe for quick victories, but nothing that arouses emotions, nothing that leaves a lasting impression. And it is the exact opposite of a real Citroën, which is involved in all the controversies, the often misunderstood, the polarising passions, in a word: a total break with the automotive right.

La Citroën AMI 6 berline vue de profil

The model that immediately springs to mind is the AMI 6 saloon with its upside-down "Z" rear window. For once, the strangeness of the line does not prevent it from starting its career with a bang, before the blow falls in favour of the station wagon version, the best-selling car in 1966!

It's the more orthodox 1968 AMI 6 Crystal Blue Club Wagon that I'm going to talk to you about.

This version, which preceded the AMI 8, was bought by my father from the Citroën dealer in the town of Grasse in the Alpes-Maritimes. It replaced a 1965 "comfort" estate. I remember its smell, at a time when every new car had its own smell. Equipped with the 602 cm3 two-cylinder evolution of the 35 CV SAE (32 CV Din), I discovered this very elegant estate car at the age of ten. I said to myself that it exuded luxury as I admired the frame of its ribbed aluminium windows (unfortunately replaced by steel on the 1969 model). Equipped with a double carburettor and a special camshaft, it reached, as the cover of the Auto-Journal attested, a real 123 km/h! It is this engine that will be used on the AMI 8. The sound of the flat twin, more subdued than usual, reminded me of an NSU. I saw again those distinctive signs such as the AMI 6 monogram in gold brass, its rubberised strips reminiscent of those of the DS, its powerful twin headlights, its trapezoidal rear lights, its tyres called "white sidewalls", its refined interior with seats with reclining backrests covered on the sides with imitation leather framing a thick fabric in the middle. Still DS inspired, the soft carpet, the padded boot, the aluminium door sills... I loved it!

Le Citroën AMI 6 Break

And I admit that I grimaced when my father favoured the AMI 8 estate, which I recognise as more practical thanks to its flat-floor boot and more generous glass area. But I didn't like it that much. So when I managed to persuade my parents not to give in to the temptation of the 304 estate, I was reassured when they got back behind the wheel of a 1975 GS 1220 Club estate. Then I discovered its new trapezoidal seats, its new vertical (and shortened) lever on the centre console. My father hardly benefited from this, as he had a heart attack while cycling at the age of 53. Later, when I had obtained my driving licence (on a Renault 5), I finished my driving lessons and started driving alone at the wheel of this extraordinary GS. I noticed that it was easier to drive than the little Renault: its steering was softer, more precise, its turning circle smaller, not to mention its legendary comfort, the power of its brakes to be tamed on wet roads, but which I did not find disconcerting, having sat at the wheel of my uncle's CX several times. My college friends loved to travel on it. We loved to go skiing in the hinterland of Nice, the GS went everywhere thanks to its constant height suspension, whatever the load. This was not the case with a Peugeot 304 or an R12, whose handling became approximate on wet roads.

2024. Times have changed. Teasers have exhausted the element of surprise. Some expect a Citroën to "break the house", while others hope that it will be like all the others, translated as cars with smooth lines, copied and pasted. We expect Citroën to work miracles, forgetting that it has not been ONE for a long time, especially as it is one of the 14 Stellantis brands. But it has a secret. It embodies the spiritual legacy of its brilliant creator. The spirit of André Citroën penetrates the unconscious of the generations who build Citroëns. It shakes their brains to extract the essential marrow. A "popular" positioning, in the best sense of the word, seems to me to be the right way to go at this moment in the brand's history. It is a laudable goal, a revolution in itself, even if it is never easy to be right too early. And this perspective opens up the field of possibilities. Citroën's destiny is not a smooth river. But I see it as an opportunity to stay awake in these times of upheaval. That means rolling up our sleeves, fighting against the odds, putting our ideas into practice and always believing in better days to come. I will end with what the late Thierry ASTIER wrote: "More than any other in the automobile industry, Citroën is the polarising brand par excellence, capable of making radical models impossible successes". I believe that under Stellantis, Citroën is fully capable of meeting this challenge.

Source photo Citroën AMi 6 Break :

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