Big things with little cars
Big things with little cars

French Friday: Uh, Citroen, mon amie... what were you thinking there, homme?

Following up on last week’s teaser, here’s perhaps the weirdest French rally car ever fielded, the Citroen BX 4TC. Fitting to share this week, as Citroen returns to the WRC today at Monte Carlo, after a year’s hiatus.

Illustration for article titled French Friday: Uh, Citroen, mon amie... what were you thinking there, homme?
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Fortunately Citroen has got their stuff together in the years since this hot mess. This is the “Evolution” version as run at the Rally Monte Carlo in 1986, driven by Jean-Claude Andruet (of Pioneer Ferrari fame) and codriver Annick Peuvergne. In an ongoing theme for the car, it was a DNF. It only competed in three WRC events, and with only about 380hp in the face of hundreds more from Audi, Lancia, and Peugeot it was often beaten by lesser Group A cars. Citroen had failed to notice that Audi had cut its quattros in half by then in an effort to combat terminal understeer, so the 4TC was a full-length pig.

Illustration for article titled French Friday: Uh, Citroen, mon amie... what were you thinking there, homme?
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Illustration for article titled French Friday: Uh, Citroen, mon amie... what were you thinking there, homme?

You may see a resemblance to the aforementioned quattros, and that’s not entirely unintentional. Citroen, unlike their smarter sister company Peugeot, elected to hang its Simca & Peugeot-based N9TE 2.14 liter (same as Audi’s first 10V fives, for FIA equivalency regulations) inline four longitudinally ahead of the front axle line. You’ll notice a similar roofline and symmetrical front and rear side windows as well. The street BX also had a prominent c-pillar vent like the Audi coupe, covered by the huge inlets for the rear heat exchangers on the rally cars. For more on that nutty street homologation version, see Jobjoris’ excellent post here.

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Illustration for article titled French Friday: Uh, Citroen, mon amie... what were you thinking there, homme?
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Illustration for article titled French Friday: Uh, Citroen, mon amie... what were you thinking there, homme?

The car was the result of a two-pronged prototype program started with the BX 4x4 “Mille Pistes” as shown above. Look at that! Built on a dedicated frame and with composite bodywork, it had a more sensible transverse 2.4L turbo four. But Citroen.... didn’t go that way, because that way made sense. The other prototype, which became the 4TC, was based on a production unibody and was thus heavier, with a smaller engine. Also because it’s a Citroen, the final BX 4TC ended up fitted with hydropneumatic suspension, because it had worked 20 years earlier in the DS rally cars, so why the hell not. For more on this crazy car, see Rallygroupbshrine.org’s excellent article on them here.

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So, a typically idiosyncratic French machine, a footnote in rallying history, that nonetheless piques our interest to this day. 20 competition versions were built, 18 of which were evidently destroyed following their abject failure to compete. Fortunately at least one of the remaining cars is apparently still in use in historic rally exhibitions. Now, it’s off to the stages...

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Illustration for article titled French Friday: Uh, Citroen, mon amie... what were you thinking there, homme?
Illustration for article titled French Friday: Uh, Citroen, mon amie... what were you thinking there, homme?
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Illustration for article titled French Friday: Uh, Citroen, mon amie... what were you thinking there, homme?
Illustration for article titled French Friday: Uh, Citroen, mon amie... what were you thinking there, homme?
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Illustration for article titled French Friday: Uh, Citroen, mon amie... what were you thinking there, homme?

The model is in 1/43 by Altaya. Hope you’ve enjoyed this story of ill-conceived madness, have a great weekend!

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