As I’m in some sort of British flow this week on Instagram I thought I’d share this Citroën Bijou. From Slough. England. And yes: There is a 2CV underneath this greenish awesomeness! So it’s French as well.
As Citroën felt the English public to be way too conservative to appreciate the unconventional and uncompromisingly utilitarian rural look of the standard 2CV they came up with this. Citroën did have the Slough (Western of London) facility for decades by then but producing a UK only model hadn’t been done as far as I’m aware.
The entire chassis and drivetrain were taken from the 2CV while the body was designed by Peter Kirwan-Taylor. Peter who? The guy that designed the Lotus Elite as well. No wonder the body wasn’t made of steel: Citroën Slough used fibreglass for that. Somehow that body however, didn’t get as light as the 2CV’s though.
It’s more modern styled body did gave it a higher top-end and better fuel consumption over the 2CV, it was capable of almost 50 mpg! It’s total weight of 560kgs (just over 500 for the 2CV) wasn’t a match for the 424 cm³ engine in the end (0-60 in over 30 seconds - The Motor magazine claimed even over 40 seconds! - and no: that’s not miles!), especially not with the price it ended up with.
As it was more expensive than a Mini. But it was bigger and, of course, more sophisticated. But another 2 door saloon by Ford England, using an engine with a liquid cooled 1172 cm³ 4 banger having 3 times as much power as the Bijou (and slightly heavier but that was because it was a bit bigger as well) costed... two thirds of the Bijou.
To get that English sophistication parts from more expensive Citroëns were used. The steering wheel and classy doorhandles came from a DS for instance. And that body had to be obtained from a 3rd party at first.
So no wonder it wasn’t a bestseller. In 5 years time, introduced at the 1959 London Motor Show only 207 were produced. Despite
The front always reminded me of the early DAFs (600/750/Daffodil). But that rear is what really appeals to me. A lot of DS / Chapron in that. Elegant. Sporty. Probably extremely fast. Cool at the least.
The model itself is a Matrix in 1/43. Just the axles and wheels seem to be a bit awkwardly aligned as I really had to fiddle to have it with it’s 4 wheels flat on the ground. Or maybe my dioramas are getting wonky.
Furthermore it’s in the exact same color I’d have my Bijou, or jewel in English in. Just that engine makes it totally unsuitable for the roads nowadays. Back then as well probably. Et c’est ça!