Buying guide Citroën CX

Buying guide Citroën CX

It’s both idiosyncratic and fantastic – here's how to buy one without the downfalls. Buying guide Citroën CX. Striking when launched, the long-lived CX was on the market for 16 years and transcended British class distinctions.

When Citroën launched the CX in 1974, the styling was not truly as dramatic as many claimed. Robert Opron’s 1971 GS foreshadowed much of the shape.

But it was still a striking machine and its construction was a masterclass in producing a light, strong and refined long-distance cruiser. Front and rear subframes are linked by longerons, the independently strong body floating on rubber isolators. Safety also influenced the control layout and interior design. PRN (Pluie, Rue, Nuit) controls placed everything logically within fingertip reach, its rotating drum instruments being very easy to read. At launch three OHV engines inherited from the Citroen DS were available. Diesel and semi-automatic models followed. Five and eight-seater estates joined the range in 1976, with the LWB Prestige sharing the extended wheelbase. Fuel injection arrived in 1977, followed by overhead-cam Douvrin engines in 1979 and conventional automatic transmissions in 1980. For 1982, there was a minor facelift with subtly flared front wheelarches, and by 1985 both the 2.5 diesel and 2.5 injection OHV petrol versions had turbocharged options. 1986’s extensive interior facelift accompanied plastic bumpers and exterior refinements. In 1989, the XM replaced the CX although estates remained until 1990.


Driving a Citroën CX with DIRAVI power steering is a special experience. 41 years after introduction, it remains unmatched for ride quality, non-comformist intelligent design and visual impact. Despite this, the cars remain affordable to buy and run. The old adage of 10 minutes and you’ll hate it, an hour and you’ll love it remains true. In Turbo 2 form, performance surpass the Citroen SM with much lower maintenance costs, while the turbo diesel model rightly or wrongly helped set European motoring on the path to torquey diesel dominance. A well-maintained one is a thing of joy.


ENGINE 2499cc/4-cyl/OHV M25/662 Type

POWER 168bhp @ 5000rpm

TORQUE 217lb ft @ 3250rpm


0-60MPH 8.0sec


TRANSMISSION FWD, five-spd manual


Concours £6000-up

Excellent £3000-6000

Usable £1500-3000

Project £1000-1500


1986 CITROEN CX 2.5 PETROL TURBO, VALUE £5000 40-year-old accountant, living in PE9, car garaged, 5000mpa, second car so no NCD – £80.42 or £97.42 inc AV


Suspension spheres (pair) £44.36

Accumulator sphere £22.00

Brake discs (pair) £52.00

HP regulator (exchange) £171.00

Door check repair kit £15.00

Prices from & Sphere Shop


Citroën Car Club Yahoo CX-L Group Sphere Shop Andrew Brodie Citroën Classics BL Autos & Sons PTS


Unless you have a strong desire to own the most basic model, the CX is at its best when equipped with DIRAVI self-centring power steering. Post 1981 models have superior rust protection. C-Matic models are rare as the the automatic is smooth and reliable. The 2.2 Douvrin models offer a good blend of running cost, performance and affordability, while the 2.5 fuel-injected Pallas Auto represents almost bulletproof comfort.


Early CX grot spots include the join between the door frame and window surround, below the fuel filler, all seams on the doors and tailgate, and the bonnet, particularly near the spring-loaded support. Sunroof models also show a tendency to rust from the inside out, and on very early models front wings are particularly vulnerable behind the arch, and hard to replace with the correct profile. Now even the youngest cars are 25 years old, everywhere is fair game; rear subframe mounts being a well-hidden and expensive repair location. Facelift models can hide rot behind the plastic trims, though the strong sills take a long time to rot through. Don’t forget to remove the spats and check arch condition from within.


All except the 2.5 DTR have robust engines, though Douvrin overhead-cam engines rattle without servicing. The diesel block suffered porous castings, hence the low survival rate. Many running issues are down to the engine management on the later fuel injected models, with ECUs. Wasted spark coil packs and crank sensors are all prime suspects even without the potential problems of 1980s security accessories.


The Hydropneumatic suspension system is straightforward and reliable when serviced correctly. Heavy steering, particularly if only when turning left, may indicate expensive repairs required for the DIRAVI system, and a fast-ticking pump indicates a failed accumulator sphere. Leaks on the low pressure side are common and easy to fix; high pressure leaks don’t leak for long before the car is disabled. Pay attention to the camber of rear wheels - splayed stance indicates bearing wear.


Series I interiors can be fragile but are easily retrimmed. Door cards warp and are hard to obtain. Series I Turbos have conventional dials. Series II models have a more complex interior trim with three-part door coverings that are robust in use but rattle if clips are broken. LCD displays and cubby boxes on Series II are fragile and colours other than black very hard to find. Leather is rare and desirable. Prestige models should have footrests in rear footwell. Such idiosyncratic and sleek looks could only come from Citroën. Engine-stowed spare wheel also holds tools and spare LHM fluid. Futuristic cabin wouldn’t look out of place in a 1970s sci-fi TV series.

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