Images via Citroen
It’s a surprising but verifiable fact (and not just via the webs) that in 1966, The Citroen Ami was France’s best selling car. Sure it was rather grotesque; sure this was at a time when both the majestic DS and the utilitarian hero the 2CV were in production – but nevertheless, it is true. More people parted ways with their Francs for an Ami than for either of these classic motors.
The Citroen Ami was born of a classic gap in the market. The DS, while being a stone-cold modernist classic and almost completely synonymous with the French national idea of itself, was expensive, suave and costly to run. The 2CV meanwhile, was the preserve of the provinces and along with Renault’s competitor the Quatre, had an image problem – particularly among the metropolitan classes that were enjoying the French version fo the swinging sixties.
Enter, then, a car in the Ami that attempted to fuse the large car swagger of the DS with the affordability of the 2CV. It failed aesthetically, but financially more than paid its way for the national hero of a car company that was Citroen, perhaps more than any other car, it encapsulates the French nation’s assiduous self-confidence when it comes to all things to do with design.
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