The Visa was not a bad car. It was reliable and
economical and it handled reasonably well and I liked the PRN
satellites. But the engine was asthmatic and the transmission seemed
overgeared and it was nowhere near as nice as its predecessor – a GSA
Pallas C-matic. So why did I buy it? The GSA was beginning to
was too thirsty for a 60 mile daily commute on London’s North Circular
and M4. The local CitroŽn dealer offered me a reasonable trade in
against the Visa.
I tried desperately to like it. I tried desperately to discover
evidence of the CitroŽn heritage (or DNA as modern marketeers would
describe it) but PRN satellites and single wiper aside, it was
conspicuous by its absence. Yes, the suspension was soft and yes, there
was plenty of body roll which were CitroŽn trademarks but the handling
wasn’t what I had become accustomed to. I sold it to a friend who
thought it was an incredible improvement over his Austin Allegro and I
bought another GSA.
Peugeot had acquired CitroŽn two years prior to the launch of the LN.
The LN was the first "new" CitroŽn following the Peugeot take over but
CitroŽn purists were horrified since engine aside, the car was pure
Peugeot. The LN employed the body shell of the 104 Coupť and the 32 bhp
version of the CitroŽn flat twin.
At the press launch, there was more than a degree of defensiveness - a
car that looked like a Peugeot but was assembled at a CitroŽn plant and
fitted with a CitroŽn engine appeared to be at odds with assurances
provided just a few months earlier that the two marques would retain
The LN was not sold in Britain but its successor,
the LNA was. In 1978, the LNA was launched and was fitted with
bored out version of the twin cylinder power unit fitted to the
This engine developed 36 bhp from 652cc and was fitted with
In 1983 the LNA 11E and 11 RE were launched and these cars were fitted
with the Peugeot 1,124cc engine and thus were no more than rebadged
The other car launched in 1978 was the Visa. Once again like the LN and
LNA, it was based on the underpinnings from the Peugeot 104 although
housed in a five door body derived from Projet VD which also led to the
Romanian Oltcit and CitroŽn Axel.
Three models were available initially - the Spťcial and Clubwere both
fitted with the 652cc engine which they shared with the LNA while the
Visa Super used the Peugeot 1,1 litre unit.
This book tells the story of how and why the LN, LNA, Visa, Oltcit,
Axel and C15 came to be. The development of these cars coincided
a period of crisis for the company.
Some of the problems were internal
such as major financial problems, erroneous strategic decisions, an
ageing product range compared to their peers and of course the takeover
by Peugeot and the subsequent attempt to reinvent CitroŽn (and to a
lesser extent, Peugeot). The major external problem was the oil crisis
which meant that demand for large thirsty cars fell while demand for
small economical cars grew.
Not only is all of this is placed into context but the book covers in
detail all the variants of the production cars with full technical
information, details of upholstery and exterior colours, and also looks
at the cars in non-French markets.
As has become the norm, CITROVISIE
sets the standard for books about the marque. It is meticulously
researched and uses many previously unpublished photographs and is
beautifully laid out.
This period in CitroŽn history has not been covered at all (with the
exception of Thijs’ books CitroŽn
Visa and CitroŽn Axel la
Craiova which are no longer available). Many CitroŽn
believe that this period was when the rot set in and CitroŽn’s products
became increasingly ‘banalised’ and are therefore dismissive of these
cars – a view I tend to share.
My dislike of these cars was not really
to do with any shortcomings in design – it was more philosophical than
that. I didn’t like what they represented but despite that, I
the book to be absolutely fascinating.
The only criticism is that it is only available in Dutch.