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Kleintjes in crisistijd


Kleintjes in crisistijd
(Small cars during a period of crisis)


Thijs van der Zanden


Raatven 38,
5646 HT Eindhoven,








220 x 240 x 28 mm





I think I must have owned or driven examples of most post-war CitroŽns (with the exception of much of the current range) and inevitably, there are some I love and some that I don’t.  The series 1 C5 is one car that does little for me.  The other two are the LN/A and Visa.  I have never owned one of the former (although I have driven both a two pot and a four cylinder). But I did own a Visa Super E.


The Visa was not a bad car.  It was reliable and comfortable 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 rust and 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 their individuality.

The LN was not sold in Britain but its successor, the LNA was.  In 1978, the LNA was launched and was fitted with the bored out version of the twin cylinder power unit fitted to the Visa.  This engine developed 36 bhp from 652cc  and was fitted with electronic ignition.

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 104s.

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 with 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 cousine de Craiova which are no longer available).  Many CitroŽn enthusiasts 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 found the book to be absolutely fascinating.

The only criticism is that it is only available in Dutch.


Citrovisie was founded by Thijs van der Zanden, who combines his passion for writing and CitroŽns.

Citrovisie publishes books which will interest the enthusiasts of the CitroŽn brand. 

The formula is simple: no basic books with well-known facts and standard photographs, but books full of new information and unseen images.

Besides the heap of information a Citrovisie book offers, it's also a lot of fun browsing through the chapters, since there are many, hitherto unpublished images in the books.

© 2017 Julian Marsh/images Thijs van der Zanden/Citrovisie


Left - The cover of the limited edition which came in a case and has a more luxurious finish, is signed and was only available in 150 numbered copies. Now sold out.