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Citroen has auctioned off some of its weirdest cars

Preparing for the new year, the French manufacturer has had an almighty clear out

  1. Tucked away in a top-secret location, next to the PSA factory in the Aulnay-sous-Bois region, is Citroen’s secret stash of heritage cars. Known as the Conservatoire, it comprises more than 700 vehicles in 6,500 square meters of temperature-controlled warehouse. It’s not open to the public, but it is awesome, so we once snuck in.

    But, next year, Citroen is packing up its staggering, absolutely massive hall of immaculate cars and moving to L’Aventure Peugeot Citroen DS in Sochaux. Like all house moves, this provides a perfect opportunity for a clear out. And there’s quite a lot to clear out. Apart from the Conservatoire, there’s the ‘reserve’ collection, which is an overflow warehouse of even more old Citroens and wacky concepts. In an attempt to cure its compulsive hoarding illness, Citroen went all Kim and Aggie and sorted the wheat from the chaff and put 65 vehicles and 90 items of automobilia up for auction last weekend. 

    Every one of the 155 lots sold, raising more £681,000 to be used on facilities for the cars they’ve kept spick-and-span at their new home by the Swiss border. Scroll down for five of our favourites went under the hammer.

  2. Mehari 4x4

    The want is strong for this cutey. The Mehari was an open-top, plastic-bodied ribbed beach buggy based on the 2CV, and a classic example of Citroen at its quirkiest.

    It’s got a great back-story, too. The Méhari (a word used in North Africa for dromedary camels) was created by Roland de La Poype, who was a French fighter ace during World War II and a successful industrialist post-war. He came up with the idea of a car with the versatility and economy of the 2CV, but built with jazzier materials.

    The body was made from moulded ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) for extra lightness, and it could be coloured in all manner of vivid hues. Also, you can actually fold down everything above the waistline. Not just the body - the windscreen drops too.

    Almost 150,000 examples were built between 1968 and 1987. And they found themselves in all sorts of situations - a handful of models took part in the Liége-Dakar-Liège rally in 1969, the Paris-Kabul-Paris rally in 1970, the Paris-Persepolis-Paris rally in 1971 and provided medical assistance in the 1980 Paris-Dakar. The Méhari was also used by the French army, as its lightweight design made it easy to parachute drop the car behind enemy lines. 

    This one is a rare 4x4 model, one from only a thousand odd produced. No wonder it went for £25,000. The perfect tool for tootling around the South of France, no?

  3. Berlingo Flanerie

    In the mid-nineties when everyone was rich and high on disco biscuits, Citroen had the ingenious idea of making a six-seat, paneless Berlingo taxi. Needing some help, this particular job was farmed out to automotive loon-tuners Sbarro. And it’s not a one-off, but a three-off as a triplet of Flanerie concepts were knocked out. 

    We’re told the fully-open people-mover is great for long distances (really?) and ideal for long walks in the forest (you what?). Either way, there is a small glass panel above the front seats, while the rear section is totally open. This example has only ever driven 16 miles and sold for €9,500. Bargain.

  4. C-Elysée WTCC

    Been looking for a track day toy? Well, you missed out on a golden nugget at last Sunday’s auction. Instead of buying a stripped-out BMW E36 M3 with a diff ready to detonate, you could have had yourself a complete works World Touring Car driven by none other than driving God, Seb Loeb.

    Though it shares the vague resemblance of a silhouette with Citroen’s C4-based saloon, this C-Elysee is no race-prepped road car. Like every car on the WTCC grid, this is a bespoke racer, sharing approximately as much DNA with your neighbour’s C4 as you do with a tapeworm. It won 14 of the 15 WTCC races in 2014, and, in the hands of drivers Muller, Seb Loeb and Jose Maria Lopez, ran away with the championship again in 2015. Oh, it also sold for just £21,500.

  5. Tubik

    Now here’s something that we’re kicking ourselves about not having a whip round over. It’s Citroen’s 2010 Frankfurt Motor Show star: the Tubik.

    A concept inspired by Citroen’s famous pig-faced corrugated van, it’s a nine-seater with a pull-out luggage drawer, doors that open in funny directions and seats that groove. Being a little over two metres high and wide, 4.8 metres long with mechanical bits at either end poking out of that smooth, wrapover shell it captivated us when it was first launched. It sold for £32,500.

  6. XM V6

    Here’s one for the beardy fans of the double chevron, a 2000 XM V6 phase two. And, surprisingly, it was the most successful car of the auction, selling for £10,800 – over double its reserve. 

    It might have something to with this model being used actor Roger Hanin as part of hit French cop drama TV series ‘Navarro’, and, we’re told, probably carried his sister, Da-nielle Mitterrand, wife of President Mitterrand. That, or some really enthusiastic Citroen owner really wanted the uprated CD changer out of the 74,253-mile aerodynamic XM.

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