}Citroen Concours of America's

Citroen CX Buyers Guide


The following buyers guides are based on CCA's experience in 25 years of buying, selling, inspecting and repairing Citroens. The values listed are based on CCA's sales experience in Southern California - automobile prices can be very regional and therefor these values should only be used as a guide.

E-mail us at citroenconcours@yahoo.com if you feel we overlooked something that should be added to our buyers' guide.

 

Above: A steel-bumpered 1981 CX Pallas

The Citroen CX was introduced with much fanfare at the August 1974 Paris Motor Show. Its shape inspired by the SM and GS, the aerodynamic and futuristic CX had a tough act to follow: the venerable Citroen DS. The CX was the last car to be entirely designed in-house, before Peugeot bought the company in 1975 and started taking the company mainstream. Although it's introduction didn't shake up the motoring world like the 1955 unveiling of the DS, the CX was futuristic and idiosyncratic enough to distinguish it as a Citroen. The European Automotive Press was impressed enough to award the CX "Car of the Year." The handling, ride, and styling quickly made it the car of choice for business executives and politicians. Citroen further expanded that market niche by introducing the extended wheelbase CX Prestige in 1975. Due to its large size by European standards and healthy thirst for fuel, the CX was also offered in several diesel versions including the DTR Turbo 2, the quickest production diesel in the world: top speed of 120 mph and 0-60 mph in 10.1 seconds.


The choice of CXs falls into two distinct categories: Series I (1975 - 1985) and Series II (1985 - 1991). The Series I cars were imported into the USA by several gray market importers including Trend Imports and Jareb Hydraulics in California. To ease EPA compliance, almost all of the imported Series I CXs were of the diesel variety. The Series II cars were imported by either CINA (Citroen Importers of North America) from Georgia or CX Automotive from New Jersey. Both of these importers opted to bring in the fuel-injected 2.5L CXs. These were easier to comply than the carbureted gas version and made it unnecessary to import the less popular (for the USA market) diesel CXs.
It is estimated that there were slightly under 1,000 CXs sold in the USA. Probably at least half of those are still on the road and most of those are the later Series II cars. These cars were pretty advanced for their time, so well maintained ones can be a dream to drive but if proper maintenance hasn't been done, you could eat up your annuity and retirement fund and still not have it on the road. There are benefits and drawbacks on both Series cars and these should be considered carefully before buying. To help on an exchange basis. I would therefore suggest you avoid any cars with suspect transmissions unless it can be bought for a very attractive price.

Hydraulics:

  1. Check that the hydraulic fluid is the correct LHM (Liquide Hydraulique Minerale - a clearish green in color) as required. If the hydraulic fluid is reddish or brownish in color, it may be contaminated with Dextron II or worse: brake fluid. In either case, the hydraulic system needs to be flushed immediately. If it can be verified that the hydraulics are contaminated with brake fluid (or another non-mineral-based fluid), the car should probably be avoided unless it can be purchased dirt cheap.
  2. Check the suspension: Idle the car in normal
    suspension height. Push down on the front and rear bumpers. If there is no give in the suspension, the spheres (shocks) need to be replaced. Be aware that you won't get the same floating ride from the GTi and Turbo CXs as a DS, or even an SM. The ride was made noticably stiffer to handle cornering and might feel a little harsh to a DS or SM driver.
  3. Check the hydraulic recycling time: With the car idling in the normal suspension height, the hydraulic pump should activate every 30 seconds or more. The pump makes a short burping sound when it activates. If this sound is continuous or occurs every few seconds, there is either an internal leak in the hydraulics or the pressure regulator and/or accumulator needs to be replaced.
  4. The steering is virtually troublefree. Almost all CXs sold in the USA have the self-centring Vari-Power-Assisted steering as first introduced on the Citroen SM. Heavy steering at slow speeds is not necessarily a steering problem but more likely a flat main accumulator.

Brakes:

1. The CX has a voracious appetite for front brake pads. Fortunately they are easy to change and relatively affordable. However, if there has been a lackadaisical attitude in replacing the pads, ie change them when they grind, there is a good chance the front brake rotors will be scored and in need of replacing.
2. Later cars with ABS are wonderful to drive but can develop related electrical problems, although usually of a minor nature (ie flashing ABS light on dash).

Body:

If you are planning to reside your CX on the East Coast or in the "Rust" belt, opt for a Series II CX over a pre-1981 model. The early cars had virtually zilch in the way of rustproofing whereas later cars had state-of-the-art rust protection. Post-1981 cars were also redesigned in critical areas to inhibit rust and were painted with a much superior finish. If you are interested in a early CX, inspect the car carefully for any signs of rust. Cars with rusty body panels can be fixed but unless you have deep pockets of cash or a degree in metal working avoid any car with rust in the floorboards or frame.

On pre-1981 CXs:
1.
Inspect the inside of the wheelarches carefully. Mud tends to get trapped there and the fenders will rust from the inside out.
2. The drain holes in the bottom of the doors will
frequently plug causing rust to start there. Carefully inspect the bottom of each door.
3. Check around the bottom of the windshield. Again, water gets trapped there and they tend to rust from the inside out.
4. Check underneath the car especially the frame rails which are frequently damaged due to incorrect jacking.

 

On All Cars:

  1. Check for rust in the hood and trunk area, especially around the lower rear edge of the trunk where water frequently collects.

On All Wagons:

  1. Check the tailgate for rust. Replacing one will be costly as there are very few used body panels available for the CX in the USA and new ones are pricey.
  2. Check where the tailgate hinges are mounted to the body. Serious rust can set in there.

Miscellaneous:

  1. If the car has European headlamps, check the
    silvering for rust. To either replace or repair them would cost $225+ each.
  2. The electrical system is a weak point on the Series II cars. Electrical glitches are not uncommon but, unless they hamper driving, are better left alone. It is a rare Series II CX that doesn't have a jumpy temperature guage or oil-level guage, or intermittently flashing dash warning light. Un-fortunately, some of these problems are wiring related (difficult to trace and expensive to fix) or caused by a faulty computer (the CX GTi Turbo with ABS has four separate computers).
    Note: to check the following four items, raise the wheels off the ground (one side at a time - as if you were changing a flat).
  3. Check the front wheel bearings. Spin the front wheels and listen for any excessive bearing noise. Also, grab and shake the front wheels thereby checking for any play in the bearing. The bearings are $150.00 each plus installation and seem to last about 60-80,000 miles.
  4. Check the CV joints. Apply the parking brake. Using a visegrip clamped to the axle, move the axle and check for play in the CV joints.
  5. Check the triax for play. As per #3, grab the wheel and carefully watch for play at the triax (at the end of the axle by the transmission).
  6. Check the rear suspension arm bearings as these cannot be greased. If any water gets by the seals, the bearings will quickly deteriorate and wear into the aluminum arms. Check for creaks as the suspension moves up and down. Also look at the rear tire wear and if the rear wheel camber is correct (they should be perfectly vertical). Excessive arm bearing wear can also be found by grabbing the rear wheel and shaking it.

Now that you have a pretty good idea what to look for, let's try to determine your CX's worth. Keep in mind that this is not a complete guide for the CX as only the most common CXs for North America are listed. We tried to make the following chart as accurate as possible, however prices should only be used as a general guide.

We use the following rating system to figure out in which category your car falls:

'Parts Car' Not running, incomplete, and unrestorable due to rust.
'Restorable' Probably doesn't run but car is complete and can be restored.
'Fair' Car is complete and runnable but needs a lot of work.
'Good' Car is regularly maintained but could use some upgrading.
'Excellent' Car is in near-showroom condition.


Parts Car

Restorable

Fair

Good

Excellent

 '78-'82 CX
Diesel

 $100 to
$1,000

  $1,000 to
$3,000

 $3,000 to
$5,500

 $5,500 to
$8,000

 $8,000 to
$11,000

 '85-'90 CX
Pallas & GTi

 $500 to
$2,000

 $2,000 to
$4,000

 $4,000 to
$7,000

 $7,000 to
$9.500

 $9,500 to
$12,500

 '85-'90 CX
Prestige &
Familiale 

 $500 to
$2,500

 $2,500 to
$4,500

 $4,500 to
$7,500

 $7,500 to
$10,000

 $10,000 to
$14,000

 '85-'90 CX
Turbo GTi & Prestige

 $500 to
$2,500

 $2,500 to
$5,000

 $5,000 to
$8,000

 $8,000 to
$10,500

 $10,500 to
$15,000

 

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