It’s no surprise that Citroen; now part of Stellantishave an extensive, eccentric but progressive line of historic cars, such as the coveted Citroën DS, the 2CV, the Maserati-powered SM, the cute, modern Ami and many more.
There are many more cars with a common theme – innovation, gallic flair and whimsy, including the BX.
At the time it looked like a spaceship and now looking back it resembles the 1960s idea of a spaceship, but this family car was innovative and quirky along with its French retro design.
Launched in 1982 in Europe, it combined the self-levelling hydropneumatic suspension with modern plastic body panels and disc brakes.
The Citroën BX: a family car borrowed to race in Group B
This front-wheel drive car was not just a gloomy family car though, the GTi version largely used the same engine as the Peugeot 205 GTi and in one version; combined a 16-valve head, double overhead camshafts and fuel injection.
The resulting 1.9-litre BX GTi 16v exemplifies the road car at its most powerful with 160 hp and 133 lb-ft – naturally aspirated with no turbo assist – enabling 0-60 mph in under 8 seconds – which before the end of the 80s was pretty good for a family car from a non-premium manufacturer.
In parallel, Citroën wanted to participate in the Group B rally with the BX, which would take over from the small and less powerful Visa – building something they hoped would conquer the world in the larger-engine class.
Group B rallying: dangerous and great at the same time
The Group B rally class was introduced around 1982 and specialized, with manufacturers building highly modified versions of production cars and with the requirement to build only 200 road vehicles as homologation cars.
Group B cars were light, advanced and widely used turbocharged engines to produce massive amounts of power, producing some truly incredible four wheel drive turbocharged race cars.
Audi’s Quattro was the original four-wheel drive rally carwith a turbo engine and excellent traction, it was more than competitive – later versions were even rated up to about 500 hp.
Other crazy rally cars such as the MG Metro 6R4, the Lancia 037, Renault 5 Turbo, Ford RS200 and various modified Porsches provided extremely entertaining, but also dangerous fun at rallies everywhere.
As with most things, the fun had to come to an end because of some spectacular crashes and fatalities: the problem wasn’t just the amount of power coming out of these semi-limited machines, it was uncontrolled crowds that gathered and even entered the away.
Citroen’s answer to the Audi Quattro: the 4TC Rally Car
When Citroën’s new creation was ready, it was intended to be included in Group B class rallying in 1986, just after the latest version of Audi’s Quattro; the Audi Sport Quattro.
The Quattro was soon with almost 450 hp and the 2.1-litre turbo engine was the same size as Citroën’s latest protagonist.
The Citroën BX 4TC was wider than the road car with a custom monocoque shell and a turbocharged 2.1-litre Chrysler 180 engine, positioned longitudinally, giving the car a long nose.
It had four-wheel drive and could make 375 horsepower in competition form; but despite the radiator and oil cooler being in the trunk, it was nose heavy; add to that a drivetrain that wasn’t too well designed, it was a heavy handful and not very competitive.
The Citroën BX 4TC Road Car: A Forgotten Turbocharged, 4WD Star
According to the homologation rules, the BX 4TC had to be built in 200 road models to bring the real race car into competition, just like other cars such as Audi’s Quattro.
With power reduced to 200 hp and 217 lb-ft, it still made plenty of growl for the 80s, had four-wheel drive, 4-wheel ventilated disc brakes, and a Citroën SM 5-speed manual shifter.
Combined with the body kit it looked more muscular than the stock car and on paper it should have been a great car: 0-100 km/h in 7 seconds, excellent traction and superior comfort thanks to the hydropneumatic suspension.
Unfortunately, like the Group B car, the execution of the idea fell short of the dream and the car was unreliable, expensive to maintain and not as good as the numbers had hoped.
It was sold in about 85 copies after its 2 years of production and is quite valuable today; if you can find one of course.
A unicorn, a Car imported to USA in original condition with French number plates and documents, was also sold on online sales site LBI Limited for $198,000, according to Secret-Classics.com.
In short, the Citroën BX 4TC does not stand out for the number of races it has participated in or how good it was on the road; it is interesting for the fact that it exists and for the quirkiness and appeal of its design, its rarity and the anticipation that was on its shoulders from day one.
Source: RallyGroupBShrine.org, SecretClassics.com
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