I’ve been pretty open about my love for all things classic Citroën. With the numerous BX and Xantia posts, it’s been clear to see there’s something about the folded paper spaceship designs that really gets to me. It’s easy, then, to predict that whenever a hydropneumatic Citroën appears on my sights, I get out my camera.
This bordeaux red 1997 XM was parked on the same parking lot as for example the Liftback Corolla and the two Chevy Vans. It’s a good spot for car spotting every now and then, and again it delivered.
It’s rather hackneyed to keep on attributing ye olde spaceshippe similes to the XM, but those just ring true. The car really draws attention, and it’s not totally accidental on Citroën’s part. The Danish re-imagination of the XM that is Jacob Jensen’s Jensen One takes things a touch too far with the plastic fairings covering all four wheels; it somewhat unnecessarily underlines the point of futuristic 1990-ness of the car.
Lurking on the parking lot in regular – but handsomely stylized – wheels and in a flattering wine red hue, the XM does look like it’s descended from above, but sprouted wheels just to attempt a token blend-in. The red colour is a nice change from the usual silver or grey, or navy blue.
As I snapped a couple quick photos, the smiling owner in a woolly hat appeared. “You’re not the first to take a few photos of it”, he said and beamed. I told him how I’ve been looking at XM:s for some time now, enviously, considering getting one of my own sometime in the future. He said he’d bought this low-mileage one from an older guy who had bought it nearly-new, and had saved it for his son who didn’t really “get” it and bought a BMW instead. Philistine.
He opened the door, sat into the hugging black leather seat and lit his cigarette with the car’s lighter. “These do not give you too much grief, if you know what you’re doing, and know which ones to get.”
He was friendly enough to pop the hood, too, so I could get a couple of snaps of the four-cylinder engine.
As he explained to me, the 1995-onward facelift cars are a lot more reliable and better made than the earlier ones, especially the initial batch, and by relying on select specialists dotted around the country it has been reasonably easy to source parts for this 1997 car. Besides, he hadn’t had too much trouble with his car, either. Small-scale electric fixes and hose replacements for pennies, and sturdier suspension mount rubbers from a specialist – that’s pretty much it.
The car was a 2.0-litre 16-valve model, with the engine pretty much lifted straight out of a Peugeot 406. It’s a reasonable choice; it doesn’t give you the delicious sounds of a 3.0-litre V6, but it’s perfectly reliable and adequate for cruising.
A friend has some 353 000 km on his cheaply-bought 406 with the exact same engine, and it’s given very little trouble during his 80k km four-year tenure despite being treated like a garden tool. Oh yeah, he did open the head once to replace some valves, but that’s just minor maintenance isn’t it?
The mid-’90s facelift moved the Citroën emblem to the centre of the nose, from the side. The chase sequence in Ronin has a continuity error here, due to using XM:s from different model years.
Don’t the wheels look like 25-year-old design hi-fi equipment? Just wave your hand in front of them and the CD tray opens, right?
I’m pretty adamant, that despite travelling from here to there in the first quarter of the year (I edited these photos in a commuter aircraft on my eventual way to Amsterdam), this XM is in the top 10, if not top 5 of the cars I’ve seen this year. I’m very fond of it.
Despite the car being smoked in, I asked “How about you get back to me when you’re selling it?” “No way, the XM is here to stay”, the owner replied and laughed. Cool guy. You kind of have to be.
[Images: Copyright 2013 Redusernab/Antti Kautonen]