Citroën GS/GSA, pre production years.
With special thanks to Julian Marsh for pictures and information
The GS was introduced by Citroën in 1970. It may be obvious that developement started some time earlier. On this page you can find some info about how development took place and under what circumstancers.
It would have been powered by a flat four air cooled engine of either 1.100 cc or 1.400 cc and the larger engined version would have employed hydropneumatic suspension. Development costs escalated and the decision was taken to commence a new project, project F.
While the use of advanced techniques such as front wheel drive and hydropneumatics had been enough to put CitroŽn at the forefront of automotive technology during the preceding thirty years, it was felt that something new was required if the company were to maintain its reputation. That something was the Wankel rotary engine and a joint venture was set up with NSU to build the powerplants. Flaminio Bertoni was responsible for the design although newcomer Robert Opron had considerable input.
A number of innovations were to be found - this would have been the first hatchback, the door frames were welded to the roof in much the manner used by the yet to be released Renault 16 and the use of four headlamps behind a glass panel anticipated the SM's styling.
Work on this project reached an extremely advanced stage and then Renault launched the almost identically styled 16. Rumours of industrial espionage abounded but were unproved. To add insult to injury, the technique for welding the roof and door frames had been patented by Renault. This must be seen in the light of Renault's blatant plagiarism of the 2 CV with their 4. The project was dropped - millions of Francs were written off and work commenced on project G.
The Ami based coupe, the M35.
The M 35 was also as a test bed for the hydraulics employed in Project G. Unlike many prototypes, the M35 was available for all and sundry to view.
Robert Opron (middle), the designer of the GS standing next to his creation, 25 years after production started.
The only thing 'project F' had left them was a developed engine. Because of the financial concerns at Citroën at the time, they where given only six months to develop the new car. Which is very little time to develop a car and certainly back then in the earlie seventies. Remember that the GS was designed in the very beginning of the computer age. For example in promotion material, the computer Citroën used to developed the GS comes up for discussion. Mind the singular in relation to computer!
Some people would later claim, the short development time would be the main reason for several 'mechanical curiousities' in the GSs and GSAs. Anyway, as all good tales, the story did get a happy ending. The GS was introduced in 1970 and turned out to be one of the most succesfull Citroëns ever build.
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