The Good Oil: old and new from Citroen, Morgan, and Land Rover
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Citroen sells rarities, concepts
A carmaker such as Citroen selling off the family silverware seems incongruous in the extreme.
This is, after all, a proudly extroverted manufacturer we’re talking about here; a company that revels in its off-kilter history of avant-garde experimentation (and occasional mass-market success). This, too, is a company that recently added to its line-up a bejewelled sub-brand named after arguably its most famous historic model; DS.
Yet, here we are.
Last weekend, bidders from all over the world were able to snap up rarities from inside the French firm’s storage shed.
We’re not talking about company-owned GS and BX test mules, or collections of discarded hubcaps, but rather some eccentric oddities that, we have to presume, will never see the light of day again. Certainly not with price estimates attached.
Citroen hasn’t lost the plot completely. It isn’t selling off precious rarities that, for many, are tantamount to works of art. The auction catalogue reveals some seriously interesting metal though — albeit many examples were suited to individual tastes.
Most of the lots extended from cul-de-sacs of development, such as a minivan concept called the Eco 2000 SL 10 (one of only four prototypes produced), and a van-style wedge called the Xenia, purportedly designed as a concept vision of “a GT for the year 2000”.
All sorts of other ephemera, beyond motoring hardware, were on the auction block; including official clothing and even statuettes of company founder Andre Citroen. Between these extremes were a few tired-looking 1930s models that had Citroenophiles crashing websites in order to get in on the action.
Morgan still knows how to turn heads
Morgan, as has been well-demonstrated over several decades, believes in taking its time to get things right.
Of course, these days fewer and fewer car enthusiasts will view “wood-based craftsmanship” as three words that have any place in the language of modern-day manufacturing. But Morgan has stuck with it, and has come to be perceived as a stalwart of a bygone, hand-built era, as well as a bunch of loonies wearing cheese-cutter caps clutching analogue slide-rules.
The impact of themost recent model, the Aero 8, can’t be overstated. This was the company’s first fully new car since 1964, when it launched the Plus 4 (the Plus 8 followed four years later). Coming at the turn of the 21st century, the Aero 8 — all streamlined sheet metal and weird boss-eyed headlights — seemed to signal a ramping up of modern production values for Morgan. A keenness to push beyond the realm of the back yard shed.
It wasn’t to be though, and the Aero 8 (prohibitively expensive and rarely seen in our part of the world) proved just as cultish as the rest of the Morgan back catalogue. The Aero 8 is now 17 years old and has already survived one switching off of the production line. Now though, the Malvern-based manufacturer’s big sports coupe is in for the final chop. That hasn’t stopped Morgan sending off its oddball aluminium sports car in style, with a limited run of just eight Aero 8 GTs. One will be revealed at the Geneva motor show in March next year, although the tasty teaser image, featuring feral-looking race louvres in an over-wheel wing issued last week, caught our attention.
Naturally, every car has already been sold to members of the Morgan tribe. Each of the eight customers will be able to customise certain aspects of their car to suit their own tastes. One thing that remains central to the Aero 8 GT will be its 4.8-litre BMW V8. Interestingly, this 273kW engine was the last naturally aspirated BMW unit fitted to a production car.
See? Morgan even has a sense of nostalgia when it comes to the bits it borrows.
Land Rover hints at new super coupe
While sales of the two-door version of the Range Rover Evoque baby SUV have hardly been the stuff of legend for parent company Land Rover, the firm’s showman design chief, Gerry McGovern (pictured), has hinted that it might be eyeing up other platforms upon which to offer two-door coupe-style elegance.
Speaking with UK motoring outlet Auto Express this week, the luxuriantly haired cravat enthusiast suggested the two-door Evoque might not make the cut when the next generation of Range Rover’s smallest family member arrives.
“There’s probably less market for a two-door [Evoque] and, given that we have a cabriolet, there’s no need,” he said. “But as we get bigger you can think about going two-door because it becomes more exclusive, which might give you a hint”.
McGovern has appeared obsessed with what he calls the “super luxury” segment of late. The recent arrival of the opulently dressed long-wheel-base Range Rover SVAutobiography is seen as evidence of the crayon-wielder’s yearning to meet the likes of Bentley head on. The creations of bespoke in-house development squad, Special Vehicle Operations (SVO), make these glitzy creations more likely to see the light of a carpeted garage.
So, is McGovern suggesting a large, two-door coupe silhouetted luxury model pinned to a Range Rover platform could be on the cards? Such a high-end SUV could rival the Rolls-Royce Wraith, for example. The decision to offer a super-luxurious Range Rover with only two doors certainly plays to type; the original Range Rover, launched in 1970, was available only as a two-door model for the first decade of its life. If there’s room in the boot for a Champagne fridge, we’re sure any coupe-style Rangey will be a roaring success.