What on earth happened to this car?

Perhaps it would have been easier just to get a new bonnet...

Perhaps it would have been easier just to get a new bonnet…

Rust. You just don’t get rusty cars any more. There will come a time in the not-too-distant future when all the words like ‘banger’, ‘rustbucket’ and ‘shed’ will disappear from common parlance, simply because nobody currently under the age of 30 will ever have had to deal with a car in poor condition. Instead, cars will keep going, moving on when the owner gets bored and wants a newer model to post pictures of on Facebook, this process repeating infinitely until the vehicle either (a) crashes, (b) suffers a costly mechanical failure, or if it’s Glasgow (c) gets torched.

As one of the last of a generation who had to repair their own car’s bodywork, I can therefore sympathise with the owner of this Citroen BX. Anyone who’s ever owned a car built in Mediterranean Europe earlier than 1995 will be able to tell you about the time they first saw rust bubbles on their motor, usually within three years of purchase, and I am no exception to this rule.

The difference in my case was that I owned a Fiat, and Fiats rust from the inside out. When I went to gently scrape away the little bubble of paint under my Cinquecento’s windscreen, my screwdriver plunged right into the car’s heart like a villan being slain in a Shakespearian play, taking a three inch section of structural bodywork with it. At the age of seven I watched my father carrying out repairs to our old Panda 4×4, and had to run back to the house for the first-aid kit after half the front wing unexpectedly broke off and punctured his hand. A 2cm square of rust is still embedded in his hand to this day, probably the longest-surviving part of Fiat in the history of the universe.

That’s why I can tell you that all those white blobs on that Citroen’s bonnet consist of evil-smelling resin filler. That’s why I can tell you that under all those pieces of filler are bits of fine malleable chicken wire. And that’s why I can tell you that before you put the chicken wire in place, you have to treat the surrounding area with a substance that could melt your face off with a mere splatter.

Because this is an old Citroen, the owner deserves serious kudos for doing his or her utmost to keep it on the road. Granted it’s not a DS cabriolet or a CX Safari, but it has all of the cool old Citroen bits on it. Suspension that goes up and down, seriously comfy seats, funny windscreen wipers. I can remember my uncle cranking the suspension on his BX up to the max and driving down a flooded street like a boss, something that very few family cars these days could do.

Before they entered properly and won everything, Citroen even used the BX for an ill-fated and seldom spoken about foray into world rallying. They produced a bloated, awkward tub of a machine by the name of the BX4TC that was mercifully banned (along with the rest of the Group B field) soon after it made its debut. The ones that do survive are worth a fair bit today, though, and certainly have more curiosity value than an Audi Quattro S1 or Metro 6R4.

Sometimes I think I’d rather have something like this than a more modern, soulless car. Does that make me one of those people who insist on having all their records in vinyl? Perhaps, but at least their preference for music isn’t likely to leave them stranded at the side of the motorway.

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