The GS is a family car manufactured and marketed by Citroën for model years 1970-1986 in saloon and estate bodystyles (1970-1980), over a single generation. The GS received a facelift in 1979 and was subsequently marketed as the GSA in hatchback and estate bodystyles (1979-1986). Almost 2.5 million units were sold.
|Assembly||Rennes, France(Chartres-de-Bretagne quarter)|
Jakarta, Indonesia (Gaya Motor)
Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Koper, Slovenia (Yugoslavia)
|Body and chassis|
|Class||Small family car (C)|
|Body style||4-door fastback|
|Engine||1,015 cc flat-4 air-cooled|
1,129 cc flat-4 air-cooled
1,222 cc flat-4 air-cooled
1,299 cc flat-4 air-cooled
1,990 cc Wankel engine
|Wheelbase||2,550 mm (100.39 in)|
|Length||4,120–4,180 mm (162.18–164.58 in)|
|Width||1,600–1,620 mm (62.99–63.78 in)|
|Height||1,350 mm (53.17 in)|
|Curb weight||900 kg (1,984 lb) (saloon) |
950 kg (2,094 lb) (hatchback)
925 kg (2,039 lb) (3-door van)
(all weights approximate)
Panhard PL 17
|Successor||Citroën BX and Citroën ZX|
The GS filled the gap in Citroën's range, between the 2CV and Ami economy cars and the luxurious DS executive sedan. The DS had moved significantly upmarket from its predecessor the Citroën Traction Avant, and beyond the finances of most French motorists. Leaving this market gap open for fifteen years allowed other manufacturers entry into the most profitable, high volume market segment in France. This combined with the development costs and new factory for the DS-replacing Citroën CX, the 1974 oil crisis, and an aborted Wankel rotary engine, led Citroën to declare bankruptcy in 1974.
The GS met with instant market acceptance and was the largest selling Citroën model for many years. 1,896,742 GS models and 576,757 GSA models were produced in total.
Unlike the 2CV, Ami, DS and SM, the GS was never officially imported to the USA. A US export model was nearly finished when Citroën withdrew from the US market, with a few dozen cars brought over in 1971 for testing purposes and to be displayed in showrooms. After the project was cancelled, these orphaned cars were sold, mostly to employees of the dealerships. A sealed-beam headlight design was developed, and although never used as intended it was installed in Yugoslav- and Indonesian-assembled models as it made light replacement cheaper and easier.
The GS took 14 years to develop from initial design to launch.
In 1956, Citroën developed the C10, a bubble car prototype to fill the gap in its range between the large DS and the tiny 2CV. Development continued with ideas like a Wankel engine and hydropneumatic suspension suggested as possibilities, with a new, modern body to match. Another iteration was the "C60," which resembled an Ami 6 with a long, smooth nose.
In 1963, development had moved to "Project F", which was close to being production ready. Citroën decided the car was too similar to the 1965 Renault 16 and by 1967 Project F was suspended. Many of the mechanical components continued to "Project G", which became the GS. The GS was designed by Robert Opron, with a smooth two box design that bears some resemblance to the 1967 design study by Pininfarina Berlina Aerodinamica.
Launch and ongoing developmentEdit
On 24 August 1970, Citroën launched the GS. The body style was as a Berline (a four-door saloon with three side windows), in a fastback style with a sharp Kammback. The aerodynamics gave the best drag coefficient of any vehicle at the time. On its launch, its main competitors in Europe included the Fiat 128, Ford Escort, Renault 6 and Vauxhall Viva.
Good aerodynamics enabled the car to make the best of the available power, but the car as launched nevertheless drew criticism that it was underpowered. Citroën addressed the issue with the introduction in September 1972, as an option, of a larger 1,222 cc engine. Claimed power increased from 41 kW (55 bhp; 56 PS) to 45 kW (60 bhp; 61 PS), but it was the improved torque that really marked out the more powerful engine, and which enabled the manufacturer, with the larger engined versions, to raise the second gear ratio and the final drive ratio, increasing the vehicle speed per 1,000 rpm from 23 km/h (14.3 mph) to 24.5 km/h (15.2 mph). Larger front brake discs were also fitted.
Visually the GS bore little resemblance to any other car on the market, until the development of the larger Citroën CX in 1974.
The fastback design, with a separate trunk, was controversial – a hatchback layout was considered too utilitarian by CEO Pierre Bercot. The 1974 CX shared this feature. The boot was nevertheless exceptionally large, in part due to the positioning of the spare wheel on top of the engine.
Both the early GS (until 1976) and the GSA have the unusual rotating drum speedometer (similar in construction to bathroom scales), rather than the dials found in a conventional dashboard. The later GS (from 1977 until the introduction of the GSA) had a conventional speedometer.
The GS was offered in four trims: G Special (base), GS Club (midrange), GS X (sports), and GS Pallas (luxury). The GS X and Pallas were only offered as saloons.
The GS was facelifted in 1979 and given a hatchback, and renamed the GSA. This change reflected the growing popularity of small family hatchbacks in Europe since the launch of the Volkswagen Golf. Other modifications included a new grille, new plastic bumpers, new taillights, new hubcaps and new exterior door handles. It also had a revised dashboard with the auxiliary controls on column-shaped pods so they could be reached without moving the hands from the single-spoked steering wheel; similar to the CX layout. It was partly replaced by the larger BX in 1982, although production continued in reduced volumes until 1986. Citroën did not re-enter the small family hatchback market until the launch of the ZX in 1991.
Contemporary journalists remarked at the smooth ride quality – the hydropneumatic suspension is designed to absorb bumps and ripples that would be uncomfortable in a conventionally sprung car with just a slight body movement.
The vehicle had a front-wheel drive layout and was powered by a flat-4 air-cooled engine. A series of small engines were available, displacing 1,015, 1,129, 1,222 and 1,299 cc. Power ranged from 40 kW (54 hp) to 49 kW (66 hp). Mated to a four speed gearbox, these were able to pull this car up to steady 151 km/h (94 mph) at 6,250 rpm (with a 1,222 cc engine), due to the very aerodynamic body shape. Citroën's 3-speed C-Matic semi-automatic transmission was available as an alternative to the manual gearbox. With the introduction of the GSA a 5-speed gearbox was offered, which made cruising at high speeds more comfortable and economical (the top speed was raised to 164 km/h (102 mph) for both long and short gearbox ratios). The GS and GSA were always low powered and needed full use of the free-revving engines to maintain progress, except when cruising, in the tradition of the Citroën 2CV.
The four-wheel independent suspension featured a double wishbone layout at the front and trailing arms at the rear. Both axles comprised rigid sub frames that gave the car unmatched ride quality and road holding for the time, even on its narrow tires (factory-mounted Michelin ZX 145SR15).
Its central hydraulic system, powering the four disc brakes (inboard in front to help lower unsprung weight) and the advanced hydro-pneumatic self-levelling suspension, was derived from the Citroën DS. It also has a feature that increased or decreased braking pressure in accordance with cargo load, without any noticeable difference in the brake pedal response. The powered system was different from the typical assisted systems in that there was virtually no travel on the brake pedal even when braking hard. The hydraulic suspension allowed the car to be raised for rough terrain at low speeds (a feature taking account of the country lanes of its native France) and to full height for easy access to the partially enclosed rear wheels. The hand brake lever is mounted on the dashboard as opposed to being mounted between the front seats. In-car entertainment can be fitted in the space that would have been utilised by the handbrake. As with other Citroën cars, the hydraulic system depressurizes over several hours, so the car will sink to the bump stops when the engine is off.
The GS' 1.3-liter engine was also used in the French BFG 1301 "Odyssée" motorcycle. The engines were equipped with a single Solex carburetor and have a bespoke five-speed gearbox with shaft drive. About 650 of these were built between 1981 and 1988, most of them for French police authorities.
A two rotor GS was launched in 1973. Dubbed the Citroën GS Birotor (also called Citroën GZ), it featured a much more powerful 79 kW (106 hp) Wankel birotor produced by the joint NSU-Citroën Comotor project. This style of motor is noted for its smooth power delivery which complemented the luxurious ride quality of the hydropneumatic suspension. Even better, the engine was small relative to its power, an advantage for Tax horsepower calculations, which drive automobile design in France.
The Birotor was extensively re engineered for the Comotor 624 engine. Discs all around (ventilated in front), different wheels with a five-bolt pattern rather than three, and a three-speed semi-automatic transmission were combined with a more luxurious interior and flared fenders to set the Birotor apart from its lesser siblings.
The Birotor cost as much as the larger Citroën DS, and 70% more than the standard GS. The fuel economy was worse than the largest DS - the DS23EFI. Since it was not economical for its size, and was launched in October 1973, the exact start of the 1973 oil crisis, the Birotor version achieved poor sales and was quickly pulled from the market, after 847 units were sold.
The sales were so disappointing that Citroën attempted to buy back and scrap each Birotor, as it did not want to support the model with spare parts. A few of these remarkable vehicles have nonetheless survived in the hands of collectors, many without titles for some time as Citroën did not want to recognize the cars.
GS production abroadEdit
The GS and GSA were built in a number of countries besides France. 385,000 units were built in Vigo, Spain Besides Portugal, production or assembly took place in countries as varied as South Africa, Chile and Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). The South African model was also available as the "GS-X2 Le Mans" special edition, only available in silver or black with an all-white interior with the regular 1,220 cc engine. A variant of the X2 marketed in Europe it featured special wheeltrim, stripes, a rear spoiler and rear window louvres. All three body-styles, GS and GSA versions and a mix thereof were built in Cakung in East Jakarta, Indonesia by PT Alun Indah. Indonesian production continued until at least 1990.
Renowned moped manufacturer Tomos in Yugoslavia (now Slovenia) also assembled the GS saloon at their plant in Koper. In 1973 a new company, Cimos, was formed by Citroën, Iskra, and Tomos and they took over production. Like the Indonesian models, Cimos sometimes used the twin-headlight fixtures developed for export markets on their GSs (although never on the well-equipped Pallas model). Slovenian GSs were commonly finished in "campus beige" color. The GSA was called the GA in Yugoslavia.
GSA in German Democratic RepublicEdit
Between 1979 and 1983 around 5500 were exported to the German Democratic Republic making it one of the few western cars in the country. Erich Honecker, the East German party leader, maintained a fleet of the larger CX model and several Volvos.
- Citroen GS: Citroen build with care (Anglophone brochure for UK market). Slough: Citroen Cars Ltd (UK). August 1976. .
- Chiffres de Production, La Page de la GS, http://www.gs-gsa.org/chiffres-production.php Archived 23 April 2015 at the Wayback Machine
- Legelius, Carl Petrolicious ACCESSIBLE CLASSIC: THE FANTASTIC, FORGOTTEN CITROËN GS Archived 24 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine April 2, 2015
- "Citroën GS". citroen.mb.ca. Archived from the original on 13 February 2008. Retrieved 1 February 2008.
- http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/august-1971/45/road-impressions British road test of GS
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 11 June 2016. Retrieved 3 July 2019.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
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- Bobbitt, Malcolm (2005). Citroën DS. Dorchester: Veloce. p. 64. ISBN 9781904788300.
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- "News". Autocar. 135 nbr 3938: Page 21. 16 September 1971.
- "Road test: 1983 Citroën GSA Spécial". www.ranwhenparked.net. Archived from the original on 26 March 2012. Retrieved 23 June 2011.
- Kraus, James Auto Universum JET AGE MOTORING June 22, 2009
- Revue Technique Automobile, n° 464, Feb. 1986, Ed Etai, France, ISSN 0017-307X
- Leek, Jan (3 November 1982). "Fransk jättehoj med bilmotor" [Giant, car-engined French bike]. Teknikens Värld (in Swedish). Vol. 34 no. 22. Stockholm, Sweden: Specialtidningsförlaget AB. p. 58.
- Citroen: The Complete Story Author: Lance Cole ISBN 9781847976598
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 March 2015. Retrieved 27 May 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Wright, Cedric, ed. (August 1978). "Citroën GS-X2 Le Mans". CAR (South Africa). Vol. 22 no. 7. Ramsay, Son & Parker (Pty) ltd. p. 71.
- "About Us". PT Alun Indah Manufacturing Division. Archived from the original on 1 August 2010. Retrieved 26 March 2010.
- "Yugoslavia: Cimos". Citroënët. Archived from the original on 17 September 2019.
- "East German-Citroen Deal". New York Times. 20 June 1981. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Citroën GS.|
- Citroen GS - Citroën Origins
- Citroën GS and GSA website Lots of information and pictures about GSs and GSAs around the world, detailed production figures, technical information, history of the car and Car club information.
- la page de la GS
- Citroën World – GS & GSA links
- GS at Citroënët
- GSA at Citroënët