Thursday, January 15, 2015

Styling Crime: Citroën Ami 6

According to this Wikipedia entry, Citroën management decided to modernize its famed 2CV.  This decision was made in the late 1950s when the 2CV had been in production since 1948 and there might have been concerns that it was reaching the end of its marketplace road.  The "replacement" was the Ami 6 (see first link, above) that was in production from 1961 to late 1968 or early 1969.  The 2CV remained in production in France until 1989, however.

The Ami 6 was styled by Flaminio Bertoni, Citroën's long-time design leader who I wrote about here.  One wonders how the designer of the acclaimed Citroën DS, introduced in October 1955, could conclude his career with the truly ugly Ami 6.  Part of the reason probably had to do with the fact that he had to work with what amounted to a 2CV platform.  The 2CV had an odd, but logical design, and Bertoni had to come up with something that was different, yet at least somewhat in tune with 1960 styling expectations.

The strongest, most distinctive feature is the reverse-angle backlight (rear window).  I suspect Bertoni included this feature for two reasons: (1) to save costs by having a flat pane of glass rather than a shaped backlight, and (2) to simplify the interface between the backlight and trunk.  The sculpting on the Ami's sides was likely for reasons of strengthening the sheet metal.  An interesting detail is that the rear wheels are covered, as they were on the DS.  This makes tire changing harder, but maybe Bertoni thought that exposed wheels would have made the car seem shorter.

For me, the design of the front is hardest to justify.  Yes, production costs might have been reduced by resorting to the cap stamping that was selected.  But the droopy hood front cut line does not relate well to the headlamp assembly.  And its center drops too close to the grille opening, creating an odd pinched appearance.  Were I in charge of Citroën, I would have allocated a few more sous for a better front end design.

As it happened, Ami 6 sales were slow through 1962, but increased later.  Once again, this demonstrates that a car doesn't have to be beautiful to ensure market success -- in France, at any rate.

I normally would have cropped the images below to focus on the cars. But these publicity photos are so nice that I left them virtually untouched.  To view the cars better, click to enlarge.


No comments: