|A Swiss BX from Zurich in left hand drive form. Recently parked by the look if it, the tail still some way off kissing the tarmac.|
In the BX, you had a regular family car with incredible hydropneumatic suspension, lightweight plastic body panels, and (shock) rear disc brakes. Those brakes really bit hard too, thanks to running off the hydropneumatic pump. Features like electric windows and central locking were typical equipment on regular models. We hadn't seen anything quite like it before. And there was more to come as it developed - the remarkable XUD diesel unit.
My Mum got one of these brand new back in 1989 as part of her job as a district nurse. It replaced an awful 1987 Vauxhall Astra with the painfully slow 1.7 diesel, sans turbo. Our BX had the knock out blow that should have made PSA cars dominate in their time - the 1.9 TD engine. We just couldn't believe how quick it was in comparison to the laggardly Astra. Suddenly, this was motoring in the modern era - fast, relatively refined and economical with it. It felt like a huge step change in motoring.
As a kid, it made me giggle to see the back end drop down after a few hours of sitting still. Very much like a dog getting bored of standing around waiting for its master. I loved it. When I saw how it could be made to "lie down" or "stand" with the hydropneumatic control lever, I knew one day I'd have to own one myself.
|Note the single wiper blade, cleverly done with a built-in washer jet, however - it was never quite right after a while and just leaked a bit of water across the screen in a pathetic manner.|
Several years later in 1997 when I was a young graduate, I was looking for a car and spotted a 1987 BX 16RE in the small ads. I bought it without hesitation. Unfortunately, the 1.6 petrol engine wasn't in the same league as the beloved 1.9 XUD and time hadn't been kind to my BX. Rust infested the suspension pipes and what metal panels the BX did have were riddled with tin worm. Then, at a venerable 100,000 miles, the head gasket blew, the clutch arm snapped and that was pretty much that. I scrapped it soon after, something I still regret, especially when I wear my rose tinted specs.
Thanks to short-sighted people like myself, British BX numbers have dropped from 182,000 in late 1994, to just over 800 today. There's only 7 cars left like mine on the road. Yikes!
Scarily, if you fancy one of the cooking GTI 16v models there's only 40 of them in all, with just 8 having the 4x4 system. If you want one, you're going to have to move quickly!
I understand a lot of cars were cannibalised to provide their hydropneumatic system to custom built hot rods. The genuine remaining BXs could be completely gone within a few short years. Can you find space in your garage for one?