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Citroën CX Prestige Henri Chapron (1976), La Grande Dame

Citroën CX Prestige Henri Chapron
ER Classics Desktop 2022

Our photo model is a very unique car with infinite allure. A Citroën CX Prestige, completely modified by Henri Chapron. The famous French bodywork that was also responsible for a number of special variants of the DS. Including cars such as the Cabriolet and the presidential DS of Charles de Gaulle.

In 1976, the French government ordered a royal supplier, Henri Chapron Citroën CX that was to function as a service car for the then president of France. Valéry Giscard d'Estaing. Chapron bought for that Citroën a Citroën CX Prestige. He thoroughly repaired the car in his own studio. The result can be called très chic. The roof has been raised for more entry comfort (later also applied to the Prestiges series). It features beige vinyl that continues into the mullions. Chapron has the chairs in extra thick beige leather, which is reflected in the door panels. Even the leather steering wheel is completely covered by hand.


At the back of both front seats there is a folding writing table made of lacquered wood and a minibar between the armchairs. With a special surprise an insulated container for ice cubes. Also covered with beige leather. Noteworthy is the Blaupunkt radio / cassette player with satellite control and recording function. So that Monsieur le Président could also use him as a dictaphone. The most striking modification, however, is the electrically operated separation window. Giscard d'Estaing often received foreign heads of state and other important visits in his Prestige. One can only guess which confidential conversations were conducted behind that separation window.

Dizzying

After a few years, the car was taken over by the Minister of Finance under Mitterrand. He also used it as a service car. The last position of the Prestige in public service was with Mayor Guyon of Montpellier. Only in 1986 did the car eventually become (French) private.
In total, only ten of these are Chapron Citroën CX Prestige built. Each with different equipment. The bodywork had an extensive price list. The lucky buyer could then tick options as desired. He paid per item. Plus the working hours and of course the price of the standard Prestige. In the case of this presidential car, the final price was a staggering multiple of a standard Prestige. Namely the equivalent of 230.000 old Dutch guilders! 

Ice cubes

A ride or rather a driving tour in this ultimate CX is an experience that you will not soon forget. It is a privilege. Especially if you let the special history of the car affect you during the ride. What important decisions may have been made here? Backseat politics was practiced here. Or was it mainly an oasis of peace and privacy? The powerful 2.4 petrol engine propels the approx. 1550 kilos without problems. Although it is actually very inappropriate to mention to a lady of this caliber about her ability and weight. The smooth Diravi power steering meanwhile ensures that your driver maintains effortless and safe control over this special land yacht. Although because of the separation wall he should not have too long legs. 

Now driving is in one Citroën CX Prestige is already 'très confortable' anyway. But sinking deep into the thick soft leather, with a breeze from the air conditioning and the ice cubes tinkling against your glass, you have to suppress the urge to wave at simple subjects who twist their necks everywhere. As befits a CX, the car has the divine hydropneumatic suspension. But thanks to the longer wheelbase, the suspension comfort in a Prestige is even greater. Floating on a black carpet, thresholds, potholes and other misery thus slide imperceptibly under you. And in the curves you can feel the slender carriage leaning elegantly. Without mopping. 

It is perfectly understandable that the Elysée at the time chose one Citroën CX Prestige as a presidential limousine. Stylish, comfortable, luxurious, yet always sophisticated. And always a little eccentric. The sheet metal embodiment of the 'joie de vivre'. A graceful French woman, an irresistible temptress ... even in the highest circles. 

Text partly taken from Auto Motor Klassiek number 9 of 2007.

More stories about Citroën

Also interesting to read:
- Classic models from Citroën with a leading role on the silver screen
- The story behind the double chevron, the logo of Citroën
- Manufacturer Pierre Tissier. Supersize ma Déesse
- A Citroën CX, none Citroën BX
- Citroën and hydropneumatic spring balls. End of an era.

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