Robert Opron. The Citroën years

Robert Opron passed away on March 29. He is considered one of the most striking and influential car designers in history. The Frenchman was good for an unparalleled automotive heritage. Many creations can be called up in this way and are characterized by a daring, aerodynamic and far-reaching timeless style. So timeless that a number of his designs have largely exceeded the lifespan of ten years. Certainly in the service of Citroën Opron came up with long-term and idiosyncratic designs.

Born in Amiens on February 22, 1932, the Frenchman started his career at Simca. He immediately let himself speak and created, for example, a scale model that closely resembled the Simca 1100 that was introduced in 1967. In that sense, one could speak of foresight. In 1962 Robert Opron left for Citroën, which, for example, was eagerly looking for a model between the Ami and the ID / DS. At that time he was charged with the death of Flaminio Bertoni. Opron was there Citroën from 1964 Résponsable de Style.

2CV successor

Robert Opron went to work with the intended one Citroën 2CV successor, Model-G. It never came into production. Another intended 2CV successor - the Dyane - did reach the production stage. In fact, Opron was much less involved with the Dyane than is sometimes said. The Dyane was ground formally drawn by Louis Bionier, who was employed by Panhard. The design was provided by the design bureau of Citroën not approved. Ultimately, Jean Charreton adapted the Dyane design at the behest of the Citroënmanagement (read: Opron).

Middle class

Citroën In the mid-XNUMXs, Opron also asked to be in charge of the design of the new middle class. Citroën had been developing it for a number of years in the mid-XNUMXs. Opron stepped in when Project F was on the drawing boards. Due to an imminent conflict with Renault, that project was put aside, and a lot of capital and costs were lost. Bee Citroën they started with Project G. That eventually culminated in de Citroën GS. It was inspired by the BMC 1100 Pininfarina, but still got a face all of its own. Robert Opron also put his signature on the designs of the beautiful SM and the impressive CX. Speaking of timelessness and durability: The GS (and later the GSA) as a basic formal concept even stayed with us for almost seventeen years. And so did the CX, which only disappeared from the scene in the early XNUMXs.

Third nose Citroën ID / DS

Opron has also been involved in major modifications for current models. He came up with the third nose for the ID / DS of model year 1968 (with headlights behind glass, which on most models turned with the steering). As a result, he ensured that the ID / DS series got improved aerodynamics. Moreover, with this intervention Opron ultimately extended the life of the ID / DS by almost eight years. In 1967, the ID / DS series was suddenly completely up to date, or rather: it was ahead of the times. And that for a car that already went into production in 1955.

Ami 8 and its intended successor

The Ami 6 was also tackled under the leadership of Opron. Opron was responsible for a rejuvenation treatment which resulted in the Ami 8. This got a different stern. Yet this A-type remained Citroën clearly recognizable as Ami. With fairly simple adjustments, he eventually extended the life of the Ami by ten years, although the intention was to retire the Ami 8 much earlier. Because Opron had been working on Project Y for a while. That was already worked out during the sixties. The car that emerged from this was intended to succeed the Ami from the early 1984s. But it was not until the early XNUMXs that the concept debuted as Oltcit Club in Romania. And that was in XNUMX in Western Europe as Citroën Axel sold.

Great credit to other concerns

Robert Opron worked for Renault from 1975 and for Fiat from 1985/86. Under his supervision, Renault designed models such as the 9, 11, 25 and Fuego. Opron also influenced the designs of the Supercinq and the 21. Shortly after taking office, he was involved in the restyling of the Alpine A310. He was also the instigator of a new design for Renault's truck division. His starting points eventually led to the AE Magnum truck line. While employed by Fiat, he made the first sketches for a sports car that would lead to the Alfa Romeo SZ.

Signature on Citroën imago

So Opron made a switch to Renault, and that happened not long after Peugeot went bankrupt in 1974 Citroën took over. But especially his career with Citroën marked Oprons' ability to create timeless, extravagant and long-running designs. In addition, Opron was able to embellish a car design with a few pen strokes and make it last much longer. That went a lot further than just a facelift. In any case, Opron, whether or not inspired by others, gave Citroën a unique, extravagant and timeless face. And that is perhaps the greatest achievement of the designer, who has had a major influence on the design philosophy within the French automotive industry. And especially on the image of Citroën.




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  1. Robert was also a nice, accessible man. In 2011 guest with his wife on Citromobile. Packet in his breast pocket, proud and modest.
    Robert was a genius with the necessary reflection and looked back on his own designs (that's what makes him master). He was also a designer who relied on design principles rather than marketing principles. A smooth body, for example, without all kinds of stripes and strips. A van with fairing.
    I personally like the smooth line from horizontal on the front fender over the doors to the rear almost vertically very nice (see eg Ami 8). And the line from the hood to the windshield of the SM and CX (and Axel).
    Dear Robert RIP And also to the family my condolences and a lot of strength.

  2. Great designer, a great loss…. By the way, the story behind the AE Magnum started with Opron as design chief at Renault in 1977 but the design of the cabin is of another great man, Marcelo Gandini (who also designed the first Master buyer). Nice approach by the way that emphasizes the versatility of Opron (e).

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