A subdued child: the Citroën Axel

ER Classics Desktop 2022

It didn't have to be. And it rhymes very emphatically with misbaked. But with that we embarrass this totally forgotten wallflower which is too emphatic and actually unjustified: the Citroën Axel.

The stepchild of Citroën certainly did not get a head start in life. That started in the late 1970s in Romania, more inspiring circumstances were conceivable ... As a result of a joint venture between Citroën and the Romanian government, the Axel is more or less extracted as a by-product from Project VD, which led to the successful Citroën Visa. He also looked a lot like that, but in practice almost no part was interchangeable. At most some annoyances. Or the owners.

A poor child
As a result of the cooperation with the Romanians mandatory Citroën to purchase a large number of Oltcits, as the poor child in the home market was called. A few tens of thousands of Axels were brought to Western Europe and sold there to mainly stingy car bites. Because as a car enthusiast you had little to look for in an Axel. For a petrolhead, the poverty dripped off. And regularly the necessary parts. The thing was not very well put together and was out of date when it left the factory. At the time, that was not uncommon and generally accepted in those regions. It's not for nothing that Joie de vivre is not a Romanian phrase and that was clearly visible in this humorless Aldi interpretation of Citroën's sympathetic Visa. The mischievous French model received the same mundane appearance from the Romanians as from a blue dust coat with penetrating sprout air. It didn't cost anything and that looked like it turned into steel, plastic, glass and rubber. But appearances are deceptive.

Pepper duration
Behind the scenes the Axel had exorbitantly cost a lot of money. Bribe, that is. Due to the enormous corruption and bulky, shameless bureaucracy, the entire project took a blast of power and untold amount of time before the first Axel left the gate of the newly built factory in Craiova. The profit had already evaporated in advance, the figures could now be credited in red. Citroën looked at it with sorrow. Importers and dealers in a number of Western European countries as well. In addition to their own trusted range, PSA more or less forced them from 1984 to also offer this somewhat sad stepchild to but-I-need-only-from-A-to-B customers or unsuspecting greedy men. They then built a close relationship with them, because they often came together on the floor. A lot broke down. And if it didn't break, it was probably because it had already rusted away.

Much for little
Yet it was not only doom and gloom, the Romanian had a right to exist. Especially in his own country, its natural habitat. He was also adjusted to that. His ground clearance, for example, was much greater than that of his French counterpart. The technology used was certainly not wrong: the four-cylinder air-cooled engines of 1.1 or 1.3 liters were already sufficiently tested to be considered reliable. On the home market, the Axel could also be ordered with the well-known 650 cc two-cylinder engine that also catapulted the 2CV to the horizon with every green light. But the biggest plus was of course its price: the most luxurious version cost less than the scantiest Visa in the price list. You don't expect delicate taste sensations and a bold bill on your plate from goulash either.

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