French Diesel: 1979 Citroën CX 2500 Pallas

Bonjour. We have only featured a half-dozen Citroëns over the last six months here at Barn Finds, that has to be one of the lowest numbers of any major manufacturer seen here. Let’s bump up that number a bit and check out this 1979 Citroën CX 2500 Pallas diesel. It can be found here on eBay in Torrence, California and the current bid price is $5,100 and there is no reserve.

I have only owned one French car, my beautiful, trouble-free 1987 Renault GTA. I thought that it was a bit quirky but check out the hovering Citroën! The seller says that they replaced the hydraulic fluid and five spheres and it now operates as it should. That’s about as cool as it gets in my world, how have I never owned one of these yet?!

Unfortunately, that unique raise-and-lower feature was reportedly a big reason why the Citroën CX was never really marketed in the United States. In 1974, Federal safety regulations gave a big non, merci to suspensions that were height-adjustable and the company reportedly was barred from selling 1974 cars in the US. Citroën was known for breaking US rules all over the place – directional headlights, mineral oil brake fluid, etc. – while at the same time making super cool and interesting cars.

This, my friends, is one interesting interior, as all Citroëns have. The seller has included a ton of photos, check them out if you have a chance. They say that the seats and door panels could use some help but the back seat looks good to me. In 1981, the US gov’ment did away with the height-adjustable suspension ruling and these cars came flooding into the country. Well, not really, but a few of them were imported after that.

The engine should be Citroën’s 2.5L inline-four diesel which would have had a whopping 74 hp and 111 ft-lb of torque. Not exactly the stump-puller we think of when we think of diesel engines. The seller has replaced the glow plug, battery, and relay and they say that it runs great. It starts instantly, runs strong, and the 5-speed manual also works great. Have any of you owned a Citroën?

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  1. Rex Kahrs Member

    I love the look of this car,and I’d love to have it in my garage. So forgive me again for my favorite French car joke: “Once you own a French car, nothing worse can happen to you”.

    Like 19
  2. r s

    French cars are designed and styled by nothing less than the very most highly skilled pastry chefs.

    I have to admit I’ve seen uglier cars. That’s high praise from me.

    Like 4
    • JP

      Me too – any American car from the ’70s.

      Like 5
  3. Winfield S Wilson

    Spare wheel on top of the engine?! Ge’nie! (genius) Thanks Google translate!

    Like 3
  4. redwagon

    Merci Msr. Gilbertson. Ah, French engineering at its best. Let me recount a short story about engineering reflecting national identity. Once took a trip to Europe with the family. We went a number of places and occasionally had need for a public bathroom. This is what I found, YMMV.

    In the Netherlands you could find them, they were spotlessly clean and for the most part free. In downtown Amsterdam they had a few public outdoor urinals designed as two stainless steel walls that intersected each other with each quadrant having its’ own urinal. Open to the back and the sky, no doors or roof, they were designed clearly for drunk males. Females need not apply.

    In Germany there were public bathrooms but you got what you paid for. Free ones were some of the most basic restrooms I have ever seen in my life, needing no repairs mind you but definitely old. They were all clean but the free ones truly were ugly.

    In France there were public bathrooms that amounted to a single bathroom. One toilet, one sink, designed for one person at a time. After each use the door would lock and a series of sprays – water, disinfectant, water would clean the entire bathroom. Each person would have a perfectly clean bathroom each time they used it (égalité, non?). Are you a family of 4 that needs a bathroom break? The wait was terrible. Then there were the ones that had broken down. Either for want of parts or a lack of mechanics/electricians/plumbers they were broken, locked and out of order. The idea behind the engineering was superb but the follow-through once deployed was lacking.

    Like 3
  5. Cncbny

    I had the matchbox if it when I was 7.

    Like 5
  6. Buffalo Bob

    I drove a Citroen once, back around ’84. ONCE. It was my ride from Manheim Auction back to Buffalo. Made it all of about 30 miles before it just stopped running. Fortunately, one of our trucks wasn’t far behind me, & I traded for the Saab turbo he had on the tail. We winched the DX on, & got it home. Turned out to be a head gasket, our import guy wouldn’t touch it, & we promptly returned it to the dealer we got it from. He never bought another one.

    Like 5
    • JP

      Funny… I had this same car in Europe and it ran flawlessly for 5 years. Being a student I never serviced it or spent a dime on maintenance. One of the most dependable cars I’ve ever owned..

      Like 6
  7. Skorzeny

    I agree with Rex. I like the look of it except for those rear ‘skirt lets’ which would go into a dumpster. I don’t know about the driving experience though, I think a 928 S4 would be a bit more fun…

    Like 1
  8. Vance

    Homely, ugly, unreliable, poorly built and designed. Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life. How one could feel good about this buying decision is beyond my imagination. This would be buyer’s remorse to the tenth degre.

    Like 4
    • JP

      You’ve obviously never owned one, and haven’t much of a clue. Just sayin’…

      Like 14
  9. Beyfon

    Well, if I should do a wild guess I have probably owned 30 CX of different versions. Sedans, wagons, the stretch Prestige… They are pretty good cars. Of course very comfortable, and quite sturdy too – but in my mind the later Series 2 cars were a lot better than these early cars. Better rust proofing, more powerful engines, and above all a much better interior.

    The regular 2.5D is quite ok. Not as good as the later turbodiesels, but still quite a bit better to drive than the contemporary non-turbo Peugeot and Mercedes (And a LOT better than the god-awful Opel diesels…) The engine and gearbox are sturdy units that won’t need much more than oil changes to keep clattering on. What kills these cars are the less than perfect French electrics and then of course rust. Hopefully rust isn’t too much of an issue here having spent its life in CA but some pictures of the frame rails would be nice.

    The awful interior would drive me crazy, but I guess good interiors from rusty European cars shouldn’t be too hard to find ( but expensive to ship) And what’s with that terrible hood badge that has been added? I hope they haven’t drilled a hole through the hood but I fear the worst.

    Like 6
    • CCFisher

      I believe the hood bulge is the air intake. If you look at the underhood shot, you can see a black box with a rubber seal that appears to line up with the hood bulge.

      • GT

        Badge added – Bulge not.

  10. Car Nut Tacoma

    Sweet looking car. For some reason Citroens were never good sellers in the USA. And good luck finding a Citroen diesel in the USA.

    Like 2
  11. H

    I had a CX, many years ago. Not a bad car. I’ve also owned and enjoyed some nice cars from the USA.
    I currently have a successor to it. Citroen C6. 2.7 litre V6, 235hp with all the Citroen querkiness. It goes like stink (150mph), corners like on rails and that pnematic suspension is a dream when criusing. Much like a 60s Biuck Skylark I had. I’ve done over 100,000 miles in 3 years and only spent $450 on repairs.
    Don’t diss it till you’ve tried it.
    p.s. I want a Buick Riviera 1972, dream on and keep saving..

    Like 3
  12. charlie Member

    We rented, in advance, from Hertz, in Amsterdam, a VW Golf “or similar”, as the rental car companies always say. We got a 3000 kilometer Renault. “Almost new”, the agent said, “but you know the French, great on style, short on mechanical knowledge.” It ran well, but by the time the two weeks of driving in the Netherlands were done, the driver’s door hinges were loose, and the door would not completely shut. We brought it back to the airport and a different Hertz guy said, “Ah yes, the French build beautiful cars but are not good mechanics.”

  13. vlrd56

    I thinck it’s à CX not a DX

    Like 1
    • Scotty Gilbertson Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      You are correct, my typo – apologies for that.

      Like 1
  14. Snafuracer

    My Dad had almost this exact car. Super reliable and an amazing driving experience. These cars drive like nothing else. Way ahead of their time. I just got a rust free 78 CX GTI that I hope to get back on the road later this year.

    Like 1
  15. Scotty Gilbertson Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    This great-looking Citroën CX sold for $7,300, but is being relisted…hmm..

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