Damn!.. EMPTY! I really thought that I'd get through this whole month without putting a drop of petrol in it. Still, nearly made it. So on my final day of ownership of the little Citroën, here's the obligatory first fill shot...
Besides, I guess it's probably better that it ran out on me rather than run out on the new owner when they pick it up! So, I filled up my petrol can after putting the whole five litres into the tank of the Ax, and to my surpirse I managed to get 6.31 litres of BP petrol into my five litre CarPlan fuel can! I didn't even fill it to the brim! I will accept that it will maybe hold a little more than 5 litres, but nearly a litre and a half more, I'm not so sure!
Anyway, I decided (in my wisdom or otherwise) to leave the sharks teeth on as I feel that this might be the thing that draws people in to have a better look at the ad, although I did say in my ad that the teeth are just a big decal, which can be easily removed if you would prefer a more standard look. I did however wonder if this was to be my undoing, as I didn't really have a lot of watchers for my listing. I had hoped that bidding would pick up at the end of the auction as it often does. So, as the auction drew to a close, and the price was still quite a long way from where I would like it to be I crossed my fingers, and hoped for the best! As it turned out it wasn't worth as much as I had paid for it, so I guess after the short interlude of making a bit of profit on the Street Ka it was back to business as usual at BelongaClint, and I am down to the tune of £200!! Which is irritating to say the least. Or is it? But before I get into too much detail...
There it goes!! Next stop Barcelona on some Banger Rally! With the sale of my fantastically sharks tooth emblazonned Citroën Ax what can I tell you about my month with Citroëns mid nineties little city car? Well, one thing that did strike me when I was writing my ad was just how solid this little Ax is, there really is no rust to speak of, and it would appear to have never even been welded. I reckon its a good little car, and has obviously been looked after during it's life, although at 27years old it does have the odd dent and scratch, which I guess is only to be expected. But having said that it doesn't detract too much from what a nice little car this is, if you were pretty handy with bodywork I think you could have this looking concourse in no time at all. A half decent set of wheels and a good whack with the lowering stick and you'd have a very cool looking car on your hands for very little financial outlay, or effort.
Anyhoo, you may well be wondering why I said earlier that I questioned whether losing to the tune of £200 on the little Citroën was irritating or not. Here's my reasoning, as you may remember back at the beginning of the story about the Ax I said that it came with a full tank of fuel, and as the month ended I only just didn't make it through my whole month without putting any in. But, unfortunately for me I did have to empty my can into it on the last day of my ownership which cost me a grand total of £7.38. During the rest of this little project on average I have put £125.47 worth of fuel into each car a month, but not the Ax, just £7.38, which means, in the grand scheme of things if you take fuelling into the equation I am actually only £81.91 down. Which still isn't ideal, but it's a lot better than being £200 down! I don't know about you guys, but I feel better already. Every silver lining has its cloud!
As you may remember I was originally after a Citroën XM, but because the Ax turned up at a relatively close distance from my home, and as I hadn't seen one for a while I thought that I would go and have a little lookie at it, which inevitably ended up with me buying it. If you do happen to have been reading my drivel for a while you'll know that I have a bit of a soft spot in my heart for old Talbots, specifically, the Alpine. So, here comes the rather tenuous link to the Alpine, well, Talbots atleast. The development of the Citroën Ax started in 1983, and was first of all going to form the basis of a model from Talbot to replace the Samba. But due to the falling popularity of the Talbot brand this led to Peugeot deciding to AXe the Talbot brand by the time the Citroën AX was launched, therefore the Talbot version never made it into production. I did say it was a rather tenuous link, but I thought that I might share that little factoid with you all. To be fair I've never been a fan of the Samba, or small cars in general, although I've toyed with the idea of having a Horizon, but now, having had the Ax I feel it might be cool to have a Samba for a comparison at some point too, but as ever I'm getting away from the point.
In my month of Citroën Ax ownership I managed to travel 464 miles on the full tank of fuel left kindly for me by the previous owner. According to the technical information I have found the Citroën Ax has a fuel tank that will hold just 43 litres, or if you prefer like me, 9.45 imperial gallons. This means that I was getting a very respectable 49 miles per gallon!! Admittedly I didn't do much club-footed type driving, and as usual for the most part I have my lightest footware on, but still, 49MPG from a 27 year old Citroën is pretty darn good, and sadly was probably the best thing about this little thing. Because after last months fun filled frenzy blasting about in the Street Ka, I can report that the Ax was a bit of a come down, which I expected to be fair. But, I don't believe the Ax was designed to be anything but adequate, this is basic motoring at it's finest, and actually, I kinda like it. It's not a fantastic car, but it's not a terrible car either, but it's just an 'OK' car, however, what it was good at was pottering about the city, and stuff like that. Which is good, this is what it was designed for. I imagine that the GTi version is probably a bit more of a chuckle on the country roads, and I reckon that with some tweaking, so would this be, but in standard trim... Er, no! Out on the open road the engine seemed eager enough, and it did blezz along quite nicely, and revved away very happily under the bonnet, but what let the country road fun down was two things, the handling, and the brakes!
The handling was woolley to say the least, this was probably due to the amount of suspension travel, and the softness of the ride. Don't get me wrong, if you're just pottering about the town, and driving in a normal fashion, it's fine, and quite comfortable. But, let the hooligan in you out, and get out there on some twisty roads, and the whole things rocks and rolls about like the Herald Of Free Enterprise. Not good, and not good for inspiring confidence. A couple of times, at relatively slow speeds, and well within the speed limits of the roads I had a couple of brown trouser moments when I thought I was going to be posting a photo of it on it's roof. But I guess most normal people wouldn't be trying to perform handbrake turns!
Then we move onto the brakes, again, these didn't inspire confidence.The brakes were very soft, and a couple of times I was literally standing on the brake pedal as my knuckles turned white while I was trying to stop! Infact, I was so unimpressed with the stopping ability of the Ax that I even had a look at the brakes which all seemed to have plenty of life left in them, even the fluid was good! I therefore summised that this must be just how these little Citroëns are. Again though, my feeling is that the GTi version is a much better, and sharper tool.
But away from the little problems of braking and handling, I found that inside the Ax was a fairly pleasant place to be, the seats were fairly comfortable, although I probably wouldn't want to spend all day sitting in them, as I think they're probably designed for petit French Fillys ass, rather than fat middle aged bloke ass! But it was roomy enough, and I could drive in a reasonably comfortable position for a fair amount of time.
Even in the back the two little Monsters said that they had plenty of room, and were quite comfortable. But of course the extra space that the kids had for legroom, meant that the boot was small. But not so small that it was as useless as the Aixam, as we still managed to get the shopping all in without any dramas.
The dashboard, like the rest of the interior was perfectly adequate, but spartan, although quite nicely laid out. Much like the dashboard of the Ka I would've liked more information as to what was going on under the bonnet, but to be fair to Citroën I'm probably not part of the demographic they were aiming their little city car at.
One thing I will note about the interior, and it was something that my girlfriend twenty odd years ago pointed out to me, was how nice and large the door pockets are. As I remember she thought that it was very thoughtful of the designers of the Citroën Ax to include door pockets which were big enough to carry a bottle of wine... How very French!
Outside the car, and away fromt he drinking and driving inspired parts of the interior the 'no-frills' theme continued (with the exception of the sharks teeth obviously!) If you could buy a white label basics car at Tesco, then this would no doubt be it. Strangely, I found myself wondering if the designers at Citroën had ever heard of a French Curve, as they seemed to have elected to design the AX's bodywork using nothing more than a ruler and a HB pencil. Although they must've got something right as the Ax has excellent aerodynamics for its class of car with a drag coefficient of just 0.31. Couple this with the extensive use of plastic panels in non-load bearing areas and varying the thicknesses of steel in the bodyshell to be the minimum needed to take required loads this meant that the Ax only weighed about 640 kg or, if you're an old cook like me, 1411 lbs. This no doubt all probably helped me to acheive that 49MPG figure!
Now then, another thing I want to tell you about my time with the Ax is that while polishing it I noticed this on the bottom of the rear numberplate. My little Ax was originally sold by Wyatt Citroën of Winchester. This went on to become Freeborn Citroën of Winchester, and is infact quite litterally just across the road from my house. I realise that this is probably absolutely no interest to practically anyone but me, but its my thread so there you go. Anyway, I thought I'd take a photo of it outside it's home.
Sadly they've taken all the signage down as they're renovating the building, which is typical as it's been up all month right up to the point I wanted to take a photo.
Anyway, to sum it all up then, I feel that the Citroën Ax is ok, it's an adequate car, it does what it needs to do to get the job done, but nothing else. No frivolity, and no frills, it's a white label car from the basics range at the supermarket. There's nothing wrong with that, the people who bought cars like this just wanted a nice little run-about to potter around going to the shops, picking the kids up from school etc etc, and for this, it's just perfect. BUT, I feel that it's just not as perfect as it could've been. While I would agree that it is infinately better than the Aixam in every way I have also been lucky enough to have owned a Mk1 Renault Twingo, and frankly it makes a mockery of the Citroën Ax. It's the same basic idea, it's just done better, it handles better, it goes better, it's roomier inside, and it even looks better, although it wasn't as economical. But I could overlook the fact that the Renault took bigger gulps of the fuel than the Citroën did simply because at everything else, it was just so much better, and they even cost the same sort of money when they were new.
So, would I have another Citroën Ax? No, probably not, but I would have another early Twingo, and often search ebay and the likes for one.
However to add a further twist to the tale, Aixam built a Citroën AX derivative at one time called Mega Club and Mega Ranch. They were inspired by the Citroën Méhari, which was a light utility car and off-roader based on the Citroën 2CV built between 1968 and 1988. The Citroën Ax based Aixam Club and Mega Ranch were built in a similar manner with plastic bodywork and an optional convertible version. But it was discontinued in 1998, after nearly 1,000 had been built. Even though mechanically it would be the same as the Citroën Ax, and it would probably drive and handle the same, would I have one of those? Without a shadow of a doubt I would! Look at it, it looks like it was designed by an escapee from the bozo-barn, and this is what would make it great!