Home » Citroën Built A Special Edition Car Based On A Disposable Pen And It Just Makes No Sense

Citroën Built A Special Edition Car Based On A Disposable Pen And It Just Makes No Sense

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Special edition cars are sort of inherently strange things, especially ones that tie in with unrelated brands. I get the general thinking: by teaming up with some established brand or product, you can pull in devotées of both camps, and then sell more cars, and everyone wins. Usually, the brands that are paired up with are ones that actually do have some sort of following, like those designer-signature cars, such as AMC’s Gucci Hornet or  Volkswagen’s Etienne Aigner Edition Cabriolet or even the Nautica Edition Mercury Villager[Ed Note: Or the Grand Cherokee Orvis edition. -DT]. One thing all of these very different special edition/brand tie-in cars have in common is that the partner brands were relatively high-end, and imparted a sense of quality or status or exclusivity.

That could be why none of these companies thought to reach out to a company that made, say, disposable plastic products so cheap and ubiquitous that they’re almost invisible in everyday life. You know, products so valueless that they’re one of the few commercial items in modern society people routinely and absent-mindedly steal without any guilt or repercussions. Products like, say, disposable pens. Well, most carmakers avoided this kind of tie-in, but not all. Not, for example, Citroën, who, in 1998, proudly gave unto the world the Citroën Saxo Bic.

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Vidframe Min Bottom

Yes, the Saxo Bic. Bic as in the company best known for making three very useful and humble disposable things: razors, lighters, and pens. Citroën was pretty discriminating here, since they seem to be focused on just the disposable ball point pen aspect of Bic for their little hatchback, because having a special edition car based on a lighter or razor would be ridiculous, right? Not like a disposable pen, which, of course, makes a metric crapload of sense.


Everything about this fascinates me. No slight to the classic Bic ballpoint pen, which is really an under-appreciated design icon, one of the few objects that I suspect nearly everybody has handled extensively and is intimately familiar with, in a gut-level, tactile way. I know the contours of that cap by feel, in my hand or even mouth, and I’ve employed that cap to cover ball point tips and clean ears and act as a spaceship to fight boring-class ennui more times than I can count. You could argue that these pens are one of the defining objects of modern life.


At the same time, they’re so common and worthless as to be forgettable. I suspect they’re one of those things that, for normal people, you’ve owned hundreds of them, and very likely only actually bought a tiny fraction. Because mostly you just find them in drawers or on tables or windowsills, and that’s just fine. I’m not even sure “owned” is the right word for Bic pens; they enter your life as needed, and then just disappear, somehow, only to be summoned again, somehow, at your next time of need.

Saxobics Ext

So, how did Bic pens end up as a theme for a special edition of a car? Were the Q-Tip people not returning any calls? The prima donnas at Ziploc were too difficult to work with? Maybe focus groups found that Acco paper clips just weren’t resonating with the youths anymore? Whatever it was, Bic ball-point pens won the day, and so got their special edition Saxo.

As far as what special edition meant in this context, it doesn’t seem like Citroën busted their collective ass too hard to make this happen. The car was the basic Saxo – a tidy little transverse-engined car that was a badge-engineered sibling to the Peugeot 106. By Citroën standards, it’s quite a conventional little car, and could be had with a variety of inline-four engines ranging from 1-liter/50 horsepower to a ravenous 1.6-liter/120 hp hot version.

The Saxo Bic edition I don’t think ever got that engine, instead having a choice of four engines (1.0, 1.1, 1.4, and a 1.5-liter diesel) and a few things to make it Bic-style: little Bic badges in the side molding strips, a decal of the little ball-headed BIC guy (officially known as the Bic Schoolboy, it seems or just BIC Boy) on the C-pillars, a bright yellow shift knob and little yellow balls on the door locking knobs. Also, there was the colorful casino-carpet-style “Tetoubo” upholstery with yellow piping all around, and, most oddly, each seat belt was a different color. Oh, and the car itself could be had in one of six colors: white, silver, green, blue, red, or orange, the color closest to the iconic plastic pen, I think.


Bicsaxo Stuf

I suppose that’s a reasonable set of things to define a special edition car? And yet, it’s worth remembering that this was a special edition to commemorate a pen. And not like a Mont Blanc or something swanky like that, a fucking disposable Bic pen. I’ve been writing about this for paragraphs and I’m still amazed.

Only 6,000 Saxo Bics were made, but I suppose that was enough to merit their own commercial, which seemed to imply the car had some sort of unholy power to control Bic pens:

Is… is that car attempting to stab the meter-person with the pen? Is that what’s happening there? Are we witnessing an assault by a car that wants to avoid a ticket, so it takes some sort of magickal control of that woman’s disposable pen and positions it to stab her in the head? That’s what’s happening there, right? I just want to be sure it’s not just me seeing this.


There’s actually at least one Saxo Bic fan video out there, too – well, I assume it’s a fan video, because I nearly failed college French and don’t really understand but every 20th word in this:

This thing fascinates me. It’s like a strange celebration of the humble, the mundane, the utilitarian. The car is already a little unpretentious workhorse, a basic economy hatchback that I’m sure does its job just fine and doesn’t attract undue attention. The same goes for Bic pens, I suppose. They just work. They’re around, you use them, then you stop thinking about them. The only time they let you down is when they’re finally out of ink, and when that happens you just scribble a bit on a page to see if there’s any more marking-juice in there, and if not you fling it away without another thought and find another one. Or, if you’re me, you put the cap back on it and stick it back in the pen cup, so you can be frustrated all over again at a later date in the future.

Maybe, in that context, this makes a sort of strange sense.




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1 month ago

It’s not at all awful actually. Basic, practical hatchbacks can have some humble appeal, and I think that this one does. Also, I don’t think it’s at all dark of you to think the pen is trying to stab the meter maid (meter person?) in that commercial. I actually thought it was performing a rectal exam of some sort on that initial behind-the-back thrust, but then again, my mind’s in the gutter. Kudos to Citroen for offering it in that slightly orangey pen/pencil yellow too.

Michael Brock II
Michael Brock II
1 month ago

I remember when Bic mechanical pencils switched from manufacturing in France to China. The little colored clips had slightly less of a quality feel and the plastic was more brittle. Everything just felt a little second rate. It made me sad. Those pencils got me through many many writing assignments. Despite the manufacturing shift they are still my go to today. Cheap and effective. Very affordable on the used market too!

Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
1 month ago

I love Bic pens, but for mechanical pencils I am a fan or Caran d’Ache. A bit more expensive but they’ll last a lifetime. Nothing will ever replace the Fixpencil 2mm for me.

Michael Brock II
Michael Brock II
1 month ago

Well great, now I’m going to have to try one of those out. I even stumbled on a special edition! I also had no idea Nespresso Pods were aluminum. Now I learned about two fancy things today. https://www.amazon.com/Caran-dAche-Nespresso-Fixpencil-0022-066/dp/B096KWL5L2/ref=asc_df_B096KWL5L2/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=532400003478&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=10688110114278532161&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=1017537&hvtargid=pla-1318455587208&th=1

Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
1 month ago

Oh wow it is fancy! And they have other colours too, I love this one. But the Amazon listing is misleading, as it makes it sound like it’s fully made of recycled material; in Nespresso’s website they state that 17% from the aluminum used in making them comes from recycled pods – better than nothing but I hate it when ads are that misleading.

I’m firmly #TeamBaseModel, I love the basic black Fixpencil, which appears to now cost ~€20. The last one I bought cost me €8 in a local bookstore some 15 years ago, and the one before that was paid in a currency that no londer exists.

Last edited 1 month ago by Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
Guillaume Maurice
Guillaume Maurice
1 month ago

It’s not the first *Limited Edition* with a brand Citroen…

Before that we several numerous AX :

The AX Thalassa for example , named after a well known TV show around the sea.
The AX K-Way, obviously about the rain protection gear.

Last edited 1 month ago by Guillaume Maurice
Drive By Commenter
Drive By Commenter
1 month ago

Bic pens just work. They’re the Toyota of pens. If it doesn’t write chances are it will in a few seconds by making circles on the paper. If I recall correctly it’s far likelier to have a Bic pen get lost or destroyed before it stops writing. Chances are that a destroyed Bic pen will still write (if you don’t mind getting inky hands)!

Not gonna lie, of the mass market pens Bic is my favorite. I’ll happily spend more on a Bic that just works than a box of cheap pens that may or may not.

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