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

Bic Top
ADVERTISEMENT

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.

Vidframe Min Top
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.

Bicpens

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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.

 

ADVERTISEMENT

Relatedbar

These Are The 15 Most Horrible Car Air Freshener Scents of 2023

This Odd Little Collapsable Trailer Seems Like A Great Idea That’s All But Extinct

Take The Hardest Taillight-As-Sushi Identification Quiz Ever

Screw It, We’re Doing A Car Haiku Quiz

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Subscribe
Notify of
106 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
ColoradoFX4
ColoradoFX4
7 months ago

I lived in London for a time, and actually saw one of these on the street. My first thought was “why would someone put Bic stickers on their Citroën?” because I couldn’t imagine any other logical reason to explain what I saw. Now I know, thank you.

Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
7 months ago

Oh wow, I hadn’t thought of the Saxo Bic in years. Such a puzzling tie-in. Maybe more puzzling than the VW Golf III Pink Floyd, Bon Jovi or Rolling Stones special editions.

DriveSheSaid
DriveSheSaid
7 months ago

A Citropën? With a driver always at your Bic and call?

Highland Green Miata
Highland Green Miata
7 months ago

Bic = Disposable French Pen
Saxo= Disposable French Car
What’s the issue here?

Cool Dave
Cool Dave
7 months ago

Does that make it a Citro-pen?

DriveSheSaid
DriveSheSaid
7 months ago
Reply to  Cool Dave

Missed it by that much! Ah, well I can at least ask if it comes with a driver always at your Bic and call?

Cool Dave
Cool Dave
7 months ago
Reply to  DriveSheSaid

You managed to get the umlauts on the ‘e’ though so bonus points!

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
7 months ago
Reply to  Cool Dave

ACKSHUALLY if you stick a p in there, the umlauts become unnecessary. :p

Amberturnsignalsarebetter
Amberturnsignalsarebetter
7 months ago
Reply to  Cool Dave

When you’re thrashing it around the corner on two wheels does it become a Bicitroën?

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
7 months ago

Jason, Jason, Jason. Do your research. I will touch on this later. But first if I were to do a car edition of something Bic the Razor is of course the item to pick. Razor-sharp cornering, great handling for close shave driving, and of course a clean shaven French racing driver with his arms around two hopefully properly shaved hot persons who identify as women. Second, as for a Peugeot edition car I would go Pringles. Yes potato flakes in a cardboard tube with the same tensile strength of a Peugeot. But now back to that Bic Peugeot it actually was a promo buy a 10 pack of Bic pens get a Peugeot. I don’t think it was successful.

WaCkO
WaCkO
7 months ago

Jason you are aware that bic makes lighters and smoking is like France’s national pass time

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
7 months ago
Reply to  WaCkO

I believe smoking is only one of several national passions – tied with setting cars on fire, drinking wine, not working, and being rude to visiting Americans.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
7 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

Also: talking about meals you’ve had or are looking forward to having *while you’re currently eating a meal*, talking about eating like it’s sex, and being antisemitic.

Manuel Verissimo
Manuel Verissimo
7 months ago

I was gonna give you a “hell yeah” until the very last bit. Are we known for antisemitism? If you’d told me we have a large anti-muslim fringe I’d have agreed with you, as half the political spectrum rides that wave here but antisemitism? Really?

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
7 months ago

Maybe not everywhere, but rampant IME.

Phuzz
Phuzz
7 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

If you’ve been to Paris, don’t worry, they’re rude to everyone.
If it was somewhere else in France, it was probably just because you were a visiting American.

Manuel Verissimo
Manuel Verissimo
7 months ago

To be frank, PSA did a fuck ton of weird special editions. A friend of mine once pointed me to a webpage dedicated to special edition Peugeots:
http://www.auto-pub.net/ASL/Peugeot/page_Peugeot.htm

The unpretentious and ubiquitous Bic pen makes more sense to me than the Quicksilver special editions as Peugeots aren’t exactly capable as dune buggys.

Art of the Bodge
Art of the Bodge
7 months ago

All websites should look like this.

Manuel Verissimo
Manuel Verissimo
7 months ago

The internet used to be better.

AssMatt
AssMatt
7 months ago

Why would you cover clean ears?

Also nothing says late-90s to me quite like that topshot model’s puffs.

Last edited 7 months ago by AssMatt
Frackle
Frackle
7 months ago

I assume that Bic is like, one of the strongest brands France has, and in that sense it isn’t too much wackier than an LL Bean edition car?

CoastieLenn
CoastieLenn
7 months ago
Reply to  Frackle

As far as brand cache goes, LLB is/was known for trendy, expensive outdoors wear and gear. Attaching that to a Subaru was the 90’s equivalent of them making an Outback Patagonia edition today. Not a far stretch to see the connection. Where’s the lifestyle connection between Bic and a Citroen?

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
7 months ago
Reply to  CoastieLenn

TBF LLBean was a deushy guy, camping gear always perfectly clean never seen the forest. Same Era Subaru was shall we say a model for Lady woods persons and LPGA Athletes. Only thing matching up there was the Deusch.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
7 months ago
Reply to  CoastieLenn

I think they were playing on the ubiquity and ready utility of Bic products to suggest their little car was just as handy, though , as suggested by production numbers, the Citroen Bic was assuredly not ubiquitous.

Alexander Moore
Alexander Moore
4 months ago
Reply to  CoastieLenn

Where’s the lifestyle connection between Bic and a Citroen?

We think of Citroen as the engineering powerhouse it once was but in Europe for decades the 2CV and Visa made them synonymous with ‘cheap, durable, and disposable’. That’s basically Bic’s brand philosophy, is it not?

Billywa
Billywa
7 months ago

It Just Makes No Sense

The French hailed Jerry Lewis as a comedic genius. In that context, Citroën (a French carmaker) building a car based on a disposable pen makes perfect sense…

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
7 months ago

All I know is that if you Flic your Bic in France, it means you’re getting a ticket in your Citroen.

Gene1969
Gene1969
7 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

Nah. They were saving that for the convertible version that never happened.

Taco Shackleford
Taco Shackleford
7 months ago

If it’s even 50% as accurate as portrayed in The Grand Tour’s “Carnage a Trois”, French cars in France are treated as disposable, so branding as a disposable pen makes perfect sense.

I always thought Charmin should have partnered with Chrysler and thrown a quilted white paint job on a PT Cruiser, this making the TP Cruiser.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
7 months ago

I bought a seven dollar pen because I always lose pens and I got sick of not caring.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
7 months ago

Well, that’s livin’ large!
I wouldn’t be able to stand the strain of always having to keep track of that pen.
In fact, I partly chose my bank because it has the most branches here: I’m never far from a place where I can swipe a pen without complaint

Andreas8088
Andreas8088
7 months ago

Similar. I had a boss whose son gave him a pen as a gift, and he said, “Ever since I cared about the pen, I’ve never lost it.” So I bought myself a really nice pen, and sure enough, never lost it. The couple of times I left it somewhere, someone gave it back to me. Stopped using disposable pens entirely.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
7 months ago
Reply to  Andreas8088

I feel the need to recommend the perfect pen to you now.

Zebra F-701. It’s a game changer.

Andreas8088
Andreas8088
7 months ago

Ahh yeah, I’ve used those Zebra pens, they’re great!

At the time (2007) I was doing a lot of writing in my job, and got myself a Cross ATX rollerball pen, which is terrific with the selectip 0.5MM gel refills. Even now that almost everything is electronic, I do still have to sign things from time to time, and it still makes me happy to pull out of my pocket and use. It was definitely worth it (to me).

Hoonicus
Hoonicus
7 months ago

Bic’s watersports division was founded in 1979 as a by-product of the family’s passion for watersports. It has evolved into a very large watersports division that now includes Windsurfing, SUP, Kayaks and Sailing. All of these products are designed and built by a passionate design and production team in France. Their exclusive construction methods and materials produce reliable and durable products that are ideal for those seeking long term durability and consistent performance. Tahe’s molded technologies in Ace-Tec and Dura-Tec are the primary constructions that have been recognized for years for their dependable long term reliability and quality. 

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
7 months ago
Reply to  Hoonicus

Do… do you work in the marketing department of Bic watersports?

Hoonicus
Hoonicus
7 months ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

Sadly no. Would have dug that gig , was an avid windsurfer from 1980 till 2005 or so, and was aware of them, that was merely copy/paste.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
7 months ago
Reply to  Hoonicus

Interesting a French family with an interest in water sports from a country quite opposed to bathing.
Things that make you say hmmmm

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
7 months ago
Reply to  Hoonicus

I had one of their windsurfers back in the day. Won it as a door prize at a charity event. I recall the board being quite good, but the rigging was pretty fragile. I passed it on to someone once I lost the half chewed cap.

SNL-LOL Jr
SNL-LOL Jr
7 months ago

The French are like quantum mechanics. If you think you understand them, you don’t understand them.

Yngve
Yngve
7 months ago

I’d wager there is a >0 chance that this was a tie-in with Bic sport, rather than Bic pens:

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/71Ge2gpX2PQ/maxresdefault.jpg

A. Barth
A. Barth
7 months ago

Baller.

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
7 months ago
Reply to  A. Barth

Slow hand clap. Well done.

SNL-LOL Jr
SNL-LOL Jr
7 months ago
Reply to  MATTinMKE

COTD

Anders
Anders
7 months ago

I remember BIC made cool surfboards back in the 80’s and the 90’s so I’m guessing the Saxo was piggybacking more on that reputation rather than the Cristal.

GenericWhiteVan
GenericWhiteVan
7 months ago
Reply to  Anders

Yes, BIC had a line of windsurfers, the model names were based on musical genres. “Reggae”, “Hard Rock”, “Rock and Roll”, etc. Like other BIC products, they got the job done and where a good value. I still have a “Hard Rock” windsurfer out in the shed.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
7 months ago
Reply to  Anders

It’d be the orange Bic regardless, not the Cristal.

CoastieLenn
CoastieLenn
7 months ago

So if someone steals your Saxo Bic, will it take the owner 3 weeks to realize it’s gone and then they can just go permanently borrow someone else’s with no shame?

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
7 months ago

Does anyone remember the old “Flick your Bic” ads?
Actually like these little cars except for all French Pep Boys style of the designer upgrades.
I wonder what Lt. Colombo would have thought about this.

Data
Data
7 months ago
Reply to  Col Lingus

Oh, just one more thing…

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
7 months ago

I dunno, it makes sense to me – it does what you ask of it, cheerfully, and requires nothing until next time you need it. And no prestige whatsoever (this is a positive to many). Just like a Bic.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
7 months ago

In fairness, the clear (crystal?) version of this pen is held in MOMA’s design collection. Seriously.

Joshua Christian
Joshua Christian
7 months ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

It is a design incon

CoastieLenn
CoastieLenn
7 months ago

There’s only one thing that came to my mind repeatedly throughout this read: “Leave it to the French…”

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
7 months ago

“Le Click?”
“Non – Le Bik.”
“Quel Dommage!’

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
7 months ago
Reply to  Urban Runabout

“Le Car”

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
7 months ago
Reply to  Spikedlemon

Ignitus special edition?

1 2 3
106
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x