Cold Start: That Face

Cs Ami

I’ll admit that I’ve always loved the Citroën Ami’s design, despite knowing that, objectively, the front end is really, really awkward-looking. Some may say “ugly,” but I won’t. It’s too interesting to be ugly, to compellingly weird. It introduced rectangular headlamps, but then surrounded them with oval bezels, and draped everything with that strange, languid arc of a hoodline, like the hood was fabric, held up by the headlight pods. It’s so strange.

The grille is awkward and small, the indicators are set into a strange linear, chrome-bordered recess that feels like part of something else, and the hardware for the bumper doesn’t look like automotive hardware; the bumper looks like it’s made from bathroom grab handle railings, or something.

And yet, despite all this, somehow I like that weird, grumpy face. It has real charm behind it, a peculiar sort of fussy, weird charm, like an annoying friend that would do anything if it makes things more fun, even if they won’t shut up or not make weird noises when they chew.

Maybe that’s why it’s called the Ami?

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34 Responses

  1. FWIU these were intended to have a sloping front, roughly level with the low point of the drooping hood. That fell afoul of French headlight-height regulations (and by extension, everywhere else’s) and pop-up headlights weren’t really a thing yet in 1960, and would’ve been way out of budget in any case, so this was the solution they came up with.

    Also, the Ami 6 was sold in the US in the early ’60s. It wasn’t very successful – the market for imported small sedans that weren’t VW bugs had basically collapsed when the Falcon, Corvair and Valiant came on the scene for 1960 and wouldn’t recover until Datsun and Toyota started to get serious in 1966-68 – but it exists in all its’ quad-sealed-beam, VW-style bumper orthodontics glory;

    1. The quad sealed beams were actually also offered in France. Citroen wasn’t sure people would like the novel rectangular headlights, so they offered the sealed beams on the highest trim level as a backup.

  2. I brought you here because you said you were going to throw yourself into the sea. This is NOT what I envisioned. Why. Why must you waste my, and everyone else around you too, why must you waste all of our time in this way.

    The car is evil.
    (and ugly)

  3. Having lived and worked in Germany for nearly 30 years, I encountered all manner of strange (to me) cars and trucks from all over Europe. None intrigued me more that the French. In that time I owned two Citroen, a CX2000, and a 2CV. Both were great cars and the CX saved my life in a horrendous crash with a semi tanker truck. I always admired the ugly beast we are discussing today and wanted one just to say I had one. Sadly too late.

  4. I always loved these, especially the 6 with its strange rear window arrangement. Remembers me of hot summer vacations in the south of France (more than 30 years ago), where all these cars (AMI, Renault 4, Citroen 2CV etc.) were parked in the little dusty villages in front of a café or a boulangerie…

  5. I love how up until recently car faces had the full gamut of human expressions. That one is not even mad, just disappointed. Cheer up, buddy! Bask in the joys of not having to look like an angry catfish all the time!

  6. My father had one of these when I was 5 years old. It’s built on the 2CV chassis and I still remember the way it dipped and dove and leaned over bumps and around corners. I don’t know how I ever kept my lunch down!

  7. I know there’s a lot going on with the front end of this car. But the thing I can’t get past is the position the wipers are parked in. The passenger one is halfway up the windshield, and the driver one isn’t much better. Were they unable to design a linkage that could provide enough angular travel?

  8. This reminds me of the face view of the live crabs encountered at the beach. Or some weird ass insect/monster made out of a result of the bombing of Nagasaki. And it’s fixing to fight Godzilla to the bitter death.

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