It may be more than two months before the Monaco Grand Prix, but a question of every fan of Formula 1 and weird French cars has already been answered: Can a Citroen Ami take Monaco’s Fairmont Hairpin flat? Even with a claimed top speed of 28 mph, the answer is no.
But first, what is a Citroen Ami? It’s a tiny and very slow electric car classified as a voiture sans permis, a form of transportation that would’ve got Ayn Rand frothing at the mouth. Children as young as 14 can get behind the wheel of a voiture sans permis without a proper license (that’s the sans permis part), be it a Ligier or an Aixam or an Ami. All that’s required is the same sort of permit needed to ride a moped, with no points system. Given how many of us were like at 14, driving even a very slow car probably isn’t a brilliant idea. Granted, it’s not just pimply-faced teenagers who can get behind the wheel of a voiture sans permis, but those with suspended or revoked licenses can also drive these light quadricycles, and those born before 1988 don’t need a license at all to drive them.
Given such loose framework, it was only a matter of time before someone binned a Citroen Ami spectacularly, and the incident in question occurred at one of the most famous corners on the Formula 1 calendar – Monaco’s Fairmont Hairpin. During a race, F1 drivers slow way down to 30 mph through this corner as it’s both properly tight and off-camber on the outside. However, that didn’t stop a 16-year-old from pushing the limits of the littlest Citroen on sale. Of course, being in the internet age, we’ve been graced with multiple angles of the driver’s excessive optimism, including an in-cabin view. Let’s take a look.
And from the inside.
@_skwiny_ Ça va je vais bien #fakesituation #monaco ♬ son original – Raphael Sky
Yep, that’s a rollover. If you watched Fifth Gear’s team test of a Citroen Ami, you probably aren’t surprised that the little electric quadricycle keeled over. Thankfully, the bollards were there to stop the car, and the low-speed nature of the crash combined with the invincibility of youth meant that the driver and passenger reportedly only suffered minor injuries. Back in the old days, an incident like this would’ve been a bit of a laugh as nobody was seriously hurt and the image of a tiny car falling over is hilarious.
Interestingly enough, if a similar attempt was made with an old Citroen Ami, the likely result wouldn’t have been a rollover. See, the old Ami was a fancy Citroen 2CV, a vehicle famous for its unbelievably compliant suspension. Instead of traditional struts or leaf springs, Citroen used a system that was interconnected front-to-rear and would extend the wheelbase on the outer side during hard cornering. Combined with long cross-chassis links and heaps of caster angle, Citroen had a car that was doggedly determined to stay upright. Perhaps the best display of this is in 2CV racing, where competitors reach gratuitous levels of body roll without simply flopping over on the apex.
So, is the new Citroen Ami dangerous? Not necessarily. After all, it’s not a car, but instead a weird low-power quadricycle that doesn’t need anti-lock brakes, stability control, or any of the active assists we lived without in the past. It’s a genre of vehicle that inherently trades a bit of safety for low cost and light weight, and even in full-size cars, stability control can’t scribble on the laws of physics like a coloring book. Use common sense when piloting an Ami and you’ll probably be alright.
(Photo credits: Benelux Supercars, Citroen, allen watkin from London, UK – Ami, CC BY-SA 2.0)
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One could easily argue that a “voiture sans permis” is still much safer than a moped.
Great old Top Gear clip with the 24h 2cv race! Impossible not to smile!
How old was Clarkson??
Relative safety may depend on the specific VSP and moped under consideration. I’ve got a KV Mini 1 and an American Microcar Tri-Ped and I’m convinced each is less safe than the other.
Definitely depends, Microcars, Ligier, and Aixam all at least get crash tested and have some degree of structural reinforcement for the passenger cabin and crumple zones for cushioning, but there’s a number of tiny cottage industry builders operating out of small workshops who don’t really consider any of that.
I still love that the category exists
I’m glad it exists, too, but my KV is from 1980 and the factory consisted of one small building containing a director and three employees, so testing and safety were not exactly high priorities:
I first read that as Boning an Ami. Certainly a different meaning and probably NSFW which is where I’m at.
And I thought it was Voiture sans penis, so join the club
“Video removed by uploader”
Thankfully there are multiple videos of this crash! I subbed in another.
Thanks for that.
I’m assuming the driver was fairly young and inexperienced. The lean s/he had going uphill would have been enough to convince me that I didn’t want to try it downhill. And I didn’t see any attempt to steer into it on the way down. Given that it wasn’t a closed course-and there were people on the sidewalk-I hope the driver was charged with some form of reckless driving.
I’m old, but I don’t think even 14yo me would have tried flat-out downhill here.
Sorry for buzzkill
There are many camera angles because it’s a fake “accident”. i e. they did it on purpose.
Given that a properly designed BEV (with the battery integrated into the floor for a nice low center of gravity), it should be more stable than any ICE vehicle by default.
And that means there is probably some impressively BAD engineering/design in the Ami.
I’ll say it before and I’ll say it again… FCA did not need PSA to start developing electric vehicles. PSA did not and does not have any special BEV tech or knowledge that FCA couldn’t design or build on its own.
It’s a car that is taller than it is wide, with an inexperienced driver behind the wheel, going through a very tight downhill hairpin turn at speeds beyond what it should be going. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a bad design. Just stupid decisions.
It was intentionally rolled. That’s why there were so many cameras recording an otherwise unremarkable scene.
They rolled it on purpose. That’s why there were so many cameras rolling.
I get that… just like how Clarkson deliberately rolled the Reliant Robin on Top Gear.
But in my view, that should never happen on any properly designed modern BEV.
“Here, hold my Bordeaux”
“Hold my Kronenbourg 1664”
1664 is the export stuff, it’s just plain old Kronenbourg in France.
I’m fondly remembering my teenaged years when it was about eleven Francs for a crate of 36 stubbies. First time I ever got drunk 🙂
It’s in Monaco, they drink Champagne
Unsafe At Any Speed-2023
This reminds me of the long-abused Reliant Robin in Mr. Bean.
Why do people respond like this was just some inadvertent accident due to an inexperienced driver?
It obviously wasn’t entirely spontaneous!
There were several external camera angles, and an in-car camera, so it was obviously planned that the driver was going to be driving through at high speed. He had his friends recording it. Note the two passes recorded.
The only question is if he intended to tip over or not?
I think it was intentional. Otherwise how interesting is it really to just record a car going around that turn a little fast?
In general, people respond to videos of events strangely. Too few people question why the person was standing there recording in the first place.
Yeah, I’m going for throw him in jail/fine him for reckless driving.
This was pre-planned and could have gone quite differently, i.e. turned over on one off the poles, nice impaling for the driver or skid through the bollards and hit someone in the crowd.
Exactly, it was intentional and someone looking for online clout. This could have severely injured or killed someone.
OF COURSE now I need to see a racing version of an Ami, because that’s how my brain works…also I like small cars.
A Renault Twizzy would probably be the closest thing to that which exists.