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France’s top police tactical unit once cruised in nitrous-equipped Citroen station wagons

Published in blog.hemmings.com

Photos courtesy Aguttes.

Typically, the members of France’s Groupe d’Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale operate much like an American SWAT or SEAL team, with massive uparmored bulletproof vehicles to match. However, for a short time in the early 1990s, GIGN officials saw the need to go fast and haul all of their stuff and thus upgraded a small number of Citroen CX 25s, one of which will come up for sale this weekend.

Both GIGN and the CX originated in 1974, though the latter appeared at first glance the least likely vehicle to ferry around the former. Rather, Citroën designed the CX as a successor to the lauded but aging DS – that is, as a front-wheel-drive family and executive car with greater focus on a plush ride than on performance – with an updated version of the company’s hydropneumatic self-leveling suspension and a series of four-cylinder engines rather than the originally intended Wankel.

GIGN, on the other hand, emerged as a tactical unit of the Gendarmerie Nationale in the wake of the Munich Olympic hostage crisis. Technically a part of France’s armed forces, GIGN specialized in hostage rescue and counterterrorism and in more recent years has employed a number of specialized vehicles including the armored Centigon and the MRAP-like Renault Sherpa 2.

As the Eighties progressed and as the CX grew long in the tooth, it nevertheless remained a popular car for heads of state, transporting Jacques Chirac, Erich Honecker, Manuel Noriega, Augusto Pinochet, and many other kings, prime ministers, and high-ranking officials. Citroën – by then under Peugeot ownership – gave the CX a facelift in 1985, an ad campaign featuring Grace Jones, and a series of larger and more powerful engines culminating in the 168hp CX 25 GTi Turbo. By 1989, however, the writing was on the wall for the CX. Citroën introduced the XM to replace the CX sedans and kept the CX station wagons on the market for just a couple years more.

According to French auction house Aguttes, GIGN officials at that time were in search of “a robust car, with proven reliability and a high loading capacity” for use as a rapid response vehicle and found their solution in the CX 25 TGI. To make the wagons more rapid, GIGN ordered them (the record is not clear from whom) with the GTi’s 2.5-liter engine, a five-speed transmission, extensive weight reduction (sans radio, air conditioning, and some soundproofing), and an NOS kit of unspecified size. The Aguttes auction description notes that the latter “allow(ed) the car to gain 30 to 40 percent of power for nearly 5 minutes.” That’s one big honkin’ NOS bottle.

GIGN reportedly ordered five so-equipped CXs, of which only two are known to still exist. The example on offer at Aguttes displays 165,000 kilometers but features a replacement engine (too much NOS?) with just 40,000 kilometers on it. The pre-auction estimate for the GIGN CX ranges from €6,000 to €10,000 (about $6,750 to $11,250).

The CX will cross the block as part of the Aguttes Citroën Centennial auction, which will include Citroën-related automobilia along with a number of Citroën vehicles. Among the Citroën automobiles, some of the more noteworthy lots include a Wankel-powered M35 prototype from 1971 (estimated to sell for €18,000 to €25,000); a quartet of Citroën concepts from the Eighties, Nineties, and Twentieth Century; several examples of the DS, including a 1965 Chapron-bodied Coupe Concorde (estimated to sell for €100,000 to €150,000); and a one-off 1951 Traction Avant shooting brake (estimated to sell for €35,000 to €50,000).

The Aguttes Citroën Centennial auction will take place Sunday, July 21, in La Ferté Vidame, France. For more information, visit Aguttes.com.

(h/t to Citroënvie!)