The Coolest Car at the New York Auto Show Was a 36-Year-Old Citroën – Roadshow

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The best cars at the 2022 New York Auto Show this week weren’t brand new EVs, large luxury SUVs or modern sports cars — the only cars that really got me excited were all over 20 years old. Tucked away between Subaru and Chevy’s massive booths was a collaborative display from the folks at Radwood and the Saratoga Automobile Museum, and one of the Rad-era vehicles stopped me in my tracks and dropped my jaw. It’s not often I come across a car that I’ve never seen in person before, but this was one on my bucket list: a 1986 Citroën BX 4TC.

I’m a major lover of French cars so even seeing a regular BX gets me excited, but in the grand scheme of things it’s just a regular hatchback at the end of the day, albeit one with hydropneumatic suspension and fabulous styling penned by Marcello Gandini at Bertone. The 4TC model, though, is seriously special. Citroën entered Group B rallying in 1986 with a wild version of the BX, and regulations dictated Citroën would have to produce 200 roadgoing versions of the rally car to be able to compete.

It is just spectacular.

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But the BX 4TC rally car was a disaster, with Citroën having to retire them from races due to suspension failures, engine problems and other issues. Its best competition finish was sixth place at the 1986 Swedish Rally. Then, after competing in just three races, the entirety of Group B was shut down after Henri Toivonen and his co-driver Sergio Cresto died in a crash at the Tour de Corse while driving a Lancia Delta S4. Citroën ended up selling just 62 examples of the 4TC road car, and the company even bought back — and destroyed — a bunch of them because it was plagued by reliability and quality issues, not to mention the shame of its racing failure. Now only around 40 likely remain, and they are incredible.

The BX 4TC road car looks even cooler than the rally car. It has incredible boxy fender flares, a large offset hood bulge, a rear spoiler, additional intakes and stupendous wheels that look like a frisbee from Blade Runner. All of the 4TC road cars were painted white with red and blue stripes and awesome red graphics; the BX 4TC font at the rear and the double chevron logo on the front end are masterful pieces of graphic design. But the BX 4TC’s truly showstopping design feature are the four auxiliary rally lights set between the main headlights, especially with the yellow lenses of this example.

More cars need lights like this.

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Powering the BX 4TC is a longitudinally mounted turbocharged 2.1-liter inline-4 engine derived from the one in the European Chrysler 180 hatchback. In road car spec it puts out 200 horsepower and is paired with a 5-speed manual transmission, and the 4TC could reach 60 mph in 7 seconds and hit a top speed of 140 mph. The 4TC also packs a four-wheel-drive system and ventilated disc brakes, and it retains the height-adjustable suspension of the regular BX models.

This Citroën was provided by The Cultivated Collector, who collect and sell all sorts of spectacular and rare cars, and the BX wasn’t the only car they brought. Also lined up at the Radwood booth were a Nissan Pulsar GTI-R rally car, a Ford RS200, a Renault 5 Turbo 2, a Jaguar XJR-15 and even a Venturi 400 Trophy. So it speaks to how damn cool the Citroën BX 4TC is that it’s the only car I really cared about, and the memory of seeing my first one will be seared into my brain for eternity.

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