Citroen Rendezvous 2013 is almost here, ladies and gents, so let’s take a look at one of the cars that appeared at this event in Saratoga Springs, New York last year, and one that perhaps need a slightly more detailed introduction than some of the Citroen cars that you’re used to seeing. Assuming, of course, that you’re used to seeing Citroens in the first place.
It is perhaps pointless to point out that the Visa was never officially sold in the US, so don’t rush off to look for period adverts in your dusty copies of Motor Trend from the 1980s. The Visa wasn’t sold in the US unofficially either, unlike the much larger but not much more complex CX, hundreds of which were imported by CXA Automotive in New Jersey and given dorky eyeglasses to please the NHTSA. The Visa was, thankfully, spared the federalization process, as its price point did not really allow for economic gray market importation and modifications. So what is the Visa about anyway?
The development of the Visa dates back to the mid 1960s, when Citroen started work on a car to replace the 2CV with modern design in the same segment. After a couple false starts and a research partnership with FIAT that broke apart, work started in earnest on what would become a very popular car for Citroen in a segment that it had not really taken advantage of.
The Visa premiered in 1978, by which time it’s utility as a gas miser had worn off slightly with the end of the oil crisis. On offer was a 652cc 2-cylinder engine as well as Peugeot’s 1.1 liter PSA X engine, now that Citroen was a part of Peugeot. The PSA X engine was a clever little design, with the gearbox sharing oil with the compact chain driven overhead cam engine. This “suitcase” configuration saved quite a bit of space.
This particular Visa was (don’t laugh) at one point owned by a French nun somewhere in the south of France, which accounts for its good cosmetic and mechanical condition. This example was brought into the country just a couple years ago after it toured around the south of France. Around 10 Visas are thought to be in the US now in running condition, with remaining examples having been brought in at different times. So the stateside Visas are a mix of old and recent imports now that the earliest examples are well over 25. And speaking of importation, the Citroen AX is now eligible as well.
About the place you’re now likely to see one of these in the US is at the annual Citroen gathering in upstate New York, the Citroen Rendezvous. This French car event attracts more than 140 French cars every year, and every year it keeps getting better and better. The Citroen Rendezvous will take place from June 14th through the 16th around Saratoga Springs, NY.
View the full gallery from Citroen Rendezvous 2012 below:
[Images: Copyright 2013 Hooniverse/Jay Ramey]