The Carchive: The Citroen Pluriel C3

Well, there goes another week, in which we nibbled away at the future a little bit more, and distanced ourselves slightly further from the familiar and the comforting. Yeah, I’m talking about the past. I’ve got bookcases full of the stuff, and surrounding myself with it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. Like binge-watching the box-set of Blackadder. Again. Welcome back to The Carchive.
Last week we sat around the Hooniverse campfire and discussed which cars we’re still amazed were given the green light for production. My nomination was this, the Citroen C3 Pluriel, and I promised you that I’d share the brochure with you this week. So here it is, in all its insane glory.

Click to enbiggen the pictures to get the bigger picture

“Be inspired and take a step out of the ordinary. Let your imagination fly to a place where your dreams really do come true. To a magical place away from the daily grind where almost anything is possible. Where the only rule is…. that there are no rules”
So, last week we saw the back story of how the Pluriel came to be. For those who missed it, the concise version is that Citroen didn’t really know what on earth it was doing at the end of the Millennium, took a bunch of drugs and drank wild quantities of wine and made a wild concept car that was kind of a hatchback that turned into a convertible and then a pick up truck. And then, the morning after, once they’d collectively used up France’s entire supply of Alka Seltzer, realised they’d put it into production.
And it was kind of cool. It had changed somewhat by 2003 when it hit showrooms, being was based on Citroen’s new-for-2002 C3 hatchback. That meant it was a fair deal smaller than the show car that ‘inspired’ it. But that also made it a pretty unique market proposition around the beginning of the 21st century, when there wasn’t a great deal of choice if you wanted a small convertible. Let alone one that was also a hatchback.
And a pickup.

Yeah…. those drugs I was talking about. Citroen’s marketing and brochure design department were still all kinds of high way after the manufacturing team came down.

Grey, blow-moulded plastic shown against an ethereal backdrop of spires, minarets and trippy hallucinogenic sunsets.

There are no words.
“The C3 Pluriel can transform at will into what you want it to be. From a 3-door saloon into a panoramic saloon…or a cabriolet…or a spider…or a spider pickup. You choose. Dream your dream and create your own reality. With the new C3 Pluriel from Citroen you can practise magic every day”
Some did. In fact, the C3 Pluriel sold in not inconsiderable numbers. Wikipedia pegs it at 109,682, in three batches, each representing a slight update on the one before. It became something of a cult vehicle, this despite its many flaws (it wasn’t exactly what you’d call rigid, and just where the hell do you put those removable body frame panels?).
I suspect the C3 Pluriel will become sought-after in the future, and it won’t be because of any specific merit but because of the sheer implausibility of its conception. I wrote this story seven years ago about cars like the Pluriel are memorable solely because they’re different, and I still think that way today. It’s hard to imagine the fiercely corporate PSA group, Citroen or freshly ‘premium’ DS automobiles ever thinking this far outside the box again.
(All images are of original manufacturer’s publicity materials, photographed by me. Copyright remains property of Citroen / PSA. After you with the absinthe, 1990s Citroen…)

By |2018-10-05T15:00:21+00:00October 5th, 2018|Cars You Should Know, The Carchive|6 Comments

About the Author:

RoadworkUK is the online persona of Gianni Hirsch, a tall, awkward gentleman with a home office full of gently decomposing paper and a garage full of worthless scrap metal. He lives in the village of Moistly, which is a safe distance from London and is surrounded by enough water and scenery to be interesting. In another life, he has designed, sold, worked on and written about cars in exchange for small quantities of money.