Hate it or love it, the Citroën Ami 6 turns 60

The petite French voiture was presented in 1961

1w ago
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The Citroën Ami 6, launched 60 years ago in April 1961, was the last car designed by Flaminio Bertoni, the artist who contributed to Citroën’s success and blessed the world with masterpieces like the Traction Avant and the DS. Controversial since from its presentation, defined ‘baroque’ or more straightforwardly ‘ugly’, the small and graceful salon ended up holding a special place in the hearts of the Double Chevron enthusiasts.

Deliberately conceived as a middle-range model, what was going to become the Ami 6 still had to preserve the best of both worlds, practicality and elegance, whose extreme ends were outstandingly represented in the brand’s production by the quirky-yet-pragmatic 2CV and the majestic DS. Just like what had happened with the DS, the model's name was meant to be a pun out of the name of the design project (AM vehicle), the title “Miss” – in comparison with the former déesse – and the Italian word for friends, "amici", allegedly after Bertoni's Italian heritage.

It is said that Bertoni considered the Ami 6 to be his masterpiece: the result of his creative process was a mid-range four-seater that successfully balanced spacious interior and compact dimensions while meeting Citroën’s AM project requirements. Nonetheless, some of the distinctive tracts of what became the definitive Ami 6 were necessarily adapted to the engineering requirements. It happened with the sloping bonnet, whose shape was moulded after the need to fit different headlights than the ones originally selected, or the glass fibre roof chosen in order to save weight, that almost looks like a lid when painted in the classy bi-tone scheme.

The Ami 6 had large rectangular headlights at the front, oddly matched with the small, circular taillights. To comply with federal regulations, the exported Ami 6 adopted four round headlights and strengthened bumpers when the model was introduced to America in June 1963. The reverse-raked rear window was not only eye-catching but also remained clear when it rained. Tilted parallel to the windshield, it emphasized the three-box design, which was an uncommon feature in the French automaker’s production, and allowed for the installation of a conventional boot lid.

The interior of Ami 6 was specifically influenced by that of the DS, which represented a sort of the gold standard at the time, also outside of Citroën’s headquarters. Hence the DS-like single-spoke steering wheel and the stylish door handles, together with a finely trimmed dashboard and wide, comfortable seats; all to emphasize that, despite its smaller size, the Ami 6 still was a top-of-the-range Citroën.

Instead, under the bonnet, the small salon has a lot in common with another French classic, the 2CV. Not only does the Ami have the same reliable 602 cc, twin-cylinder boxer engine as its frugal twin, but it is also built on the same rolling chassis that includes the famous swinging arms suspension setup. This choice, besides representing a clever cost-cutting solution during both development and production, is still highly appreciated today when having to look for spare parts. And it obviously gifted the Ami 6 with the same outstanding road-handling and smooth ride of the best-selling Citroën ever.

Image by Milan Bauer from Pixabay

Image by Milan Bauer from Pixabay

The arrival of the estate version, the Ami 6 Break, modelled by Henri Dargent, Bertoni’s assistant, and Robert Opron, in late 1964, marked a turning point for the model. Despite having increased model sales to the point of being called France’s favourite car of the year in 1966 and surpassing the saloon in popularity, the estate version necessarily altered the peculiar design of Bertoni’s creation.

Detail of the Citroën Ami 6 Break

Detail of the Citroën Ami 6 Break

Production of the saloon ended in March 1969, six months before production of the estate ended. A total of 1,039,384 Ami 6 vehicles were produced, with 483,986 saloons and 551,880 estates; 3,518 vehicles were sold in the ‘Enterprise’ specification, which consisted of a two-seater service estate.

Citroën Ami 6 Break

Citroën Ami 6 Break

The Ami 6 was then replaced by the new Ami 8, another 2CV-derivative that featured a more conventional rear design, transforming what was a saloon into a hatchback. A more powerful version, the Ami Super, fitting the leftover boxer-four engines coming from the GS production line, did not sell as well as the regular models. Eventually, the Ami series ended in 1978, leaving place to the Citroën Visa.

The Ami's name has been revamped recently by the introduction of the Ami - 100% ëlectric, a zero-emissions mobility vehicle first shown at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2019. Needless to say, regardless of how unconventional this last embodiment of the Ami may be, it will be difficult to match the glory of the original Ami 6, a tiny but significant representative of Citroën's golden age and Bertoni's unrivalled style.

Technical specification - Ami 6 salon (1961)

Engine: Type M4 boxer-two 602 cm3, 74 mm bore x 70 mm stroke, air-cooled

Output: 22 hp @ 4500 rpm

Length x width x height: 3870 mm x 1524 mm x 1488 mm

Unladen weight: 640 kg

Wheelbase: 2400 mm

Technical specification - Ami 6 Break (1964)

Engine: Type M4 boxer-two 602 cm3, 74 mm bore x 70 mm stroke, air-cooled

Output: 25,5 hp @ 4750 rpm

Length x width x height: 3958 mm x 1524 mm x 1488 mm

Unladen weight: 690 kg

Wheelbase: 2400 mm

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Comments (17)

  • The rear window rake is similar to the Ford Anglia 105E of around the same time - see: www.anglia-models.co.uk/history-window.htm

      13 days ago
    • Yes. Some Mercury Montereys have a similar design, but the Ami, in my opinion, stretches the Z-shape to its maximum, making it look like it's moving even when it's not - and yes, I'm definitely partial when it comes to old Citroëns!: P

        13 days ago
  • Love it we'll Quirky

      13 days ago
  • James May loved the Citroen Ami as well. Its a cool little Citroen.

      8 days ago
    • Hard to find an old little Citroën that isn't cool. Even the Mehari, which isn't my cup of tea, has its sense.

        8 days ago
    • Even the 2CV is cool especially when it is called Elly and is usually seen driving around Wales with its Owner Ian from the YouTube channel Hubnut.

        7 days ago
  • Would take that over a 2CV every time

      13 days ago
    • I'll take both - the Ami is lovely but the cargo capacity of the 2CV is unmatched

        13 days ago
  • The AMI 6 was simply indestructible

      2 days ago
    • Well well well, it probably doesn’t melt under the scorching sun like a Méhari, but neither the Ami 6 is a true model of indestructibility. It is said that at its unveiling in 1961, Citroën's competitors asked their stoutest henchmen to...

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        2 days ago
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