Back To The 80s: Citroën Visa

Thu 27th Jun 2019

When we think of the classic eras of motoring we might cast our mind back to stylish cars of the 1950s, the muscle cars of the 1960s or the super cars of the 1970s. What might not spring to mind however is the motors which were produced in the 1980s - an era which certainly favoured practicality over power, style and sophistication.

But the cars of today owe much to 80s, it was decade which brought us turbochargers, multi-valve engines and hot hatchbacks, an era of the people-carrier and the rise of the SUV. Digital displays and electronic gadgetry, were the norm as designers pushed the boundaries of of what was capable in a production vehicle.

So let's celebrate the 80s, a period of huge change across Britain as a whole, and one which had incredible landmarks in the motor industry.

Citroën Visa
According to the Honest John website, there were 2 million Visas put into production in a ten year spell from 1978 to 1988, but tragically the iconic motor is rarer than hen’s teeth these days, with only 14 reportedly on sale in the last year.
Amazingly, the first development of the Visa began in 1965 when Citroën’s director design, Robert Opron began working on a mini-prototype with a focus on efficient space, compact exterior dimensions and aerodynamic designs. Early feedback wasn’t great, so the project was shelved until a serious bid was made to replace the Ami, a supermini which had been a staple of the French manufacturer’s output since 1961. Named Prototype Y, the Visa became the first model produced under the new ownership of Peugeot, under the auspices of Voiture Diminuée or Project VD.

The Visa came with complete electronic ignition, an innovative single windscreen wiper due to the curvature of the windscreen, and a control satellite under the steering wheel which had fingertip operated functions on drums rather than stalks. Nicknamed the PRN, the control unit could look after Pluie (rain), Route (road) and Nuit (night), giving it easy access to wipers, washers, horn, indicators, headlamps and flashers.

Citroën launched the Visa with a Special, Club and Super version and in 1981 revamped the model with a Super E and Super X. They didn’t mess around with the classic design too much though, just adding a convertible edition in 1984, with Heuliez helping design what became known as the Decapotable.

Manufacturer: Citroen
Assembly: Rennes, France
Did You Know?: Though production ended in Europe in 1988, China revitalised the Visa by building their own versions from 1991 to 1994.