Citroen GSA: The Finest Mid-Range Car of the 1980s

Citroen GSA was a family car that was produced between 1980 to 1989 and was built on its predecessor the GS, manufactured in 1970. The GS was a fastback mid-sized station wagon while the GSA was a hatchback station wagon, but aside from this difference, both of these vehicles share a lot of similarities.

Citroen GSA

Both models did well on the market and sold over 2.5 million as they enjoyed much patronage across Europe.

This complete guide will discuss the history and features of both GS and GSA, so keep reading!

The Different Citroen Options

The design of the Citroën GS took about 14 years to complete as the company wanted a vehicle to replace the Citroen DS. They wanted a car that will fill the market gap between their small Citroen 2CV mini and the big Citroen DS.

The first option the company designed was the C10; a prototype bubble car that never went into mass production. The designers also considered including hydropneumatic suspension and a Wankel engine in the C10. 

The C10 remained a prototype due to reasons best known to the company, but the next option Citroen considered was the C60. The C60 was powered by an air-cooled flat-four of 1,100 cc or 1,400 cc and it used hydropneumatic suspension. However, the production cost of the C60 was high, which would’ve defeated the goal of targeting the middle class, thus it was abandoned. The next option was titled Project “F” and about four models were produced.

However, the company abandoned that as well for several reasons. First, the one who started the design, Flaminio Bertoni, died, therefore, a new person had to continue. Another reason is that Project F shared too many similar features to the 1965 Renault 16 and it was abandoned. Finally, Citroën started a new design captioned Project G, which eventually became the GS and subsequently the GSA.

– Revisions of the Citroën GS

The launch of the Volkswagen Golf had shifted the market towards hatchbacks, therefore, Citroen revised its GS saloon to a hatchback and named it GSA. The parts that were touched up to give the car a new look included the grille, door handles, tail lights, hubcap and bumpers.

Revisions of the Citroën GS

Also, the GSA’s dashboard received a fresh look to make it easier to operate without moving the hand from the steering wheel. However, both the GS and GSA shared similar features aside from the revisions that were carried out.

– Features of the Citroën GSA

The GSA had four models:  the base (Special), Club, X (Sports), and Pallas (Executive), each fitted with different engines. The Citroen GSA Pallas interior was the finest, oozing elegance and luxury.

– Engine and Length

The engines were flat-4 air-cooled that ranged from 1,019 cc to 1,299 cc and mounted in front of the gearbox. Depending on the model, the vehicle’s length ranged from 162.2 inches to 164.6 inches. Its height was 53.2 inches, its width was between 62.9 – 63.78, inches and its curb weight was 2,095 pounds.

Engine and Length

When Citroen was contracted to make motorcycles for the French police, they included a 1.3L engine. The result was the powerful BFG 1301 Odyssee with a five-speed transmission and a Solex carburetor. The company produced 650 of the Odyssee for the police authorities though, and only a handful for the general public.

– Transmission and Suspension

The vehicle had an aerodynamic body and a five-speed manual transmission, which brought it up to speeds of 164 km/h at 6,250 rpm with a 1,222 cc engine. Consumers enjoyed this five-speed transmission as it made cruising at top speeds more comfortable. This was an upgrade on the four-speed manual transmission of the GS, which had a top speed of 151 km/h. Citroen also introduced a three-speed C-Matic semi-automatic transmission as an alternative to the GS. 

With the five-speed transmission, drivers were able to make full use of the free-revving engine to keep their vehicles going. The GS/ GSA featured a hydropneumatic suspension, which made riding on rough and bumpy surfaces smoother, far better than a spring suspension. The car’s axles included a robust subframe that complemented its smooth handling and ride.

How the GSA Fared on the Market

Both the GS and the GSA, especially the Citroen GS 1978, were instant hits on the European market due to their elegance, modest price, and vehicle performance. It is estimated that over 1.8 million units of the GSA as well as over 576,000 units of the GS were sold in their combined history.

How the GSA Fared on the Market

Plans were in place to put up the Citroen GSA for sale in the US with the company initially exporting a few of the cars to be displayed in showrooms. However, Citroen pulled out of the deal, leaving those few cars that were already brought in to be sold.

Other Countries That Built the GSA

The origin of the GS and GSA is the French, however, its production and assembly spread across the world. Countries that built the vehicle include Brazil, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Spain and Chile.

In Spain, about 385,000 vehicles were built while South Africa developed its own model and named it the GS-X2 Le Mans, which came in three colors – silver, red or black and a white interior. The Le Mans featured a 1,222 cc engine that had high compression pistons which were different from the carburetor, large diameter driveshafts, and round inlet manifolds of other models. 

The Le Mans was sold in Europe as X2, which featured a wheel trim, a rear spoiler, four headlights, a louver window at the rear, and the X2 logo with twin stripes on the fenders. Unlike South Africa, Indonesia did not produce its own version but stuck to the GS and the GSA models. In Slovenia, the GSA was built at the moped famous moped assembly plant, Tomos. However, Tomos, Citroen, and Iskra (a media company) formed a company called Cimos in 1973 which became the sole producer of the GSA. 

The cars produced by Cimos featured twin headlights for export only while the local ones had one headlight on each side. The Slovenian GSA had a beige color and was referred to as a GA instead of a GSA. East Germany did not manufacture the GSA but imported about 5,500 of them, making the GSA one of the few vehicles from the West. One East German politician that owned some including the CX was Erich Ernst Paul Honeker. 

The Backstory of Citroen GSA

The Citroën GSA started as Citroën GS in 1970 with an aerodynamic body shape that made it the toast of saloon cars. A year after its production, it was named car of the year as its design attracted many car users across Europe.

The Backstory of Citroen GSA

The GS was designed to target the middle class in French society after the Citroen DS sedan had moved out of its financial might due to the high cost of production. However, when the European car market started gravitating towards small family hatchbacks, Citroen responded with the GSA, which was basically a GS with a facelift.

Why Was the Citroen GSA Considered the Finest Mid-Range Car of the 1980s?

The Citroen GSA stood out as the finest mid-range car of the 1980s due to its exceptional design, comfort, and performance. Its unique hydropneumatic suspension system ensured a smooth and comfortable ride, while its fuel-efficient engine offered both power and efficiency. In a decade filled with renowned automobiles such as the buick riviera personal luxury car, the Citroen GSA’s combination of style, reliability, and technological advancements made it a standout choice for car enthusiasts.


So far, we’ve considered the history of the GSA, its features, market performance and the various countries that produced it.

Before you go rushing to look for an older model to buy, here is a recap of all that we’ve read:

  • It took Citroen about 14 years to complete the design of the GS after the Citroen DS had become too expensive for the middle-class society in France.
  • The company first designed the C10 then the C60 and later Project F, but all of that failed and Citroen finally settled on Project G which became GS, then eventually GSA.
  • Thus, GSA was a facelift of the GS, which included a new body style, grille, door handles, tail lights, hubcap and bumpers to satisfy the growing demand for hatchbacks.
  • The GS and GSA performed well on the European market, selling over 2.5 million units in its entire history and making it one of the best-selling vehicles of the 1980s.
  • The GSA came in four models: Base, X, Club and Pallas, each fitted with air-cooled flat-four engines with a capacity that ranged from 1,019 cc to 1,219 cc.

The GSA had five doors, a pneumatic suspension with a height of 53.17 inches, and a curb weight of 2,095 pounds. The GSA was discontinued in 1986 and was replaced by the larger and more successful Citroen BX. You should also check out the only concept car Citroen released, the Citroen GS Camargue.

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