How can you say that the Ami 6 (as per The Reverend BlueJeans' photo) is ugly perhaps it was in the 1970's but surely today - it's a characterful classic.
For those who can tolerate opinionated dribble ; a few months ago I wrote a piece for the club's magazine. It's an unashamedly slanted Design Engineer's point of view. ie., a brief interpretation of the vehicle's design.
Citroën Ami Super (1973-1976)
At the time of writing (Nov 2015) there are just sixteen Citroen Ami-Super registered with the UK's DVLA. These include cars on SORN, and both Ami-Super 'Berline' (saloon / sedan) & the 'Break' (estate / station wagon) bodied cars. And then there's just one Ami-Super Service (commercial variant). Whatever happened to the thousands that were made ?
There are probably a few more barn-finds as yet unregistered on the DVLA's computer system, and perhaps other still registered as a 'Sidewinder', kit-car, &/or other special... cars which have been built upon the Ami-super chassis. But the truth is that most of these inexpensive and somewhat eccentric French cars have simply rusted away 'beyond economic repair'.
Some 44,000 Ami-supers were made in the short ; Jan 1973 - Sept '76 model lifespan * ..now 40+ years ago. My own car was built in, and also recently bought from the Yugoslavian (now Slovenia) coastal town of Koper.
* numbers and dates vary according to source. Cats-Citroen.com for example is generally a good resource for 'all things Citroen' ..but my own car's chassis number is not even in the same Alpha-numerical format as those reported in their production figures. I suspect this is because my car is a Cimos-Citroen (Yugoslavian) Ami-super which weren't accurately recorded in Citroen's official figures. The Ami super was possibly also built in Belgium., but are those production figures also included in Citroen's figures. Likewise the Ami-8 was also built in Spain & Argentina, but I don't know if the Ami-super was. I'm not sure anyone is now around who can answer these points for certain, one way or another.
Like almost any other Ami's now being registered in the UK my car is LHD. They mainly come in from France, Belgium, Holland, &/or the former Yugoslavian countries. I have read, though cannot confirm, that only one of the UK's 16 Ami-Super survivors is an original RHD. I have no record of how many retain their original 1015cc horizontally opposed (flat) four-cylinder OHC motor (one OHC per pair of cylinders), as it's tempting to up-rate the car with the GS's more powerful 1220 or 1300cc engine. Either way, these cars are now a pretty rare sight.
I'm an newcomer to this model (purchased recently and not yet registered in the UK). Although I did build a Falcon XS on this platform some 30+ years ago (yes, it still exists), I long ago flew the nest and so am no expert. However there are plenty of websites which, if one cares to translate, gives us an insight into the car's lineage. As an born-again A-series enthusiast I've recently done a lot of translating and reading, and so can now share the essence of what is out there..
Background History :
The Ami 6 was introduced in April 1961 as a model variant of the A-series Citroens. 'A-series' being the economy range / basic-trim spec., founded upon the humble Citroen 2cv of 1939 (prototypes) and 1948 onwards (production models).
Like several British car makers of the pre & post war era who adopted the English tax classification as model names for their cars... Austin 7, Morris 8, Rover 10, and so on.., the name '2cv' was simply the French abbreviation of that country's fiscal hp rating. 'Deux Chevaux Vapeur' translates as 'two steam horses'.
A + mi = Ami = Citroen's A-mid series. The Ami was building upon the A-series' chassis, suspension, engine & drive-train configuration, with its lowest fiscal tax rating. It was conceived to sit mid-range (milieu de gamme) in the market place, somewhere between the A-series and their family sized saloons. Of course the name 'Ami' also translates to English speaking countries as 'friend ' ..which is rather nice.
The original Ami 6 Berline (pronounced 'Berlin' and meaning saloon or sedan) is well represented on a number of owner-enthusiast websites. And it's history & specs are available on others, so I'll refrain from repeating those. But rather - from my own perspective as a (retired) Design-Engineer I'll simply share a few of the car's more interesting features.
To those unfamiliar with the lightweight, small to mid-sized Ami - the early ones (the Ami 6's) are most easily recognised by its unusual deeply concave bonnet (as if scooped out between the headlamps). The forward edge of the bonnet rolls over the grille and the wings carrying this 'roll' diagonally back to the front wheel arch (all-in-all not dissimilar to a bulldog puppy's cute wrinkles .. Altogether with wide headlamps, grille, bumper & sidelights - some of these cars seem to wear a most determined frown.! Fortunately, the car's side aspect with raked-back windows appear quite perky in comparison.
The body sides are also quite distinct - with their having no rear-wheel-arch cut-outs, nor even removable wheel-arch spats ('fender skirts' in American). And then the Ami-6 Berline also profiled a raked-back rear window, quite similar to the British Ford Anglia 105E (introduced in 1958). A similar reverse-raked window style was used in America prior to these Europeans. Apparently the first appeared in 1953 as a concept / show car : the American 'Packard Balboa-X'. This was followed by the 1957 Mercury Turnpike, and the Lincoln Continental of 1958. In the U.S., the style became known as a 'Breezeway Window' - as they opened for additional through ventilation.
On Citroen's little Ami 4 seater ; the reversed rear window design was to facilitate a longer flatter roof line - providing shade for its rear-seat passengers (no sun beating down on the back of their necks) as well as much improved headroom (no window against the back of heads). Internally, the visually length of the headlining was better too, while externally the rear window was out of the rain. As significantly - because the boot-lid hinges moved forward ; the style enabled an unusually deep top-opening to the luggage-space (..for such a compact car).
The lack of rear wheel arches and the scalloped bonnet are interesting, in-so-much as these
were are a practical application of vehicle aerodynamics. As such it was a break from the 2cv and Dyane models, each with their non-integral wings (mudguards) and slab flat windscreens.. I'm told the early Ami's aerodynamics are 'a notable improvement' over its siblings.
I gather the Ami's headlamps might have been very much lower still, had it not been for the decisive objection of French bureaucrats. And so Citroen innovated.. the headlamps were market-leading (for the time) ..in so much as their top & bottoms were chopped off .! ie. they were rectangular - which in turn helped lower the height of surrounding bodywork.
Four small round headlamps were instead used for some markets such as the USA which didn't accept rectangular headlamps for a number of years yet.
Of course, the 2cv has headlamps mounted on stalks, and the Dyane's were mounted into the bolt-on wings / wheel-arches. Conversely, the Ami's were mounted into the front grille surround panel. As was Citroen's usual practice - they also have adjusters (cabled to under the dashboard) to manually adjust / lower the headlamp angle - for when the back of the car was laden.
The 2cv and Dyane's bonnet line each come down to the front bumper and incorporate their grille. Open the bonnet and the front of the engine is accessible to do the points (very low down at the front of the engine, behind the fan). However, the Ami's front panel is a simple bolt-on affair, which when removed not only gives excellent frontal access to the engine - but also allows better access around either side. With this panel lifted off ; the Ami's engine can be removed without disturbing the front wings, or without having to lift the engine sky high. One or two men can easily lift these engines w/ gearbox out without block & tackle.
The low bonnet line was possible because there's no water-cooling radiator on an air-cooled engine. But still.. for any car with the engine positioned forward of the axle - it was an extraordinary achievement. The engine is the flat-twin air-cooled OHV unit (shared with the 2cv and Dyane).., with aluminium engine cases and cyl. heads, and finned cast-iron barrels. A crankshaft mounted fan pushes air through ducting fitted around the cylinders. The same (warmed) air is then ducted / used to heat the car's interior. With very high oil pressures and a simple balanced design, these engines are as close to being unburstable as anything out there.
The Ami's windscreen too is very different from it's A-series siblings insomuch as it's not only curved but also raked to quite an angle. It's surprisingly deep (top to bottom) for such a small 'economy' car ..particularly so as glass is both heavier & very much more expensive than steel. The design was enhanced by the design of roof - which follows a horizontal-line theme around the car. Most other car's roof-lines dip either side across the front, and likewise along their sides, but the Ami has an all-round rain gutter and thereafter a rather flat roof. With comparable ground clearances (quite generous on these Citroens) I'm led to believe the Ami-6's overall height was 1485mm verses the 2cv @ 1600, and the Dyane @ 1540mm.
And yet, it's as if the designers sought to encourage airflow to go around the windscreen rather than over the top. I don't know but.., possibly this was to minimise aerodynamic lift for purposes of vehicle stability (particularly useful with Citroen's compliant suspension), &/or perhaps it was because the all-around gutter allowed the roof to be made in aluminium and be easily attached.? That of course offers a useful weight saving and also lowered the car's c of g. Furthermore, the softer metal has advantages of lower tooling cost, which is particularly expensive on the larger body-panel pressings (NB. the 2cv and Dyane saved this cost by each using a canvas roof.)
Did I read somewhere that the Ami-6's (sliding) side door windows were at one time made in plastic to further save weight ?
Either way, the windscreen is up tight under this flat-roof's gutter - which give a good (high) eye-line. And, as practiced on most early Citroens - the windscreen & door pillars are commendably slim (visibility unhindered) - even by today's standards. The results are most noticed from within - Ami's are unusually light & airy inside.
Below the window line ; the Ami's body sides are rather bulged, and then feature a slightly recessed almost flat panel - from just forward of the front door posts to the car's rear lights, and then the bottoms of the side panels tuck under. With no rear wheel arches to interrupt this line - it's quite a futuristic styling statement - in an Art-Deco sort of way. The relief also serves to lessen the throw of the door hinges and (like a corrugation) helps to stiffen the door skins ..Yet another advanced design idea that is now commonplace.
Nowadays, manufacturers would fill such doors with electric motors, side-protection beams, and monster speakers, but in 1961 the bulged door skins, when combined with the sliding (forward & back door) windows were simply fitted with useful door pockets ..2cv owners don't know what they're missing !
In 1964 ; the Ami-6 'Break' (a remarkably spacious 'little estate' version) was introduced, with folding rear bench seat and an almost flat (albeit sloping-down forward) rear floor. The spare wheel (both for the Berline & Break models) is housed under the bonnet. A 25 ltr (400km range) fuel tank sits low-down between the chassis's rear outrigger legs. And being a front-wheel-drive (with no prop shaft nor rear differential), with independent rear suspension - this model offers a very useful load volume indeed. It then also has a lifting tailgate, and a usefully low sill / load height ..not bad for the early-1960's !
Today, the Ami may at first glance look odd and from some angles even angular, but in fact its body lines are very much cleaner than it's siblings or most competitors. Combined with a lower frontal area and rounded windscreen - these applications of aerodynamic ideas result in it being able to sustain higher cruising speeds more easily and more economically.
..to understand the car further - it's perhaps best to see it in its period context ..in this stylish Ami-6 promotional film
< here >
Chassis & Suspension :
It's worth adding that the A-series cars (the 2cv, Dyane, and Ami, each with a van derivative) has a pressed-steel 'punt' style chassis about 5" deep, is narrow (about half the width of the car), the full length of the vehicle (extending from front to rear bumper mount), and upswept at each end for better ground clearance. Although the chassis has internal webbing and cross beams - its top & bottom skins are flat. The top skin is the floor within the car, and the bottom one is of course aerodynamically smooth.
With all round independent suspension since the first 2cv's in 1948 ; each corner utilises a swinging arm. These are made from steel, are hollow and shaped like a curved horn. Tubes are intrinsically very stiff for their weight, and these taper from large diameter bearings at the chassis end, to being compact at the wheel end - thereby minimising the suspension's unsprung weight. Their long length and ease of rotation, together with 'compliant' spring rates all greatly contribute to lessening the twisting forces on the chassis. And because of this - the chassis can be lighter in weight ..it is after all a lightweight car with a small engine.
Mounted to either side of the chassis - the suspension springs are laid horizontal / in-line with the chassis, so again there's next to no twisting. Likewise the exhaust pipe & its silencer box is run alongside the chassis, so nothing hangs down below the chassis level. The front brakes of these cars are inboard, mounted to the sides of the gearbox/differential, with ducting from the fan to keep them cool. Rear brakes are drums, more or less contained within the 15" deeply pressed steel wheels.
Anti-dive Suspension geometry when braking : Along with a designed low c of g., the suspension arm's long length and axle position / axis of rotation (being closer to mid-ship) - each work well to prevent nose diving ..
in brief : If you draw a line between the axle's chassis mounting point and the (braked) front tyre's contact patch (straight line in red, diagram above) - you'll see the angle (in side view) is somewhat less than 45 degrees. Because of this low angle - the car settles rather like a dog screeching to a halt on it's haunches.! Even more so as weight bears on the front axle (ie. the effect is greater the harder you brake) because this angle becomes even less.
In stark contrast ; regular front wishbone suspension reacts around its almost vertical geometry (again, the line between the axle's chassis mounting and its road/tyre contact point) ...is like tripping over upright front legs.!
During braking, the forward inertia of any car is tripping over the braked-tyre's contact with the road. The torque reaction is 'around' the point of road grip (counter clockwise / LH red arrow in the diagram above)., and the only thing stopping the axle from flipping forward is the suspension arm's connection to the chassis. Because of the length & angle of the Citroen's suspension arms.. this counter-clockwise force (in the diagram above) tends to gently lift the front of the Citroen's chassis ..thereby contributing to balance out the natural tendency to dive. It's all very clever in its remarkable geometric simplicity !
In addition.., because the rear suspension arms are attached to the chassis forward of their tyre contact points - the torque reaction (similarly counter clockwise in the diagram above) acts to push down on the axle-chassis mountings, ie., the rear of the car ! (RH curved red arrow). As suggested ; the A-series suspension is geometrically designed to drop on haunches rather than to pitch nose down. It was deliberate and essential for cars with soft suspension ..And it works amazing well.
Additionally., a simple swinging-arm tube with a few brackets welded on is far more economical to produce than the numerous parts (with spindles and bushes) of front wishbones and chassis suspension towers. And then, because the Citroen's swinging arm geometry minimises both bending and shear forces - it can be made still lighter in weight. And by way of a bonus ; it has a better ground clearance than most lower-wishbone configurations (..less likely to snag when used around a farm-yard or to drag through mud or snow).
Similarly at the rear - the swinging arm design is a fraction of the weight, size, or complexity of cart-leaf springs, mounting points, Panhard rod, and live-axle configurations - commonly used on 'other' cars of the period (..and for many years thereafter !).
With sealed oversized axle bearings (which never seems to wear) the regular maintenance point of the Citroen's suspension configuration is just the four connection link-pins ..between the spring's tie-rods & each arm. Overall, although I have to admit those arms do look humorously gangly / ungainly - it really is a compact and brilliant design.
Thrown into a corner 'a little too fast' - any car with long travel and compliant suspension will roll.. but in truth - it looks very much more dramatic to onlookers than it feels to the occupants. Naturally, this is 'played upon' for effect, but it's also worth remembering that these cars were designed for the family man - facing the harsh reality of post-war Europe .. and not for what we now call 'boy-racers'. Accordingly, that very same suspension is unparalleled for comfort and handling within its economy class..
Around corners the car heels but you have to try very hard indeed to lift an inside wheel. Accordingly tyre contact is maintained ...as is traction, steering, and braking. Overall it is simple, elegant (in an organic insect sort of way), and yet brilliant in principle and execution.
The Citroen's steering is by rack and pinion, which is housed within the front axle cross tube. Its interesting that this was possible on an economy post-war car ..when marques such as Jaguar still used a steering box - right the way through to the XJ6. !?
The Ami-6 was popular in the French marketplace but sales in other markets were not good. The Berline looked just too different and then had a small engine and very soft suspension - which the traditional British and German markets equated to ; seriously lacking power and unsure handling. It also competed with the 2cv & then the Dyane (introduced in 1967) which likewise offered excellent accommodation for its size.
And so, along came the Ami 8 Berline / saloon, with its long fastback style / sloping forward rear window (again providing good shade and headroom for rear seat passengers). Launched at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1969, and otherwise retaining many of the early car's attributes, while lessening its eccentric styling. The new model's bonnet line was less extremely scalloped between the headlamps, and it's now recessed opening was moved back to a more 'normal' position' behind the front panel. The bonnet's rolled edge across the front and down to the wheel-arches was gone. And the stylised décor around the side lights and on the front wing sides were smoothed out.
At the rear ; the wings were squared off a little with rear-light units now set into these. This move enabled the boot lid to be opened from the rear rather than top face of the luggage space. Those familiar with the GS will recognise the big square load space, complete with very low sill. Like the Ami-6, the Ami-8 (and Super) frees up useful luggage space by stowing the spare wheel under the bonnet.
Aside from the frontal clean-up in style, the Break / estate version of the Ami 8 had a similar appearance to the Ami 6, although the rear lights were likewise moved and set into the rear wings, which again lowered the tail-gate loading height / sill to rear-bumper-level and a more level floor within. The 2cv & Dyane have a step in the floor over the petrol tank, which extends outwards as clearance for the suspension arms. In contrast, the Ami had a much lesser step height, and shallow pressings in the floor to give clearance for the suspension arms.
In September 1969, the Ami 8 became the first A-series to be fitted with inboard front disc brakes. And after 1970 the front-door's sliding windows gave way to wind-up windows …and no door pockets.
With it's slightly longer and broader body, a little more complexity and stiffness in body panels, plus extra luxury in trim and glass (in comparison with it's lithe siblings) - comes additional weight. I understand therefore that the suspension's spring rating was stiffened up and an anti-roll bar fitted between the front suspension's swinging arms. In addition, the later Ami-6 and then Ami-8's had slightly more powerful versions of the 602cc flat-twin motor.
The Ami not only became more agreeable to the eyes of foreign markets of the 1970's but it's aerodynamics were further enhanced. The Ami's redesign is attributed to the French car design & bodywork company - Heuliez.
The Citroen's GS
Aerodynamically acclaimed ; Citroen's GS was introduced in August 1970, with a horizontally opposed flat-four OHC air-cooled 1015cc engine. The engine capacity was deliberately small to be within the French fiscal ratings. Of course in this day n' age it's more relevant to insurance premiums. On paper, it was a super (no pun intended) motor.. Flat-four's are inherently smoother than in-line 4-cylinder configurations. And then they are both more compact (lengthwise) and have a very low c of g. The GS motor has aluminium crank cases & cylinder heads - which equate to less mass and more easily controlled vehicle-handling characteristics.
Belt driven OHC (overhead camshaft) engines are also quieter and smoother (having tighter tolerances and less reciprocating mass) than push-rod engines. And then again - short stroke engines are smoother and generally rev very well - to achieve admirable peak BHP power figures. The 1015cc GS motor with 55bhp has 74mm bore x 59mm stroke, and so it's well 'under-square'. Short stroke engines have lower piston velocities than long stroke (for the same rpm).. and therefore wear and stresses are less. Compression ratio is on this engine is 9:1 and the concave piston crowns with hemispherical heads are of an advanced design.
However great these characteristics may be for high engine speeds.., any short stroke engine has less torque (pulling power) than an otherwise similarly spec'd long-stroke engine of the same capacity. At 893kg the 1015cc Citroen GS was of course a heavier car than any of the A-series, and it had a great load volume / capacity (laden weight of 1312 kg). Add then engine-driven hydraulic pumps to power its suspension ...and the car's usable pulling power was somewhat lacking.
Whereas short strokes may be great for a high speed lightweight sports car - they are far from ideal for the family estate / mule. Needing to be driven through-the-gears, those 'revs' are contrary to the fuel economy expectations of the family orientated consumer. That said - the 1015cc GS was car of the year in five European magazines for 1972 and so must have been an exceptional driver's car for the press Unfortunately, for the family man it simply lacked the grunt or economy of its competitors. Citroen were forced into building a new engine with more torque, and that meant an increase in the engine's stroke.
Lengthening the engine's stroke meant a physically bigger crankshaft & cases.., and longer barrels. But still the French were enslaved to how their fiscal ratings effected car sales …they had to keep the capacity down. Ironically the last variant of the GS engine was made for the Italian market ..whose own restrictions meant that no car under 1300cc was allowed on their motorways. Citroen took the GS's bore out a little to 1301cc - just for that market.
Of course Citroen had invested a great deal into this all new 1015cc engine's design, its tooling, and production-numbers purchasing / stock pile of component parts. Many of those were to be 'used up' in the Ami-Super.
The Ami Super (1973 - 1976)
The concept was simple enough. Take the compact / lightweight but still eminently useful and comfortable Ami-8 ..and shoehorn the GS 1015cc flat-four engine into it (Some say that this had already been done with an Ami - built as a test mule for the new engine). The Ami-8 at 725kg is 20% lighter in the weight than even the basic spec GS, and it doesn't have the load volume / carrying capacity.
In that one simple step Citroen's market for the compact mid-range was extended. Those markets who wanted more than 602cc flat-twin motor were answered ...and Citroen had its own boy-racer model ! Of course it's fiscal rating shot up from 3cv to 6cv, but with the Ami-8 still in the range - it did give the customer in France &/or abroad a interesting choice …economy or performance.
The 2cv and Dyane models and variants were probably not deemed rigid enough to take the power ..as indeed the standard Ami-8 wasn't ! No, the chassis of the Ami-super was not only modified to take the flat-four engine, with its under-slung exhaust manifolds, but it was stiffened too. Ostensibly the Ami-8 chassis is made from 0.8mm gauge steel, whereas the Ami Super's went up to 1.2mm thick.
It's simple math's to work out that this alone added 50% to the chassis weight. Possibly some body panels were similarly beefed up. And then the fuel tank grew to 40 litres. Add to this the additional weight of a four cylinder motor - and it's clear the car needed more powerful brakes, front and rear. Albeit with an Ami-Super specific bell housing - the gearbox and front brakes are those of the 1220cc GS. And the rear brakes are slightly larger drums than the Ami-8. It's a small step thereafter to see that the suspension also needed up-rating with stiffer springs. An anti-roll-bar was added to the rear suspension arms too.
There are a host of more minor beefing-up differences between the Ami-8 and the Ami-Super - with a resultant gain of 85kg (unladen weight). In the big picture that's an additional 12% more than the Ami-8 ..but it's still 83kg / 10% less than the 1015cc engined GS. The saving grace was that most of the extra weight was low down in the chassis, suspension, and flat-4 boxer engine / drive-train components… And that's all very positive with regard to its c.of g. and the Ami-Super's handling. In the meantime - the car's engine power increase was 62% more than the Ami-8 (..approximately x3 more than the original Ami-6).
The advanced suspension of the GS was either deemed too expensive for the compact saloon &/or for marketing reasons - the gap between the Ami-Super and the GS's spec's needed to be more clearly defined. So although beefed-up, the 'super' benefits from the simplicity in chassis, suspension and steering design of its sibling A-series. The engine is much the same as that used and proven in the GS., but without hydraulic take-offs. The super is said to be rated at 53.5 BHP, which is 1.5 BHP less than the GS ..Most likely, this is down to exhaust pipe differences ..and as much marketing hype as fact.
Interesting perhaps to 2cv and Dyane owners., who might anxiously think of all that engine weight hanging out the front of the car - is that the Ami-super's engine is in fact cantilevered from its gearbox mounts. The Ami-super's chassis front-cross-member has no engine mounts at all. So although the car's dynamic c.of g. is further forward than the twin cylinder models ..the static / normal speeds contribution to longitudinal c.of g. is some 15" further back than might first be envisaged. In short, its not nearly as bad as you might think !
In the meantime, the GS got it's new engine at 1220cc with 77mm bore and 65.5mm stroke. It's compression ratio was reduced from 9:1 to 8.2:1. Together with cam changes the result was 60 BHP @ 5750 RPM -v- 55 BHP @ 6000 RPM for the 1015cc. However torque went up by almost 24% to 64.3 ft.lb @ 3250 verses 51.9 ft.lb @ 3500 RPM. A very useful increase ! In performance terms the difference was unnoticed in either top end speed or economy (30.4 mpg DIN), but the 0 - 50mph acceleration times dropped from 12.3 to 10.6 seconds. Bottom line was the engine became more tractable and easier to drive, most especially when laden. Probably for fiscal (tax) rating reasons - the 1015cc engine remained in the catalogue for the GS range.
... The Ami Super however retains anonymity on the road. There were significant differences under the skin but few showed through. Six small air-intake slots were tucked in under the grille to aid cooling and induction. There's also differences in front bumper brackets, but aside from that and 135 section tyres - just a few stick-on badges differentiate the Ami-Super from the Ami-8. Pierced wheels were added in '74 and waistline graphics came through in 1975.
How well does the Ami-Super work ?
" As might be expected from the specification, the effects of these changes on the performance are little short of startling. The 0 to 60 mph acceleration time, for example, is nearly half that of the regular Ami-8 and a fraction quicker even than the GS saloon with 1015cc motor.
Top speed is up 16 mph over the Ami-8, to a mean 88 mph. And we reached over 90 mph with the aid of a slight tail wind. On the grossly optimistic speedometer we once saw an indicated 100 mph, equivalent in truth to 92 mph. Considering how the Ami body makes little pretence at streamlining it is all the more remarkable that top-speed of this Super version should be only 2 mph behind that of the more aerodynamic GS
At the kerbside, the Ami Super weighs about 150lb more than the Ami 8 and is about the same amount less than the GS. For a test mileage of 654 very hard miles, in which we enjoyed the performance to the full and regularly revved to over 7,000 rpm, the consumption was 27.4 mpg. This is 4 mpg better than that of the GS and about 5 mpg worse than that of the Ami 8. With the kind of restraint that comes with longer acquaintance (although we doubt novelty will ever wear off completely), owners should easily return 30 mpg or better. Our test car, by the way, was delivered to us with less than 1,000 miles behind it and so performance and consumption should both improve with longer running in.
All these facts and figures tell a vital part of the Ami Super story, but they do nothing to describe the unique way the car behaves in traffic on the road. As you turn the starter and the engine comes slowly to life it sounds a lot like the old air-cooled twin. At the bottom end it has something of the familiar sluggish response. But from about 3,500 rpm it is almost as if two extra cylinders have switched in somehow, and the car takes a great leap forward as the revs scream up to around 8,000 rpm. Taken to this limit, where the urge cuts out suddenly, over 30 mph is possible in bottom, nearly 60 mph in second and just short of 80 mph in third.
The torque curve in fact is much flatter than it feels and the car's low speed pulling power is remarkably good. Big 15in. dia. wheels prevent any traction problems and although the Super rolls a lot - like all Ami's - it feels stiffer than the smaller-engined version. Brakes are extremely powerful and well up to the task of coping with all the extra speed.
There has been nothing quite like this Citroen since the original Mini-Cooper, and for £995 including tax it is very good value."
Autocar Brief Test - 21 June 1973
Interior wise, the Super has a 160km/hr speedo and a floor mounted gear change. And the handbrake lever is inverted, but those things aside - it's much the same as an Ami-8. It is a compact car and as such it has just 2" more shoulder width than the 2cv6 (front & rear). The car has winding front door windows, with sliding windows and storage bins for the rear seat passengers.
With its spare wheel mounted under the bonnet, the Berline's boot space is a very usable rear loading 'box' of almost 12 cu.ft. By way of comparison the 2cv has (almost) 9 cu.ft. and whose space is less convenient. Personally, I'd prefer a 5th door / lifting tailgate, and removable parcel shelf like the GS, which would add to the usability of the luggage space quite considerably. The Berline's rear seats are quickly removable, whereas the 'Break' has a tailgate and a folding &/or removable rear seat - for the additional luggage carrying capacity.
Of course in most senses - the Ami-Super is as useful and practical as any Ami-8. The body shells are likewise as 'Berline', 'Break' and 'Service' models, and have very similar 'Luxe', 'Confort' or 'Club' trim specifications, including differences in headlining. My own car was probably built as a Luxe with a bench front seat, but that has been changed to non-reclining individual seats from a 1972 'Confort' Ami-8 (the 'Club' having reclining front seats).
That concludes this report for now. In my view - each & every Citroen has its own virtues and also its quirks. The Ami-Super is no different. It's panel fit is appalling, and the very thin-gauge body panels and crude interior trim may be nice and lightweight, but they also reek of 'economy'. I appreciate that this car doesn't appeal to most, but still I hope something in the above has been interesting and informative to all enthusiasts.
As said from the outset - I'm no expert in this or any other Citroen model. My purpose was only to share an overview. Please excuse if I've made an error or two (dozen).! I'm sure there are owners and garage experts who might like to write in with a snippet, or correction. Perhaps even a tale or two from direct experience.?
Best regards, Peter., in Suffolk.
Acknowledgements & thanks to the excellent Citroenet website for the adverts. More to see and read < here >
NB. the above text has been appended to ..to include a discourse on the A-series chassis and suspension. 12th March 2016