Paul Tranter

Citroën celebrates the 60th anniversary of AMI 6

Citroën celebrates the 60th anniversary of AMI 6

- Citroën celebrates 60 years of AMI 6, first revealed on 24 April 1961.

- Citroën AMI 6 was the first car manufactured at the newly opened Citroën plant in Rennes, France.

- Over one million AMI 6 models were sold up until 1971, 551,880 were the estate version.

- AMI 6 completed Citroën’s range, which at the time consisted of the iconic 2CV, ID and DS.

- With its unforgettable inverted rear window, AMI 6 embodied the 60s with its ‘Z-Line’ design.

- Discover more about AMI 6 at Citroën’s virtual museum, Citroën Origins: www.citroenorigins.com

With its compact dimensions and spacious interior, the vehicle went on to be a great success for the brand with over one million models sold, half of which were the capacious estate version that arrived in 1964. At launch, the new AMI 6 completed Citroën’s vehicle line up, joining the iconic 2CV, ID and DS models. It presented a shape and style that many perceived as surprising in the automotive sector at the time.

The original design was 3.87m long and 1.52m wide, which later evolved to include rear sliding windows (from 1962), and an enhanced Club trim (from 1967). AMI 6 was originally priced from just 6,550 French Francs.

After designing Traction Avant, 2CV and DS with the Citroën design team, Flaminio Bertoni was asked to lend his talent to the design of a middle-range car, known as the ‘AM Project’. AMI 6 was the end result. Bertoni described the car to his friends and family as his masterpiece — as the model was developed without the creative input of anyone else, Bertoni was able to fully express himself with the design of the vehicle.

For AMI 6, Bertoni had the bold idea of inverting the rear window, meaning that it would remain clear when it rained. It also allowed for a well-proportioned boot with a traditional boot lid. The design also boasted spacious rear seats, whilst retaining compact dimensions. AMI 6 had a dual-cylinder 602cm3 engine, capable of 22hp at 4,500 rpm, the same as seen in the 2CV. In a first at the time, the car also had large rectangular headlights at the front. The model displayed a strong character, with a sloping bonnet, the pagoda-style roof and panels highlighted with clearly embossed lines — some onlookers even described the car as being in a “baroque style”.

The interior of AMI 6 was inspired directly by that of the iconic DS, which was the gold standard at the time. From its single-spoke steering wheel and stylish door handles, to its dashboard controls and seats, everything indicated that the model was a top-of-the-range Citroën. The on-road handling and compliant ride — inherited from the famous suspension setup of the 2CV — was received positively by customers and the press.

From its creation, in keeping with the Citroën spirit, AMI 6 has been regarded fondly as an original and innovative car. Its die-hard fans continue to maintain a particular interest in the Club versions of the model that came with four headlights and white trim. They were sold from September 1967. The iconic advertising slogan for AMI 6 was “the least expensive comfort mile in the world”.

The turning point for the model came in late 1964, with the arrival of a small estate version with a 320kg payload that was designed by Flaminio Bertoni’s assistant, Henri Dargent, as well as Robert Opron, who would become Bertoni’s successor after he passed away in 1964. The estate version would go on to boost sales and overtake the saloon in terms of popularity, something that has rarely happened in automotive history.

The design of the estate version offered a great amount of space for a leisure vehicle in this category, along with easy and convenient accessibility. It was a versatile model, providing just as much comfort to a family travelling on a trip, as it would for a professional using the car for business needs. In 1966, AMI 6 was named in France as the nation’s favourite car of the year.

Production of the saloon ended in March 1969, six months before production of the estate ended. The model made way for the new AMI 8 that featured a more conventional rear design. Eventually AMI 8 handed the baton on to Citroën Visa in 1978.

CITROËN AMI 6, DID YOU KNOW?

- The name AMI 6 comes from a phonetic combination that refers to the name of the design project (AM vehicle), the title “Miss”, and the Italian word for friend, “amici”, which is considered to have been inspired by Bertoni’s Italian heritage.

- Yvonne de Gaulle, wife of General de Gaulle, drove an AMI 6.

- The vehicle inaugurated the Citroën plant in Rennes-La-Janais on 10 September 1960. The factory was still under construction at the time and it was a little over a year before production began on the site.

- A rally named “Le Tour de Gaule d’Amisix” was held by Citroën, setting off from Rennes-La-Janais on 19 January 1966, with two standard AMI 6 estate models to demonstrate the endurance and qualities of the model. When the team crossed the finish line, 23 hours and 11 minutes later they had covered 1,291 miles at an average speed of 55.7 mph.

- In June 1963, AMI 6 was launched in America. The export model adopted four round headlights and reinforced bumpers.

- The model was produced in Paris from 1961 to 1963 and Rennes-La-Janais from 1961 to 1969, marking the brand’s first major decentralisation from Paris. The model was also produced in Forest, Belgium from 1961 to 1969, and Catila, Argentina, where cars were shipped in parts to the plant to be assembled on site until 1971.

- In total 1,039,384 AMI 6 vehicles were produced, of which 483,986 were saloons (from April 1961 to March 1969) and 551,880 were estates (from October 1964 to September 1969). An additional 3,518 vehicles were sold in ‘Enterprise’ specification, which was a two-seater service estate with both glazed and panelled versions available.

- On the last production AMI 6 models, a small knob that controlled a rheostat was introduced to allow adjustment for the brightness of the dials.

- Miniatures of the model can be purchased as gifts from the Citroën Lifestyle store. The AMI 6 1967 saloon in Typhoon Grey can be bought as a 1:43 miniature for €37 at the following Link

Citroën’s virtual museum — Citroën Origins — offers an immersive experience in 3D, offering a closer look at AMI 6 and 80 other iconic Citroën models. To discover more, please click: www.citroenorigins.com

To discover more about the Citroën Lifestyle store and the items for sale, go to: www.lifestyle.citroen.com

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