Citroen Ami 6 and 8

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Citroën Ami

1961 - 1978
4 cylinder
22 bhp at 5000 rpm
4 spd. MT
Top Speed:
65 mph (claimed)
Number Built:
3 star
Citroen Ami
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 3


Mechanically the Citroen Ami-6's design was derived from that of the 2CV but it was more powerful and had a much more luxurious body. Its engine, of 602cc, gave a maximum (factory claimed) speed of 65 mph. At launch, in France it cost 6550 francs. This was about 13 percent more than the cheapest three-speed Dauphine, which had a higher performance, but the Ami-6 had a big four-door body giving more space and comfort and a four-speed fully synchronised gear-box.

The car went on sale in France in the Spring of 1961, and it didn't take long for Citroen to realise they needed to make some minor alterations if the car were to be a success at the October Paris Motor Show only six months later. The most visible upgrade involved the replacement of the fixed windows on the rear doors with two part horizontal sliding windows similar to those already fitted on the front doors.

Nevertheless, sales in the early years seem to have been disappointingly low. The Ami's first full year of production was 1962, during which only 85,358 of the cars were sold, while the thirteen-year-old 2CV managed 144,759 sales during the same twelve-month period. Although the Ami had a modern body, it shared the aggressively minimalist underpinnings of the older car, and in the market place this made it hard to justify for the Ami a starting price which, at the end of 1961, was 35% higher.

The AMI 6 - Based on DS Principles

The Ami-6 body followed DS principles in having detachable exterior panels bolted to a steel structure with flat floor and a resin-bonded glass fibre roof. The flat-twin ohv pushrod engine was basically similar to that of the 2CV but bore and stroke were increased to 74 x 70 mm to give 602cc. The compression ratio was raised to 7.4 to 1, the carburettor was a 30 mm Solex and new cylinder heads provided larger inlet passages. As a result power was increased by 83 percent and torque by 73 percent for a rise in swept volume of 41 percent, the peak figures being 22 bhp at 5000 rpm and 29.6 lb/ft at 2800 rpm.

Single piece connecting rods with plain bearings were assembled on a three-piece built-up crankshaft which was shrunk together in liquid nitrogen. The light alloy crankcase was split on the centre line and as usual ignition was by a simple contact breaker connected to a dual ignition coil with no distributor so that each plug fired at the end of the compression and exhaust strokes. The cylinders were enclosed in pressed steel ducts and cooled by a nylon fan on the nose of the crankshaft.

A conventional clutch, not a centrifugal one, was mounted with the engine, ahead of the differential, driving through a quill shaft to a four-speed all-synchromesh gearbox. The inboard front brakes had radial finned iron drums and the drive shaft to the front wheels had constant velocity universal joints at each and to eliminate steering snatch when cornering at low speeds. Suspension, as on the 2 CV, was by single swinging arms, leading in front and trailing at the rear, connected by rods to coil springs in compression in cylindrical housings alongside the chassis frame. Each housing was free to move fore and aft, restrained by volute springs which reduced the pitch frequency but left the suspension unchanged in bouncing when front and rear wheels were deflected simultaneously.

On the Road

The ride, therefore, was similar to that of the 2CV, with soft undulating motion and fairly marked roll on corners. To compensate for the big change in attitude when passengers were carried in the rear there was a hand control to reset the headlamps as on the 2CV. Friction dampers were built into the pivots of the suspension arms and alongside each wheel was an inertia damper consisting of an iron weight oscillating vertically in a cylinder between two coil springs. The headlamps were a then new rectangular design by Cibie with a deep three-part reflector claimed to give optical results equivalent to a circular lamp of much larger diameter.

Four big doors gave access to a generously proportioned passenger compartment which was 44 inches wide at shoulder level at the front and 41.1 in the rear. A backward sloping rear window helped in ensuring adequate rear seat headroom. Like the 2CV, all the seats were removable. The tubular frames carried rubber-tensioned webbing which supported plastic foam cushions. With the rear seat removed there was direct access to a big cargo area which was also reached through an external lid. Skis could be carried by sliding the ends forward from the boot and under the rear seats. Space was saved by mounting the spare wheel horizontally above the engine.

Windows in the front doors slid, those at the rear were fixed (this changing after 6 months). The steering wheel had a single spoke and there were electric wipers. Warm air was taken from the engine cooling ducts and the chassis had only four greasing points. Un-laden and without fuel the car weighed 1345 lb. Fuel consumption was (factory claimed) said to be 44 to 51 mpg. Although the weight of the car was kept quite low, it had accommodation for a big load of passengers and luggage and vigorous use of the gearbox was needed with a full load. It was a car for tranquil spirits who appreciated durability and low running costs rather than fast acceleration and fast hill climbing.

The AMI 8

The Ami 8 sedan, the first model update on the original AMI 6, had a fastback rear window. This new shape, created by French design house Heulie, included changes to the front part and bonnet and a sloping, rather than inverted, rear window on the sedan. The wagon version of the Ami 8 had a similar general appearance to that of the Ami 6 although the later car's tail-lights were integrated into the rear wings.
Citroen AMI
Citroen AMI
Citroen AMI

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Also see:

Citroen Ami Super
Citroen Brochures
Citroen History
Citroen Specifications
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