Citroën Karin

1980 Citroën Karin Concept

1980 Citroën Karin Concept

When I bought my Fiat 500 Abarth, it had to meet three criteria. First, "Will it be fun to drive?" Second, "Will it get good mileage?" Third, "Can I afford it?" For someone who enjoys cars and drives nearly 200 km per day, you'd be surprised at just how short that list becomes once you start crunching numbers!

Citroën designer Trevor Fiore would have made my life much easier, however, if he could have convinced his supervisors to put his 1980 Karin Concept into production. Conceived as a futuristic commuter car, its three seats would have fit me, my girlfriend, and my cat perfectly.

Fiore was actually born Trevor Frost and was an Englishman who found work in the 60s and 70s at the Italian design house Carrozzeria Fissore. "Fissore," you ask, "what have they done?"

Lots of stuff! Fiat Marinella…OSCA 1600…De Tomaso Vallelugna…Alpine A310…

Alright, perhaps not the most mainstream of models, but the important bit is that Fiore worked at Fissore and Citroën liked his work enough to name him the new head of design, succeeding the legendary Robert Opron.

The best way to announce your arrival as a leading designer? Produce a far-out concept car.

Cleverly angular, with butterfly doors, retractable side mirrors, rear-facing camera, and a low profile, it was sadly a non-driving concept. It's interesting to note just how well Citroën's PRN "Satellite" switchgear works with centre steering. Also notable: some early Karin sketches featured chrome side blades, similar to what the Audi R8 features today.

Fiore envisioned a production version with front wheel drive and hydropneumatic suspension, but we're left with nothing more than decades-old press photos and patchy information. He left Citroën in 1982, and the company's next major car, that year's BX, was basically an updated Bertone design by Marcello Gandini that had been badged as a Volvo and as a Reliant…

…but that's a story for another day.

Citroën Karin interior

Citroën Karin interior

Sources / Recommended Reading