1981 Citroen GSA Club


Extremely practical now that we can all afford another car for the winter


I am a great fan of the GSA and was delighted to find a superb example recently in the motoring small ads - which I immediately went off and bought and which has been a source of huge fun in the short time that I have owned it.

Unlike anything else that I have driven, the GSA gives the driver a feeling of great involvement in the journey: a bit like a motorbike, but with the ability to cosset you in the ultimate comfort and lug tons of luggage and other people around. Added to which, it seems to get quieter the faster you go, which makes it the ultimate modern motorway cruise machine.

In fact, unlike most more modern cars, which are much faster in dreary factual terms, the GSA is still relaxing to drive on A roads even behind the queues of traffic that are today's motoring experience.

I would love to sell my other two cars and rely on the GSA which seems so perfectly adapted to its environment, but have it on good authority that one or at most two English winters would see to the car for good.

Above all, this car has brought back a little bit of fun to driving - for example in accelerating from nothing to unbelievable revs in third up a gentle twisting incline - heaven!

General Comments:

This is not just a car - this is a musical instrument as well. I just wish they still made anything half as good today.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 12th June, 2006

15th Jul 2006, 13:39

I could not agree more with you, I also have a GSA from 1984 and I drive it every day. During the last month I moved from Holland to Portugal and took the car with me, I packed it until if was full and drove to the south 2500km. Within 30 days I drove 8000km with the GSA all extremely relaxed and lots of fun. You can use the GSA every day all year round, but just keep the car good, a bit of TLC helps. Good luck and NEVER sell your car, keep it on the road!!!

2nd Mar 2009, 16:10

The review was so much my opinion that I wondered for a moment if I had written it.

What a pity that we cannot roll around all year in our great little cars. I use the word advisedly, because the GSA is so neat and light compared with the giant product offerings on the market today. Of course they are fragile, but like a racing shell they are perfectly adapted to the strains that they are designed for.

The only drawback that I perceive when driving my GSA is that, because the car is so involving you tend to go too fast. I am always overtaking where I normally would just drive along resignedly in the usual queue of traffic. I feel a lot safer overtaking in my GSA than in my mighty but completely uninvolving Volvo.

When people talk about classics, they often refer to a period during which a certain car might have been manufactured. These cars aren't like that, they are classics because they stand out from the crowd in any company, vintage or modern.

I shall hang on to mine as long as I can.

1982 Citroen GSA club estate 1.3 eco


Brilliant baby supercar; love him, and he'll pay you in smiles


Not much, given the age:

The exhaust back box rusted out (easy fix)

The rear spheres need replacing, giving a rather hard ride, almost descending to Ford levels. Unfortunately, they've corroded on, and I'm afraid to change them until I have some replacement pipes lined up, as I'm sure I will rip them off.

The car runs a bit lumpily, but this can be easily sorted, as it probably just needs a carb rebuild.

The headliner bows have popped out of the side rails.

General GSA sun damage to the top upholstery of the seats, as expected.

Rust is finally beginning to show its head after three British winters.

General Comments:

I had the good fortune of being offered a rust free GSA estate from the south of france from a club member upgrading to a newer car.

Most people do not know much about the GSA, and what people do know is mainly a 'grrr there be dragons' attitude. While used Cits are a minefield, this is more due to the expectations of owners, rather than faults with the cars.

The GSA was the C4 of the '80s, and as such, sold for ridiculous low prices and special offers. Thus, many buyers chose it over a Sierra or Cavalier. However, the GSA is not just another middlemarket car, even if it was priced as such.

The GSA was designed by Panhard engineers after Panhard had been absorbed by Citroen. Thus, it combined the superb suspension of the DS with the cutting edge air-cooled engine technology of Panhard. The sweet engine of the GSA would rev to the moon, spinning the lovely drum style rev counter 'round and 'round.

Sadly, like its flat-4 Italian cousin Alfasud, for all of its dynamic and aesthetic beauty, the GSA needed to be treated like a Faberge egg, as it tended to contract smallpox at the slightest sign of rain.

Like anything worth keeping, the GSA also demanded the sort of love which your average biker has no problem lavishing on their xxr f-2 600 gofaster riceburner, but the average British motorist is averse to giving to a workaday car.

Although a Sierra would thrive on this neglect, the GSA most certainly did not. Thus, they developed an undeserved reputation for unreliability.

GSA's get tappety if oil changes are neglected, and if the miles of cambelts are not changed... I'm sure you know the rest. Furthermore, the rubber of the '80s is not as good as that of today, and the seals tend to perish, leading to puddles. Although the car will continue to run for ages with a bit of a tappety tick a tick a tick and if you don't park it on white carpet, the oil drips are not really a big problem, these issues combined with misunderstanding of hydraulics scuppered the residuals. As GSA's moved into banger territory, potential buyers were less willing to spend the money to keep them going. As a result, there are less than 200 on UK roads.

My GSA has been a brilliant car, loved by its French family, who kept the underside totally rust free, and its Scotttish owner, who serviced it and, most importantly, used it.

GSA's love to be driven, and are wonderful highway cars. The little 1.3 litre is able to cruise comfortably at 80, and just sings at 4500rpm.

I recently took the GSA to the Isle of Man, and loved the cling to the road, the ability to drive unsurfaced tracks with comfort, and transport three blokes, luggage and a dog at a reasonable speed over the TT circuit.

Perhaps most uniquely, after a shabby puncture repair at a local garage, the rear tyre blew out at speed. The amazing suspension allowed me to proceed through the mountain road, with the handling no worse than my old Austin Cambridge. This lovely safety feature allowed me to think all was OK until I stopped to see the tyre completely shredded. Needless to say, an Astra/Sierra/Volkswagen, or any conventional car may have taken us over the edge that had claimed so many other lives on the TT Mountain Road.

In all, I intend to keep the GSA, drive it every day, and garage it at night. If only Citroen had galvanized it...

My advice to anyone contemplating one, is to go for it- just check the bodywork, and be willing to spend the money to keep it up. The G-series is a car with a personality, and will be as good to you as you are to him or her.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 22nd August, 2005

23rd Aug 2005, 05:31

I made a mistake on the running costs: its actually quite cheap to run; should have been 8/10.

13th Feb 2007, 13:03

I caught the GS bug at an early age (my parents had a GS estate which I nagged them to buy at the tender age of 13-precocious little t***). I run a GSA Pallas and restored a GS Basalte-the limited edition in red and black. They`re great-just the rust is always a menace and the panels sometimes remind me of the foil chocolate comes in.

I fully endorse the 1st commenter!

23rd Feb 2007, 14:29

What a good review! These machines are like cars used to be when I was mad about them in the 1960s and driving was a pleasure... and thanks to the GSA it still can be! In my '81 Club I would happily don a pair of pigskin open-back driving gloves, because it would all be part of the fun. I love the slow acceleration and vague gear selection because they make the experience of driving more exacting, and the accuracy of the steering makes good driving worthwhile. There is not a single modern mainstream practical motor car capable of this - sorry.

Just how long can we keep her going? Nowadays if there's salt on the roads (and mostly there isn't with the mild winters we've been having) I stay in. Otherwise I'm sure it's fine to use the car in winter.