Citroen did several variations on a semi automatic theme, all called C-Matic at one time or other.

Here’s the one fitted to the weird and to some wonderful CX. Yes, AR is French.

Illustration for article titled Unusual ways to change gear, revisited
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It came with a badge, as so

Illustration for article titled Unusual ways to change gear, revisited

It looked like this when at the wheel (which had powered self centring, a thing that caught out the Citroen novice). Yes, it’s all Norwegian to me too. We can figure out though “CX C-Matic har tre-timms gearkasse og automatisk clutch”

Illustration for article titled Unusual ways to change gear, revisited
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It’s the same kind of arrangement VW and Porsche used in the 1960s and 1970s with a tre-timms gearkasse - or even a three speed gearbox -, a torque converter and an automatic clutch. Unlike the VW and also unlike earlier manifestations from Citroen the clutch is operated by a microswitch at the base of the lever rather than in the knob so it operated whenever you moved the lever towards neutral, not every time you touched the knob. Also unlike other examples it had a P position.

So how was it in use? There’s a copy of a road test right here which reveals all. The model tested was a 2400 i.e, the number not being what you might imagine (it was actually nearer 2300 cc) and the i.e. being injection éléctronique, a thing quite exotic at the time. The manual car did the 0 to 60 mph business in about ten seconds which might not sound exciting but this was 40 years ago in a car with an engine dating back to the 1950s. The C-Matic did it in 12 sec if you used the gears and about 15 sec if you just stuck it in second and let the torque converter take the strain. You paid a price for losing the left pedal then.

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Illustration for article titled Unusual ways to change gear, revisited

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