Location matters, and I’m lucky enough to live near enough to an ex-Citroën dealer to seriously consider a CX or XM of my very own.
It is a terrifying thought that the only big French cars I’d like to own are so old and complicated, though. So I started to wonder: if I really wanted a Le Barge, shouldn’t I consider something less ancient? The thing is, there isn’t an awful lot of available choice. But still…
The Peugeot 607 is a handsome beast. Available from 2000, it offers a mix of petrol engines that no sane person would buy and diesels that everyone wants. The 110bhp diesel struggles, and there is a whole boring list of engines and trim levels that came and went, as well as a minor facelift in 2004, but all you really need to know is what’s actually out there and how much.
Prices seem to start at about £1000, and there can be advertised issues if the seller is honest. Petrol and diesel 2.2s and the HDi V6 ought to be the sensible picks.
The entry S spec seems to dominate, indicating old company cars, and if the mileage is suitably huge, it could have served time as a minicab. Spend £2500 and you get the big-spec 2005 examples. That may seem quite a lot, but not if it all works. Top money is up to £4000 for a lowish-mileage, few-owner SE or Executive.
I still want a CX, but for now a C6 would be the next best thing. Citroën sold only about five of them and one still lives at the end of my road.
These complicated cars are not as cheap as you might expect. Maybe rarity does help after all, but whatever the reason, you will be paying £5500 or more for one. The best thing, though, is that they seem to be cars that have been cherished by their owners.
Lignage and Exclusive trim levels have everything you could ever possibly need. The 2.7 HDi V6 is the most popular engine, but you can find the 2.2 diesel, too. A 2008 example at £8000 is the most money you will pay.
Renault checked out of the barge market years ago, so good luck finding a Safrane. I succeeded, though, and found some at the dregs end of the classified ad market at £400 to £500.
The owners all said that they were brilliant and in top-of-the-line Executive spec. I’m sure they were right.
I reckon the equally obsolete Espace was the last decent big Renault with a bit of desirable style. I thought £600 for a 3.0 dCi V6 Privilege was really rather tempting, plus it had a panoramic roof.
So there are more Le Barges out there than I bargained for. They could also be trouble, but it would be fun finding out just how much.