Living with a LoadRunner

We live in a technological world where the automobile is ubiquitous; we see them everywhere, all the time. There’s not much on the road, therefore, that we haven’t seen before, and even more expensive/luxurious cars are everyday, and not particularly noteworthy. If you want to turn heads, what are your options?  You can drive a collector’s car, or you can dress up your modern car with body kit, alloys, fancy paint job etc. For me, a third option arose: six wheels.

From the front and rear the Loadrunner looks like any other CX Safari. When launched in 1974, the CX was certainly a head-turner. Its seminal design means that it still looks contemporary, nearly fourty years on; but since its styling helped to set the trend for today’s cars, it now looks unremarkable. So when I am out in the Loadrunner, many other road-users, drivers and pedestrians, just don’t notice. However, sometimes they do:

  • Three mechanics come to the front of my local filling-station the first time I go to fill up there.
  • Two small boys on bicycles come over to me in the car-park at my local town centre and ask me about the car
  • Two boy-racers pull up alongside and ask if I want to sell it
  • A retired gentleman points out the extra wheels to his wife
  • A white van driver lets me out into the traffic from a side road with a broad grin
  • “Look Mummy” says a little boy, pointing
  • Three snotty-nosed adolescents grin at me from the back seat of the car in front, thumbs-up. I look at the three faces trying to recognise one of my students; I can’t -they just like the car!

…and so on. Sometimes I just catch “Oy! Look at that!”

More attention is paid when I take the car to a car rally; people are all over the car, peering inside, and crawling underneath to see how it’s done. At my school’s Open Evening, a visitor spots the car parked at the entrance and seeks me out for more information. A shopper quizzes me in Asda car park. So, the Loadrunner gets to turn heads, and I like the understated way it does it; no need for a fancy paint job or body kit.

CX Rally, September 2005

The biggest problem, I must admit, with the Loadrunner, is the temptation to drive fast on motorways. That’s what they were built for after all, and the desire to show other drivers the rear end of the car is very strong!

Q and As

  1. How do you park it? The answer is, easily. When you think about it, in most car parks you drive forwards or backwards into a parking space; I just have a little more car (690mm to be precise) left sticking out. When it comes to fitting into a space left at the roadside between two other parked vehicles, then it gets more interesting…..but the turning circle is much the same as it was before, and the CX has a secret weapon when it comes to parking: DIRAVI steering. This system, developed for the Citroen SM, not only gives you finger-light power steering; it always returns the steering-wheel to the centre position even at a standstill, so the car does half the work for you.
  2. How fast? 100mph-plus, but I’d better not say which country that’s in.
  3. Consumption? I measured it shortly after getting back from Germany with the car; on short journeys into work and shopping it was returning just over 20mpg. This is a petrol-injected 2.5-litre engine with autobox; most if not all  commercial Loadrunners were built with turbo-diesels giving roughly twice the economy.
  4. Is it your only car? Yes, and I use it for everything; going to work, shopping, shifting building materials, weekends away, and showing off. And other stuff.

Twelve-foot-long boards? No problem.

  1. How much did it cost? I don’t know, it’s a company car and belongs to NASA, but I’m not allowed to tell you about that.
  2. Reliability? Fantastic so far.
  3. Are there any more in the UK? Only Matthew Hills’, at Wainscott (see “I’m a Loadrunner Baby”), that I know of.
  4. Does your car have hydraulics? Of course, it’s a Citroen. (This question is usually from teenage boys who are ignorant of the Citroen use of hydraulics for half a century and think it’s the latest thing.)
  5. How does the car get over sleeping policemen when it’s so low to the ground at the front? It’s only low to the ground at the front when it’s been standing for a few hours and the hydraulic fluid has seeped back into the reservoir; as soon as you start the engine up it rises to its proper ride height. The front of the car, having the weight of the engine, sinks first; and with two extra hydraulic cylinders at the back supporting very little weight (normally), the back takes for ever to sink This gives rise to the “Hot Rod” look, as you have seen in the introduction.
  6. Do the rear wheels “scrub”? Yes, they have to. But on the other hand, they’re only loaded with about half the normal weight; until you load the car up, that is.
  7. Who does the work on the car? I do smaller jobs e.g. wipers, lights etc myself. For more serious work I use Matthew & Jeff Hills of Hills Motors, 43-45 Wainscott Road, Wainscott near Rochester, Kent ME2 4LA (01634 290291), and  Dave & Paula Alstin of Marsh Citroen, Unit 15A Mountfield Road, New Romney, Kent TN 28 8LH (01797 361234). I also recommend especially for all hydraulic work and parts Pleiades in Cambridgeshire (01487 831239). And Crayford Motors can still get some parts (01322 524555). Most importantly, though, belonging to the Citroen Car Club allows me to “network” for advice, support and spare parts.

Weekends away.

Three piece suite to collect? You need a LoadRunner!