Citroën is celebrating 60 years of the iconic AMI 6, which was first revealed on 24 April 1961. With its compact dimensions and spacious interior, the vehicle went on to be a great success for the brand with over one million models sold, half of which were the capacious estate version that arrived in 1964. At launch, the new AMI 6 completed Citroën’s vehicle line up, joining the iconic 2CV, ID and DS models. It presented a shape and style that many perceived as surprising in the automotive sector at the time.
The original design was 3.87m long and 1.52m wide, which later evolved to include rear sliding windows (from 1962), and an enhanced Club trim (from 1967). AMI 6 was originally priced from just 6,550 French Francs.
After designing Traction Avant, 2CV and DS with the Citroën design team, Flaminio Bertoni was asked to lend his talent to the design of a middle-range car, known as the ‘AM Project’. AMI 6 was the end result. Bertoni described the car to his friends and family as his masterpiece – as the model was developed without the creative input of anyone else, Bertoni was able to fully express himself with the design of the vehicle.
For AMI 6, Bertoni had the bold idea of inverting the rear window, meaning that it would remain clear when it rained. It also allowed for a well-proportioned boot with a traditional boot lid. The design also boasted spacious rear seats, whilst retaining compact dimensions. AMI 6 had a dual-cylinder 602cm3 engine, capable of 22hp at 4,500 rpm, the same as seen in the 2CV. In a first at the time, the car also had large rectangular headlights at the front. The model displayed a strong character, with a sloping bonnet, the pagoda-style roof and panels highlighted with clearly embossed lines – some onlookers even described the car as being in a “baroque style”.
The interior of AMI 6 was inspired directly by that of the iconic DS, which was the gold standard at the time. From its single-spoke steering wheel and stylish door handles, to its dashboard controls and seats, everything indicated that the model was a top-of-the-range Citroën. The on-road handling and compliant ride – inherited from the famous suspension setup of the 2CV – was received positively by customers and the press.
From its creation, in keeping with the Citroën spirit, AMI 6 has been regarded fondly as an original and innovative car. Its die-hard fans continue to maintain a particular interest in the Club versions of the model that came with four headlights and white trim. They were sold from September 1967. The iconic advertising slogan for AMI 6 was “the least expensive comfort mile in the world”.
The turning point for the model came in late 1964, with the arrival of a small estate version with a 320kg payload that was designed by Flaminio Bertoni's assistant, Henri Dargent, as well as Robert Opron, who would become Bertoni's successor after he passed away in 1964. The estate version would go on to boost sales and overtake the saloon in terms of popularity, something that has rarely happened in automotive history.
The design of the estate version offered a great amount of space for a leisure vehicle in this category, along with easy and convenient accessibility. It was a versatile model, providing just as much comfort to a family travelling on a trip, as it would for a professional using the car for business needs. In 1966, AMI 6 was named in France as the nation’s favourite car of the year.
Production of the saloon ended in March 1969, six months before production of the estate ended. The model made way for the new AMI 8 that featured a more conventional rear design. Eventually AMI 8 handed the baton on to Citroën Visa in 1978.