Off radar

The Fallen Stars
Citroën Karin

Inspired by space to make us dream

Photo credit: Citroen, Wheelsage

It is almost a paradox to say that the extraordinary ability to innovate manifested by Citroën in 1956 when it presented the DS, ended up becoming somewhat of a burden for the French manufacturer. The DS was so far ahead of its time that it even anticipated the shapes that science fiction and space films introduced in the 70s. It is therefore not surprising that in 1980, the company wanted to give a sign of its ability to look ahead by being inspired by space. This was the impression visitors to the Paris Salon had in front of little Karin. Because one of the peculiarities of this concept car that will stand the test of time, was the challenge of presenting an extraordinary automobile that was also very compact in size in order to allow a very large number of potential customers to dream. 

Seeing it like this, it’s hard to imagine that it is a super-compact car

If you consider that in those years, the very fashionable Golf GTI was a few centimetres shorter than four metres, you quickly understand just how compact the Karin was at 3.70 metres in length. A dream made harmonious by the large glass that reduced the size of the roof to an A3 sheet of paper and the very low height from the ground of just 1.075 metres – practically the same as a Lamborghini Countach. As per tradition and just as it had done with the DS, Citröen decided to use a four-cylinder engine while the headlights were derived from those used on the aristocratic SM, to ensure brand consistency. The interior was also designed with a compact car philosophy, with three front seats and the driver in the centre. 

Just 3.70 meters long, the Karin is a dream that ignited the passion of many. But it was never produced

Designed in house under the guidance of Trevor Forst who, following the great fashion of Italian design at the time, had adopted the surname of his Italian mother, Fiore, the Karin occupies a truly significant place in the historical collection of Citröen. Construction was also Italian as the concept was built in Turin by Carrozzeria Coggiola. Among other things, it is useful to know that the French marque preserves all its prototypes, one glance of which, including the contemporary ones, confirms how much distance there is between dream products and those that the laws of industrialization oblige us to make. Come on Citröen, now is perhaps the perfect time to make a new DS inspired by the Karin.

The truncated rear that follows the style of the time highlights the curious shape of the passenger compartment
The three seats with the driving position slightly advanced compared to the others
The interior design is glacial, retro-futuristic with an object that today is normal but back then was extraordinary: a screen instead of the dashboard
In this view from above the Karin seems to fly in space like a dream spaceship