The Citroën Karin is probably the oddest concept car that never made it

It looks like it's come straight from the set of a sci-fi movie.

  • The Citroën Karin was a trapezoidal concept car first seen in 1980
  • It was presented at the Paris Motor Show but never made it to production
  • It was designed by Citroën stylist, Trevor Fiore to ‘the astonished gaze’ of visitors

Published on Nov 21, 2023 at 3:31PM (UTC+4)

Last updated on Nov 22, 2023 at 7:23PM (UTC+4)

Edited by Adam Gray
The Citroën Karin is probably the oddest concept car that never made it

Think you’ve seen it all when it comes to the concept car world? You’ve never seen the Citroën Karin.

The weird but arguably wonderful trapezoidal concept car from the French automobile manufacturer was first seen in 1980.

Presented at the Paris Motor Show, it designed by Citroën stylist, Trevor Fiore.

READ MORE! This Citroen Oli concept is made from cardboard

While modern cars have seemingly vital parts missing, have concealed drones and even move as if they’re alive – the Citroën Karin was groundbreaking for its time.

The striking, pyramid-inspired design first drove onto the scene at the Paris Motor Show in 1980.

And it’s sad it attracted ‘the astonished gaze’ of visitors.

The futuristic, sci-fi design had a very streamlined profile and a seriously low center of gravity.

It was hypothetically specified to be a ‘middle-range’, two-door, butterfly coupé.

The design’s unusual nature is down to its radically straight geometry.

The result is a truncated pyramid that points towards the rear with an extreme tumblehome above passengers.

The roof panel is scaled down to the size of an A3 sheet of paper.

Take a theoretical step inside and you’ll notice that the car was designed around a three-seater interior layout.

The driver sits front and centre – slightly ahead of passengers on either side.

The long steering column allowed the driver to control every aspect without taking their hands off the wheel.

Unprecedented for over 40 years ago but now quasi expected, computers controlled various functions.

Rather than just being for the driver, they were placed near the door-panel handles.

This revealed Fiore’s intention that they were for both driver and passengers.

A pop-up screen on the dashboard looks like something you’d see in modern car models.

However, its rounded shape reminds us that this mini cathode-ray tube screen is strictly retro.

Rather than being for Pac-Man, it was designed to give information about the car and its surroundings.

Its long, horizontal headlamps with triple projectors are reminiscent of the Citroën SM.

Plus the rear resembled the early Lotus Esprit – but it was impossible to confuse the Karin with anything else.

Not actually being drivable meant the Citroën Karin was all style and virtually zero substance.

In other words, it had very little under the hood.

It was driven to where it needed to be at the show but its mechanics remain a mystery.

The name comes (obviously) from the English word ‘car’ and the Italian ‘cara, carina’ – meaning ‘dear’ or ‘darling’.

This international feel was inspired by its Franco-Italian creator, Fiore who was schooled in Britain.

Its flush glass panel partially cover the rear wheels.

That, alongside its earthy-tone finish shows the Citroën Karin took inspiration from Gandini’s Lancia Sibilo.

This idea was simplified to the purer model of the Citroën Karin.

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