This is an original Citroën ZX Rallye Raid, it’s one of the most successful off-road racing vehicles of all time having won a slew of rally raid events and the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallying five times in a row from 1993 to 1997.

The example you see here is powered by a mighty 450 bhp turbocharged inline-four sending power through a 7-speed manual gearbox to all four wheels. The performance of the ZX Rallye Raid was generation ahead of its competition, and it remains highly-influential today.

Fast Facts – The Citroën ZX Rallye Raid

  • As its name suggests, the Citroën ZX Rallye Raid is a vehicle that was built with a single goal in mind – to dominate the highly-competitive world of international rally raid racing.
  • The ZX Rallye Raid was built around a tubular steel spaceframe chassis, which was designed to withstand the punishing terrain of rally raid events. The car’s bodywork was made from lightweight composite materials including Kevlar and carbon fiber.
  • Power was provided by a mid-mounted turbocharged inline-four cylinder engine that sent power through a 7-speed gearbox to all four wheels via self-locking differentials.
  • The ZX Rallye Raid was dominant in every sense of the word, winning 36 of the 42 WRC races it entered, as well as a number of major rally raid victories, and five back-to-back FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallying Championships.

Building The Citroën ZX Rallye Raid

Rather than start with a blank slate when it came time to develop their new rally raid challenger Citroën chose to use many of the lessons learned with the development of the Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 from the world of Group B rally – the only Group B car to win the World Rally Championship twice.

Above Film: This episode from Goodwood Road & Racing features Max Girardo discussing the Citroën ZX Rallye Raid and its importance to the history of both rally raid racing and rally as a whole.

The Citroën ZX Rallye Raid was built around a strong tubular steel spaceframe chassis, which was designed from the outset to handle the brutal terrain of international rally raid events often held in some of the world’s most inhospitible environments.

The car’s bodywork was made from lightweight carbon fiber and Kevlar composite materials similar to those used in Formula 1, contributing to its impressive power-to-weight ratio. The body was styled to resemble the Citroën ZX production automobile, however it was a silhouette racer with no actual parts in common with its road-going sibling.

Powering the ZX Rallye Raid was a mid-mounted, turbocharged inline-four cylinder engine, which produced approximately 300 to 330 bhp at 4,500 rpm depending on the variant.

Engine power is transmitted to all four wheels through a 7-speed manual transmission and a sophisticated four-wheel-drive system consisting of a central Ferguson-type limited slip differential and from there to the self-locking front and rear differentials.

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Image DescriptionThe Citroen ZX Rallye Raid was a common sight in major international rally raid events, both on the sand dunes and on the top step of the podium. Image courtesy of Collecting Cars.

The car was also equipped with long-travel, heavy-duty independent suspension front and rear, with dual large-diameter shock absorbers at all four wheels, anti-roll bars, and with disc brakes. Thanks to its sophisticated suspension the Citroën ZX Rallye Raid was often able to maintain higher speeds over rough terrain which often gave the car an edge over its competitors.

The ZX Rallye Raid made its competitive debut at the 1990 Baja Aragon with two cars on the field, one piloted by the legendary Ari Vatanen with Bruno Berglund, and the other piloted by the equally legendary Jacky Ickx with Christian Tarin. As an indication of things to come, the Citroëns took first and second place in a dominant showing.

The team then went on to win the 1991 Paris – Tripoli – Dakar, followed by a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in the Pharaohs’ Rally of the same year, and then onto the main event – the 1991 Paris-Dakar Rally which Citroën also won.

Ultimately the Citroën ZX Rallye Raid would win the Paris-Dakar Rally a total of four times, as well as those aforementioned five Championship wins in the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallying.

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Image DescriptionThe advanced design of the ZX Rallye Raid was a major technological shift forward for rally raid racing in general, and the car influenced the next generation of vehicle design. Image courtesy of Collecting Cars.

The rapid evolution of the vehicles used in rally raid events had been blistering, the inaugural 1979 Paris-Dakar Rally had been won by a Range Rover, a vehicle with live axles front and back, body-on-frame construction, and a hefty 3.5 liter V8 mounted up front. Compared to the ZX Rallye Raid that would appear just 11 years later it was a dinosaur.

The 1991 Citroën ZX Rallye Raid Shown Here

The car you see here is a rather unusual 1991 Citroën ZX Rallye Raid that was part of the official works team in period, when it was driven by rally royalty like Björn Waldegård, Ari Vatanen, and Timo Salonen. It was used in competition between 1991 and 1993, after which it became an Evo II car.

It was raced in period in the Paris-Dakar Rally, the Paris Moscow Peking Rally, the Dubai Desert Challenge, the Rally of Pharaohs, and the Paris Le Cap.

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Image DescriptionMany of the rally raid events that the ZX Rallye Raid took part in were 10,000 kms long or longer, so the car needed to be fully equipped with fuel, spare wheels, tools, and plenty of fuel to make it through each of the long stages.

After the car was retired from active racing in 1994 it remained with the Citroën Sport team who used it as a development vehicle for the newer and more powerful XU 15 racing engine. Whereas the original engine had been capable of up to 330 bhp this newer power unit could achieve 450 bhp, significantly increasing the speed of the car.

Between 1997 and 2020 this car remained in the official Citroën Heritage collection in Paris, after which time it was sold off into private ownership for the first time.

The car is now being offered for sale out of Galicia, Spain still wearing its period-correct paintwork and stickers, and it’s accompanied by a selection of documents and certificates from Citroën Sport.

It’s being offered for sale now through Collecting Cars, if you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing here. It’s noted that the latest service was carried out a year prior to listing, so a full servicing would likely need to be carried out by the owner before any spirited driving is attempted.

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Images courtesy of Collecting Cars

Published by Ben Branch -