CITROËN TRACTION AVANT – A French classic

Citroën Traction Avant 1

When the Citroën Traction Avant was presented in Paris on 18 April 1934, enthusiasm was boundless – the simple name Traction Avant became a milestone in automotive history. Together with some models of the DKW brand, the Citroën Traction Avant was one of the first front-wheel drive vehicles on the European market. A further innovation for the automotive industry was the self-supporting body, which made it possible to achieve significant weight savings and a low centre of gravity. Due to its excellent driving characteristics, the car was popularly called a “gangster limousine”, as alleged criminals mainly chose the Traction Avant as their getaway car. The Citroën Traction Avant was developed under the direction of André Lefèbeve and Flaminio Bertoni. Jean Daninos, who later laid the foundation for the French car brand Facel Vega, was also involved. The upper middle class car was advertised with “La Traction Avant dompte la force centrifuge” – The Traction Avant tames centrifugal forces.

CITROËN TRACTION AVANT – THE MODELS

The Citroën Traction Avant was the successor to the Citroën Rosalie, which had been produced from 1932 to 1938. The Traction Avant was produced in various versions from 1934 to 1957, including 7A, 7B and later also 11 and 15. The suffix CV – in Germany the Citroën Traction Avant is often referred to as the 11 CV – refers to the fiscal horsepower that was the basis for the vehicle’s taxation. The suffix B indicates the “normal” body shape or length (wheelbase of 3.09 m), BL stands for “Légère” and indicates a wheelbase of 2.91 m. Apart from these two versions the car was also delivered as a Familiale or Commerciale with a wheelbase of 3.27 m. Depending on the wheelbase or the exterior dimensions, the Citroën Traction Avant was available with various body styles, including cabriolets, saloons and coupés, also known as faux cabriolets. After the end of the Second World War, the convertible was no longer produced and the bonnets with side flaps were replaced by more contemporary versions with side slits. In 1952, the body was slightly reworked as part of a facelift, the bumper was straightened, changes were made to the boot area and the top-mounted windscreen wiper was henceforth positioned below the windscreen.

CITROËN TRACTION AVANT – BODY

When buying a Citroën Traction Avant, it is important to take a close look at some of the bodywork areas, as almost every car has known rust spots. If you start your tour of the engine compartment, you should take a closer look at the battery box, the edging of the ventilation flaps and the extension of the sill behind the steering. On the side of the vehicle, the door corners and lower edges as well as the fixings of the door rubbers are known problem areas, the same applies – as in almost every car – to the threshold and floor panels. At the rear of the Citroën Traction Avant, the shock absorbers and fastenings, the lower edge of the boot lid and the boot floor are areas that should be examined more closely. The cost of welding work should not be underestimated, so possible work on the sheet metal should be included in the purchase price.

CITROËN TRACTION AVANT – CONCLUSION

Finding a (pre-war) classic car that can keep up with the latest models is a really difficult task. It is all the more astonishing that the Citroën Traction Avant meets exactly this requirement and is also available at almost moderate prices. Depending on year of construction and condition, the journey starts at around 13,000 Euros. Although the Citroën Traction Avant cost its manufacturer the economic independence at the time – Michelin had to support the company financially because they had overstretched themselves in the development of the Traction Avant – the TA is still a milestone today. Many of the features introduced at that time are still considered standards in car construction today. Just how important the Citroën Traction Avant would become for the automotive industry became clear when its successor was presented: the Citroën DS – the goddess – still stands for timeless modernity like hardly another vehicle. But the Citroën Traction Avant is also a French gem whose fans organise themselves in countless fan clubs and associations. Whether the Citroën Traction Avant – as the advertising slogan promises – really tames the centrifugal forces is debatable, but it is certain that with a Citroën Traction Avant you acquire a piece of automotive history that has lost none of its charm even after almost 80 years.

Text Jan Fröhlich  Photos Classic Trader

Author: Jan Fröhlich

Jan Fröhlich ist Redakteur beim Classic Trader Magazin und begeistert sich leidenschaftlich für klassische Fahrzeuge. Traum-Klassiker: Mercedes Benz 300 SL & Porsche 356 Eigener Klassiker: Velo Solex 3800 von 1968

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