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Concept Car of the Week: Citroën M35

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Concept Car of the Week: Citroën M35

17 March 2017 | by Karl Smith

Concept Car of the Week: Citroën M35

The Citroën Ami is a French classic – a highly distinctive B-segment supermini sold from 1961 to 1978. The original Ami 6 was characterized by its chunky massing, a reverse raked rear window, and distinctive rectangular headlamps. The Ami 8 was introduced as the successor to the 6 at the Geneva Motor Show in 1969, and though similar, featured a more conventional fastback shape.

Ami6 8

But as the Ami 8 was introduced, Citroën decided to produce a limited run of prototype 8s employing an experimental Wankel engine that was built by Comotor, a joint venture between Citroën and NSU. Like the Chrysler Turbine profiled last week, it was decided to construct a bespoke car around the new engine. The project, both design and manufacturing, was contracted to Heuliez, the French coachbuilder which specialized in limited production runs.

M3506

The car that was wrapped around the experimental Wankel engine was a coupe version of the Ami 8, which came only in four door variants. Although the profile definitely looked like the Ami, there were, in fact, shared few components beyond the front fenders. The fastback that had debuted on the Ami 8 was continued here, but in a more pronounced rake, creating a coupe that was noticeably shorter than the standard car.

M3507

The interior is a four seat configuration, but with a more 2+2 arrangement than the standard sedan, due to the fastback. The steering wheel was a classic Citroën single spoke, with instrumentation and an IP formed of various pieces raided from the parts bin. The front seats reclined just above the waist, a feature that would be carried over to the legendary SM.

M3519

The Wankel on board was a 995cc engine that produced 49bhp with 50ft lbs of torque; it could power the M35 from 0-100km/h in a leisurely 19 seconds (10 seconds faster than a standard Ami 8), and had a top speed of about 140km/h. It was a smooth-running engine; so much so that an audible alarm had to be added to the tachometer to warn when the engine approached the red line of 7000rpm. The chassis included the trademark Citroën hydropneumatic suspension, which assured the stance of the car could vary from tippy-toe pothole jumper to groundscraping low rider.

M3504

Citroën had initially thought to try to conduct the testing program in secret, but it was finally decided that a quiet publicity campaign was the best approach. The original idea had been to build 500 cars and sell them to select Citroën customers. An application had to be submitted, and a potential buyer had to be a loyal Citroën customer, drive 30,000 kilometres a year, and be able to afford the high price of 14,000 Francs, roughly the equivalent of an entry level DS of the time.

M3512

In the end, only 267 of the 500 cars planned were actually built. The new owners were generally pleased with the cars, which were festooned with prominent numbers on their front fenders, and a sign on the rear window that read, “This Citroën M35 prototype fitted with a rotary piston engine is undergoing long term testing at the hands of a Citroën customer.” So even if you were not near the car, passers by could look over the strange little coupe and learn about it from the decals on the car. But like the Chrysler Turbine cars, many owners were stopped in the street and in car parks and interrogated at length.

M3515

Drivers reported smooth and quiet running engines and (relatively) quick acceleration. Others reported gratitude for the larger 43-litre petrol tank, because, as Citroën already knew, fuel economy was poor. Citroën, recognizing the experimental nature of the car, offered a two year warranty on the motor, roadside assistance, and even loan cars if the M35 had a prolonged stay in the repair shop. The shops for their part were asked to file maintenance reports directly to the manufacturer as the cars came in.

M3514

The program ended in 1971, and Citroën deemed it a success. To limit the company’s liability, Citroën offered to buy the cars back from the owners under very favourable terms. Some took the company up on its offer, especially if it meant being in a position to move up to a DS. Others, either out of love for the car, or sensing a collectible in the making, refused the offer. As the result, approximately a third of the production run survived. The number will never be positively known, as Citroën tried to hide the fact that the full 500 production run was not achieved by some ‘creative’ numbering, and some numbers, like Number 1, were repeated.

Today some 100 M35 cars survive although only a very few are in running condition. Most are in private collections, in Citroën’s Conservatoire (including some unused body shells), and one unnumbered car rests in Volkswagen’s Zeithaus museum in Wolfsburg.

M3513

Collectors bemoan the opportunity lost in the program: a limited edition M35 coupe with a standard engine, perhaps supercharged or otherwise modified, and with racing suspension? That would have been a fabulous little road racer. But it was not to be. Citroën was already looking down the road at new cars, and especially to the legendary SM, destined to become the flagship of the Citroën brand in the 1970s.

 

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How To Pronounce Car Brand Names

News Ledge

March 14, 2017

 

It’s subtitled for English speakers, but he goes around finding a native speaker for every car brand. Except for Honda. What the hell Honda? Where are your people? Americans will know our brands like Ford – no self-respecting southerner would get that wrong.

Others like BMW just throw you for a loop. Thanks, but I’ll stick with B-M-W unless I’m in Europe. DS is borderline cheating. I was expecting something random, and it’s actually as it looks.

Citroen and DS

Not every automaker is represented in the video, but Gerard Farré managed to find as many native speakers representing their respective brands as possible.

What about you? How many did you know beforehand? Surprisingly, I was spot on with Citroën. Liberal Arts degree coming through in the clutch. And Italians just make you want to buy their cars.

 

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Go see the Citroen exhibit at the Mullin Automotive Museum

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Go see the Citroen exhibit at the Mullin Automotive Museum

OXNARD, CALIFORNIA, CITROEN CELEBRATION WILL HAVE YOU SAYING 'VIVE LA MARQUE!'

MARCH 6, 2017     Mark vaughn

Gallery: Citroen Photo 1

A little over year from now, Citroen will celebrate its 100th anniversary of building innovative and distinct automobiles, but the Mullin Automotive Museum in Oxnard, California, is getting a jump on the festivities with an all-Citroen exhibit taking up its entire ground floor.

“Citroen: The Man, The Marque, The Mystique” is open now and will run through spring 2018. It features 46 cars -- everything from the very first Citroen automobile ever built, the 1919 Type A, up to a modern 2007 C6 sedan and a 2009 C3 Pluriel. In between are all the significant Citroens up to and including the 2CVTraction Avant and a number of DS models. With the exception of the 2007 C6 and 2009 C3, the exhibit features none of the modern Citroens still selling by the hundreds of thousands in France and around the world. There would simply be too many different models made in the modern era to cram into the relatively small Mullin museum. That is too bad -- there are so many modern Citroens, especially the big luxury sedans, that we will never see here in America. But the Mullin has all the great historical Citroens that made that marque what it is today.

 

1919 Citroen Type A

The 1919 Type A was the first Citroen

 

 

Before we get to that, let’s take a look at the remarkable industrialist Andre-Gustave Citroen. He got his start in industry in 1912 manufacturing enormous double-helical gearsets that used a unique chevron-patter, which became the future car company’s logo. His gearsets were pretty popular, having even been on board the Titanic. In 1913, Citroen took over the Mors car company, where he increased production by a factor of 10. When war broke out the following year, Citroen manufactured munitions, cranking out more than any other maker in France. At its peak, Citroen’s operation produced 50,000 shells a day.

When the war ended, Citroen used his experience at Mors to start making his own cars. He immediately brought innovations no other carmaker in Europe was using. He adopted Henry Ford’s assembly-line techniques, becoming the first mass-producer of automobiles on the continent. Prior to Citroen, cars left their factories as runners only, with no bodies on top. Bodies were made by custom coachbuilders. Citroen produced finished cars you could drive.

He created a dealer network for sales and service; put road signs in place all across France so his customers would know where they were going; and his employees enjoyed medical and dental coverage, a gym and child care at his factories. He used techniques in advertising and marketing that are employed to this day. He more or less invented the building wrap when he had the word “CITROEN” emblazoned in huge, lighted letters on three sides of the Eiffel Tower from 1925 to 1934. To get around punitive import taxes, he built factories in Belgium, Germany, England and Italy. He is rumored to have torn down one factory to modernize it without interfering with production.

Due to mounting debts during the Great Depression, Andre Citroen lost control of his business in 1935. The reins went to Citroen’s biggest creditor, Michelin, which took over operations that year.

All this is celebrated at the Mullin, mostly through the cars Andre Citroen and his successors produced. 

 

1927 5CV Trefle

The 1927 5CV Trefle has three seats

 

 

The exhibit starts with that 1919 Citroen Type A, the first mass-produced car in Europe. It’s not much to look at, but the car industry was just getting started. That the Mullin found one of these and brought it all the way to Oxnard is impressive. Next to that is a 1923 5CV, or Cinq Chevaux, with its own Lalique mascot on the hood -- a crystal figurine of five horses that lights up when the headlights are switched on. There’s also a bright yellow 1927 5CV Trefle with three seats, the third being in the middle behind the front two.

The Traction Avant came along in 1934 with revolutionary (for a production car) unibody construction, front-wheel drive and independent suspension at all four wheels. The exhibit has several examples, from a 1935 7C to Tractions Avant in production close to the end of that famous model’s run in 1955.

The 2CV is also well-represented, with both passenger car and commercial versions. 

 

Citroen Dyane

The Citroen Dyane, like the Ami, was an evolution of the 2CV meant to have a wider appeal to urbanites.

 

 

An evolution of the 2CV was the Ami line of passenger wagons. The museum offers three: a 1964 Ami 6, 1968 Ami 8 and a Dyane. We want the orange one.

But we also want an H van, that most slab-sided of all slab-sided commercial vehicles. The Mullin has a 1973 HY78 set up to sell Champagne. Character oozes from its every rivet. 

 

Citroen DS

Citroen DS

 

 

Perhaps the most French of all the cars in the exhibit is the revolutionary DS. Its hydraulic suspension was unique among passenger cars of the time, and its interior flipped and folded to accept all 15 items of custom luggage shown in a promotional photo that also starred spokes-actress Gina Lollobrigida. On top of that, you’ll see several unique DS models with bodies customized by Henri Chapron.

A couple examples of the Citroen SM are on hand, too, including a pristine example owned by Art Center chairman of transportation design Stewart Reed.

Citroen the man may have passed away in 1935, but his cars and his penchant for innovation live on. Come and see the Mullin exhibit. Semi-private tours are available Tuesdays and Thursdays. The museum is open to the public on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month. Advance ticket purchases are encouraged through the museum’s website or by calling 805-385-5400. We got a tour by docent Rick Erbst and had a splendid time, but other experts will be happy to show you around, too.

"Citroen is a marque that has always appealed to me on some level," said Peter Mullin, founder and CEO of the museum bearing his name. "The way the company set about designing its often odd but always stunning vehicles, packing them with wildly innovative technologies, is fascinating to me. I'm so pleased that we are able to share these incredible vehicles with the public who may not have ever seen them in person, and I hope we're able to create a new legion of Citroen devotees."

Bon anniversaire, Citroen! 

 

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The Weird and Wonderful Citroën That Still Captivates, 60 Years On

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THE WEIRD AND WONDERFUL CITROËN THAT STILL CAPTIVATES, 60 YEARS ON

CITROËN IS THE automotive equivalent of the platypus: bizarre, delightful, innovative, and, if not inimitable, never imitated.

Until World War II, the French automaker enjoyed a reputation for innovative, but thoroughly mainstream, automobiles. It gave Europe its first truly affordable car, the Type A, and popularized front-wheel drive with the Traction Avant. It wasn’t until after the war that Citroen got weird and gave the world the wonderful DS.

The car astounded audiences at its debut in 1955 with its sleek styling, pivoting headlights, beguiling hydraulic suspension, and single-spoke steering wheel, among other things. Futuristic design proved timeless as well as lucrative: Citroën received more than 700 orders within 15 minutes of the debut, and more than 12,000 by the end of the day. It kept building the car—now an unquestioned classic—until 1975.

The DS—pronounced in French as déesse, the word for goddess—even caught the eye of French philosopher Roland Barthes. “The Déesse is first of all a new Nautilus,” he wrote in his 1957 book Mythologies—inspired more by science fiction than reality.

And like the great works of Jules Verne, the DS remains influential, but more as muse than model. No one’s making nitrogen-infused hydropneumatic suspensions anymore, and the brake pedal hasn’t given way to Citroën’s floor-mounted, mushroom-shaped plastic button. Yet the car continues to inspire.

“It really challenges your perception of what proportion is and how you make a customer feel as though they have something which is comfortable, fast, reliable,” says Marek Reichman, lead designer at Aston Martin. “It did so many things in terms of technology as well, whether that’s the hydro-elastics, the suspension system, the electronics in the car, the interface, none of those had been seen before. And you put all of that into this body which literally looks as though it’s a UFO.”

To celebrate the French automaker, the Mullin Automotive Museum in Oxnard, California, has gathered 46 Citroëns, from the very early models to the most modern, including the curvy, floaty 2009 C6 executive sedan. “Citroën is a marque that has always appealed to me on some level,” says Peter Mullin, founder of the museum. “The way in which the company set about designing its often odd but always stunning vehicles, packing them with wildly innovative technologies, is fascinating.”

Although Citroën pulled out of the US decades ago, it’s still quirkin’ on the continent. At this month’s Geneva auto show, it will show the C-Aircross Concept, a small SUV with suicide doors, “3-D” rear lights, and an interior design in which everything seems to float. The signature single spoke steering wheel is still there, nearly a century on, showing that although the brand has had to go more mainstream to survive, some things will (hopefully) never change.

 

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Remember the Citroen 2CV? This one crossed the Sahara twice in the late 1960s and is now valued at £65,000

This is Money

By ROB HULL     23 February 2017

Remember the Citroen 2CV? This one crossed the Sahara twice in the late 1960s and is now valued at £65,000

  • One of 100 remaining twin-engined, four-wheel-drive 2CV 'Sahara' models
  • First owner drove 1964 Citroen from Nigeria to the UK and back to dodge the Civil War in Africa
  • Original owner shipped the car back to the UK in 1981 with intention to restore it
  • Some 31 years later, the cars was returned to original condition - and now it could be yours


The Citroen 2CV started from humble beginnings. The name stood for 'deux chevaux-vapeur', meaning two horsepower, something which it essentially replaced in 1940s agricultural France.

Over 42 years of production, some 3.8 million were made - as well as 1.2 million 'Fourgonnette' 2CV delivery vans. In other words, they were not rare.

But as 2CVs have slowly rusted out of existence, well-maintained examples are starting to become more and more collectible. Some more than others, it seems. 

This limited-run Safari model is expected to sell in the UK for between - brace yourselves - £60,000 and £65,000 when it goes under the hammer.

There are pictures provided with the sale of the car as it was in Africa in the late 60s
A full restoration in 2012 has returned it to its original glory
 SLIDE ME 

Then and now: There are pictures provided with the sale of the car, showing it as it was in Africa in the late 60s and as it is today fully restored

What makes this particular derivative special is the fact it's one of very few made with four wheel drive... and an engine powering each axle.

Just 694 Sahara 4x4 2CVs were built, this one being number 657 of the limited edition.

Featuring one engine to power the front wheels and a second to drive the rear, each produced a fairly tiddly 12bhp. Each engine had a separate ignition, meaning it could be driven by the front wheels alone or just the rear if desired.

The combined 24bhp output was good enough for a top speed of 65mph, though it could do around 40mph using just one of the motors. 

It also featured twin fuel tanks located beneath the front seats (hence the filler caps in each of the front doors) to supply each engine and countless other modifications to enable the cars to be used in the French colonies in Northern Africa.

And that's exactly where this one ended up, being delivered to Nigeria in 1965.

But the first owner wasn't a monsieur; an English anthropologist working for a university hospital was the first registered keeper. 

While conducting federal government research in the country, he used it to travel between remote villages across harsh terrains, charming the locals with the cutesy Citroen rather than turning up in an intimidating Land Rover.

Small car, big value expectations: Classic Car Auctions believes this extremely rare 1965 Citroen 2CV will sell for between £60,000 and £65,000

Small car, big value expectations: Classic Car Auctions believes this extremely rare 1965 Citroen 2CV will sell for between £60,000 and £65,000

This particular model is the Sahara 4x4 - a twin-engined version with four-wheel-drive

This particular model is the Sahara 4x4 - a twin-engined version with four-wheel-drive

There's an engine in the front (pictured) powering the front wheels and one in the back providing the power to the rear

There's an engine in the front (pictured) powering the front wheels and one in the back providing the power to the rear

According to Classic Car Auctions, who will be selling the car next month at the NEC in Birmingham, the owner drove it 1,000 miles across the Sahara desert on return to the UK to escape the Civil War that broke out in 1967.

Two years later, he headed back to Nigeria via the unrelenting desert in the car for the return leg - a phenomenal effort by man and machine in the late 60s.

It was sold to a second owner in the 1970, a doctor working at the same Ahmadu Bello University Hospital the Briton had originally been working at.

Twin ignition means you have to start the front and rear engines separately 

Twin ignition means you have to start the front and rear engines separately 

Just 694 Citroen 2CV Saharas were built - this one is number 657. CCA believes just 100 remain in existence and just 30 of those are runners

Just 694 Citroen 2CV Saharas were built - this one is number 657. CCA believes just 100 remain in existence and just 30 of those are runners

Believe it or not from the incredible condition the car is in now, but this one has trekked across the Sahara twice for a 2,000 return trip from Nigeria to the UK in the late 60s

Believe it or not from the incredible condition the car is in now, but this one has trekked across the Sahara twice for a 2,000 return trip from Nigeria to the UK in the late 60s

Amazingly, in 1980, the original owner was reunited with his trusty four-wheeled French friend during a visit to the country, finding the car in a dilapidated state.

With his bond with the car too strong to let it fall into a state of disrepair, he decided to ship it back to the UK for reconditioning, where it arrived and was registered for British roads in March 1981.

However, due to a lack of spare parts available on the market, the renovations never began and the car was moved on to a new owner (the current one) soon after arriving on UK shores.

Some 31 years later, he subjected the car to a top-to-bottom restoration to return it to the fabulous condition you can see it in today.

Original features were overhauled, like the red seating, removable rear bench, full-length folding roof and both engines.

It wasn't registered in the UK until 1981 when the original owner - a Briton - flew the car back from Africa to have it fully restored

It wasn't registered in the UK until 1981 when the original owner - a Briton - flew the car back from Africa to have it fully restored

The car is sold with all the original paperwork, including the name of the first owner, Mr H.C. Whittle

The car is sold with all the original paperwork, including the name of the first owner, Mr H.C. Whittle

There was a 31 year period between 1981 and 2012 where the car was in the UK in a dilapidated condition. The current vendor had it returned back to its glory with a top-to-bottom rebuild

There was a 31 year period between 1981 and 2012 where the car was in the UK in a dilapidated condition. The current vendor had it returned back to its glory with a top-to-bottom rebuild

The car will be sold at the Classic Car and Restoration Show on April 1 with replacement crankshaft and crankcase halves, the original registration document from Nigeria, several photos of the car during its trip across the Sahara desert, French language 2CV Sahara and period English language 2CV brochure and the owner’s manual - you can't ask for more than that.

Nigel Gough, classic car specialist at CCA, reckons there are less than 100 examples of the 2CV Sahara left in existence, with just 30 of those still in running condition.

'Not only is it a rare 2CV, but also has a unique past and fascinating story, one that will certainly appeal to collectors,' he added.

'With such limited numbers these models are now internationally sought after, and have achieved some seriously high prices at auction. This one will definitely get people talking.' 

 

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Original Beetle sells for more than French snails in Paris sales

Original Beetle sells for more than French snails in Paris sales

 

Auctions Commentary from CCFS Market Analyst Richard Hudson-Evans

Auctions Commentary from CCFS Market Analyst Richard Hudson-Evans

Richard Hudson-Evans

Rare spit rear screen Volkswagen Type 1 Beetle, a mainly one owner and unmolested ‘original’ driven only 77,000 kilometres from new in 1952, flew past a trio of Citroen 2CVs to sell for 58,240 euros (equating to £49,594 including RM Sotheby’s premium) during the three Paris sales, which were not just all about mega-million investment automobiles.

For 118,266 personnes were sufficiently enthusiastic about old motors to pore over more than 500 voitures on display within the 65,000 square metres of Salon Retromobile. For this was where an only 40 kilometres from new 1990 2CV Charleston, a one Citroen dealer owned escargot that had been spared the reality de la route and tucked away for a sunny Friday day in Paris Expo was hammered by Artcurial for 52,200 euros (£44,370 in our now less valuable currency and digitally captured below).

But then the preceding lot, a 2CV Dolly Edition of 1990 vintage from the same Citroen dealership principal with a mere 30k on the odo, had just sold for 41,760 euros (£35,496). While much earlier in the 8 hour marathon drive-past that grossed 34m euros, a 1956 2CV AZ ‘Rallye’ with renewed floorpan and a skid-plate beneath the engine from restoration for historic rallying, which it had never been subjected to, had sold for 31,320 euros (£26,622).

Back in the international isolation of Brexitland however, such heady valuations for very French 2CVs were not being matched. For during Sunday Trading in Somerset within an unglamorous unit on the Royal Bath & West Showground at Shepton Mallet, a 1977 2CV with many panels repaired or replaced, and a new set of seat covers and matching door cards, was sold by Charterhouse for £6600, and a 1985 2CV 6 Charleston with previously galvanised chassis transplant was hammered away to a new Snail Keeper for an even more modest £1210.

Such huge variations highlight the widening differences between two very different cultures and economies on dividing sides of the once Norman, but still English Channel.  It remains to be seen whether much French will be spoken in British auction tents this summer. For to tempt Gallic palates, one of only 100 surviving twin engined, four-wheel drive 1965 Citroen 2CV Saharas comes to auction market at the upcoming Practical Classics Classic Car and Restoration Show at the NEC in Brum. Auctioneers.  Classic Car Auctions estimate that their 4WD 2CV consignment, which has actually crossed the Sahara twice apparently and been the subject of a full body-off resto in the UK in 2012, will cost a Citroen fanatic an air-cooled £60,000-65,000 when it crosses the CCA auction block 1st and 2nd April. Although nothing is certain in this world, of course, or the next.

 

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The Funky French Designs Of Citroen

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The Funky French Designs Of Citroen

By Alex Sobran     February 21, 2017

What does “France” conjure for you? Long bicycle races, the Louvre, baguettes, fries? Chances are it doesn’t bridge together the places in your brain that house cutting-edge technology and automobiles. That is, unless you’re familiar with Citroen.

Called every nice and nasty synonym of quirky, the French carmaker has been praised and maligned for pushing mechanical and aesthetic boundaries for longer than most people can literally remember. Citroen has managed to occupy multiple worlds with their cars; that of the common farmer and of the most discerning aristocrat, and that of our present and of our future.

That might induce some eye-rolling, but the company really was that avant-garde. Take the 2CV for example, of which millions were produced over more than 40 years; it is the perfect embodiment of practical technology for the everyman. Designed as an alternative to the horse to drive over the less than pristine French roads post-WWII, Citroen’s president at the time, Pierre Boulanger, ensured that the initial cars would go first to those who required efficient transportation over said roads; country doctors, bakers, electricians, midwives, and other traveling workers had cars sold to them first as a result of this directive. Truly this was a car that offered revolutionary advancements in travel for the masses. Including the many variants of the base car, almost 9 million units were produced between 1948 and 1991.

The 2CV was certainly not the first car from Citroen to make a statement though. The Traction Avants before it might not have brought the automobile to the majority, but they did harbor some revolutionary DNA. These cars had major advantages over their contemporaries in the late 1930s: front-wheel drive (try translating Traction Avant), a unibody construction, and independent suspension on each corner. The low-slung look provided by the unibody made this a popular choice for gangsters of the era, but perhaps they were swayed more by the lighter weight and superior handling offered by the torsion bar setup… who’s to say?

So how did they follow the Traction Avant? Sometimes the best sequel to a paradigm shift is to just, do it again.

Enter the DS, the car that still looks like it belongs in the future. Following its unveiling in 1955 at the Paris Motor Show, 8,000 purchase orders were received on that very day when it was first shown to the world. And for good reason: the DS was the first production car to offer 4-wheel disc brakes, headlights that turned with the wheels and adjusted themselves based on the car’s ride height, and, speaking of changes in height, the DS also pioneered a hydropneumatic suspension system which provides arguably the most comfortable experience one can have in a car. The ability to raise and lower the car was great for adjusting clearance over the road, but it also allowed for another unique feature: the ability to change your tires without a jack. Definitely worth a quick search on YouTube.

The DS was offered in an array of models and trim levels, from the lower-end ID variants, to the Pallas editions that featured extensive luxury options, even all the way up to coach-built rarities like the Henri Chapron Concorde, pictured here in contrasting silver and burgundy, which entailed a new body and redesigned interior for those looking for the highest echelons of exclusivity without straying from what made the DS such a pleasant car to drive.

While the DS undoubtedly had the comfort and style requisite of any respectable grand tourer, the first true GT car from the Gallic brand came to fruition in 1970 with the release of the SM. Citroen had recently purchased financially-troubled Maserati, and went about exercising their engine expertise not long afterward. The SM was the successful product of this union between France and Italy, receiving the innovative hydropneumatic system first introduced in the DS, as well as a V6 motor engineered and built by Maserati. At the time of its release, the SM was the fastest front-wheel-drive car in the world. And to maintain the adequate amount of steering feedback necessary to drive at high speeds for long periods of time, Citroen equipped SMs with an early form of variable power steering; at low speeds the wheel would turn lock-to-lock with much less resistance than it would traveling along the road, making it as easy to park as it was to accurately control at highway speed. 

The cutting-edge styling of the SM really started to embody that adjective; hard lines and distinct angles make up the unique look of the car, which at once harkens back to the DS in the way the car sort of launches up and out from the rearmost corners, and yet carves out its own presence too, never to be considered an update or a “re-imagining.” 

It goes without saying that the interior design of cars that look they way they do on the outside should be equally radical, and the SM does not disappoint once you open the door. The inside features a single spoke steering wheel, scorpion-like ribbed leather seats, and a brushed metal surface atop the center console that provides the backdrop for that too-cool shifter; I had a hard time watching the road instead of that complex chrome cylinder during every gear change.

So the next time someone tells you that France is only good at hoisting white flags, tell them to read a history book, and preferably one with some Citroens. They certainly deserve a place in it.

 

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The largest North American Citroen exhibit ever organized comes to the Mullin Museum

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The largest North American Citroen exhibit ever organized comes to the Mullin Museum

 on Feb 14th, 2017

 

Images courtesy the Mullin Automotive Museum.

Though largely unknown to contemporary consumers in the United States, French automaker Citroen is beloved in much of the world for its innovative designs and unique Gallic sense of style. On March 11, the Mullin Museum in Oxnard, California, will debut an exhibit honoring the brand, and Citroen: The Man, The Marque, The Mystique aims to be “the most comprehensive look at the history of the famed French automaker ever attempted in North America.”

1938 Citroen Traction Avant

1938 Citroen Traction Avant.

Founded by Andre Citroen in 1919, the firm announced its first production car, the Type A, in March of 1919. Like the Ford Model T, the Citroen Type A was designed to be light, rugged, and easily manufactured, making it affordable (or relatively affordable) transportation for the masses in post-World-War-I Europe. While sales were slow in the car’s debut year, by 1920 demand was such that Citroen produced over 20,000 cars, in a factory capable of building 100 vehicles per day.

1952 Citroen 2CV

1952 Citroen 2CV.

In 1934, Citroen introduced the Traction Avant, the first mass-produced automobile to use unibody construction, front-wheel drive and a four-wheel independent suspension. The expense of creating an all-new model, including significant factory changes and an intensive marketing and advertising program, ultimately bankrupted the company, which was acquired by tire manufacturer Michelin, its largest creditor. Compounding the company’s misfortunes, founder Andre Citroen died of stomach cancer in July of 1935.

1973 Citroen DS

1973 Citroen DS.

The firm survived the Second World War, and against direct orders from occupying German forces, its engineers and designers worked in secret on developing a range of vehicles that included the 2CV and the Type H delivery van. Debuting at the Paris Salon in 1948, the 2CV was designed to be inexpensive, versatile and easily repaired, and its softly-sprung suspension made it ideal for traversing rutted dirt roads (and even farmer’s fields). So beloved was the deux chevaux that nearly nine million examples were produced in the 43 years it remained in production.

1974 Citroen SM

1974 Citroen SM.

In 1955, Citroen introduced its next revolutionary automobile, the futuristic DS. Nicknamed the “Goddess” (since DS is pronounced the same as déesse, or goddess, in French), the automobile was available in sedan, wagon and convertible forms, and used an oleopneumatic, self-leveling suspension system to deliver both an exceptional ride and superior handling. The same high-pressure hydraulic system that served the suspension also provided the power steering and power brakes, either simplifying or complicating the car’s engineering, depending upon perspective.

1991 Citroen 2CV

1991 Citroen 2CV.

Citroen: The Man, The Marque, The Mystique will feature 46 of the French automaker’s vehicles, covering a wide range of years and styles. Planned displays include a range of 2CVs (including a two-engine, four-wheel drive Sahara), an HY Van, a Traction Avant Cabriolet, contemporary C6 and C3 Pluriel models and even a selection of Citroens rebodied by French coachbuilder Chapron.

Semi-private tours will be offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and the exhibit is scheduled to run through the spring of 2018. To purchase tickets, or for more information on Citroen: The Man, The Marque, The Mystique, visit MullinAutomotiveMuseum.com.

 

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Rare Factory Pick-Up: 1974 Citroen GS Ready for De-Decorating

February 10, 2017

Rare Factory Pick-Up: 1974 Citroen GS Ready for De-Decorating

This 1974 Citroen GS is believed by its seller to be a low-production, factory-built pick-up variant, though it’s a bit hard to tell underneath all the stick-on tchotchkes and wild paint. The seller says it has just under 26k miles, further claiming that it starts easily, brakes well, and remains fully functional including both electrics and oleopneumatics. Find it here on eBay in Ilkeston, Derbyshire, England for 2,800 GBP (~$3,500 USD today) OBO.

 

Here’s a link to a brief rundown of GS commercial models, hosted by what’s probably the largest, best organized, and most informative Citroen fan site on the internet–check out the prototypes page if you’ve got a few hours to waste. Squinting past all the distractions (whitewalls, wire hubcaps, safari bars around the taillights, MB mudflaps, stick-on landau bars, chrome rub strips, and what looks like a repurposed bathroom railing on the roof to name a few), the car’s lines do look correct for a factory-built pick-up, and the seller says that the B-pillar and bulkhead are constructed in a way that suggests they’ve always been there.

Fortunately, if it does prove to be an authentic factory-built pick-up, removing all of this stuff would take little more than a few screwdrivers and a bit of prying, after which point it’d best be returned to stock–it’d certainly make a fantastic parts runner for an old French car specialist.

 

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