The year was 1934 and duo Andre Lefebvre and Flaminio Bertoni possibly invented the world’s most innovative car of the 20th Century – the Citroen Traction Avant, French for front-wheel drive.
Combining the front-wheel-drive technology with other premium features like an independent wheel suspension with a torsion bar and a floating-power engine with overhead valves, the Citroen Traction made a powerful entrance into the market. Heads were turning for its advanced performance, and the Citroen Traction soon became a fierce competitor against more established front-wheel-drive models like the DKW and Adler.
But the excitement didn’t stop there, Citroen had another surprise up its sleeve. What made the Citroen Traction extra special was its super light body. Focusing primarily on weight reduction, Citroen was the first in the market to build its vehicles using a unitary chassis. The result? A much lighter and more economical ride – a design that forever transformed the automotive industry. You will find a unitary chassis in all modern cars today. Citroen took a leap of faith and nailed it.
However, with great inventions comes significant criticisms as people doubted that light body build was strong enough for the road. A crash test soon proved that the Citroen Traction was roadworthy and so much more. It was nicknamed “Queen of the Road”.
The automotive industry took a hard hit in the 1940 war between Germany and France, which resulted in a shortage of raw materials and petrol.
The last normal year of production for the Citroen Traction was 1939 where 27,473 units of the mighty 11 B-light models were produced. By 1941 the production level had taken a steep decline where only 2,032 units were produced. Production levels for Citroen picked up again in 1945 where the shorter 11 B-light models continue to outsell the 11 B-normal models in France.
Although production declined from 1941 to 1944, the Citroen Traction was in high demand during the war. Over 500 vehicles found their way into military service. Who would have thought that the elegant Citroen Traction was capable of battling through the turmoil of war, but that’s exactly what it did! By now it’s obvious that the Citroen Traction wasn’t just a stylish ride, it was also tough as hell. No wonder why motor enthusiasts like Frank fell head over heels for his very own Traction when he first spotted the remarkable ’48 Citroen Traction at a Tractor Museum in Tasmania.
Joining Frank’s family in 2007, the ’48 Citroen Traction never failed to impress. The vehicle is “remarkable for her time” Frank quoted. This vintage ride is 73 years old, and it can still go up to 90km/hr all day, at 25-27 MPG! Age surely did not hinder its performance, and it’s only fair that its appearance should match. Frank was determined to give his Citroen Traction the makeover of a lifetime. Here began a long restoration journey.
The Citroen Traction’s engine modifications included:
Not only that, the electrical system modifications included:
Through blood, sweat and tears, Frank worked every nut and bolt of his ’48 Citroen Traction, and at last, after 10 years, the restoration was complete! We can imagine Frank popping a champagne bottle while confetti and streamers fall from his garage ceiling as he reveals the show-stopping beauty he had produced.
Even though the reality wasn’t as elaborate as we imagined, this was a big moment for Frank and one he will remember forever. When asked what his favourite memory with his car is, he replied: “that I finished it, a ten-year build.” And rightly so!
Frank’s stunning ’48 Citroen Traction can be spotted at Classic car events where it flaunts its fresh paint job and be admired by motor enthusiasts from around the country! No doubt the ’48 Citroen Traction will make more appearances in future shows once it is safe to do so.