July 20, 2009
Written by Ronan Glon
Here's a car that doesn't get featured amongst these pages very often: a Citroën Traction Avant. Launched in 1934, this was the first front-wheel drive French car. While it was officially called by its engines (7, 11, 15, etc), the drivetrain layout meant that most everyone called - and calls - them Traction Avant, or front wheel drive in French. It also featured a unibody construction.
Its history during WWII is rather ironic, first of all the German army used them for their own missions after France fell in 1940. What they are most remembered for, however, is as the car of choice for the French resistance, most with "FFI" (forces françaises de l'intérieur) painted on the body.
Since there wasn't time after WWII to design a whole new car immediately, car manufacturers dug out what they were producing before the war, in Citroën's case the Traction, keeping the same body but with minor changes throughout the car. In 1954, some models had their rear axle equipped with Citroen's new hydraulic suspension system, a system that would be featured on all four wheels a year later on the Traction's replacement, the mythical DS. Despite its replacement, the Traction soldiered on until production finally ceased in 1957.
I believe this is a 1952/1953 11B, I saw it at a body shop in a small town between Toulon and Marseille. It doesn't appear to have been registered since 1985.