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SEP 11, 2013

The History of Citroën: Part 1

Over the next few blog posts we’re going to be looking at the history of Citroën, including where and when the company began, and a bit about each if its classic, well loved vehicles. Whether you’re already a Citroën enthusiast or just beginning on your classis car journey, we hope you’ll enjoy taking a look at how this iconic car manufacturer made his mark on the world.

André Citroën was born and educated in Paris in the late 19th century. In 1902 he began manufacturing helical gears; and the double chevron symbol is still the trademark of Citroen cars today. In 1908 André was asked to restructure the Mors company, which resulted in him raising production from 120 to 1200 vehicles per year over a five year period.

During the First World War Citroën was alarmed at the lack of munitions supplies and managed to persuade the military that he could double their total shell production within a year. He imported advanced machinery from the USA, designed and built a new factory, and by 1918 23 million shells per year were being produced by 11,700 workers.

It was in 1915 that Citroën first began thinking about vehicle design. He asked Jules Salomon of the Le Zebre company to provide a design for a simple car for the masses, similar to the way in which Henry Ford had done with the Model T. This early Citroën model was produced until 1927, with several different updates along the way.

The Type A had 10hp and 1327cc, this was then increased to 1452cc for the B2 in 1921, followed by the Type C in 1922 which had 5hp and an 856cc engine. The latter model is best known as the Cloverleaf, and was particularly aimed at women drivers. However the Cloverleaf was dropped in 1926 as it was too expensive to produce. The B10 arrived in 1924 with a completely steel body, followed by the B12 in 1925, with a revised chassis and front wheel brakes.

Citroën opened a factory in Slough in 1926 with the aim of producing the B12 whilst avoiding the purchase tax on imported vehicles. The B14 followed in 1927 with an improved 1539cc engine; this was the last model produced using the original engine design from Jules Salomon of Le Zebre.

Several further models and modernisations were released over the next few years including better engines that gave a smoother drive and could endure longer distance runs. These models continued to be sold up until 1939. Early Citroëns were rear wheel drive, but in 1934 the Traction Avant was introduced as Citroën’s first front wheel drive vehicle. The Avant continued to be produced and sold up until 1957.

Created on 11th September 2013
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