Sunday, August 14, 2016

Bad Influence: 1951 Citroen Traction Avant

An early adopter of front-wheel-drive boringness, the Citroen Traction Avant was a bad influence on the entire auto industry, ultimately being responsible for such atrocities as the GM X-car. Unreasonable accusations and assertions aside, the Traction Avant was straight from the future, like everything Citroen.  Find this 1951 Citroen Traction Avant for sale in San Francisco, CA for $23,000 via craigslist. Tip from FuelTruck

Traction Avant in French means "put the drive traction up front where all the weight is", loosely and elegantly translated. Most of us really dislike cars with uneven weight distribution, especially when it's intentional. But Citroen didn't do it to piss us off, they did it because they were on their game. Start digging a bit and the TA (no, not that kind of T/A) gets interesting pretty quickly. 

First off, the Traction employed unibody construction - remember, this was back in the 30's - well before Rambler started bragging about their gazillion welds and no squeaks (lies). They also used torsion bars and independent suspension when everyone else employed rubber bushings, leaf springs, blocks of wood, servants or what have you. They even offered a hatchback version, a feature which continued to blow the public's collective mind all the way into the Nixon era. All seems right under the hood, though body matched valve covers are worthy of skepticism,

The restoration of the car seems pretty well thought out, with lots of nice extras that improve the car's durability and usability, such as the spray-in sound deadening (note to self - look into this for next project) and forethought to heat treat intake and exhaust manifolds. This last step sounds OCD to me but perhaps they're prone to cracking and could use some grain restructuring. As for the interior - just look at it. From the deco speedometer to the totally guano-crazy dashboard shifter, the Frenchness is everywhere. 

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  1. When Merde happens, press the red button...

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. I would reach for the gear shift and open the windshield glass instead...

  4. And don't forget that these were front mid-engined, as were the ID/DS series that followed. The engine sits completely within the wheelbase, like an AC Cobra. So that comment about weight distribution is not completely accurate.

    1. Yeah, that's a good point. They did try to move the weight back. I couldn't find any F/R numbers on it but let me know if you do.

  5. I've always loved these, but I picture them in black, with a bunch of actors in Gestapo uniforms tumbling out the doors in some old occupied-France WWII movie.


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