Cars

20 Interesting Facts About Citroen

The Citroën, a major French automaker was founded by André Citroën. This company is known for its futuristic design and technological innovations, which makes the company stand out among others. Here are twenty interesting facts about this great company.

1. The founder of Citroën Company, André-Gustave Citroën was born in a well-off Jewish family. His father, Levie Citroën – a rich diamond merchant from Netherlands, wanted him to continue the family business. However, inspired by the works of Jules Verne and the incredible technological feat of Gustave Eiffel, André decided to become an engineer. André became a graduate of the École Polytechnique (Polytechnic University of Paris) in 1900. In 1905, he opened a factory and started the production of gears with a fish-bone structure. Citroën bought the patent for those gears for very little money, leading to the invention that is credited to belong to Citroën: double helical gears. Those gears are also reputed to be the inspiration for the double chevron logo of the Citroën brand.

2. The Citroën factory built armaments for the French Army during the World War I. In 1915, being involved in the World War I, France started to feel the shortage of artillery shells. André Citroën decided to support the French military effort, and took on military equipment production. The factory produced more than 23 million artillery shells throughout the war. In 1919, the Citroën factory started to produce automobiles. The Type A, also known as 10 PS 8/10, became the very first Citroen car.

3. The Citroën Type A was an affordable auto; it was the first European model to use an electric starter and headlights. This vehicle was originally designed for mass production, rather than to be produced in small editions. André Citroën chose the strategy of Henry Ford, which he had a chance to study during his American trip. In fact, Citroën factory was the first in Europe to have used a conveyor car production.

4. Following the initial success of the first model, French company released its next model – Citroën 10 CV, followed by the next one – Citroën 5 CV, a 4-cylinder compact car, capable of traversing unpaved country roads. It came equipped with front and rear elliptic leaf springs, and without a front brake. In 1923, the company introduced the Citroën 300 B 2 Cuddy, an elegant three-man sports car.

Citroën produced a small number of 300 B 2 Cuddy sports cars. This elegant three-man vehicle was a great success; it became extremely popular among French automobile enthusiasts and still has its followers nowadays.

5. André Citroën proved to have been a genius advertiser. Citroën was a keen marketer—he used the Eiffel Tower as the world’s largest advertising sign, as recorded in Guinness World Records. He also sponsored expeditions to Asia (Croisière Jaune), North America, (Croisière Blanche) and Africa (Croisière Noire) intended to demonstrate the potential of motor vehicles equipped with the Kégresse track system. The expeditions were conveyed by scientists and journalists. He is also credited for inventing a lot of modern marketing strategies. For instance, he had started an advertising campaign for his new model six months before it became available for sale. He created a stir and made customers look forward to the release of the vehicle. Test drives, which are extremely popular nowadays, were invented by the founder of Citroën.

6. The Citroën Type C appeared in 1922. It was often nicknamed the “Petit Citron” (little lemon), due to the fact it was only available in yellow at first, as one of the more popular variants. This two-man roadster was also available in cabriolet body style.

1922 was a year of yet another successful advertising campaign for Citroën. During the 7th Paris Motor Show, the pilot hired by Citroën, drew the word ‘Citroen’ in the sky, which stretched for 5 km. The letters faded soon, but such an extraordinary act, no doubt, was not soon to be forgotten.

7. In June 1924, Citroën produced more than 250 vehicles a day. The Javel Plant grew and occupied the entire territory of the 15th arrondissement of Paris. In addition, the company had offices in Belgium, England, Italy, Netherlands, Denmark and Switzerland. Citroën was the first company in Europe and one of the first in the world to adopt a steel car body instead of wooden.

8. Citroën prepared a wide range of S-models for the Paris Motor Show. The Citroën S-line was all about choice and power. Compared to the previous models, the Citroën C4 had an innovative design and a more powerful engine. It was powered by a new 4-cylinder engine, with a maximum speed of 80 km/h. The Citroën C6 was very similar to the C4, but with a more powerful engine – it sported two more cylinders. Indeed, the C6 was a more efficient and more luxurious version of C4. Powered by a 6-cylinder engine, with a maximum speed of 105 km/h, this vehicle was intended for more affluent customers. Both models were offered with a large range of bodies and were popular among customers until 1932.

9. The Citroën Traction Avant is an executive car produced by the French manufacturer Citroën from 1934 to 1957. About 760,000 units were produced. This car pioneered mass production of three revolutionary features that are still in use today: a unitary body with no separate frame, a four-wheel independent suspension, and a front-wheel drive. One of the 6-cylinder versions was produced until 1956. This vehicle became a legend for its outstanding reliability. Probably, the biggest proof of vehicles reliability is a fact, that one can still find active automobile clubs, dedicated to the Citroën Traction Avant which organise motor rallies.

10. The release of the Traction Avant was completely eclipsed by a whole range of models such as 8CV, 10CV, 15CV, which replaced the C4 and C6 in 1932. They received the nickname of “Rosalie” and were famous for establishing several speed records.

11. In 1934, the company began to experience some serious financial difficulties. This was partially due to the global economic crisis, and partially due to several miscalculations of André Citroën. In any case, the situation was critical for the French automaker. In these dare circumstances, in order to avoid bankruptcy, the French government allowed the Michelin – the main creditor of Citroen – to take the company under its full control. André Citroën lost the company he had been building all his life. Such a shock, of course, could not but affect the health of André Citroën, who was in fact deprived of the business of his life. And on July 3, 1935 the great designer Citroën died of stomach ulcer.

12. Despite the death of the founder, military conflicts and financial difficulties, the talented team of engineers from Citroën continued to work on new models. The post-war Europe needed a simple, affordable vehicle, and designers of the French company came up with a just right model. The Citroën 2CV was a front-engine, front-wheel-drive, air-cooled economy car introduced at the 1948 Paris Mondial de l’Automobile (Paris Motor Show). Automobile experts described this model as one of the most influential car designs, on par with Ford Model T and Volkswagen Beetle. It was offered in several body styles, including a 2-door panel van; it was produced until 1990.

13. In 1955, visitors of the Paris Mondial de l’Automobile were stunned by a futuristic design of the Citroën DS. The car was an immediate success, with 80 000 pre-orders from just Paris Motor Show visitors. To complement its futuristic design, the vehicle was packed with a whole bunch of technological innovations, including a hydro pneumatic suspension, a steering assist system and a semiautomatic gearbox. Throughout the years, Citroën released several modifications of DS, including a simplified ID model, a 5-door Safari station wagon, a 2-door convertible and a cabriolet. The Citroën DS could be called the French People Car. It was popular among a wide range of customers, including car enthusiasts. The famous French statesman, general Charles de Gaulle preferred the Citroën DS. The Citroën DS appears in famous Fantomas movies, in a chase sequence between Fantomas and commissaire Juve. Overall, more than one and a half million cars were produced by 1975. The vehicle took a third place on the prestigious Car of the Centaury competition, topped only by Ford Model T and Mini.

14. In 1966, Citroën started a strategic partnership with the German company NSU. This mutually beneficial partnership resulted in creation of a new vehicle, powered by the Wenkel engine. In 1973, the French company started to produce the Citroën GS Birotor, based on the 1970 GS model. Notably, this model used an unusual rotary piston engine, which is still underappreciated.

15. 1974 was an important year in the history of Citroën. Michelin and Peugeot reached an agreement about the merging of two companies, Automobiles Peugeot and Automobiles Citroën. This agreement was made to improve competitiveness of both companies. In 1976 Peugeot Group bought the 89.95% stake in Citroën, creating the PSA holding group, which included Citroen SA and Peugeot SA as separate divisions. Citroën continued to produce cars under its brand, while keeping relative autonomy inside the new holding. The same year company reached an agreement about the production of Citroen in Romania for the East European market.

16. The Citroën CX model was produced by French company from 1974 to 1991. It featured a classical aerodynamic design and a hydro-pneumatic suspension. This model was used as a base for the company’s very first diesel car. Built in 1975, the Citroën CX GTI Turbo could reach a top speed of 220 km/h.

17. The French automaker produced a wide range of diverse models in the ‘80s, including the 1982 Citroen BX, with chassis, designed by famous Italian designer Bertone, the Citroen AX – a compact hatchback, offered in a 3-door and a 5 door version and Citroen XM, a full-sized executive car, powered by gas, diesel or turbodiesel engines.

18. During the ‘90s, the company produced a wide range of different models.
The Citroën ZX, produced during 1991-97 model years, was offered as a 3-door or a 5-door hatchback. The Citroën Xantia, produced from 1993 to 2001, was offered with 11 different engine configurations. Other models included a commercial van Citroën Berlingo, Evasion and Xsara Picasso minivans and Citroën Saxo – the successor of the famous AX line.

19. The Citroën ZX Rallye Raid, a high-performance sports car prototype is famous for winning the popular Dakar Rally four times.

20. Nowadays, Citroën can offer its customers a wide range of models – from hatchbacks, minivans, sedans, and the popular DS line to Nemo and Berlingo vans, comfortable minibuses Jumpy and Jumper, and even commercial trucks. There is no doubt that French automaker improved its sales and financial stability. However, this success came at the cost of exclusivity and innovation, prevalent during the times of André-Gustave Citroën. At present, the company is hardly distinguishable from other major European automobile brands. While being a typical European automaker is not necessary a bad thing, the new Citroën is still on its way to its new identity.

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