Citroën celebrates 80 years of the Traction Avant

Citroën celebrates 80 years of the Traction Avant

Designed and engineered by Flaminio Bertoni and André Lefèbvre, the Traction Avant was launched in 1934 and represented a ground-breaking development in automotive history. Citroën is celebrating this anniversary with a series of events.


In April 1934 Citroën unveiled the 7A, a car that would go on to make motoring history with a series of revolutionary innovations. The so-called Traction Avant provided the basis for a wide family of models that remained in production until 1957.

1934-57 Citroen Traction Avant

The most prominent feature was the front-wheel-drive (or Traction Avant in French), which set new standards for handling and road holding characteristics.

Citroen Traction Avant - Unibody-chassis (Autocar Handbook,

Another major innovation was the all steel monocoque body, which united into a single unit the frame and body panels, a solution that would become the industry standard over the years.

1934-57 Citroen Traction Avant 1934-57 Citroen Traction Avant

All this, combined with a low center of gravity and honed aerodynamics, made the Traction Avant stand out as a vehicle truly ahead of its times.

Flaminio Bertoni and a scale model of the Citroen Traction AvantThe most important men behind the Traction Avant were engineer André Lefèbvre, who proposed and developed the front-drive layout; designer Flaminio Bertoni, who in the next years would design iconic cars such as the 2CV and the DS; and Edward G. Budd, founder of the Philadelphia-based Budd Company, which developed the unibody construction technology.

The Traction Avant was also the first car design to be created by sculpting rather than based on traditional drawings: it is said that the final design was based on a 1:5 clay scale model sculpted by Bertoni in just one night.

To pay homage to this milestone in automotive history Citroën has now announced the series of celebrating events.

Starting off the year’s celebrations, the Paris based Retromobile show in February featured two Traction Avant 11 Familiale models, dated 1937 and 1957, which were exhibited by La Traction Universelle club, which has more than 1,400 members worldwide.

Then from March to June, a unique Traction Avant is being displayed in the My Citroën Adventure exhibition at the C_42 showcase on the Champs-Elysées in Paris.

1934-57 Citroen Traction Avant

The 1955 Traction Avant Sans Frontières 11BL belongs to the Traction Sans Frontières association, which travels the world taking part in vintage vehicle rallies and events.

1934-57 Citroen Traction AvantThe 1955 Traction Avant Sans Frontières 11BL can also be seen at;

  • Autodrome Heritage Festival, 7 – 8 June, at the legendary Montlhéry track on the outskirts of Paris
  • Eurocitro 2014, 8 – 10 August at the Le Mans racetrack
  • Exhibitions in Orléans, 20 – 21 September & Epoqu’Auto, 7 – 9 November, in Lyon
  • Excursions organised by regional sections of La Traction Universelle club, such as at Roost-Warendin on 31 May – 1 June & at Ferté Vidame on 13 – 14 September – which is expected to be the biggest event of its kind this year, with almost 800 Traction Avants expected to attend.

(Source: Citroën)

Image Gallery

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  1. aflo
    30/4/2014

    It strikes me that, although a significant vehicle, this thing is NO design icon. In fact it really is a goofy looking and very poorly proportioned car.
    There are SO many more elegant vehicles in the history of cars.

    • Cloverleaf
      4/5/2014

      That’s questionable.
      The main oddity is the very long hood and wheelbase, a consequence of the front-mounted gearbox. I actually like the stance that ensues.

      Other than that, it’s a 1930s sedan – though a pretty sleek one.

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