info thanks to Ateco

The car that pioneered front wheel drive, the drivetrain layout that is
used today by the majority of cars worldwide, celebrates its 70th birthday
on 7 May 2004, the anniversary of the day when Andre CitroŽn personally
handed over the first CitroŽn Traction Avant to its owner.

Like the CitroŽn DS and 2CV that followed it and helical gears invented by
Andre CitroŽn, used in every vehicle on the road today and commemorated by
CitroŽn's double chevron badge, the CitroŽn Traction Avant pioneered new
technology as well as design and styling advances that have had a profound
influence on the automotive industry.

The CitroŽn Traction Avant has also become one of the most loved classic
cars during its 70 year history and its sensual shape, an industrial design
classic, has become inexorably linked to images of France and the French

But it was another Andrť, Andrť LefŤbvre, who persuaded Andrť CitroŽn that
front wheel drive was the way to go. One of France's leading automotive
engineers, LefŤbvre brought his idea of front wheel drive to the attention
of Andre CitroŽn just as he was preparing his new large car, and his
arguments were so convincing that CitroŽn committed his company to produce
the new car in just 18 months from first drawing to first car. This was a
remarkable achievement in itself, not just because the industry standard
was 60 months, but Andrť CitroŽn also clearly understood importance of
cutting development times to reduce costs - something that did not become
any industry wide phenomena until the 1980s.


LefŤbvre was joined by Flaminio Bertoni, a renowned industrial, painter,
sculptor and inventor, who was tasked with producing a shape that would be
as modern and cutting edge as the advanced mechanicals that it clothed. He
produced a design that was one of the first to which the term, then known
only by a few scientists, aerodynamic could be applied. It did away with
many of the styling features of existing cars, such as side steps, and set
the shape of cars to come for the next 30 years. CitroŽn enthusiastically
approved Bertoni's first and only design for the car.

In addition to the front wheel drive system, CitroŽn also developed for the
Traction Avant a new light weight engine, fully independent Torsion Beam
suspension - a system still used today by many front wheel drive cars - and
an advanced braking system.

To maintain the uniquely rapid development process, CitroŽn's Javel factory
was demolished and rebuilt in just five months to house two new 250 metre
production lines with a capacity of 1000 cars per day. Remarkably during
this process CitroŽn continued to build 250 cars a day of its existing

The CitroŽn Traction Avant had an exceptionally long life, staying in
production until 1957 and even including a limited run of V8 versions
towards the end of its life, as well as classic cabriolet version. A total
of 758 948 CitroŽn Traction Avants were produced before its production line
space to another mythical CitroŽn that also set the standard for cars that
followed it: The CitroŽn DS.