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Traction 11B 11CV Normale Cabriolet
The Traction Avant is a car that pioneered mass production of three revolutionary features that are still in use today: a unitary body with no separate frame, four wheel independent suspension, and front wheel drive. The vast majority of cars for many decades were similar in conception to the Ford Model T - a body bolted onto a ladder frame which held all the mechanical elements of the car, a solid rear axle that rigidly connected the rear wheels, and rear wheel drive. The Model T school of automobile engineering proved popular, because it was thought to be cheap to build, but it did pose dynamic defects as cars became more capable, and resulted in a heavier car, which is why cars today are more like the Traction Avant than the Model T under the skin.
Citroën commissioned the American Budd Company to create a prototype, which evolved into the 7-horsepower (CV), 32 hp (24 kW) Traction Avant of 1934.
Achieving quick development of the Traction Avant, tearing down and rebuilding the factory (in five months), and the extensive marketing efforts were investments that were too costly for Citroën to do all at once, causing the financial ruin of the company. In December 1934, despite the assistance of the Michelin company, Citroën filed for bankruptcy. Within the month, Michelin, already the car manufacturer's largest creditor, became its principal shareholder. Fortunately for Michelin, the technologically advanced Traction Avant met with market acceptance, and the basic philosophy of cutting edge technology used as a differentiator continued until the late 1990s. Pierre Michelin became the chairman of Citroën. Pierre-Jules Boulanger became the vice-president of Citroën and chief of the engineering and design department.
In 1935, founder André Citroën died from stomach cancer.
The original model, was a small saloon on a 2,910 mm (115 in) wheelbase, with a 1,303 cc (79.5 cu in) engine: this model was called the 7A. After just 2 months, with only about 7,000 cars produced, the 7A was succeeded in June 1934 by the 7B which used a higher-power engine of 1,529 cc (93.3 cu in) and provided two windscreen wipers in place of the single wiper on the original production cars).The manufacturer also took the opportunity to make a start on addressing some of the other initial "under the skin" teething problems.
By September 1934 15,620 7Bs had been produced before it, in turn, was succeeded in October 1934 by the 7C with an even higher-output 1,628 cc (99.3 cu in) engine. The number "7" referred to the French fiscal horsepower rating, or CV of the original car, used to determine annual car tax levels: however, manufacturers did not change the model name every time a change of engine size caused a change in fiscal horsepower, with the result that the 7B's larger engine pushed it into the 9 HP/CV tax band without triggering a change in the number by which the model was identified by Citroën.
Later models were the 11 (launched in November 1934), which had a 1,911 cc (116.6 cu in) four-cylinder engine, and the 15 (launched rather tentatively in June 1938), with a 2,867 cc (175.0 cu in) six. The 11 was an 11 CV, but curiously the 15 was actually in the 16 HP/CV tax band. The 11 was built in two versions, the 11BL ("légère", or "light"), which was the same size as the 7 CV, and the 11B ("Normale", or "normal"), which had a longer wheelbase and wider track.
For 1936, at the 29th Paris Motor Show, in October 1935, various modifications were on show. At the front painted front grilles replaced chrome ones and the headlight covers were restyled. The changes at the back were more practical and involved an opening luggage hatch/lid: it was no longer necessary to clamber over the back seats to get at the luggage space at the rear of the passenger cabin (although the overall size of the luggage locker remained at this stage rather restricted). The opening boot/trunk lid made it necessary to reposition the rear-license plate, previously under most circumstances centrally mounted just above the bumper, and now mounted on the rear-wing on the left side. On the original cars it had been possible to access the fuel tank using capped filler openings on either side, but now the left side fuel filler cap was removed, and filling the fuel tank had to be done using the filler beside the rear wing on the right side.
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