French thoroughbreds
history of Citroen
Traction Avant
citroen DS
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CitroŽn history (contd)
by David Owen

Andrť CitroŽn finally learned his lesson, but too late for him at least. His next model, the TA (for Traction Avant, or front wheel drive) was his first real failure - and his last, for it finished him - and yet was ultimately to prove his company's greatest success. It was to stay in production for no less than twenty-three years, resulting in a total of three-quarters of a million cars, and for a whole generation it came to symbolize France in the same way as the Eiffel Tower and the Moulin Rouge. Its users included the police of Superintendent Maigret and the Gestapo of Adolf Hitler, not to mention grateful owners by the hundred thousand. Yet its birth was to swallow Andrť CitroŽn's fortune, destroy his company and finally drive him to his death.

Critical scorn was heaped upon their arrival, but the Traction Avants would keep on coming - for more than two decades. The early versions - 7 A, 7 B, and 7 S - were produced only during 1934. The 7 C, introduced that December, survived until March, 1939, nearly 62,000 units having been built, among them the roadster of 1936, this one owned and restored by Criterion Garages Ltd.

The genesis of the TA idea was perhaps two-fold inspired. First was the front wheel drive, integral chassis-body prototype built by Joseph Ledwinka of Philadelphia's Budd Company in 1931. Second was the fwd prototype conceived a year earlier at Issy-les-Moulineaux by Gabriel Voisin and Andrť LefŤbvre with a 3.2-litre Knight engine, Cotal gearbox and no differential. An ocean separated these independent ventures, but both can be linked to CitroŽn. In 1923 Andrť CitroŽn bought a Budd patent for an all-steel body and adapted it for mass production. Bodies were initially built by Budd in Philadelphia; then after the Budd-assisted setting up of a plant in France and the shipping of the dies, CitroŽn made the stampings itself. Andrť CitroŽn had made several trips to America, visiting Budd apparently each time and though Bill Muller had left Budd by 1931 (for his own front wheel drive Ruxton adventure) he recalled to Automobile Quarterly that Andrť CitroŽn did visit Budd that year. Doubtless he and the CitroŽn officials with him saw the Ledwinka prototype then. However, when it came time for the design of his new car, CitroŽn stayed at home; he hired Andrť LefŤbvre for the project. Production plans for the Voisin prototype had gone awry, and in their wake LefŤbvre had gone away - first to Renault where he found the ambience "stultifying," then to Quai de Javel. He, with associate Maurice Sainturat, came up with the TA. Though inspiration for its parts may have derived from the previous prototypes, the whole was an all-new design. As such, some aborning problems were to be expected. But the TA had more than its share.

In 1935 long distance driver FranÁois Lecot travelled 400,000 kilometers in 400 days in one,
effectively proving a point. The Type 11 Traction Avant would be produced for the next 22 years.
This four-door sedan version is owned by Mrs. Paul Rossigneux.

The trouble was that Andrť CitroŽn was never an enthusiastic driver yet he was far too keen a gambler, in public and in private. Privately, he lost huge piles of his own and his company's fortune across the green baize at Deauville and Monte Carlo; publicly he risked even larger sums on new and unproven ideas, or on buying foreign patents at inflated prices. And this is exactly what happened with the TA. The car was complex enough to begin with: it had a completely new underslung and carefully streamlined body-chassis unit-based on a sheet steel platform to which the body stampings were welded-years ahead of its time, a short stroke 1529 cc overhead valve engine and torsion bar rear suspension, not to mention all the intricacies of front wheel drive.

A Coupť from 1938, built at the CitroŽn Slough (England) works, owned by Fred Annells.

But for Andrť CitroŽn this was not enough. He had fallen in love with the idea of a smooth and efficient automatic transmission, and he wanted to employ a system called the Sensaud de Lavaud, after its inventor. This used a complicated amalgam of awash-plates and hydraulic couplings, and although it performed well enough for Andrť CitroŽn's own gentle, reflective cruising along the avenues of the Bois de Boulogne, it was to prove fatally weak under stress. This in itself may have been curable, but time was running out for Andrť - cash was in short supply, thanks to declining sales of the Rosalies. A run of bad luck at the gaming tables, plus the effects of a long and bitter lockout at the CitroŽn plant in the previous year, when he had tried to introduce cuts in wages to make up for declining orders, added to the difficulties. By the beginning of March 1934, the firm was short of 150 million francs to meet its short-term commitments. CitroŽn tried hard to raise the cash, and in desperation arranged a demonstration of the new 7 cv TA for the interested financiers. All went well until the de Lavaud automatic box fell to pieces before their horrified eyes. Next, CitroŽn tried his own dealers who rallied to the double chevron and finally succeeded in raising the cash between them. But by then the position had become worse, the bills had mounted and the financial crisis was becoming more and more obvious, until finally the public authorities stepped in.

For Andrť CitroŽn, this was the end of the line. Michelin, as CitroŽn's largest creditor, was invited to take over the running of the company, and Andrť himself was pensioned off. His life's work taken from him, he lapsed into unwilling retirement. Inside a year, he fell ill and, lacking the will to resist, he declined quickly. On July 3rd, 1935, he died.

By any standards, Andrť CitroŽn had been a remarkable man. In a sense, his whole life was a gamble: like any successful trailblazer, he needed the faith and the iron nerve to back his own judgment. He took risks in leaving the army to start turning out gearwheels, in switching from gears to munitions and finally to cars. In the progressively more competitive field of mass production he had done well, with every prospect of doing better still with more radical designs and greater experience. But his fatal flaw was in stretching his gambling to the world of the casino as well as that of the marketplace. Here he was switching from a trade he knew to the blind workings of fortune - he threw away all the advantages of his knowledge and skill and experience, choosing instead to rely on the purest of luck. And it failed him in the end. Had he not lost so much of the money he had made during the good years, he could have survived the occasional crisis like the birth of the TA. But once the money had gone, his fate was inevitable. Even had the de Lavaud transmission worked perfectly from the start, his gambling would have gone on, and the next serious crisis would have finished him just as surely.

So Andrť CitroŽn was lost to the company which carried his name - yet his influence still pervades it to a degree unequalled anywhere else. His tradition of progressively more advanced design has been taken still further by his successors. And so has another of his greatest gifts - his astonishing talent for publicity. Long before it became a tried political gambit, CitroŽn had invented the controlled leak. Each new model was preceded by months or even years of the wildest guesses and rumours, fed by carefully obscure quotes from the company. He pioneered test drives for would-be customers, with no less than fifty demonstration Type A's at the 1919 Paris show. He bought the back pages of France's biggest daily papers for CitroŽn announcements, he had the CitroŽn name blazoned on posters and road signs, and etched in lights down the sides of the Eiffel Tower (where Lindbergh was to see it in the distance as proof that Paris was at last in sight), and scrawled in coloured smoke across the sky by intrepid aviators. He loaded his cars with ten-ton weights to prove their strength, dropped them from clifftops to show how they absorbed impacts and photographed the remains, and he sent them on the longest and toughest journeys imaginable. Starting with the first motor crossing of the Sahara desert from Algiers to Timbuctoo in 1922, he used special CitroŽn cars modified with a half-track conversion kit perfected by Adolphe Kegresse, former garage mechanic to the Czar of Russia. The CroisiŤre Noire followed, an eight-month 17,000-mile haul from Colomb-Bechar to Antananarivo, the CroisiŤre Jaune 7500 miles across Asia from Beirut to Peking through the Himalayas, the Gobi desert and a full-scale revolutionary war in China proper; the CroisiŤre Blanche from Chicago to Fort St. John in the Arctic north - and a host of equally hair-raising trips.

Named for its originator Adolphe Kegressev and designed to go wherever and automobile couldn't, the Kegresse served  both military and civilian functions, among the latter the hauling of canal boats, forestry exploration, taking bathers to the beaches at Deauville, and pulling skiers to mountain-tops before the invention of the ski-lift. Kegresse also sent the sturdy vehicles on the most incredible cross-continent journey imaginable. This circa 1929 Kegresse has a replica body by R. Cook and is owned by H.M. Ryman.

Private owners entered into the spirit of things: a hotel keeper from Rochetaillee called Lecot drove a CitroŽn 3-1/2 ton bus with a fanatic long-distance driver called Lamberjack and twelve passengers in the 1934 Monte Carlo Rally without incurring a single penalty point. The following year Lecot started a self-imposed solo marathon from Paris to Monte Carlo and back, time after time, day after day, in a CitroŽn TA. Each night he ate dinner and went to bed in his own hotel, each day he was out on the road again. Month after month he kept on going, taking another Monte Carlo Rally in his stride, and in just over a year he notched up 400,000 kilometres, a record which still stands to him and his unbreakable TA.

Publicity shot in a pastoral setting showed the car off nicely.

From 1932 onwards, CitroŽn had produced his own Almanac - a pocket reference book of facts and figures of interest to every owner. He founded his own insurance company, with special low premiums for CitroŽn owners, and he built up a vast dealer network - 5000 agents, who agreed to deal exclusively in CitroŽns from as early as 1925. Two years earlier, Andrť CitroŽn had set up his own toy factory, producing accurate 1/43rd scale models of his production cars, and two years before that he started his own taxi company in Paris. In 1932 he opened what was then the world's largest servicing depot at Lyon. Ten years earlier, his owner's manual and repair catalogue had established fixed prices for routine operations. Oddly enough, the only publicity area he left alone was motor racing. The company only entered Le Mans once, without finishing, in 1932, and the only CitroŽn to enter the Targa Florio - in 1926 - broke down in the first half of the race. Just about the only real sporting victory in the Andrť CitroŽn years was in the 1930 Morocco Grand Prix, when CitroŽn C 6's came in first, second and third in their class.

Dropping a Traction Avant of a cliff to demonstrate durability under considerable stress.

Yet even now, with Andrť gone from the helm, the company was still very much alive. Chronically short of cash it may have been, but he left it a tight, efficient and still potentially profitable organization, built up by a shrewd mastermind. Back in 1919 General Motors' Alfred P. Sloan had toured France looking for automobile factory bargains. Still uncommitted to the cause of the motorcar, Andrť CitroŽn had shown his interest in being bought out, but Sloan backed down on the grounds that the factory itself was in poor condition, a reason he later used to back out of taking over Austin in England. When Sloan saw what a bargain he had missed, and tried again ten years later, it was still no deal - from the other side. By then, CitroŽn wasn't going to see his beloved company taken over by anybody. And by a sad touch of irony, the man who did take him over in 1934 wanted nothing more than a chance to retire quietly. The tragic figure of Edouard Michelin, still head of the family firm at the age of seventy four, had already retired once three years earlier, handing over to his son Etienne, who was killed in a plane crash a year later. Back went Edouard to the family business. Two years later, his brother Andrť died, and his assistant Pierre Boulanger went to superintend the CitroŽn takeover. Only when his second son Pierre was old enough to take his place was Edouard able to retire for the second time in 1935. And two years later Pierre too was dead, killed in a crash at the wheel of his CitroŽn - the second of a total of four members of the Michelin top brass to die in a CitroŽn since 1936 - and back came Edouard for the third time. His grandson FranÁois was next in line of succession, but he was only able to take over in 1940, leaving the eighty-one-year-old Edouard free to go home at last. Worn out, he was dead in a few short months.

2,000 of the Traction Avant Type 15's were produced from April 1938 to September of 1939.
This one is a sedan.

Perhaps this is one reason why the Michelin takeover made so little difference to CitroŽn. Every car firm has to suffer the loss of its original creator and driving spirit sooner or later. In all too many cases, the originality and freshness of youth declines into running by over-large committees of accountants, or an outright takeover by a competitor who stamps out all the old individuality before adding another company badge to his line of identical models. But Michelin was a creditor, not a competitor - an important distinction - and CitroŽn's continued profitability could do it nothing but good. The executives Michelin put in control were management men, not rival carmakers with ideas of their own to push instead. So in the vital fields of design and marketing, the highly professional team Andrť CitroŽn had built up around him was left free to carry on as before - and free of poor Andrť's extravagances, the company was set for its biggest success so far.

Handsome commercial variations of the Type 11 proved popular.

Shorn of the temperamental de Lavaud transmission, the TA was ready for lift-off at last. Three versions were introduced in May of 1934, the 7 A with a new 1303 cc overhead valve wet-liner four-cylinder engine developing 32 bhp at 3200 rpm, the 7 B with a wide-bore 1529 cc version of the same unit for 35 bhp at 3200 rpm, and the 7 S with a lengthened-stroke version stretched to two litres and 42 bhp at 3800 rpm. And these would be followed by the 1628 cc 36 bhp 7 C. Two optional bodies were offered in addition to the monocoque Berline which was to become as familiar a shape as Porsche's VW Beetle - a two-seater cabriolet and a 2 + 2 convertible. Two months later, the 11 A (1911 cc, 46 bhp at 3800 rpm) emerged with larger bodywork in five-door sedan and nine-seater versions - and after all the chopping and changing of models and types of the previous fifteen years, that was that. Andrť's exotic plans for a V-8 version using two 11 cv blocks at 90 degrees in a range of six special bodies was dropped as the gamble it was after only twenty prototypes had been made, some using Ford V8's as stopgaps. From now on, CitroŽn and Michelin were going all the way with the basic TA. From here on in, it was mass production first, last and all the time, with detail changes only for nearly a quarter of a century.

This sedan of 1952, with velvet upholstery, owned by C.R. Roberts.

When The Autocar subjected the new saloon car to a full road test, they approached it with some curiosity, wondering if CitroŽn had overcome fwd's renowned hill climbing difficulties. They were pleasantly surprised. The Traction Avant easily surmounted the road testers' steepest gradient and could be stopped on the incline and restarted again with no difficulty. The magazine's drivers also enjoyed the car's supple suspension which allowed it "to be driven at amazing speeds over a pot-holed 'surface' that you would take at not more than a cautious 20 mph on the average car." Further, the comfortable machine with its flat floor and leather seats exhibited a sports-car-like stability in turns and its flexibly mounted engine enabled a quiet 50 mph cruising speed. Top speed for the test car was just over 61 mph and though larger models of the Traction Avant could reach 70-75 mph, straight-line speed was never the car's forte.

As the years passed, the new car was the subject of increased refinement. Nineteen thirty five was the year of new universal joints for the drive shafts. Nineteen thirty-six saw new instruments, rack and pinion steering and a modified hood; 1937 a coupť version; 1938 new tires, a higher compression option and the Munich crisis; 1939 a new heater and the start of World War 11; and 1940 a higher compression ratio still and the German occupation of France.

The last production year for a venerable model, the sedan of 1957, owned by Bernie Shaw.

But all bad things come to an end, and that wrenching period safely over, production started again seven years later - 1947 - as if nothing had happened, with the 11 BL Perfo version first shown in 1938. Soon this was joined by the 15 Six D; based on the 15 Six G prototype also shown in 1938, this used the same six-cylinder version of the old 7 S engine, now displacing a full three litres, but this time, for some inscrutable CitroŽn reason, turning to the right instead of the left. After this it was improvements as before: a redesigned interior in 1950, a new dashboard in 1951, a new hood again in 1952. Only in 1953 did something really big happen to the TA: an all-new hydropneumatic suspension on the rear wheels. No one realized it then, but this was a curtain-raiser for the even more exciting CitroŽn DS waiting nervously in the wings.

The TA had been a success all the way: a car that sells, and goes on selling well for twenty-three years has to be good. True, some of the more reactionary customers before the war hadn't liked this front wheel drive idea at all. But the company had catered to them by turning out a version called the UA, which had the engine turned back to front and driving the rear wheels as nature intended. One of these was made for every fifty TA's, just enough to keep flat-earthers happy. The company had also made a diesel-engined variation, most of these sedan bodies with the commercial expediency of double doors at the back.

Yet the end of the war produced a whole new car market way below established sellers like the TA, just as the previous war had done. This need for ultra-small, ultra-cheap austerity transport had to be satisfied, and CitroŽn set out to exploit it as thoroughly and as successfully as had been done twenty-eight years before.

The one-eyed 2 CV prototype of 1936.

The result was the 2 CV, the company's second try at the design-it-differently-and-then-leave-well-enough-alone formula, and for the second time a golden hit. It succeeded because it took the theme of toughness and simplicity much further than anyone else dared to. It was, The Autocar said, "the most original design since the Model T Ford." It was crude to the point of mechanical obscenity, the only car which made Porsche's Beetle seem like a Phantom V Park Ward in refinement and luxury. In fact, the original idea had been summed up by CitroŽn head Pierre Boulanger not long after the Michelin takeover as "an umbrella on four wheels." The first designs had been drawn around a tiny liquid-cooled engine, but a prototype built in 1937 had changed to an air-cooled unit for even greater simplicity.

The war halted all development, and postwar efforts to get the TA back into production held things up until 1948, but by then the buyers were even more ready for a car like the 2 CV. Its horizontally opposed two-cylinder 375 cc engine, hardly overstressed in producing a mere 8 hp at 3500 rpm, was blessed with oversized bearings and the ability to run on the very cheapest gas. Driving the front wheels, this light alloy twin was mounted in an absurdly upright corrugated body-the body was designed, remember, during the occupation and as factory executives feared they might be left with few tools or presses, the 2 CV was geared to be built with a minimum of press tools - hung on sponge soft suspension. Inside was a quartet of factory-canteen steel-tube and canvas seats, removable for load carrying or for the roadside picnics so dear to the French - roof and doors were also removable without affecting the performance. It was cheap to buy and run, yet on the long straights of the Routes Nationales patient drivers would wind it up to respectable speeds at the expense of dentist-drill noise and vibration. And provided you could live with a roll which would have done credit to a Mackay clipper with wind and sea on her quarter, the bump soaking suspension did a remarkably good job of holding the wheels in contact with the road, so there wasn't much need to slow down on the corners either.

2 CV
Introduced in 1948 and still going strong, this 1961 example is owned by Don Runnalls.

"On the road, the car imposes its own tempo, and rolls imperturbably along with a fine disregard for the condition of the road surface," said The Autocar whose road testers achieved 63.2 mpg with the car. They found the 2 CV able to maintain maximum revs - all 3500 rpm of them - without complaint and able to climb any hill, or traverse any terrain, if given enough time. Top speed was 40 mph. "The 2 CV really has to be judged as a new kind of car," they concluded. "It is as functional as a bicycle or a lawn mower and seems designed to serve, as they do, with the minimum of skilled attention." (That attention incidentally was well within the bounds of the home mechanic and all the little car's vitals were, and are, easily reached.)

The 2 CV had little enough riding on it for the engineers to improve on - but they did their best. It had a dramatic fifty percent power boost - all of four brake horsepower - after five years, and a centrifugal clutch and an extra 50 cc twelve months later. In 1956 came higher compression, and in 1958 you could have a staggering 24 bhp by ordering a special model called the Sahara, which produced it by the clever if unusual expedient of a second engine hidden in the trunk. This was the start of the power race in earnest: an extra 1% bhp was added in 1961, and another 4-1/2 bhp two years later. By 1965 power fanatics could order a 3 CV engine using a power unit designed originally for a middle-range model called the Ami 6: an air cooled twin of 602 cc, churning out a full 25 bhp at peak.

One of a number of variations of the popular and practical 2 CV - the truckette.

In all, the 2 CV was destined to become a true cult car. Like the Model T. it had humourous songs written about it and became the butt of cartoonists' jokes. But, today, after more than three decades of production, it has become recognized and accepted for what it is. Doubtlessly, there are many of its owners who could afford a different car - the 2 CV in its most deluxe form costs about $US1200 in Europe - but who would not even consider it. The 2 CV is quite sufficient, thank you, for daily trips, vacations, and occasional around-the-world treks.

2 CV big sister - the Dyane

A companion model to the 2 CV was introduced in 1967. Basically, this was the same mechanical package in an equally homely but slightly more comfortable and more aerodynamic body, this time blessed with a proper name - the Dyane. Even now, engine size of the standard version is only 10 cc's up, at 435 cc, but there is also a 3 CV Ami-engined version with a top speed of 68 mph. Virtually everything else, including the essential character of the beast, is exactly the same as it always has been. An all-purpose gadabout variation called the Méhari - "aptly named after the swift, adaptable steeds of the old Camel Corps" and boasting the first use of an ABS plastic body - debuted during the late Sixties.

Plastic-bodied, all purpose, the gadabout.

The biggest postwar news from CitroŽn came just seven years after the birth of the 2 CV, and just two years before the grand old TA finally gave up the ghost. Again the most unbelievable rumours had been circulating about the new CitroŽn, fed by such clearly significant clues as the new hydropneumatic suspension added to the TA two years before. But when the DS 19 (the letters for "Desirťe Spťciale," the number for its 1.9 litre long stroke four) finally did show, it outdid nearly all predictions: a literally fantastic body shape, skillfully designed by Flaminio Bertoni to produce as little air resistance as possible, hydropneumatic suspension all round, and sophisticated hydraulics for steering the car, stopping it and even lifting it off its hydropneumatic knees, first at one end and then the other (rather like a camel), once you fired the engine.

DS 19

CitroŽn's hydropneumatic suspension, which entirely replaces conventional springs, has at its heart, a belt-driven high-pressure hydraulic pump which among other functions supplies hydraulic fluid to four spherical containers, one at each wheel. The spheres are half-filled with fluid, bisected by a diaphragm, and half-filled with nitrogen gas. Pistons in the fluid half are connected to the suspension link of the adjacent wheel, and pressure within each sphere controls piston movement, which in turn raises or lowers car height independently at each corner. A rod at the center of the car's anti-sway bar connects to the height corrector control valve, and this device regulates the flow of fluid into the spheres, maintaining a static height independent of load or surface factors.

An ID 19 completes a Canadian double transcontinental record, Halifax-Vancouver-Halifax - 7,604 miles in 134 hours 27 minutes.

Bertoni's novel body for the new DS - and later the cheaper and less exotic ID - was possessed of almost limitless innovations ranging far beyond its unmistakable outward appearance. The doors and fenders, for example, are easily removable - indeed the rear fenders must be removed for wheel changes, after the hydropneumatic system has lowered the car onto its special jacking block. And the wheels slip onto splined hubs, being held on with only one bolt. If tire changing isn't ever fun, it's at least interesting on a DS or ID.

Two DS's contest the Monte Carlo Rally in 1967.

Inside, the DS/ID's unique single spoke steering wheel is an important safety feature. It's really the top of the steering column, bent down and away from the driver, designed to yield harmlessly in the event of accidents. The spare tire is mounted diagonally in front of the radiator in another collision defense mechanism, and it doesn't block radiator air flow because the air sweeps in below the bumper. Rear directional signals are placed high at the corners of the rear window where they can never be missed. Later models feature rubber bumper guards affording the same protection as is today mandatory in the United States. All in all, an eminently safe motorcar, especially when these features are combined with CitroŽn's exceptional hydropneumatic handling and good ride. The car "could be hurtled around the corners," said The Autocar, "braked violently, accelerated violently, with nothing untoward happening."

ID 19 F (Break).

Performance, in terms of road scorching acceleration, was never a high point of the DS specification - the hemi four carried over from the TA was giving 0-60 times in the seventeen second range as late as 1960. Still, with the 119 hp DS21, it became the highest powered production car able to provide one mile an hour for every single horsepower. And the DS/ID was a formidable rally competitor. One of the first DSl9's to come off the production line was best-in-class at the 1956 Monte Carlo Rally, and it started a string of victories including first and fourth overall with thirteen CitroŽn finishers at the 1959 Monte, a feat which won CitroŽn the Manufacturer's Cup. Through the Sixties, the cars continually placed high in the LiŤge-Sofia- LiŤge, Alpine Cup, Thousand Lakes, and other international rallies.

Its initials reading "Desirťe Spťciale," its body by Henri Chapron,
this 1964 convertible is owned by Mrs. Paul Rossigneux.

Obviously a design as chock full of innovations as this is here to stay. So in many ways it comes as no surprise to find it still in full production nearly twenty years later. Yet there have been plenty of changes along the way: estates, station wagons, and a "Majestťe" limousine by Henri Chapron; a number of cabriolets by everybody from Chapron to Georg Autenrieth of Darmstadt. Hydraulic gearchanges, centrifugal clutches (these came first with the 1954 2 CV), long range iodine vapour driving lamps linked to the steering so they light your way around bends, fuel injection, and five-speed gearboxes have all been added to the original prescription, and well over a million of the DS/ID range have been made so far.

But the success of the DS carried with it the seeds of another problem. Increasing complexity and rising costs were carrying the car slowly but surely towards the upper end of the market, and the only other really big seller, the 2 CV/Dyane series, was right at the opposite extreme. In between was a very unhealthy gap, right across the biggest and most lucrative part of the whole car market. The 3 CV Ami 6 was too small and too bizarre in its appearance to plug this gap properly - it would be succeeded by the Ami 8 which was just too small supplemented later by the 6 CV Ami Super - and year after year went by with no new model to make the range complete.

DS 21 PALLAS (American model)
The most luxurious of all CitroŽns, the Pallas model,
this 1972 four-door sedan is owned by Lisette Runnalls

During the 1960's, a decade which saw numerous collapses and takeovers, one answer would have been a merger with another company with a successful middle market range of its own. But one consequence of paddling your own canoe in such an individual way for so long, is that you don't take easily to other people's ideas and attitudes. So discussion during the mid-Sixties for an amalgamation with Peugeot foundered - according to Peugeot - because CitroŽn directors insisted on treating the deal as a takeover of Peugeot instead of a merger with it. Peugeot's equally prickly family pride being offended by this, off they went to a research and development agreement with state-owned Renault instead. In the French car industry at least, CitroŽn had been left out in the cold. And for the first time ever, the late Sixties saw the demand for CitroŽn cars beginning to fall. Hard times lay ahead.