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.
TYPE 7 C
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
TYPE 15 SIX
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.
TYPE 11 B
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.
Introduced in 1948 and still going strong, this 1961 example is owned by
"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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
DS 19 D…CAPOTABLE
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
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.