Quirky cool 1956 Citroen Traction Avant

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Quirky cool 1956 Citroen Traction Avant | ClassicCars.com Journal
Despite its antique look, Traction Avant pioneered innovative features for the mass market

The French were automotive innovators going back to the very beginning, and Citroen has kept that mantle of forward-looking ingenuity throughout its history. As such, the automaker pioneered some of the most important vehicle developments that still prevail today.

The vast majority of modern passenger cars are front-wheel drive, and essentially every one has unitary construction without a separate frame. But those were remarkable innovations for a mass-produced vehicle in 1934 when Citroen introduced its 7CV, better known as the Traction Avant, which means front-wheel drive in French.

Quirky cool 1956 Citroen Traction Avant | ClassicCars.com Journal
The Traction Avant rides low for a ’50s sedan

Sure, there were a handful of front-drive cars before that, notably those built by Cord, and unibodies also had been done. But with the Traction Avant, Citroen was the first automaker to bring those features to the mass market rather than only to high-end luxury buyers.

The Pick of the Day is a 1956 Citroen 15CV Traction Avant from the model’s last year of production, when it was replaced by the radically aerodynamic DS that became a national symbol of France. The ’56 model was basically still the same low-slung sedan that debuted 22 years earlier, and it seemed quirky and old-fashioned compared with other cars of the mid-1950s.

The Citroen is described by the Chicago dealer advertising the car on ClassicCars.com as very well-maintained by an “avid Citroen enthusiast” who had owned the car since 1977. The CV has been driven regularly, the seller notes. “As it sits, this car is in reliable running and driving order.”

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Quirky cool 1956 Citroen Traction Avant | ClassicCars.com Journal
The simple dashboard looks to be in good shape, though the steering wheel is badly cracked

The body is in decent shape, says the dealer, who details minor imperfections in the ad’s extensive photo array. The simple interior looks pretty grungy, though, and would need some cleanup to be more presentable.

Traction Avants are fun to drive, although the oddly positioned shift mechanism that juts out from the dashboard takes some getting used to.  Just 75 horsepower comes from the 1.9-liter 4-cylinder engine,  although the Citroen is fairly lightweight and can move along at highway speeds.

The Traction Avant remains beloved to those collectors who favor the idiosyncratic cars of France, but still, these Citroens appeal to a very thin slice of the collector car market, and are priced accordingly. The asking price for this one is $19,900.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day

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Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

1 COMMENT

  1. Is this car still available? Or another one like it? My friend Hal has always wanted one. Please reply- thank you!

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