As the Memorial Day weekend in the United States began, an updated 1956 Citroen Traction Avant 11B began a journey that will take it from Aulnay-sous-Bois near Paris to Alaska and then down the Pan-American Highway to Ushuaia at the southern tip of Argentina.
The primary driver of the Citroen Terra America Adventure is Fanny Adam, “a curious and determined young entrepreneur,” according to Citroen, which is sponsoring the expedition through its historical arm, L’Aventure Citroën.
“Mindful of the plight of the indigenous population, and eager to meet new people and enjoy unusual journeys, the Doctor of Science (Adam) is setting off on a singular journey that she has chosen to make in a Traction Avant,” Citroen explains in its news release.
“She discovered and fell in love with the car through Gérard d’Aboville, who rowed solo across the Atlantic in 1980 and the Pacific in 1991 and has competed in various rallies, including three Paris-Dakars, one of them on a motorbike. Gérard has been driving a Traction Avant since he was 18. Fanny, his colleague, got the chance to discover the car and borrowed it to compete in a regularity rally and to travel the roads of Europe.”
With Gérard’s help, the car being used has been updated with a reliable engine, more comfortable and also safer seats, and even a heater for the cold temperatures expected in Alaska.
For the drive from Alaska to Los Angeles, Adam will be joined by
Gaëlle Paillart, described by Citroen as “a sportswoman with a passion for traveling and a solid scientific background.”
“Sport travel has become a way of life for her,” the automaker said of Paillart.
Taking Paillart’s place for the trip from Los Angeles through Mexico, Central America and South America, will be Maéva Bardy, a reporter and documentary filmmaker who “regularly participates in scientific expeditions as an on board correspondent.”
One purpose of the expedition is to bring attention to indigenous people encountered during the 40,000-kilometer trip through 14 countries. The car will be shipped by sea from France to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, where Adams and Paillart will begin their drive in July. The trip, to be done in three stages, is scheduled to reach the tip of Argentina in January 2023.
The drive also celebrates the legacy of Andre Citroen, who, among other such adventures, explored the Sahara by automobile.
“Conceived and undertaken by André Citroën from the 1920s onwards, the expeditions bear witness to the importance of the car as a means of exploring the world and bringing people together,” the French company said in its announcement.
“Today we are kicking off a challenge like those organized by André Citroën,” said Stephane Barbat, Citroen’s head of partnership programs. “The Citroën Terra America Adventure has all the ingredients to stir the imagination as much as the Citroën cruises once did.”
“Our organization works to preserve, share and bring to life the fabulous history of Citroën, which has revolutionized the automobile industry since 1919,” added Xavier Crespin, managing director of L’Aventure Peugeot Citroen DS. “We are delighted to support this project with the help of clubs around the world.”
Citroen’s Traction Avant is a legendary vehicle, featuring front-wheel drive, all-steel monocoque architecture, hydraulic brakes and 4-wheel independent suspension.
“Launched in 1934, the Traction Avant’s robustness and mechanical simplicity make it a remarkable rallying car even today, more than 80 years later,” Citroen noted. “In addition, its appeal has grown over the years, in France and around the world.”
“The aesthetic charm of the Traction Avant will be a real asset for the spontaneous and positive contacts it will generate,” Adam was quoted.
“Besides these encounters and their accounts, which they will disseminate widely, the two women will travel on a legendary road, the Pan-American Highway, with its extraordinary sociological, geographical and climatic contrasts,” Citroen said. “They will travel across the sumptuous natural landscapes of the Americas, including the historic sites of the Mayan and Inca civilizations and stunning megalopolises, as well as the peaceful road crossings. The expedition will feature a true parallel between modern civilization and indigenous culture.”
The first phase of the journey (Alaska to Los Angeles) is scheduled from July to September. Mexico and Central America will be covered from January to May 2022 and the trip through South America is scheduled for October 2022 to January 2023.
Citroen owners clubs (L’Amicale Citroen Internationale) will be involved with the drive’s progress and will provide logistical support and local contacts as necessary along the route, and the Traction Avant will be joined by other classic vehicles in sections of the trip.
“As with the Vendée Globe sailing race, enthusiasts will be able to follow the car’s progress live on a map via satellite relay and enjoy an unprecedented immersive experience of the expedition by means of the images, videos and stories sent regularly along the journey,” Citroen added.
To do so, visit the expedition website.