Perhaps the quintessential French van is the Citroen H van, produced from 1947 to 1981, and still a regular sight on the roads and market places of France. But how do you prefer yours? CC has a good history here, but you may prefer one of the following options
Option 1 – as a camper.
I suspect this may be Mr Editor Niedermayer’s choice, but it’s pretty compact for a camper, But, as an alternative to the VW Camper, I suggest it has much to recommend it, largely because of the much lower and flat throughout floor.
Option 2 – with high roof and rear extension.
Ideal for moving large, bulky and light items in flat areas, I suspect.
Option 3 – an ice cream van.
We’re looking here at a modern conversion, owned by a Brit and selling Italian style ice cream on a French market. If you’d had the ice creams, you could well be voting for this one.
Option 4 – the pizza van.
This is not Domino’s. This guy is baking the pizzas in the van, before your eyes and also does a competition standard tarte tatin. The colour choice goes with it too! It doesn’t travel far – from behind the restaurant onto the market place once a week and to the occasional other function, but there’s no mistaking it. And the pizzas are the best I’ve ever had, as well.
Option 5 – an ambulance.
If you overdo on the pizza and ice cream, then call the H van ambulance. I was unable to ascertain if this is the version the Citroen DS type hydropneumatic suspension system, but it certainly would get more attention than most ambulances.
So, which would you choose, and why? Winner gets this seat!
Because of its construction the options are countless.
We called the original van the “Corrugated-Sheet-Van”.
Another option, comfortable transportation for the horses.
Source and more: http://www.peugeotforum.nl/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=12160
…and I have just the garage for it
I’ll take the camper.
The ice cream van. Why? Because with a Brit owner selling Italian style ice cream in France, it neatly represents the multi-culturalism I saw (and enjoyed) all over Western Europe when holidaying there recently. Sadly I don’t recall seeing a single H van though!
In ‘64 I was an office boy in L.A. training for the Olympic Cycling team after work. Supposedly I was saving my money for college but nobody told me racing and saving are not compatible. A nearby used car lot had a Citroen H van, perfect for hauling our bikes to races. I’d visit the lot at night to dream. It was cheap but still way over my budget and I didn’t think about it again until I saw the movie, The Triplets of Belleville, and there was my van, in a starring role as a broom wagon.
So I vote camper van, but nothing fancy. BYO sleeping bag.
Any and all of the above, please… although the high roof cargo version is most appealing to me. I’d love the camper, too, but I’d have to drive pretty far to actually use it, and that probably wouldn’t be too fun. I could get around locally quite alright with it (or any car, really) and there are multiple hardware stores that don’t require highway/interstate travel nearby. How awesome would it be to load one of these up in the Home Depot parking lot?
Just to add another selection, the only H-van I’ve ever seen was working on the street selling coffee. I looked up the company and they’re based out of Pennsylvania as the plates suggest (and they’ve got two H-vans!) – if they drove this thing all the way to Manhattan from there, I’m super impressed. I wish I had been able to stop and get a cup and talk to the owners, but I was running late to something and couldn’t spare the time. Later in the day I encountered it again; this time it was on the move and made an awesome sound echoing off these old buildings and cobblestones. I haven’t seen it again, but I’m not in this area too often. Hopefully it’s still out there working, though!
Picture didn’t work… lemme try resizing like Paul suggested on another article:
I think the vending usage is the most suitable, provided the equipment required is not too heavy, because it is then spending most of its time stationary & presumably not too far from home base. It would obviously work well as a characterful camper in Europe where you rarely need to travel too far at once and don’t need to use freeways/autoroutes.
The website isn’t very user-friendly tonight. So let’s try this again.
The reason that the H vans look the way they do, or like Metroliner or Amfleet railcars, is that in order for sheet metal to have any strength, it must be formed, i.e., it can’t be flat. The Budd Company developed this technique in the teens (1910-19).
Andre Citroen and Edward Budd became friends in the ’20s and Budd revamped Citroen’s production process to incorporate Budd’s all-steel car body production method.
Neatsy keen, jelly bean.
The use of corrugated metal panels was common in aeroplane design in the ’30s.
One of the main engineers responsible for the H-Van was Andre Lefebre, who started his career with Avions Voisin, the worlds first commercial plane manufacturer. Voisin had switched to building cars by the time Lefebre left, but he would have been aware of current aircraft-building practice.
That “high roof and rear extension” version looked to be ideal for camper except being super under-powered for North America life style.
I think any of them would work for me. I’ll just take Sean’s when he is done. Have my money tied up in another money pit right now thank you.
I love this! Having just spent a week in Rome it’s a hard choice between the pizza and the gelato. If the pizza is anything like what we ate in Rome, delizioso! And that goes double for the gelato.
I was in Rome for a week in June, and the pizza was to die for! Normally I find margherita pizza boring, but the one I had at Pompeii was simply divine!
French racing blue, with a white roof and white numbering, like the old racing DS !
Yellow headlights offcourse…
2/3 camper at the front end and 1/3 raceteam support at the end of the cargo-area.
One can only love the H-van !!!
When I was a kid, my dad let me and my friend run around in Paris on our own when he was doing business, cardboard card around your neck withthe hotel’s address but we always got around to the Place de la Republique where the Hotel was nearby.
In one of the streets near the Place, we watched a French guy on a BMW motorcycle with a sidecar with a hughe Alcasian dog in it.
He pulled up next to a Citroen H-van, that also had an Alcatian dog in the passenger seat, the two dogs started to “talk” to eachother and the guy on the motorcycle stayed there politely until the dogs finished their conversation. Both drivers laughing out loud !
Oh Paris in the sixties, you could roam around as a kid, countless Ds’ses and 404 Diesel taxi’s, sometimes you’d see an R8 Gordini or a real Cooper S, we’d always got taxi money to get to the Hotel, and we always choose either a DS or a 404 taxi, the rest for us was not done ! Or we spent the money on toy cars !
Oh, some of the buses had an open platform at the back, our sport was to jump on – of course !
I still got the Beusen et Sordet Simca Ariane I bought there from a vending machine.
Wish I had bought the other cars as well (a DS and a 403 Peugeot)
(Beusen et Sordet made plastic toy cars in 1/32 scale, sober no windows or seats but quite finely detailed)
Lovely article Roger !
Great story and cool photo!
I like the camping van, but I’ve always missed a VW Multivan-like version, perfect for a family in everyday use + short camping trips. Since these are so easibily customizable, I’d just cut larger windows in the back and install the necessary seat for the kids. I bet these are much more fun than a minivan for them!
Just a quick update,
sadly without a photo….
…how about an H van as a champagne bar outside Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill?
And there was one in the entrance of the old Citroen Building in London, now a store from Sir Terence Conran or was it a 2 CV van?
Do you mean this one ?
Wow they made this thing until 1981?
Ice cream van, because it looks like a Pug (dog, not car), which I find both ugly and cute. IMHO, this personality would be perfect for a ice cream van.
I need Peugeot 307cc roof frame shocks