The CC Graveyard Part Five: A Citroen Traction Avant Hiding Amongst Cadillacs

(first posted 9/7/2011)

We’re on the the home stretch on our tour. Now this ’66 or ’67 Falcon is hardly an exotic, but they’ve become surprisingly uncommon on the streets, especially a vinyl-roofed Futura Sports Coupe. Sorry, but I can’t be bothered to look up which this one is, but someone will tell us all too soon. I did shoot a similar vintage Falcon coupe on the street some time ago, and then one day, I missed a nice four-door sedan, which would have made our Aussie/Kiwi friends happy. I may wait to see if I find it again, or just go ahead with the coupe. Moving on…

The caretaker here is not random in what he chose to spare, obviously. Just in front of the later Futura sits a first year version, the ’61. I always had a serious soft spot for ’61 Futuras, with their lovely bucket seats and console. One of my recurring MM cars was this, with the rare four-speed manual (UK Ford sourced), and the six warmed over, Ab Jenkins style, with three side-draft carbs.

Not much left of the Futura’s interior, and that little steering wheel is all wrong. It’s becoming quite organic in there, ahead of the new trends.

That big Caddy coupe looks like it’s been ramming the poor little American in its square butt with the force of its its 472 CID V8.

And what have we here, tucked in between the pickup and another Caddy? A Citroen 11CV Traction Avant, a global milestone car if ever there was one.

The Traction Avant was one of the pioneers of front-wheel drive, arriving in 1934 with a radical unibody construction and a drive train in the front that placed the engine behind the front wheels, and the transmission in front. That was the preferred arrangement for larger fwd cars in the early days, from the glorious racing Millers, the Cord L29, and all the way to the Renault R5 (LeCar), which I think was the last mass-produced car with that arrangement, but someone may correct me on that.

The styling may have looked a bit like the typical thirties cars, but they were deceptively modern and low. Their 60″ height is just an inch more than the 2012 VW Passat. Not surprisingly, they were built, with some evolution and in different variants, (here a Normal behind the shorter-wheelbase Light) for over twenty years, until the equally radical Citroen DS/ID eventually succeeded them. We’ll have to do a full story on them (both) sometime.

The secret to the TA’s lowness to the ground is seen here: no floor.

Here’s the manufacturer’s plate, in case someone can decipher it and tell us what year it is. Speaking of manufacturer, the huge development costs of the TA broke Andre Citroen’s company, and Michelin bought a controlling interest in the ensuing 1934 bankruptcy.

Here’s a picture of the 1911 cc OHV four that powered the 11CV. This same basic engine was carried on into the DS/ID range, because Citroen couldn’t afford to develop a new engine for it. Right behind the fan are the levers for shift linkage, where it connects to the front transmission.

On the other side, the shift linkage is very visible, where it goes into the firewall, and ends up inside in the common French “umbrella handle” shifter. It has a decided “push-pull” feel.

Through the front grille, the transmission is quite visible, protruding below and in front of the radiator. It has a provision for crank-starting, where those weeds got tangled up in its hub. The cremé of the TAs was the 15CV, with a lovely smooth 2.9 L straight six.

Back to Americans; two of them, in their first and second generations. We saw these pictures in yesterday’s Rambler American CC, but we’ll run it again in case someone stumbles on this ten or fifty years from now. Nothing ever gets lost on the internet, unless you make a real effort.

We kind of exhausted this subject, so let’s move on.

This is one of two Fiat 850 Spiders here.

The other one was invited to hang with the T-Birds; what an honor. I’m trying to see the connection, but it’s getting to late to make the right ones.

It’s like Noah’s Ark here; two of everything, including Fairlanes.

There’s a lot more than two Mustangs here. And there’s the Imp (CC here) in case you missed that. And a Ford pickup bed (no CC on that).

Another Z-car, this time a 280Z 2+2. And yes, my initial impulse to call the Falcon a ’67 was right; the grille verifies that.

Need taillights? OK you Clue nerds, start identifying them!

One car is privileged to sit under a roof: a 1938 Pontiac. Maybe it was the caretaker’s own car, or his favorite. I can see why, that particular Pontiac front end is a real gem; it’s always been one of may favorites of the era.

Well, we’re back to where we started, but this time let’s take in these A-Bodies.

And our farewell car is a ’56 Mercury (CC here). Rust in peace! Now to hop that fence again.

In case you want to visit, here’s the address 29329 Airport Road. If you’re coming or going to the Eugene Airport, it’s on the way! And I can tell you the best place to hop the fence.

Return back to Part 1 of the Tour