I came across this food truck at the corner of W. Adams Street and S. Wacker Drive in Chicago a few weeks ago and had to take a picture of probably one of the best preserved (or restored) H-vans that I have ever seen.
Converted into a mobile donut shop it still has its presumably original French license plate on the front. The “28” on the plate places it from the Chartres area in the Central Loire Valley, around 60 miles from Paris. These were built from 1947 all the way until 1981 in both France and Belgium. It’s a long way from its home, in more ways than one…
Beautifully done! I’d love to talk to the owner about it, why they chose that particular vehicle, whether they imported it specifically for that purpose or if it was already here!
Also, how were the donuts? 🙂
They are very popular for trendy “food trucks” in the UK, but obviously that’s a bit closer to France.
Usually there are at least one or two on ebay UK, freshly imported, and I know there is at least one dealer in the USA scouring France for them and bringing them over. They offer them restored, unrestored, and even offer turnkey food truck conversions.
Walk up to Cambridge railway station and you see 3 of them as sited non running food trucks on”bomb site” cafes. I bet the proprietors paid stupied money as their “shabby chec!
There are at least 3 of these, selling street food and beauty creams, in the shopping area of Copenhagen airport, which is very stylish, very chic and very pricey, Scandinavian-style (all things the H-van definitely wasn’t back in its day. Which is quite ironic when you think of it).
I’m not sure, but I think I’ve seen this truck featured somewhere/before this. Maybe on a “recent” PBS documentary about donuts or breakfast?
A neat interpretation of the idea of a box for hauling other, smaller boxes.
Picturesque French slang for the H van is “Nez de Cochon,” or “Pig Nose.”
I like the one for white-uniformed Austrian infantry during the Napoleonic Wars: “Les soldats à la crème.” British were “Les Goddams,” evidently due to their frequent use of the word.
Pig Nose was the nickname of another truck of those days. It was the Peugeot D3/D4, a truck first built by Chenard & Walcker, but without the “nose”. When Peugeot took over the production, they installed the engine from the 203, which was longer and required the protruding nose that gave its nickname.
Let me guess…it’s running a small block Chevy?
Cute. That would be easier to maintain than the longitudinal Traction Avant driveline (thus freeing up time for donut making), but I have to wonder how an SBC would fit; there are no recent American counterparts to the Citroën arrangement. Buick 3800 is best I can think of.
There’s one of these permanently parked in Chelsea in Manhattan too. So not the only one in the country. I wonder too how/why they got here. Very, very distinctive looking vans…
I saw this H-van in SoHo a few years ago, same one??
What are the odds there are two? Lol. Although I swear the Chelsea one was gray, but it was late at night… It was parked inside this lot, next to a restaurant? It almost feels like I dreamt it but it does exist.
There’s also a guy who parks his Citroen CX not far from there… Up around 27th and 9th.
Just saw this one in Jersey City on Wednesday. A Coffee truck right across from the Path station.
sorry, here is the van.
The unique body layout of this front wheel drive van, is what makes them so ideal for food trucks, and so widely used in that role. The whole rear section is a stressed skin box, with a strong double skinned floor, no chassis rails below it, and the independently sprung rear wheels (effectively) outside the box. This enables the floor level of the load area to be well below the rear hub centres – and so, lots more headroom than in other vans . Also, the whole front ‘power pack’, engine / suspension / etc, can be unbolted and removed, very quickly. All this, in 1947 ! Citroen…… way ahead of its time, as usual .
In spite of a Citroen van showing up in “Mission Impossible” from time to time, I imprinted on a Renault at an early age.
I’ve heard of the Citroen HV Van, but I’ve never seen one in person.
So awesome, Jim! And you got a great shot of it. I saw this Firecakes H-Van at Jackson & Clark just last week. Every time I see it, I start to salivate.
One of these lives around the corner from me. It gets driven regularly. Been meaning to post a picture but get distracted by donk-ey purple Jaguars.
There’s one of these in similar condition used as a flower stall in Balmain, Sydney, Australia. Been there for several years. I’ll post a pic when I return from -er- France, where the only such van I’ve seen (and I’ve been looking!) is left next to a farmhouse, derelict. Quite a few 2cv’s still around, though.
You can see the ambulance version in the movie “Madeline”. Based on the books by Ludwig Bemelmans, Madeline a girl at a Catholic boarding school in Paris gets appendicitis and is taken to a hospital in one accompanied by a nun called Miss Clavel.You can also see a Citroen 2CV, A Vendette, a few Renaults, Pugeots,, Panhards and a Simca,late 40s to early 60s vintage in this movie.
These are seen quite frequently as food vans in the UK.
This 1967 example is outside one of our local pubs regularly.
There is one that serves ice cream on Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth. During the August Bank Holiday weekend, me and my father were more interested in the van than the ice cream. Not sure what year it is, however.
I adore the Citroen H van, and would have one in my dream garage alongside a 2CV.
Also worth a look is the Peugeot J7/J9 range of quirky vans. You have missed the boat if you’ve been hankering after an H van as prices are now usually high, even in France. The Peugeots however are still everywhere and are also great fun – I have one in my neighbour’s barn!
Good alternative. Just like the Renault Estafette. All these vans can only come from France.
More H vans in London. They seem to divide into two types – the immaculate restored and the rusting hulk. These are two of the former in Greenwich.
Why am I suddenly hungry for a French cruller?
was just watching a Wheeler Dealers episode on youtube about one these last week. What a cool machine.
Cool vehicle, but keeping it in parts and service in the US would give me pause, especially for business use.
SWEET ! .
A buddy of mine used to have a movie car rental business and had two of these, one was a battered runner , the other was really tired and had no running gear , last time i saw them they were both in a back yard storage area in the SFV , just about the time his ‘ business partner ‘ bent him over sharply whilst he was in the hospital undergoing surgery .
He lost all but a few of the many odd ball vehicles they had , I wonder where that van is now ? .
I bet driving it is like sitting inside a kettle drum .
I’ve never driven one but I rode quite a bit in our next door neighbour’s when I was a kid and my family lived in Béziers in Southern France (I’m talking about the mid-1970s here). Two seats up front, two homemade side-mounted couches in the back (basically, foam mattresses on wooden frames), and plenty of cargo space for us brats to play. Not a seatbelt in sight of course, and who needed A/C or even side windows when you could ride with the upper back door open. It was like a rolling playground and yes, it WAS like being inside a kettle drum. And great fun!
I saw one at a traffic light on Punt Road in Melbourne a few months ago, it looked like it belonged to a clothing company from memory.
Jim, I posted a comment on an old post of yours from 2013 and since this thread is very recent wanted to know if you get notifications from such old posts. I am wondering if you knew the history of ownership, as it looks, down to the rims like my first car. Just a nutty curiosity and down memory lane, but if you do know, I’d be curious if it was my old beast I drove in the 80’s. Heres the url to your article: https://www.curbsideclassic.com/cars-of-a-lifetime/coal-1972-chevrolet-concours-wagon-american-iron-or-american-icon/#comment-357188