Citroën - a car for everyone
André Citroën, a French industrialist, founded Citroën in 1919. During WWI André built armaments for France and once the war was over, it took him a mere four months to produce his first car.
André’s main ambition was to produce a car unlike anything else on the current market - robust, well equipped and cheaper than other brands. For this he used techniques of mass production similar to those which Henry Ford was using in the USA. These methods had never before been seen in Europe, and after just one year, Citroën was producing 100 cars a day. These cars were lighter than others but still of good quality and because they could be produced so quickly, the price was more inviting. What's more, these cars were able to be driven away straight from the factory by those who bought them.
In 1934 Michelin acquired control of the company, having been asked to step in by the French government. Citroën is now owned by Peugeot Citroën, a company that saw the two brands merge in 1976 to avoid bankruptcy.
Citroën in the spotlight
Citroën famously used one of the world's most prestigious landmarks as an advertising space for the brand. From 1925 to 1934, a staggering 9 year period, Citroën rented the Eiffel tower and had its name embellished across it in 250,000 sparkling lights. The Guinness Book of Records has recorded this as the world’s largest advertisement.
Across the years of Citroën’s history, it has succeeded in creating cars which have since become unique classics in the world of motoring. These include the Citroën 2CV, the Citroën Mehari and the DS 23 models.
The Citroën 2CV was a unique car with low costs, an air-cooled engine and was easy to use. Other features of the Citroën 2CV were low fuel consumption with a very long-travel suspension, making this car affordable for the general public.
Another now vintage car from that period was the Citroën Meharis. 144,953 were manufactured between its launch in France in 1968 until 1988, when its fabrication ended. In comparison with the Citroën 2CV, the Citroën Meharis was more specialised for racing and transport purposes, which is why a four-wheel drive version entered the market in 1980.
The Citroën production
The Citroën factory is situated in Aulnay-sous-Bois, just north of Paris. Attached to the factory is Citroën’s ‘Conservatoire’, where about 500 unique Citroën cars, many of which are now considered as classic cars, are displayed for visitors to see. These vehicles span across all eras of Citroën’s production. The car from James Bond, the Citroën 2CV in ‘For Your Eyes Only’, complete with fake bullet holes, can be seen here as well as the car that carried President François Hollande down the Champs-Élysées just after his election in 2012.
Citroëns on Catawiki
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