It started in 1934 with the 7 hp, called Traction. With its monocoque body and front-wheel drive, it gave Citroën the image of an avant-garde manufacturer. Rightly so, as these technical solutions were later applied by various manufacturers.
But revolutionary? In fact, as we saw a few weeks ago, Lancia was the first to mass-produce monohulls, starting with the Lambda in 1922. This pushed modernity far and wide with its camshaft engine (technology that Citroën will not arrive until 1970).
Lambda innovations have been incorporated almost universally (starting with Traction) and have profoundly changed the way cars are produced. Because this is what a revolution is: a big step forward that challenges our way of looking at things and leads to profound changes.
However, Traction did not really encourage Citroën’s competitors to change their way of doing things. Also, the double gallon itself only returned to the monocoque structure in 1970!
It was not even the first production car with front-wheel drive: the Cord L-29 (1929), the DKW F1 (1931) and the Audi Front (1932), in particular, preceded it. Not to mention the 1927 Treaty, but it was only produced in dribbles and drums. That said, Traction is the first to combine … traction and monocoque in mass production.
The 2CV? The same story. As brilliant as it is, this little car, which appeared in 1948, only inspired, and still by far, only one rival of Citroën: Renault, with the 4L. The latter recycles the spirit of the 2CV more than anything else, because technically, it owes him nothing. It is rather the creation of Billancourt that has been copied by almost everyone, at least one of its elements: the sealed cooling circuit.
Here, I will attack a car that I love. What fascinates me. And of which I always want to offer a copy: the DS, launched in 1955. Hydropneumatic suspension, hydraulically assisted brakes such as steering and gearshift, aerodynamic body, four independent wheels …
It has certainly altered the notion of the comfort / handling ratio, but it has not been followed at all, except for one detail. Its front disc brakes, which opened in large series (although an obscure American minicar, the Crossley Hotshot, already had them in the late 1940s) have left their mark.
However, elements of its suspension were found in the 1965 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow and the Mercedes in 1975 (450 SEL 6.9). But there it stops.
We also used the revolutionary term for the 1970 GS. But its body is very similar to the Pininfarina Aerodynamic Sedan 1100 concept from 1968. The GS, a remarkable car, let’s be clear, will only inspire … the CX. The competition, again, has preferred to follow its small habits.
Why weren’t Citroën’s solutions followed? Because they were too complex to produce and therefore unprofitable. It has also been worthwhile for the manufacturer to be bought by Peugeot after approaching the total bankruptcy several times.
Dante Giacosa, Fiat’s director of studies, has studied the hydropneumatic suspension well. He concluded that its cost price was unacceptable. Because Giacosa reasoned a lot in terms of costs, to offer the customer modern models but also reliable and affordable.
He really designed a revolutionary car, one that inspired the whole competition: the Autobianchi Primula. In fact, it inaugurated a principle still in force in almost all current traction: the water-cooled transverse engine at the end of the crankshaft whose gearbox is fixed. A simple, space-saving, economical and reliable solution, which you have been thinking about since 1947. In addition, with its tailgate and hinged bench, the Primula laid the foundations of modern compacts. . Since 1964! The Simca 1100 adopted these ideas, adding an independent rear suspension in 1967.
In 1969, the Fiat 128 perfected the formula by combining it with front McPherson struts and a overhead camshaft. Great success, directly inspired the VW Golf! 53 years later, its technical assembly equips all the internal combustion cars in segments B and C (ie also the conformity of the automotive industry).
But Giacosa would not have been allowed to develop these cars without the 1959 Mini, which angered Fiat executives over traction. First in the world with a water-cooled transverse engine, the English car is an absolute milestone in car production because its architecture has become a school, albeit technically too complex.
Revolutionary cars are also found in the United States. The 1907 Ford T, for example, plays a crucial role in history. Because ? By its method of manufacture, in very large series, which drastically reduced production costs, to the point of turning the car into a common object. Unimaginable in front of her!
Lately, it’s the Tesla Model S that has completely turned the car industry upside down. He proved that an electric sedan was not only very usable, thanks to its unprecedented range, but also ultra efficient and very pleasant to drive.
So much so that it has encouraged many countries to rush the electrification of cars through restrictive legislation, as well as outdating them and commercially dominating the thermal references in their segment. Perhaps the most important revolution in the history of the automobile after the Ford T.
Still in the US, the Jeep Wagoneer, in 1962, proved that a 4×4 could offer enough comfort, luxury and performance to be used for tourism. The SUV was born! Today, customers practically swear by these elevated vehicles.
And Citroën? Unfortunately, the brand has entered the ranks completely technically, but in addition, it retains absolutely nothing of its past innovations, except a vague marketing inspiration …