car news

Why this Citroën is known as the ‘car with 100 patents’

April 29, 2024

No ordinary vintage car

To the younger petrolheads among us, it may seem like a perfectly ordinary vintage car from the ’30s and ’40s, but make no mistake: the Traction Avant, also known as the “car with 100 patents,” was a real gamechanger when it first entered the scene. With advanced gadgets ahead of their time at the time, such as front-wheel drive, monocoque construction, hydraulic brakes and individually sprung wheels, it turned the automotive world on its head. Its iconic silhouette and revolutionary performance quickly made the Traction Avant the ultimate symbol of progress.


Citroën set the bar high when, in 1933, it decided to replace their then-current models, the Citroën 8 and 10, with something that would have to far surpass the competition. André Citroën wanted the new car to be brimming with technical gadgets. Consider an all-steel self-supporting body that eliminated the need for the separate chassis, front-wheel drive, an engine with OHVs and interchangeable cylinder liners, hydraulic brakes, suspension via torsion bars and even an automatic transmission, although the latter was not immediately available at launch in 1934 due to time constraints.

Easy to drive

The strikingly low and streamlined design of the Traction Avant immediately attracted attention. Thanks to its compact engine and gearbox arrangement and extremely low center of gravity, the car offered sublime handling for the time. Journalists and drivers were lyrical about the new Citroën: never before has a car felt so safe and easy to drive. The Traction set a new standard in performance, with quick engine response, powerful braking and safety.

760,000 copies

With continuous improvements, such as the introduction of rack and pinion steering in June 1936, the Traction Avant maintained its technological edge throughout a remarkably long career that did not come to an end until July 1957. During its production period, the Traction Avant sold more than 760,000 units, after which it became a beloved collector’s item among car enthusiasts around the world.


In March 1968, barely ten years after the end of production, the first collector’s club dedicated entirely to this model was founded: La Traction Universelle. Today, with more than 1,600 members spread across 17 regional sections in France, it is the largest Traction club in the world. Since the 50th anniversary of the Traction, celebrated at Place de la Concorde and at Le Bourget in 1984, La Traction Universelle has been celebrating every anniversary of this iconic Citroën. This year, the collector’s club welcomes Traction enthusiasts from May 9 to 11 in Auvergne, at the Charade circuit near Clermont-Ferrand. More than a thousand crews have already registered for this event.