History of Citroen

Citroen imageAndrť CitroŽn was born in 1878. A successful student, he attended the Polytechnical school in Paris and worked for some time with the car company "Mors". In 1905, at the age of 27, he founded his first company, "Andrť CitroŽn & Cie", which was changed to "Sociťtť des Engrenages CitroŽn" (CitroŽn Cog Factory ) in 1913. Also in 1913, CitroŽn founded yet another company to take advantage of a patent he had regarding carburettors. This company was located on the Quai de Javel (today Quai Andrť CitroŽn) in Paris. Early in his career, CitroŽn was impressed by the production methods of Henry Ford, who pioneered the use of the assembly line as early as 1908 for the Ford Model T in the U.S.A. CitroŽn understood that he had to analyse production methods and that he had to divide it into single logical steps in order to calculate the industrial production of an item mathematically.

With the outbreak of World War I, Andrť CitroŽn received a commission, beginning in 1915, to produce 7,500 75mm grenades - good work for a small company. CitroŽn was able to convince the French Ministry of Defence that he could deliver much bigger quantities with industrial production. The company grew rapidly and in 1918 it occupied 80,000 square metres at the Quai de Javel in Paris where, in 1914, there were still garden allotments. 12,000 people were occupied producing grenades. At the peak the output reached 20,000 pieces! The company was very progressive in the social field: a cantine and a kindergarden were present as was a dental clinic. During the war, CitroŽn started thinking about the "days after". He talked about building 1,000 automobiles a day at a price that would enable everyone to own one of his cars.

By 1919, the first CitroŽn auto was produced - the Type A. Equipped with a 4-cylinder engine of 1326 cubic cm (10-fiscal-HP) capacity, it was capable of a top speed of 65km/h. One was able to order six different body styles directly from the factory, this at a time where one got the chassis and the engine from other makers and had it completed by a coachworks of your own choice! Even the spare wheel and the lighting were included in the price of F7,205. From June to December 1919, CitroŽn produced 2,500 cars. In 1920, they had already produced 20,200!

Also in 1920, CitroŽn first tested half-track autos called "Autochenilles" using the patents of Adolphe Kťgresse. In impassable regions they were very useful, and their reliability helped to improve the reputation of CitroŽn as an automobile manufacturer. The half-tracks were not only used by the armed forces, in road-building and agriculture, but also by different post offices, among them the Swiss PTT which equipped their "Autochenilles" with skis at the front.

In 1921, the first CitroŽn Taxis appeared on the streets of Paris. The big news at the Paris Motor Show in October was the 5 hp Type C, a real car for the people with 856 cubic cm engine, 60 km/h top speed, available as a Torpedo with two seats. The car was first available in the summer of 1922 and was sold only in one colour: lemon yellow.

The small car was a real success. In 1924, it was presented as a three-seater. The third seat was in the rear in the middle and the passenger put his feet between the two front seats. This version, named the "TrŤfle" (Clover Leaf) gained a great deal of fame. Up to March 1926, it stayed in production with only minor changes - about 90,000 were built and quite a number still exist today.

After the B12 of 1925, the B14 was introduced in 1927, driven by a 1538 cubic cm engine with 22 true horsepower. It was followed by the C4 in 1929. Also in 1929, the C6 was introduced - the first six cylinder CitroŽn (2442 cubic cm), and the first CitroŽn to reach 100 km/h.

Andrť CitroŽn was very successful in drawing the public's attention with elaborate publicity campaigns. In 1922, airplanes wrote the name "CitroŽn" in the sky over Paris; in 1925 the name "CitroŽn" could have been read on the Eiffel tower: 200,000 lightbulbs were necessary and several kilometers of cabling!

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