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Citroën celebrates centenary with showstoppers

Citroën CX

Citroën will showcase some of its most iconic vehicles at this year’s London Classic Car Show (February 14-17) at ExCel London.

As part of its centenary celebrations, the French automotive brand will display 10 of its most iconic heritage vehicles including a Citroën B12 Taxi, Type H Van and DS, as well as the latest addition to the Citroën range – the new C5 Aircross SUV.

The unique event invites classic car owners, collectors, experts and enthusiasts to see, hear and smell the world’s greatest cars all under one roof.

Alongside Citroën’s centenary exhibition, the show offers an indoor driving runway, which will feature a parade of Citroën models, as well as an opportunity for spectators to see the classic cars up close.

Classic Citroën cars on show

The only surviving example of its kind in the UK and one of the very few left in the world, this 1926 Citroën B12 Taxi was found in 2002 in a chicken shed on a farm just outside Paris. The model was transported to Kent where a complete restoration was undertaken. The B12 was manufactured using mass production technologies, which were still unique to Citroën in the 1920s.

Citroën B12 Taxi

Although criticised at launch on 19 April 1934, the Citroën Traction 7 was the first of the Traction Avant (front-wheel drive) line that eventually ran all the way through to 1957. It was deemed revolutionary for its many innovations, including being the first mass-produced car with a monocoque chassis and the first car in the world to lose the running board, which changed the way you got into a car – rather than ‘mounting’ it, you descended into its cabin. The specific example at the London Classic Car Show was built in 1939 and registered 15 days after the outbreak of the Second World War, making it one of the last cars to leave the factory.

Citroën Traction Avant

The first front-wheel drive van in wide circulation, the Type H launched in 1947 and lasted decades without any major change up until the arrival of the C25 in 1981. It was deemed to have an innovative design for a commercial vehicle of its time and modern vans still take inspiration from its architecture and functional design.

Citroën Type H Van

In 1935, Maison Michelin took over Citroën and proposed a ‘people’s car’ for rural drivers. A national survey was commissioned to determine the right price, speed and capacity – this led to the 2CV in 1948. The 2CV went on to be a hugely successful model with almost four million cars being manufactured until it was phased out in 1990. The model on show will be a 1964 2CV AZAM, which is one of only five of this specification left in the UK.

Its eye-catching ‘drop of water’ design, courtesy of Flaminio Bertoni, caused it to stand out when it was launched at the 1955 Paris Motor Show. This futuristic design earned Citroën DS the nickname the ‘Flying Saucer’. The hydropneumatic suspension combined with power steering gave the car its famous handling that allowed the Citroën DS to ride on only three wheels. In fact, the DS19 of General de Gaulle was able to save the President during the attack of the Petit-Clamart, in spite of its punctured tyres.

Citroen DS

The first French production vehicle with a body created solely out of thermoformed plastic (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene), the Citroën Méhari debuted in 1968. As a result, the car wasn’t susceptible to scrapes, small blows or corrosion and was easy to maintain and entirely spray washable, including the interior. The 1985 example appearing at the London Classic Car Show was first registered in the Netherlands.

Citroën Méhari

In production from 1982 – 1994, the Citroën BX set a new standard for the brand; it’s one of the best-selling Citroën cars of all time and credited with saving the company from bankruptcy during the ‘80s.

Unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in 1970, the SM was the first Citroën to have a five-speed gear box. The model on show was one of 1,500 vehicles that were exported to Italy, which was one of the best export markets for the model.


Launched in the summer of 1974, it was voted Car of The Year in 1975. Famed for its curved windscreen and a boot without a tailgate, it sold nearly 1.2 million units during its 16 years of production. On display will be a 1985 eight-seater Citroën CX Familiales in full ‘Prestige’ specification.

Citroën CX

“2019 is a very special year for Citroën and we’re looking forward to kicking off the centenary celebrations at the London Classic Car Show next month,” said Karl Howkins, Managing Director at Citroën UK.

“We’re bringing together a fantastic collection of iconic models that have resonated with motorists and showcase the brand as it’s developed through the years.”

London Classic Car Show Event Director Bas Bungish added: “We are delighted that Citroën has chosen the London Classic Car Show to mark this key milestone.

“Citroën has shaped the automobile industry over the past 100 years and it will be fascinating to see a selection of these notable cars in one place.”

About Gareth Herincx

Gareth is a versatile journalist, copywriter and digital editor who's worked across the media in newspapers, magazines, TV, teletext, radio and online. After long stints at the BBC, GMTV and ITV, he now specialises in motoring.

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