1937 Citroen Traction Avant: J’arrive!

France is famous for a lot of things: fine wine, exquisite art, and cities of great culture and history like Paris, Marseille, and Bordeaux. But when it comes to cars, Italy is definitely the European country in the spotlight.

Still, that doesn’t mean French cars aren’t worth a look. This 1937 Citroen Traction Avant was a highly advanced car for its day, and has more in common with a modern car than you might think.

The Traction Avant was the first car in the world to combine front-wheel drive with a welded steel unibody architecture instead of the traditional body-on-frame method. This method of construction is commonplace today, but it was groundbreaking back in the 1930s.

The compact little Citroen also had a pretty sophisticated suspension. At a time when most vehicles had a live axle and leaf springs, the Traction Avant had an independent front suspension and a torsion beam.

I ran across this car on a recent trip to Globe, Arizona, which is about two hours southeast of Phoenix. The last thing I expected to see in this small mining town was a pre-war French automobile parked on the street!

The car appears to be missing its front and rear bumpers, but in spite of that I’d say it appears to be in pretty good shape for being 76 years old! Citroen built about 760,000 of these vehicles between 1934 and 1957. I wonder when this car was imported to the States and how it ended up in Globe. Oh, the stories this car could tell if it could talk…