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This guide celebrates the marque of Citroen, a company that has revolutionised the world of the automobile with such classics as the Traction Avant ( 1934 ), the 2CV ( 1949 ) and the DS ( 1955 ).
Citroen 15 Six
Citroen produced its first post-war car in June 1945. This was the Traction Avant, which was largely constructed of parts which had survived the war. The car was available in three versions: the Legere ( or Light ), Normale and 15 Six models. The first two had 1,911cc four-cylinder engines, producing 56bhp at 3,600rpm, while the Six had a 2,867cc six cylinder overhead valve engine, producing 77bhp at 3,800rpm.
The biggest small car in the world, the Duck was first designed in 1936. By 1939, 250 had been built, and it was finally released for mass production in 1949. Its most redeeming features - the roll back roof, the suspension, the removable seats and trouble free engine remained virtually unchanged throughout its life and won the car a legion of fans.
Launched in 1955, the DS was one of the most innovative cars of the post-war period, with such features as a higly aerodynamic line ( the drag coefficient was 0.31 ), front-wheel drive and self-levelling air suspension using a central hydraulic unit that also fed the power-assisted steering, the clutch and the brakes ( front discs ). The original engine had four cylinders with a capacity of 1911cc, developing 75bhp at 4,500rpm. Around 1.5-million examples of the Deesse ( including ID ) were produced between 1955 and 1974.
Citroen had effectively taken over Maserati in 1969 and the Italian company designed a four-cam 2.7-litre V-6 for a new sporting version of the DS called the SM or Citroen Maserati. The letters SM stood for Systeme Maserati in the same way the DS meant Deesse or goddess and this deluxe sporting coupe combined the technical strengths of both companies. A little shorter, but with recognisable family styling it offered 170bhp and a top speed of 142mph.
Citroen D Super
The D series received a major facelift in 1967 with a revision to the frontal treatment of the car. Twin headlights, faired into the wings, replaced the single headlamp styling and, in addition, the driving lights on the DS were coupled to the steering mechanism enabling the car to "see around corners". The new styling gave the car a much bolder appearance and as such won new customers to the marque.
The Citroen GS was released in 1970 to bridge the gap between the 2CV and the DS. Although a middle-of-the-range car, the GS contained many of the gizmos from the DS, such as the air suspension and a braking system with discs all round. Its horizontally opposed, air-cooled, boxer engine ranged from 1015 to 1299cc and in 1974, 847 cars were also built with Wankel twin-rotar 107bhp engines capable of reaching 175km/h (109mph). Around 1.7-million examples of the Citroen GS were produced between 1970 and 1980.