With front-wheel drive production cars now capable of lapping the Nurburgring in less than eight minutes, it’s easy to forget just how far the car has come.
Perhaps that’s why Citroen is using a series of events throughout 2014 to celebrate the Traction Avant’s 80th birthday, as a way of recognising its impact on the widespread development of front-wheel drive designs.
Given the popularity of this setup now, motorists in 2014 may not think this is particularly worth noting, but when the Traction Avant launched in April 1934 it was a radical innovation at a time when almost all cars used rear-wheel drive.
Although the idea itself was nothing new even in the 1930s – the DKW F1 had been mass-produced since 1931 – Citroen claims the Traction Avant set the standard for “handling and road holding” in a front-wheel drive vehicle.
It was also the first time such a layout had been paired in a production car with a monocoque body. The all-steel frame was central in reducing weight and giving the Avant a low centre of gravity.
Combined with revolutionary aerodynamic styling, the Traction Avant proved a popular model for Citroen, with over 759,000 models built during over twenty years of production.
To help commemorate its success, a 1955 Traction Avant Sans Frontieres 11BL will be on show at a number of events across France between now and the end of the year, including appearances in Paris, Le Mans and Lyon.