1938 Citroën   Chassis no. See text
Lot 207▲ N
1938 Citroën
Sold for £ 75,000 (US$ 98,229) inc. premium

Lot Details
1938 Citroën   Chassis no. See text 1938 Citroën   Chassis no. See text 1938 Citroën   Chassis no. See text 1938 Citroën   Chassis no. See text 1938 Citroën   Chassis no. See text 1938 Citroën   Chassis no. See text 1938 Citroën   Chassis no. See text 1938 Citroën   Chassis no. See text
1938 Citroën
Registration no. not UK registered
Chassis no. See text
*Previously owned by the vendor's family for 60 years
*Famed iconic model


  • A curious mixture of romantic visionary and practical businessman, André Citroën was determined that economic depression and a contracting car market would not prevent him introducing a revolutionary new model, which he was convinced would ensure the future of his company. It did just that, but not until after Citroën had lost control of his empire when a minor creditor commenced legal proceedings against him. Within two years, new owner Michelin had paid off all of Citroën's debts.

    Citroën's brainchild, the 7C 'Traction Avant', broke new ground in almost every aspect of production car engineering on its launch in 1934. Unitary construction of the body/chassis, front wheel drive, all-independent suspension sprung by torsion bars, hydraulic brakes, synchromesh transmission and a four-cylinder, overhead-valve, wet-liner engine were all incorporated in the new car at a time when the majority of its rivals employed a separate chassis, cart springs, side-valve engines and mechanical brakes. This ground-breaking specification would have counted for little had the result not worked in practice, but the Traction soon gained a well-deserved reputation for exceptional stability and exemplary handling that endures to this day. The 1.3-litre original was soon superseded by larger-engined versions and from 1935 there were two four-cylinder models available - the 1,628cc 7C and 1,911cc 11CV - to which was added a 2.9-litre 'six' - the 15 - in 1938. Production resumed after WW2 and lasted until 1957 when the 'Traction Avant' was replaced by the equally revolutionary 'DS'. 

    This attractive Citroën previously resided in the collection of Alain Dominique Perrin, former head of the board of Cartier International, current Executive Director of the Richemont Group, and president and founder of the Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain. M. Perrin's family originate from the Nantes region of France, and it was there that his relation Daniel Perrin acquired the Citroën in 1959.

    The car was by then already in the extremely rare Traction Roadster form that it remains to this day although, the chassis number with which it has been registered since then actually relates to a standard Traction Coupe/saloon. Bonhams has investigated this anomaly thoroughly, using French researchers on road registration records and also the esteemed Citroën Conservatoire. The result of this is that the car's ownership can be traced back to the immediate post-war era, being re-registered with the Paris plate '3757RM' on 18th December 1946. From known records of the Paris system, it can be deduced that this registration number was originally issued in September 1938. Approximately 10 years later on 20th June 1956 it passed to a Mr. Pelletier of Le Moulin a Huile, and registration was transferred to the post war system with the number '974 DC 44'. The following spring it was sold to Mr. Blanconnier a Nantes based mechanic, who sold to a Mr. Fleury on 19 May 1958, before passing to Mr. Daniel Perrin on 12th June 1959. Five years later, Alain Perrin took over its custody and has confirmed that the car was in its current configuration, when he did so.

    There are of course infinitely more Traction Avant coupes or saloons than cabriolets which represented less than 2% of the 145,000 cars built between 1937 and 1940. The authenticity of the bodywork has been verified as correct, as it carries the rare 'coque'/body number of a Roadster.  So the most plausible explanation for the anomaly seems to be that sometime in the first eight years of its existence, over half of which was during the war years, is that this original traction roadster body was transferred from its original chassis onto that of another car, perhaps as a repair after a road accident, or as some casualty of the war. It may even have been that Citroën themselves organised the transfer, but their records do not extend to this depth. Regardless, it has been in this form for at least 58 of its 79 years and it is all Citroën, a marriage of correct roadster coachwork with original Traction Avant running gear.

    Unquestionably one of the most appealing guises for these cars, this is a great way to experience this legendary model.

Auction information

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N NOVA declaration

If purchased by a UK resident, this machine is subject to a NOVA declaration, undertaken by Bonhams upon a successful sale, to facilitate the registration of the machine here in the UK.

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  1. Sholto Gilbertson
    Specialist - Motor Cars
    101 New Bond Street
    London, United Kingdom W1S 1SR
    Work +44 20 7468 5809
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