The most popular Citroën ever produced was born in the City of Love

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Play with cars long enough, and you will find yourself in love with some model of machine that you didn’t know existed but now can’t live without. Jay Leno had that happen to him, and a process that resulted in him becoming the third owner of this original-paint Citroën Traction Avant. He discusses what makes the car special in the latest episode of Jay Leno’s Garage.

One of the more interesting aspects of this four-door is its subjective rarity—despite the fact that most folks haven’t seen one in the flesh, Tractions are hardly rare, with more than 760,000 built from 1934–1957. Buyers had the option of a four- or six-cylinder powerplant, with the more expensive six being a “boss’s car,” as Jay puts it. The front-drive, unibody, independent-suspension Citroën was modern for the era but not a groundbreaking design; those features had been used on other cars prior, but the Citroën popularized their use.

The end result was a lot of car for the money. With no driveshaft or transmission tunnel, the Traction’s floor is nearly flat, which makes the passenger compartment relatively low-slung for the era. The wind-out windshield has an odd side effect—while driving the car, you hear a lot more engine noise. It’s not a bad thing, Jay says, just something to get used to.

As Jay also notes, the fact that the Citroën was built in Paris tends to shine through its driving experience. The Traction didn’t come from an industrial place—it was born in a city known for romance and intrigue, and its style and character reflect that fact. We couldn’t have said it better.

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