CitroŽn Traction Avants
in Northern California

Menlo Park, California

 

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"Car of the Century" Competition

The May 1999 issue of the British magazine Classic and Sports Car featured two articles on the Traction Avant. The issue also included a "Car of the Century" poster illustrating the 100 original nominees for that honor in the internet poll conducted during 1999. The nominees were first winnowed to 26, and the three CitroŽns originally nominated (the Traction Avant, the DS19, and the 2CV) survived the cut.

 

© 1990 F. Horvat et Flammarion 4
Champs Elysťes, 1957, photo by Frank Horvat

 

Jury members eliminated three-quarters of the original 100 candidate vehicles for "Car of the Century," leaving 26 nominees to proceed to the next round of voting. The list contained one more name than originally foreseen, due to a tie for 25th place.

In alphabetical order, the 26 nominees were:

Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Coupť 1954-1968 Italy
Audi Quattro 1980-1991 Germany
Austin Seven 1922-1939 UK
BMW 328 1936-1940 Germany
Bugatti T 35 1926-1930 France
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray 1963-1967 USA
CitroŽn Traction Avant 1934-1957 France
CitroŽn 2CV 1948-1990 France
CitroŽn DS 19 1955-1965 France
Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta 1959-1962 Italy
Fiat 500 Topolino 1936-1948 Italy
Ford Model T 1908-1927 USA
Ford Mustang 1964-1968 USA
Jaguar XK 120 1948-1954 UK
Jaguar E-type 1961-1975 UK
Mercedes-Benz S/SS/SSK 1927-1932 Germany
Mercedes-Benz 300SL Coupť 1954-1957 Germany
Mini all types 1959-present UK
NSU RO 80 1967-1976 Germany
Porsche 911 1963-present Germany
Renault Espace 1984-present France
Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost 1907-1925 UK
Rover Range Rover 1970-1996 UK
Volkswagen Beetle 1946-present Germany
Volkswagen Golf 1974-1984 Germany
Willys Jeep 1941-1945 USA

Five finalists were selected, and the winners were announced in Las Vegas on December 18, 1999:

1. Ford Model T 742 points
2. Mini all types 617 points
3. CitroŽn DS 567 points
4. Volkswagen Beetle 521 points
5. Porsche 911 303 points

Why I thought the Traction would win the balloting

* technically very innovative
-front wheel drive
-monocoque construction
-rack & pinion steering
-independent torsion-bar suspension
* large production
* world-wide distribution
* long production cycle across the mid-century (1934-1957)
* extremely stylish
* very practical
* durable
* still highly popular
* relatively inexpensive
* parts still readily available
* a nice centrist choice: not at the extremes
-a sedan, not a sports car or luxury car
-mid-sized, not a mini or a road-hog
-mid-century, not an early pioneer or late arrival
*the only vehicle on the list meeting these criteria-- >Q.E.D. (NOT)

 

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