1953 Citroen Traction Avant–Solid And Ready!

Jamie PalmerBy Jamie Palmer

More than a little unusual, this desert find 1953 Citroen Traction Avant is up for sale here on eBay. The buy it now price is $8,900, but lower offers are being considered. I can’t believe how solid and original this car looks! It’s located in Hayward, California.

Over it’s 23-year life (1934-1957) over three quarters of a million Traction Avants were produced. Looking at this car, it’s hard to believe it was a unibody design. Yes, that’s right, no body on frame here, despite the separate fendered appearance. Not only that, but note the lack of running boards–this was a very advanced design for it’s time.

While the seller does write an…interesting…description, if you read between the lines, you can tell that they purchased the car from an enthusiast, and that it’s been stored in the desert for a while.

However, even the floors look solid! Sure, you’ll have to do some interior work, but remember that this Gallic classic is over 60 years old. By the way, you will also find a four wheel independent suspension and front wheel drive under that attractive skin. One interesting tidbit that I found out after remembering that all the ones I’ve seen in movies were black; I found one reference to black being the only available exterior color until 1953!

While the engine was fairly conventional, this one doesn’t run at the moment, although the seller tells us they heard that it was running on a regular basis before their purchase. Unfortunately, the seller has not been able to get it running. Still, it’s intact and hopefully can be resurrected. I’ll tell you, this just seemed like a lot of car to me for the money, so I looked it up in the Hagerty value guide. Even a #4 was still up to $8,200, which seems to validate my impression that you could do a lot worse. So what do you think of this French gem?

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  1. LAB3

    Solid looking car for sure! Parts wise you might be in big trouble bit then again, there’s always the possibility of putting a more modern drivetrain under the front.

  2. Dave

    I spy a ’57 Chebby lurking in the shadows…

  3. Wagon master

    As Henry Ford once said: “they can have any color they want …. as long as it’s black”.

  4. ccrvtt

    I always thought these were incredibly stylish cars. I remember seeing pictures here and there in my youth and it took a while to figure out what they were. Unquestionably the coolest mass-produced French car of all time.

    On the flip side – how many uber nerds like me would be in the market for it when you’re finished with it?

  5. Wayne

    A friend has the first one I had seen. I always thought it was a cool looking car.
    I will have to ask him if I can look his over a little closer. Might be a fun project!

  6. Ian

    Huge and easy spares setup in Europe so no problem there (as well as a strong following). For the current price this car is very cheap..esp for a v comfortable model that goes and handles so well. Hope it’s saved

  7. GlenK

    These, are not selling that well and prices are reflecting that. Start thinking about, getting it home, finding and importing parts, and then the engine. With reasonable cars in the 15 to 19,000 range this car is not really a bargain. Your just buying it on time payments restoring it yourself.

  8. Martin Horrocks

    No, it is cheap! It would cost 30-50% more in Europe.

    As Ian says, all parts are available, including interior trim. But in any case, the design is one of brilliant simplicity (same designer as 2CV), so repair costs are low. Only mechanical area which regularly gives concern is gearbox/clutch and problems will be immediately obvious. Expect some clutch judder as a norm.

    The Traction is one car whuch you can leave shabbly and it still looks good, and this short wheelbase version is the best driver.They are a fabulous drive, good distance vintage rally car.

    BTW: Black only is not true of pre-war cars. Also, the post war cars were finished in a paint which was not designed to shine. Took me five years to find that out…..

  9. Greg

    I’ve got two of these, restored! And upgraded engine so it’s actually fun to drive!! Soon to be listed for sale. They are great cars, and with around 80hp, the chassis is totally capable and it feels like the right power for the car.

  10. Bill D

    Not all movie cars were black! The Traction Avant in the 1981 film Diva was white.

  11. Mike McCloud

    In Viet Nam, because the French were there first, there were hundreds of these around. Mostly they were Taxis, some were owned by a few wealthy enough to keep them up & running. I had visions of dropping the body on a suitable chassis and-‘voila’- an instant gangster lookin’ sleeper. ( I waited too long; have heard someone did just that but haven’t seen it myself. Anyone out there see one?


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