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Restomod Food Truck! 1974 Citroën HY Van

Have you ever heard of a Citroën HY, much less ever seen one? The Citroën HY Van (aka Type H or H-Type) was a light-duty panel van produced by the French automaker Citroën between 1947-81. Launched after World War II, it would see a production of more than 473,000 copies across 34 years. They were not exported to the U.S. by the company after 1964 due to higher import duties. So, this 1974 edition, which has been restored as a restomod, found its way here through other channels. It’s been thoroughly revamped and could be used as a food truck if you were inclined to spend $75,000 (Buy It Now) for such as purpose. Located in Miami, Florida, this one-of-a-kind truck is available here on eBay.

This looks like one cool retro van! A substantial amount of time and money were no doubt invested in getting this vehicle to what you see today. Unfortunately, no “before” photos are provided for us to witness the transformation, nor does the seller mention how recently all of this took place. Besides refurbishing the body and interior, a new chassis and drivetrain lie underneath, providing a much more modern execution of this type of transport.

I searched the “net” and could find no reference as to what the “AX” stands for the in AX HY name although the company later built a mini-van called the AX. Perhaps one of our readers who is familiar with Citroën’s can fill in the blanks here. This rare find has its original suicide doors and the side panels are removable for those who wanted to use it as a food truck (that’s one of the things these vans were capable of before food trucks became a mainstream thing in our culture.

As we’re told, the body of this HY was lifted off the frame and a chassis from a 2000 model year GMC van was installed in its place. No doubt some modifications were made to accommodate a proper fit. The original 4-cylinder engine and 3-speed manual transmission were jettisoned in favor of a GM 4.3-liter V6 with an automatic transmission. Its drum brakes were swapped in favor of disc-stopping power with assist for the brakes and steering.

We’re told this Citroën HY runs great and the whole thing was sandblasted to remove rust before the body was repainted inside and out. The seller offers a video of the truck in action and says it goes a lot faster than the original 50 mph it could do when it was built in 1974. With all the modifications that have been done, this must truly be a one-of-kind find. What would you do with it if you added it to your stable?

Comments

  1. Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

    Someone certainly put some time into this and it shows, but for that kind of silly money, the “food truck” conversion should be completed and ready to go.

    Like 13
  2. Brian Berger

    There is one in Oceanside, California at Parlor Doughnuts.

    Parlor Doughnuts
    (760) 231-5150
    https://goo.gl/maps/jVyHULDCWKY6yWMr9

    Like 4
  3. BlackTa

    I have never seen one in person so I could be wrong, but, seems like it would fold up pretty easily in any accident. Signed: Debbie Downer.

    Like 6
    • Derek

      Most old stuff does fold up easily; have a look on youtube, there’s an offset frontal collision between a 1959 Chevrolet and a 2009 Chevrolet.

      If you drive a VW van, your foot’s pretty much sitting on the headlight bowl.

      Like 5
      • Johnny

        I saw a1970 Ford LTD hit a new model Dodge Ram-full sizze. It was hauled off on a roll back. Knocked the whole front axle out from uder the front end. The LTD–bent a little fender and drove off on it own. It shows what was made

        Like 2
  4. Michael Berkemeier

    Way too unfinished yet to be worth that kind of coin. I’m not sure any amount of restomodding could outweigh the fact that it’s still a Citroen, or any French car for that matter, lol.

    Like 11
  5. Howard A Member

    “HY”? Too easy,,

    Like 1
    • Steve Clinton

      Why? (wink)

  6. Doone

    French Transmission: 3 speeds forward, 6 in reverse.

    Like 10
    • IGiveUp

      Funny. Less and less people know what that means Doone.
      Below the description of a vehicle is says “Comments”. It should say “Old Farts Comment”.

      Like 1
  7. SubGothius

    > As we’re told, the body of this HY was lifted off the frame and a chassis from a 2000 model year GMC van was installed in its place.

    Sooo… it’s not quite a Citroën HY in full, just a Citroën HY unibody (they had no separate frame) mounted on top of a GMC chassis along with a GM powertrain.

    Which would explain why it appears to ride high, necessary for the body to clear the GM chassis and RWD drivetrain, as the HY was a unibody w/ FWD setup derived from the Traction Avant.

    Like 7
  8. local_sheriff

    Well, it’s called HY – isn’t that simply pronounced Y in French…?

  9. Tim

    AX was a small hatchback car Citroen made in the eighties. Nice, but fragile. The person who modded this van spoiled it, I think. If you’re going to drive something old, let it be what it is. Yes, it was slow, but it was bulletproof and a relaxing drive. That steering wheel is pure arcade game – yeuk.

    Like 6
  10. OldGTRacer

    In truth, though these are not commonly seen in NA, they are not as rare as the write up would indicate. A number of comments have already addressed the original construction and drive train of these unusual and typically unique French trucks. They were designed for functionality and worked very well in France/Europe but never would have been successfully marketed here in the US for a number of reasons. The original engine certainly was durable and willing but was woefully underpowered, though once it got going, it would hold speed easily (speed being relative as they were most comfortable being used in urban settings between 35-40mph). The front wheel drive worked well with a commodious space in the back for equipment and materials. They have a surprisingly weak braking system…surprising is the operative word for those driving it for the first time. Stepping on the whoa pedal seems only to be a suggestion to this truck to slow down, much less stop. There are now a number of companies in Europe whose business is transforming these with brakes that actually work, but it is very, very expensive.

    They are also much smaller than they look in pictures, so your food truck layout would have to be compact and they are incredibly noisy. Much louder than any front engine panel van you’ve ever been in. Compared to an old VW bus makes the VW seem almost Rolls Royce quiet.

    Still, they are different. Still stop people in their tracks and no stop for gas can be done quickly. If you don’t like attention, this isn’t for you.

    While I appreciate the work done by the current owner, I’m not sure he has his finger on the pulse of those who might be interested in something that has been modified like this. These can be bought and more sympathetically fixed up or modified for rather less…if that’s really what you want.

    Like 4
    • wizzy

      I’ve seen a number of these at Hershey over the years. They’re not really that rare. As OldGTRacer suggests these were meant for slower times, narrower, smaller streets and a different pace of life, not for today’s turnpike “racetracks”. I think the owner did a disservice to this truck and should have restored it for what it was. Undoubtedly there’s a lot of money in this rebuild, but realistically you’ll never see that return. Knock about 50K off the price and at least you’ll be in negotiating range. Definitely a small, narrow market for what is a fairly unattractive truck.

      Like 2
  11. Steve Clinton

    Leave it to the French to come up with a monstrosity like this.

    Like 1
    • PeterfromOz

      Steve, one of the reasons these older vehicle might appear to be ugly is that they were made to be easy as possible to produce. Remember when the German army retreated in Europe nearing the end of WW2 they destroyed everything including anything that could be used for manufacturing. The vehicle shape without curves and flat corrugated panels for strengthening were the made because of a lack of big machinery and dies. I once read that the 2CV Citroen car for the masses produced after the war was all made from hand presses.

      Like 1
  12. Shuttle Guy

    $75k? A person can get a food truck for much much less and it will be ready to serve food out the door!

    Like 2
  13. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

    Years ago my shop built a 1954 Grumman/Chevy bread van into a food truck to be used in the Washington, DC area. If the current owner of this HY was willing to come down to a sensible price point where it could be transformed into a food truck, a process that in most states and provinces in North America can be very expensive, then it might be worth the effort.

    This would indeed make a great specialty food truck for someone in a larger metropolitan and/or tourist area, where it could be outfitted as a French Crepe truck. I’ve seen plenty of Crepe Vans in the UK and Europe, it takes far less room because you only need a 2-burner crepe stove top, racks for the various toppings and sauces, along with a beverage supply. [And the various sanitary requirements for clean-up.]

    For many years I was a vendor at the big Beaulieu Autojumble in the south of England. They always had a Crepe Van in the flea market. Prior to opening up, I usually headed for the Crepe Van to have breakfast; a couple of crepes filled with strawberries and topped off with Gran Marnier Brandy. OOH-LA-LA!

    I could see this on the streets in the French Quarter of New Orleans, or perhaps in Quebec City or Montreal. The overall body could be painted in the French Tri-color flag, with the Crepe menu boards on it’s sides.

    Like 3
  14. Wayne

    Again think small. I’m betting that it is on a GMC Safari van chassis. It would make for an interesting business van or a camping van. But a food truck would not be a choice that I would select. I used to sell commercial vehicles including trucks/vans used in the food truck business. I did that for over 25 years. And really got an education while getting a personalized tour (not available to the public) of Utilimaster in the Elkhart Indiana area. They build about 80% of the commercial vans in the U.S. (FedEx, Pepsi, Food trucks, etc) They all are noisy, drafty and cold in the winter. In this case think a GMC Safari van (Chevy Astro) that you can stand up in. Mini camper, mobile locksmith, Cable guy, etc. Just a rolling bill board that grabs peoples’ attention.

    Like 2
  15. Howie

    The seller has 26 other cool vehicles for sale, check out the Buick Grand National!!

  16. BobinBexley Bob in Bexley Member

    Totally cool given MB is selling junk like G wagons with flat windshields.

  17. steve sammut Member

    there is one next to me in SF in front of a bike shop. They split the van to create a “parklet” where people could sit and enjoy food. In the middle, the split part, they place benches and seating. Seems like a waste for such a machine, but then again, that’s SF.

  18. OldGTRacer

    In regards to Peter’s comment, the 2CV design predated the war. In fact, the French dismantled the original 2 cars they designed/built prior to WWII and buried them so as to keep the Germans from getting their hands on them. When the war ended the 2CV’s started being made from the original design (yes, they used some corrugated steel) and the cars sold like hotcakes, uhhh crepes. Like with later VW bugs, other countries were still making 2CV’s after the French stopped.
    The 2CV is surprisingly robust and driving one is, like most things French, a very different sort of experience. I drove one cross country a few years back with my daughter. I will never forget it. Foot on the floor and flat out at 70 on a western highway in 90+ degree weather. It never faltered. It did what it could do and no more, but it never stopped and never needed a rest. As long as I could go, it would.

    Like 1
  19. Miminite

    I love these vans. They’re so quirky and cool IMO. Original were slow so need to be updated chassis/power to keep up in the US. I like this one but too pricey for me.

    Wife & I were in Brussels last fall and went to an excellent auto/motorcycle museum (https://www.autoworld.be/en/). We went the day after an antique motorcycle show and the owners were loading them up that morning, including a couple into a red Citroen van like this one. Took pics and even got a die cast toy later on at a shop in the city for my curio shelf at home.

    On this particular van, you’d have to do a good inspect to see how it was converted. I’m always suspect of work like this and the craftsmanship involved. Not that this is a bad idea, just about quality of the work. I know esp with labor costs, it wouldn’t be cheap to do, but this much? I guess the market will determine.

    Cool van regardless, I like it!

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