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Citroen Traction Avant 'Onze Normale' . In 1934, Andre Citroen decided to make the best car he could... . ... and went broke in the attempt. The car itself went on to be a great success, and was in production for 23 years - it was still ahead of many new designs when it gave way to the even more astonishing DS. The Citroen Traction Avant was the first mass-produced car with front wheel drive, a monocoque bodyshell, all round independent suspension and rack and pinion steering. A technical masterclass at the time. My model of it is 12 studs wide and is, unusually for me, largely studless. It features working steering and suspension on all four wheels - a pendular axle at the front and torsion bars at the rear. The real car had torsion bars all round. Twiddle the spare wheel to operate the steering. The wheel inside will turn in a ghostly fashion, connected as it is to the main control by an elastic band... All four doors are hinged from the B-post. Welcome to my sparsely furnished but spacious interior... Or get in the back if you like... You can open both doors at the same time, but only if there's at least 90 degrees between them... The simple dashboard with single large dial and delicate little gearchange lever, known as the 'mustard spoon'. I tried to express all the subtleties of this car's shape, with panels tilting inwards towards the front and towards the top - it's one stud narrower at the roof than the sill, the roof itself curves (ish..) and the doors and front lower panel form a reasonably seamless(!) curve along the side. I left the wings studded at their outer edge because I thought that looked better than with tiles on. It's all about the texture... Underside - you might spot the steering and suspension set-up under here and the angles of the sides. If you want, I don't mind if you don't... Because of it's new-fangled unitary body, this car was lower, lighter and much more efficient than 1930s contemporaries. With it's independent suspension it was a lot more comfortable too, and it was still a reasonably priced family car. This is the pre-war Onze Normale version, with the medium sized body and 1.9 litre engine rated at 11CV, producing about 50 horsepower. It might be the oldest 'ordinary' car that I'd be happy to drive in modern traffic, with modern-feeling handling and roadholding, enough speed and decent brakes. My collection of Lego Citroens continues to grow... more soon!


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