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1939 Citroen Traction Avant cabriolet: One to Watch

Offered at Bonhams' Paris sale on 5 February, this Citroen is rather special. Details here


We’ll get the estimate out of the way first: €150,000-180,000 (£120,000-140,000) sounds like a lot of money for a Citroen Traction Avant. Especially so when you consider that perfectly serviceable saloons can be had from the right side of £10,000. But, yes, those cars are saloons. The roof comes off this one. As with the DS Décapotable, which moves in very different social circles to the saloon with which it shares so many genes, those final years at finishing school make all the difference. And this Onze Légère clearly knows how to wield its cutlery without offending others at the top table.

You can compare its rise in value with that of the Décapotable. A decade ago, the topless goddess inhabited what seemed an unlikely postcode at around £50,000; more recently, there have been notable auction sales at more like £150,000. In fact, Bonhams found €337,500 for one at Rétromobile in 2009, though that was one of only three DS23s converted by Chapron, and the only fuel-injected one.

So, it seems people like soft-top Citroens. It helps when they manage to look even more glamorous than the already haut-couture saloons on which they’re based. Helps that they’re rare, too – only 3524 convertible Tractions were built, 1945 of those being the 11L.

This one was bought by the current owner in 1971, when it was said to drive perfectly but needed bodywork restoration. That it finally received between 1977 and 1982, when the engine and body were rebuilt with the help of the Musée Automobile du Mans and the windscreen was remanufactured with reference to Citroen’s own drawings. It underwent further restoration between 2007 and 2009, before going on to win ‘best car’ at the 2010 Rallye ASA Bretagne.

Fanatical ownership for 44 years: that’s what you’re paying for.

Glen Waddington

Citroen Traction Classifieds

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