Traction Avant

Courage of their convictions.—

Over thirty years ago Citroen went over to front-wheel-drive for big-output production and have never since departed from it.

Front-wheel-drive has been in the headlines lately due to the m.o.T. versus B.M.C. intrigue, but this is not the reason for devoting this article to it. The fact is that more and more of the World’s makers are turning to front-drive cars. There is nothing new in f.w.d., and historians will happily quote Christie, Alvis, Miller, Cord, Ruxton, B.S.A., Stanhope, Derby, Lloyd, Hotchkiss, Buccialli, Tracta, Gregoire, and so on, to prove this, while the most successful f.w.d. production car before the war was Citroen, the heading to this article being in French in honour of it. Today no-one can deny that driving through the front wheels is threatening to put the front-engine/rear-drive concept and the long central propeller shaft into the museums. B.M.C. have it on three variants from 85o c.c. to 1,800 c.c. Auto-Union have long driven the front wheels of all their cars (although the earliest D.K.W. economy models from which Auto-Union stems were rear-wheel-driven), Citroen has built nothing else for well over 30 years, likewise D.K.W., Fiat, after making highly-successful 500-c.c. and 600-c.c. rear-engined small cars, has wooed f.w.d. via the Autobianchi Primula, and conservative Ford use f.w.d. for the smaller V4 Taunus model. Lancia, of high-quality renown, went over to front-drive for the Flavia flat-four and retain it for the V4 Fulvia, Oldsmobile have taken General Motors along this path in the much-discussed Toronado, the Panhard is pulled by its twin cylinder engine through the front wheels. Peugeot, wedded for years to a worm-drive back axle in its honest yet individualistic cars, changed to f.w.d. for the 204 small car, of which over 51,000 have already been sold, the great French House of Renault, whose small cars from the 4 c.v. onwards were firmly established as rear-engined economy models, changed dramatically to front-drive for the 4L and use it for the brilliant new Renault 16, the rugged Saab from Sweden has never been anything but front-wheel-drive, and the highly-praised Triumph 1300 is another new and significant f.w.d. British car.