1939 Citroen Traction Avant15-6 Familiale
Year of manufacture1939
Chassis number682 168
Number of seatsmore
Swiss registration papers
Body number: EI 03 dated 3.5.39
Gearbox dated 18.07.39
Only 50 cars recorded today
Attractive period accessories
Perfect running order
Renowned as the ‘Queen of the Road’, the 15 Six first of all had to prove itself; in Citroën’s range at the time, it was intended to be the top-of-the-line Traction Avant. It was introduced discreetly, in June 1938, with a sober appearance respecting the wishes of P.J. Boulanger, the head of Citroën, and intended to make it look like the 11.
The new model was therefore developed from the body of the 11, which was substantially strengthened, to which a six-cylinder engine was added, supported by longer forks and a specific subframe. A longer bonnet and wings which dropped away to the front were the only distinguishing features to be seen, apart from the small ’15 Six’ badges on the radiator grille and rear wing, which were supposed to inspire respect. The 15 Six was introduced first as a saloon and, as was often the case, got off to a difficult start, but it had plenty of potential, with impressive roadholding and a fabulous engine! Unusually, the engine turned over to the left, which explained the letter ‘G’ (for ‘gauche’, or left in French) in the name 15 Six G. Finally, the Michelin family allowed the 15 one luxury, where inside the car the upholstery in brown mohair velour was memorable as much for its luxurious appearance as its distinctive smell. To ensure its roadholding, Michelin adapted its new ‘Pilote’ wheels with flat spokes to the dimensions required for the car, namely 185x400.
After the 15 saloon was presented at the Paris Motor Show in October 1938, the car appeared well developed and could now logically be offered in the eagerly awaited Limousine and six-window Familiale versions. In the same way, the engine and front suspension of the Six was grafted onto the body of the long-wheelbase 11. Produced until 1940, all the 15 Six G models (saloon, Limousine and Familiale) were finished in black with cream wheels. The 15 appeared to be vastly better finished and thought out than the 11; under the bonnet, for example, all the service items were fitted on the same side, while behind the wheel the handbrake was in easy reach of the driver and the improved gearchange was more pleasant to use. Driving a 15 makes quite an impression: the car is heavy and powerful, with colossal torque, but it can be handled in the same way that – for all its strong personality – an elephant obeys the orders of its driver. In its day, it may not have been the most powerful big saloon, but its exceptional handling made all the difference and established its reputation. The motoring press in 1938 described it as “sensational”.
Citroën offered two long-wheelbase versions, a ‘Familiale’ with room for 8 or 9 passengers and fitted with folding jump seats, and a ‘Limousine’ model with an exceptionally spacious rear compartment, which both also had mohair velour upholstery. The handling of these long-wheelbase versions remained as effective as the saloon. Production of the 15 Six G only really got going at the start of 1939 for the saloon and in February for the Familiale and Limousine and was suspended in February 1940; built for just one year, the model is therefore very rare, with only 2300 cars built, of which about 50 are recorded as surviving today.
The 15 Six Familiale we are presenting at this sale is therefore one of these very rare models; it is fitted with an OLD (Olivier Lecanut Deschamps) roof rack and a set of Robergel wheels as accessories, which in no way detract from the overall style of the prestigious Citroën, quite the contrary, in fact. Inside, the car is fitted with a bench front seat, which was unusual on the 15 Familiale models, and the engine has an inlet manifold with two carburettors. It is a quick and surefooted car.
Its history as well as its rarity make this an interesting car. Purchased new by an industrialist in Lyon, it was requisitioned during the Occupation by the Lyon Kommandatur and then painted the regulation white. At the Liberation it was recovered by the Americans, who apparently dragged their feet somewhat before returning it to its original owner. Later, during the 1970s, it was acquired by Dr. René B., still in the Rhône, who in turn sold it to the collector of 15s, Nico Michon, in 2001. At the time, it was still in near-original condition, only the engine having been rebuilt. After another change of hands, it came to its current owner who undertook a comprehensive restoration over two years, from 2012 – 2014. The bodywork was handled by Hubert Haberbusch and the upholstery by the Sellerie André in Geispolsheim, while the engine, radiator and electrical system (upgraded to 12 volts) were entrusted to Tilly in Alsace, with a stainless steel exhaust also fitted. The gearbox and Roger Williams transmission were restored by Aloïs Peter and a specially cut differential was installed.
This car will be sold during an auction sale organized by AGUTTES Auction House.
It will take place in Paris, at the Espace Champerret, France, on March the 17th, 2019.
The digital catalog is available on our website
Please contact us for any further details.
+ 33 616 914 228
+33 147 459 301