1939 Citroen Traction Avant15 Big 6
Year of manufacture1939
Chassis number118 012
Number of seats4
Swiss registration papers
Body PVL6 113
Javel chassis number: 681 719 / body EE 08 86
Engine number: PD 00944 dated 15/05/1939
Gearbox dated 10/07/1939
An icon for all Traction collectors
No-expense spared restoration
Incredible appearance and clear history
Renowned as the top-of-the-line Traction Avant when it was introduced in 1938, the 15CV Six-Cylinder soon made its mark, but production of these models - whose engines turned over to the left - was suspended in 1940 and therefore remained very limited, with few survivors left today.
Citroën’s British subsidiary in Slough had been building cars since 1925 and the Traction Avant models since their launch in 1934; the assembly of the Six followed the same rationale. The international environment prompted caution and therefore just 50 numbers were reserved for the first run of this new model, called simply but plainly the ‘Six’. As Slough was not yet ready for the car, it was built rather differently from the usual process in which the cars were entirely assembled in Britain. In this case, the body was assembled at the quai de Javel in Paris and the engine installed there. When the cars reached Slough, all the trim specific to the British market was fitted, including the luxurious leather upholstery, wooden dashboard, 12-volt electrical system and some very British fixtures and fittings.
This Six was the ‘Grand Luxe’ version, equipped with the largest range of accessories: 27cm-diameter Lucas headlamps, Trippe dipped-beam lights, a Windtone horn and long-range driving lights. The leather upholstery complete with armrests, folding picnic tables to the rear and a Brooklands steering wheel (an exceptionally rare original item on this car) turned the Citroën into a proper little Bentley. As a result, the Six took on a new personality which suited it very well. Having been built in Paris, however, it had French chassis and body numbers, along with a Slough chassis number as it was completed in the workshops there.
The press of the time, as The Autocar related, sang the praises of the new Six-Cylinder: apart from its performance, the columnists were most impressed by its handling, which added to the comfort and good visibility drivers enjoyed behind the wheel.
The history of this unique car, the sole known survivor of this pre-war series, is fully known and very interesting. It began its career in the diplomatic world in South Africa, where it was first registered on 16 February 1940. It was owned by Gert Joannes du Plessis until the 1970s. It was then purchased by the Citroën specialist Steve le R. in Johannesburg, who kept it for several years before selling it in 1980 to Olivier de Serres. He welcomed the car all the more affectionately on account of the traces of red African sand in its every nook and cranny; it received some cosmetic attention to its black paintwork but was not yet put back on the road. With its owner’s habit of giving all his cars a woman’s name, his new arrival from England was christened ‘Victoria’.
A few years later, this fine-looking Six changed hands once more, joining the collection of Nico Michon in Belgium dedicated to the 15 Six. There it underwent a complete restoration, including the bodywork, upholstery and engine, and was repainted in metallic grey, a shade inspired by the English catalogue from the period. Michon kept it for several years before selling it to its present owner in Switzerland. He had another very comprehensive restoration carried out on the beautiful Victoria, with every aspect of the car completely refurbished by the best specialists in each field. The restoration was carried out over two years, from 2016 – 2018. Work on the body was entrusted to Hubert Haberbusch and it was repainted at this time in Imperial Blue, the original colour which had been uncovered as work to restore the body progressed. The engine was assigned to J.C. Tilly, the transmission to Roger Williams and the electrical system to Rosser. Nor was the interior neglected, and the upholstery restored by Andover Family Upholstery in the UK and the Sellerie André in Geispolsheim in Alsace is magnificent. Just as impressive as the day it was built, it is now equipped with a new set of Michelin 185x400 tyres and runs faultlessly.
An absolutely unique model in exceptional condition and with a clear history, this 1939 Six is a car for the connoisseur. Its presence in this sale offers a rare opportunity to acquire a car which generated a great deal of enthusiasm at the last Rétromobile show.
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.
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