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The Competition: 

Ford , Renault, Peugeot and Simca 

In the post war years, Citroën was up against the might of Ford France, Peugeot, Renault and Simca in the French domestic market. Panhard was yet another player, albeit in the second division. 

Once automobile production restarted, Citroën's range comprised two models - the Traction Avant 11 CV and the Traction Avant 15 CV.  The launch of the 2 CV in 1949 widened the range somewhat but left the competitors an open field in which to sell medium sized cars.  It was not until the launch in 1970 of the GS that any serious attempt was made to plug this gap.

Above left - the 11 CV was up against the likes of the Ford Vedette above right which had a V8 engine in contrast to the four cylinder unit of the Citroën and more "modern" styling.  Furthermore, the Vedette was subject to restyling exercises below left whereas the post war Traction remained, to all intents and purposes, identical to the pre-war version. Below right the Ford Régence was launched in 1954.

The Ford Versaille above left and above right was built between 1954 and 1957 and was effectively a scaled down version of the cars Ford was building during this period in the USA.  Ford France was purchased by Simca in 1954.

Peugeot did not have a model which competed with the Traction - the company tended to concentrate on the mid-sized sector where Citroën was absent. 

Renault on the other hand competed head on with the Traction with the "anti Traction 11 CV Moderne" Frégate right.

Above left the Frégate was also subjected to constant restyling exercises; above right the 6 cylinder Citroën 15 CV Traction Avant - effectively unchanged in appearance for nearly twenty years.  The fact that the Traction was far more advanced than its competitors counted for little amongst a sizeable proportion of the French car buying public who preferred the dynamically feeble Renault and Ford with their up-to-the-minute styling.

Meanwhile, in 1947, Renault stole a march on Citroën with the launch of their 4 CV - strongly reminiscent of the Volkswagen Beetle in both styling and architecture - its engine was rear mounted below left.  Citroën's riposte was the 2 CV below right launched the following year.

The 2 CV remained in production until the early nineties.  In 1961, the 4 CV was superceded by the R4 below left which was an almost blatant copy of the Citroën. The front wheel drive R4 range was extended to include a 2 CV Camionette competitor below right as well as a Méhari copy bottom left.

Unlike Citroën who, until the launch of the GS had to make do with a range of 2 CV derived cars, Renault, thanks to massive state funding managed to launch a whole series of mid range cars such as the rear engined Dauphine of 1955 below left, the Dauphine derived R8 below right and R10 bottom left and the R4 derived R6 bottom right.

Citroën's models comprised the 2 CV based Ami 6 left, the Dyane below left and the Ami 8 below right which replaced the Ami 6

Renault's response to the Méhari right was the R4 based Rodeo left

© 1999 Julian Marsh