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Eighty Years of CitroŽn in the United Kingdom

Available at all good booksellers - an impressive and authoritative new book from an exciting new automotive publisher.

The full story of the CitroŽn marque in the United Kingdom from 1923 to 2003 (together with the history of the CitroŽn factory at Slough between 1926 and 1966 ) is told in an impressive new book to be published in February 2004 by Dalton Watson Fine Books Ltd, specialists in high-quality automotive literature.

Though an entirely independent and unsponsored production, Eighty Years of CitroŽn in the United Kingdom is nevertheless the only officially authorised and endorsed account of the Double Chevron company's British activities ever produced. It traces the founding and development of CitroŽn Cars Ltd and its successor CitroŽn UK Ltd between 1923 and 2003, and documents the right-hand-drive vehicles built at the Slough Works between 1926 and 1966, together with all those models subsequently imported from France between 1966 and 2003.

The book relates that although CitroŽn is currently enjoying unprecedented popularity in the UK with annual sales exceeding 160,000 vehicles, it was not always so successful.

Despite the fact that the company is actually one of the oldest names in the British motor industry, being the second longest-established of all foreign and imported makes in Great Britain, on more than one occasion in the past its French owners considered closing down its operations here and withdrawing from the British market.

Pre-war, post-war and even wartime production is fully listed and lavishly illustrated by almost 400 historic press and publicity pictures from the CitroŽn archives ( 216 b/w and 170 full colour ) together with numerous examples of contemporary advertising material, and also by a series of stunning full-colour photos showing some of the very best surviving historic cars, either restored or in their original state..

Eighty Years of Citroen in the United Kingdom will surely appeal to all CitroŽn owners and enthusiasts world wide, together with a more general readership interested in the development of popular motoring and the motor industry in the United Kingdom.

A major aspect of its attractions lies in the very high quality of design, reproduction and printing it offers for a relatively modest price, undoubtedly unequalled by any previous book on CitroŽn matters published in English. Indeed, its contents and presentation will impress all collectors of fine motoring books

Its informative but entertaining text of over 80 000 words reviews the complete span of right-hand-drive vehicles sold in the UK, including the conventional rear-wheel-drive cars of the Andrť CitroŽn era 1919-1934, the Traction Avant of 1934-1956, the 2CV of 1949-1990, the DS and ID series of 1955-1975 as well as the CitroŽn-Maserati SM of 1970-1975 and the later GS/GSA, CX and BX models. A final chapter discusses the familiar modern-day right-hand-drive CitroŽns seen on the British roads today, from the XM, Xantia and Xsara right up to the latest C2, C3 and C5 models. It also features an appendix providing extensive information and data covering production, sales and chassis numbers, never previously published

Its author, John Reynolds, is a life-long Citroen enthusiast who, as a professional motoring writer and journalist, has made a special study of the Double Chevron marque.

His previous books on CitroŽn subjects include a biography of the company's founder Andrť CitroŽn ( soon to be re-issued under the Dalton Watson imprint ), an account of the life-story of the CitroŽn 2CV and a study of the genesis and technical evolution of the CitroŽn DS and ID models. He has also contributed to numerous British, French, Dutch and Japanese motoring journals including Classic Cars, Classic & Sportscar, Automobilia, Retroviseur, 2CV Magazine, CitroExpert, CitroPassion, Super Car Graphic, Autocar and the Daily Telegraph Saturday Motoring Review.

An old-established and much-respected name in motor book publishing, the Dalton Watson firm has recently been revived under new ownership and management. Its rapidly expanding catalogue already includes books on Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Maserati subjects, while a full programme of new titles on these and other quality cars is planned for the immediate future.

Eighty Years of CitroŽn in the United Kingdom is a greatly updated and expanded version of Citroen from A to X, published by CitroExpert in the Netherlands in 1999, but never widely sold or distributed in the British Isles through the normal channels.

Further details of the contents and availability of this and other fine books from Dalton Watson may be found on the Dalton Watson Fine Books web site or send them an e-mail
Eighty Years of CitroŽn in the United Kingdom ISBN 1-85443-137-4 Price: US$70/£39/€56


Reviewing John Reynolds’ latest book places me in much the sort of dilemma in which Robert Opron must have found himself when tasked with improving the DS. How does one improve on perfection? After all, John Reynolds has already published a book on the subject; the superb “From A to X – 75 years of CitroŽn in the United Kingdom”. Owning a copy of “A to X” and having given it the thumbs up in a number of reviews some five years ago, I seriously wondered what new information the new book might contain. Certainly the new book is a both physically bigger and weightier tome than its predecessor and it contains an additional sixty pages. The temptation to continue to compare the two was, I thought, one that should be resisted and instead, I sat down and read the new book from cover to cover without referring to the old one since the majority of purchasers of the new book are unlikely to have a copy of its forerunner which suffered from fairly restricted availability.

Inevitably however, reading the new book led to a sense of dťjŗ vu – much of the material was immediately familiar and yet every now and then, I realised that I was reading something fresh and new. John Reynolds has not taken the easy way out and merely repackaged “A to X”: “Eighty Years” contains an awful lot of new information and hitherto unpublished contemporary photographs and publicity material and new photographs too.

Many of the chapters have been revised and expanded as John Reynolds’ diligent research uncovers more information which escaped the wholesale destruction of the British company’s archives in the mid eighties.

To many CitroŽn enthusiasts, it may come as a surprise to know that the company’s British subsidiary used to build vehicles for the British Empire and that it figured strongly in Andrť CitroŽn’s plans to become a global manufacturer. It may also surprise some people to discover that many of London’s taxis were supplied from CitroŽn’s Slough works in the mid nineteen-twenties.

Anglicised versions of many models up to and including the DS were built – even such quintessentially French cars as the Traction and the DS acquired leather upholstery and wooden dashboards and the 2CV was subjected to a total redesign in the form of the Bijou which was intended to overcome the aesthetic objections of a conservative British motoring public. Nor is it widely known that the marque which, in Europe at least, is renowned for civilising the diesel engine, first undertook trials of diesel-engined cars in Britain in 1937.

A chapter is devoted to the two model CitroŽns given by the French government to the Princesses Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth) and Margaret in 1938 while another chapter concerns itself with the CDW Special – a prototype sports car based on Traction underpinnings. There is also a chapter on the world’s first automatic driverless vehicle guidance and control system which was fitted to a DS.

Nowadays, CitroŽn is a well-established and popular marque in Britain; the company has re-established the reputation it had before 1939 when it was a major player in this market. Following the end of the Second World War, the company failed to regain its market share until the 1990s. This book chronicles the story of the company’s United Kingdom activities from birth to closure of the factory and to the company’s renaissance and is a must for all CitroŽn enthusiasts worldwide.

© 2004 Julian Marsh