When Citroën launched the Traction Avant, they had big plans.
Citroën wanted to built a new luxurious car for the European market.
The Traction Avant 22cv with Citroën's own V8 engine would be the first European production 8 cylinder engined car.
It would have been the new top of the bill Citroën, unrivalled by any large European car manufacturer.
It would also have been the first V8 engine with headvalves in the world.
The project was cancelled when Michelin took control of Citroën. All money and effort were needed to finalize development of the 7 and 11, which were launched at a rather premature stage. The 22cv development would never be continued; in 1938 the 15 Six would come as a worthy replacement.
October 6th 1934: The car with serial number 522 000 and engine number 008363 is granted type approval.
About 20 prototypes of the 22cv had been built when the project was cancelled. These were converted to 11A specification and sold to employees of the factory or friends of the developers. Conversion meant: removal of specific 22cv nose and V8 engine and fitting of 11 engine and nose. The luxurious interior and other specific 22 details remained with the car. The 22cv parts are thought to be destroyed, although apparently a V8 engine was still at the bureau d'etudes late 1939.
It is often rumored that Citroën never built a working V8 engine. Some people say that Citroën used the Ford V8 sidevalve engine and that the cars exposed on the 1934 Paris Autosalon carried no engine at all. These rumors are not true. Citroën did built the V8 engine. There was an engine shown at the 1934 Salon which wasn't a mock-up but the real thing. There is also a picture of a bonnet being opened at the salon to show the engine to a spectator. On the following Salon de Bruxelles the Berline 22 from the Paris Autosalon was displayed again. This car was driven from Paris to Bruxelles with some journalists on board to show them what the car could do.
Here is a list of all known V8 engines and their usage:
|Engine number:||Serial number:||Body number:||Comments:|
|001.361||?||ET 02 88|
|001.365||?||None||"new model" test car with Spicer shock absorbers all-round|
|008 363||522 000||?||Car used for type approval|
Here are the specifications, comparing the 22 with the 11A.
|Traction Avant 22||Traction Avant 11A|
|Wheelbase Berline:||3.15 meters||3.09 meters|
|Wheelbase Limousine:||3.33 meters||3.27 meters|
|Front track width:||1.43 meters||1.46 meters|
|Rear track width:||1.46 meters||1.45 meters|
|Height:||1.56 meters||1.54 meters|
|Weight Berline:||1175 kg||1100 kg|
|Weight Limousine:||1225 kg||1170 kg|
|Type:||8 cylinder 90o V||4 cylinder in line|
|Bore x Stroke:||78x100||78x100|
|Power:||90 bhp||46 bhp|
|Tyres:||160x40||150x40 (160x40 on LWB cars)|
|Topspeed:||140 km/h / 90 mph||105 km/h / 70 mph|
|0-100 km/h / 0-60 mph:||20 seconds||?|
|Fuel consumption:||19 liters on 100km / 100km/h||11 liters on 100km / 110km/h|
Characteristics for the 1934 22
One air inlet
The 22 only has one air inlet below the windscreen. This is particularly interesting. In 1936 the 2 air inlets of the 11A were replaced by one. This was done because the speedometer, previously placed in the center of the dashboard, was moved behind the steering wheel. On the 22cv however, the air inlet is centrally placed but there is also the speedo in the middle of the dashboard. This means that the normal operating rod of the air inlet would go through the speedo. This problem is solved by fitting an additional lever on the dashboard for operating the shutter. Why were the twin air inlets replaced by a single one when all other Traction Avants still had the twin inlets? This would mean a lot of extra work and less similarity with the 11 and 7, making the car even more expensive to produce.
We think this modification was necessary in order to make room for some sort of strengthening of the bulkhead. Since the V8 was basically two 4 cylinder engines placed on a common crankshaft housing/sump, it would have been almost twice as heavy, putting a lot of additional stress on the bulkhead. This bulkhead also had to be chopped considerably in order to fit the wide V8 so it already was severely weakened. Therefore, some sort of strengthening was definitely needed.
There is still a question about what the front axle looked like. First of all the axle layout itself. From original drawings, it is clear that a normal 11A cradle was used, cut in half from left to right and then lengthening it by 60mm. This way the front of the cradle was further forward then on the 11A. It's unknown what type of balljoints was used. To overcome the heaviness of the steering, the 11A had been equipped with an axle without balljoints. The suspension movement was made possible by a bushed rod and the steering movement was made possible by conical bearings. For this 2 swivelhousings had been placed inside each other.
From November 1934 onwards the 11 was fitted with the same type of front axle as the 7. This was the balljoint type, largely identical to that fitted to the most modern tractions. It could be that the 22 used this type as well.
It's also unclear what type of steering was used. By the end of 1934, all the 7 and 11 models were still fitted with the old type Gremmer steering. This had a steering box next to the left jambonneau and with a number of rods the steering motion was transferred from the box to both wheels. Only in 1936 the rack and pinion steering was fitted to the 7 and 11.
How many cars were actually built?
List of known cars:
So far no 22s have surfaced, although there are numerous rumors of 22s that have escaped being converted. Most of these stories come from the fact that several 22s had been delivered when the project was canceled. Most of these cars were delivered to Citroën importers and other Citroën related personnel. Also well know is the story of a french doctor who took ownership of his car before the project came to a stop. This car seems to have been used in northern parts of France for several years before WW II. In 1948 one Traction Avant 22 was scrapped along with the Yacco Petit Rosalie record holder and one of the first Type A cars, the destruction being ordered by Citroën president Pierre Boulanger (designer of the 2cv).
The research for this page was done for a special reason. When we found our first 1934 Traction Avant 11A we thought it could be a converted 22. The 22 with the V8 engine layout used twin exhaust manifolds with twin downpipes, connecting under the car. On most 1934 and 1935 production cars the exhaust runs through the right jambonneau. For this, holes have been cut in the jambonneau top and bottom with a connecting square tube. On our first 11A there were two of these setups, one on either side of the engine. But it turned out that these were for running the car on Gazogene (wood gas). After looking at some pictures it also became clear that because the 22 had a widened engine bay, there was no need to run the exhaust through the jambonneaus so it went between the engine and the jambonneaus. Our car didn't have a widened engine bay or other alterations for a wider V8 engine and it also had twin air inlets below the windscreen. So it's not very likely that it ever had been a 22.
Since then we have found several other 1934 11A cars, but none showed any sign of being a converted 22. There was an advertisement in a January 1998 La Vie d'Auto:
Sofar only some parts of the 22, like a headlamp surround and one of the metal announcement signs from the 1934 Paris Salon have surfaced. But if you ever come across an old Citroën Traction Avant fitting the search description above, let us know; it might be a 22 CV !
Thanks to Han Schook "Docteur Traction Avant" for providing additional information.