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Citroën Traction Avant 22

© Copyright: J.Cats.

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.
October 1934: Several cars and an engine at display on the Paris Salon Motorshow and at the factory showrooms in Paris.
1935: The remaining 22s are converted to 11A specification and sold.

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 363522 000?Car used for type approval

  • The ET body number refers to the Bureau des Etudes which means this car was a pre production test car.
  • It seems that all 22s had a body number starting with 02.

Here are the specifications, comparing the 22 with the 11A.

Traction Avant 22Traction Avant 11A
Wheelbase Berline:3.15 meters3.09 meters
Wheelbase Limousine:3.33 meters3.27 meters
Front track width:1.43 meters1.46 meters
Rear track width:1.46 meters1.45 meters
Height:1.56 meters1.54 meters
Weight Berline:1175 kg1100 kg
Weight Limousine:1225 kg1170 kg
Type:8 cylinder 90o V4 cylinder in line
Bore x Stroke:78x10078x100
Power:90 bhp46 bhp
Tyres:160x40150x40 (160x40 on LWB cars)
Topspeed:140 km/h / 90 mph105 km/h / 70 mph
0-100 km/h / 0-60 mph:20 seconds?
Fuel consumption:19 liters on 100km / 100km/h11 liters on 100km / 110km/h

Characteristics for the 1934 22


  • Front axle:
    The cradle of the front axle is a lengthened 11A cradle. The suspension is the same as the second type 11A with balljoints. The shockabsorbers are telescopic and the brake drums are the 6 stud 11A ones.

  • Steering:
    The Gemmer double bearing steering box is used, possibly with a deflector to reduce shock introduced in the steering from the wheels.

  • Engine:
    There is a blue print of the original engine still known today. It is dated June 16th 1934. It's not 2 11 engines welded together as often thought. Very few parts from the 11 engine are actually used. Cylinderheads, engine block, crankshaft, conrods etc are very different.

  • Engine mounts:
    Unlike the 11 of the same time, the more modern Pausodyne system is used with one suspension point on top of the gearbox and two spring loaded suspension points on the sides of the engine. The rubber mount on the back of the engine is fitted as well.

  • Gearbox:
    Both 3 and 4 speed gearboxes were tested on the 22. For production it was decided to use the 3 speed gearbox and this was displayed at the Paris salon and pictured in the brochures. Nothing is know about how the gearboxes were internally, but as far as can be deduced from the pictures, very little parts would be common with the normal Traction Avant gearbox.

  • Rear axle:
    The rear axle is round with twin locating rods, identical to the one found on the 11A but wider. It features telescopic shockabsorbers and increased thickness torsion bars. The brake drums are the 6 stud 11A ones.

  • Exhaust:
    Twin pipes coming from the twin manifolds, joining under the car, going into a bigger then normal silencer and exiting in the middle of the car (with twin exit pipes?)

  • Fuel tank:
    The fuel tank has a 50 liter capacity and has 2 filler openings, one on either side of the spare wheel.

  • Electrics:
    As found on the 11A


  • Bumpers:
    Above the normal 11 bumpers, short additional bumper pieces are fitted at the ends.

  • Horns:
    The horns are placed just below the headlights behind little triangular grilles.

  • Grille:
    The grille is 5cm wider then the 11A one, and has 1 extra bar on either side of the middle bar. It also has a different curvature and an 8 is placed on the middle bar.

  • Front wings:
    The front wings are much bigger then those found on the 11. They have incorporated headlights and additional mounting points on top of the bumper supports.

  • Headlights:
    The headlights are incorporated into the wings.

  • Bonnet:
    The bonnet is 120mm longer then the one found on the 11A, it's wider at the front and only has 1 shutter on each side.

  • Windscreen surround:

  • Wheels:
    The wheels are the 6 stud 150x40/160x40 wheels as found on the 11A with 160x40 tyres fitted. All wheels have a chrome clip on ring fitted to the outer edge.

  • Body:
    The body is identical to the 1934 11A apart from:
    • Only one ventilation opening below the windscreen.
    • Widened engine bay at the rear to make room for the V8.
    • Pausodyne engine supports at the sides of the engine bay.
    • No hole in the right jambonneau for the exhaust.
    • Rear inner wings have space and mountings for Spicer telescopic shockabsorbers.

  • Doors:
    The doors are identical to those found on the 11A. On the waistline a chrome trim strip is fitted starting on the front doors and continuing on the body behind the rear door.

  • Rear wings:
    The wings have a very small width and are the identical to those of a 7 of the same age. Each wing has a hole with a curved edge for a rear light 29 cm above the bottom of the wing.

  • Rear lights:
    Two round rear lights are located in the rear wings. The lights have a pressed steel profiled edge and flat red glass with a small "lump" in the center.

  • Rear license plate holder:
    The illuminated license plate holder is mounted in the middle above the rear bumper, mounted on brackets secured between the body and the dress panel between the wings. The license plate is lit by painting the digit negatives on transparent plastic, with two lights behind the plastic in the holder.

  • Spare wheel cover:
    The spare wheel cover is made up by several pieces. One piece is put on the body, after which the wheel is placed on the body and secured. Then the outer piece is put on the wheel. A chromed steel ring with a spring in it keeps the 2 pieces together. The hubcap is put on last securing the cover to the wheel.


  • Floor:
    The floor is flat without reinforcement dents. The sill which carries the front seats/bench has a compartment for the jack if a front bench is fitted to the car. When separate seats have been fitted (optional) the compartment is not available (the space is used for fixation of the seats).

  • Dashboard:
    The dashboard has a central placed combined speedometer (160 km/h), oil pressure meter, fuel gauge (50 liter) and amp meter with black digits on white background and red meter hands. It also has 2 glove compartments. The lights are operated by a switch to the right of the speedometer and a ring on the steering wheel. The horns are operated by a knob in the center of the steering wheel. The gear selector surround has Arabic digits and is the same shape and size as the light switch surround. The gears are located differently in the gate from the other Traction Avants. One additional lever is fitted to the dashboard to operate the ventilation shutter. Special for the 22 is the additional sigarette lighter.

  • Pedals:

  • Front seat:
    The front bench is for 3 persons without the chrome bar at the top of the back rest. This bench is covered with more luxurious cloth then the 11 with two longitudinal bars stitched in it. Separate seats are optional.

  • Rear seat:
    The rear bench is upholstered the same way as the front one. Because these cars don't have a boot lid, the rear back rest can be opened, hinging at the top and secured with 2 leather straps.

  • Door panels:
    The door panels are from the same material as the benches and have a curve stitched into them, filled with wood. The doors have a small pocket for roadmaps.

  • Window surrounds:
    The window surrounds are painted with wood imitation paint.

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.

Front axle

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?
For years it has been unclear how many cars had been built. Numbers ranged from a few toa few dozen. Throught the photos and records found through the years a list has been compiled. This list contains cars of which their existence is proven by some kind of documentation (mostly photographs, some written records).

List of known cars:

  • Paris Autosalon, October 1934
    • Red Cabriolet, on display inside.
    • Black Limousine, on display inside.
    • Cream / Black Berline, on display inside
    • Red convertible, available for test drives (with driver!) outside.
  • Factory Showroom Champ s'Elysee, October 1934
    • Black Coupe, on display inside.
    • Black Familiale, available for test drives (with driver!) outside.
  • Factory Showroom Place de l'Europe, October 1934
    • Beige Cabriolet, on display inside.
    • light (gray?) / Black Berline, on display inside.
  • Factory Showroom Place de l'Opera, October 1934
    • Cabriolet, on display inside.
  • Beahr Dealership.
    • 22 unknown model.
  • Place de Viste, Lyon.
    • Black Familiale.
  • Circuit Monthlery
    • Cabriolet in primer.
This list is thought to not count any cars twice, however, after all these years it's difficult to be certain. It's unclear which of these cars was used for type approval testing or if another car was used for this.

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:
Wanted: 1934/1935 11A with one air inlet below the windscreen and a widened engine bay, complete with a drawing of the engine bay modification!
I guess we are not the only ones searching...

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.

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