Citroën - History 1
The 2 CV is the best known Citroën product worldwide, but certainly not a very typical one. The name André Citroën stands for more technical innovation than the world-famous 'duck'. Even if one cannot deny its
function as a pioneer of spacious, inexpensive cars with great driving comfort.
André Citroën was born in 1878 as the fifth child of a Jewish middle-class family. The name (Dutch for 'lemon') comes from his grandfather, who was a trader in the Netherlands of those from the Colony Guyana coming
fruits, but later an even successful jeweler. Without the two dots on the 'e' the company name would be pronounced Dutch 'Citruun'. The father came within the framework of the expansion of the company to Poland,
where he met Andrés mother. From 1872, both chose Paris as their centre of life, but not successfully for long.
After difficulties in the company, the father commits suicide when André is just six years old. At 20 he also loses his mother. He is already successful in his studies, which he completed two years later. He joins
the French army as an engineer. His Polish roots on his mother's side take him on journeys during his childhood and later as an officer there. In any case, he came into contact with with that mysterious, double-angled
toothing that in Poland makes wooden gears particularly quiet and resistant to high loads.
André Citroën leaves the army with his new knowledge and presumably also with a patent acquired in Poland and company foundations are made in France, a second near Paris. (Orly), where he produces gears
mainly for the automotive industry, including Rolls-Royce. The whole thing became very successful and he gained a reputation. Special private connections to the Mors company gave him an additional position as
manager when things went badly with this actually very innovative company in 1908. But in the following five years, production there increased tenfold, so that he can return to his own business.
But not for long, because in 1914 the First World War began and he was drafted as a reserve officer. He recognized the difficulties of ammunition procurement at an early stage. His experience with cogwheel and car
production leads to the planning of a factory with huge premises on the Quai de Javel in Paris, which was particularly supported by the highest military authority. After the war, it became difficult to build a factory with more
than 12,000 employees, who had manufactured up to 20,000 grenades.
Citroën reflected on his experiences at Mors, in his own company and on his travels in 1912 and 1918 to the USA to Henry Ford's giant factory and decided to become Europe's first manufacturer with a large to become a
part of the created series production. He engaged two Panhard-engineers, but they were not able to score with Citroën with their first design, a three-litre four-cylinder. Especially in the post-war period and for the planned
mass production, smaller vehicles would probably be more in demand.
Again, his connections to the army and the resulting acquaintance with the Le-Zèbre engineer Jules Solomon and his construction of a small, only 500 kg heavy car with 1.3 litre capacity and 7 kW (10 HP), with 65 km/h
about as fast as Ford's Tin Lizzy but with less than half capacity, helped him.