1948 Citroen Light 15 Traction Avant (RHD)

Highlights


  • Original right hand drive Slough built Light 15
  • Gorgeous condition throughout
  • Desirable 11BL “small boot” body

The Appeal


The Traction Avant was a ground breaking car in many respects and Andre Citroen knew he had a sales hit on his hands. He invested heavily in production of the new Traction Avant during the early 1930s, perhaps too heavily, and despite good sales Citroen went into bankruptcy in 1934. The company was bought by Michelin who subsequently owned Citroen until 1976.

Over a 23 year production period 759,111 Light 15 Traction Avants were built, 26,400 of them in the UK at Slough, as well as at factories in France, Germany, Belgium and Denmark.  

This was essentially a way round paying import taxes. The Slough built cars were nearly all right hand drive and had to have 51 percent UK sourced parts to qualify as “Made in Great Britain”. The Slough-built cars, referred to as Light 15s, used 12-volt Lucas electrics, headlights, dynamo and starter. The interior had a walnut dash board with Jaeger instruments, Connolly leather seats and door panels and a wool headlining. The exterior was fitted with slightly different bumpers and a revised chrome grille.

Technically ahead of its time in period, and now recognised for their driveability, simple mechanics and Gallic charm, Slough built right hand drive Light 15s are the pick of the bunch. The better proportioned, short wheelbase 11BL body with its smaller boot is the most sought after model.
We assure you very few are as nice as this one.

History and Paperwork


● Built in 1948 at Citroen Slough factory in right hand drive.
● Attractive “small boot” 11BL body
● Registered in NZ from 1949 to 1993 with list of owners
● Imported from New Zealand in 1993
● Just 3 UK owners
● Large history file with big £ invoices
● New Zealand registration documents
● Engine rebuilt in 1999 and 2018
● Gearbox rebuilt in 1999 and 2011
● Brakes rebuilt in 2018
● New Michelin tyres in 2018
● Speedometer replaced in 2016
● Lots of old MoTs on file
● Photographic record of 2018 engine rebuild
● Citroen Light 15 Instruction Book and Repair Manual

The Interior


● Delightfully original interior
● Beautiful red leather seats
● Immaculate walnut woodwork

Possibly the nicest aspect of the interior is its original appearance. Upon dropping into the seat through the rear hinged driver’s door you can tell immediately that everything is correct and pretty much perfect.  The steering wheel is a period Bluemels item, with 4 wire “banjo” spokes and a rope wrapped rim.  The dash is entirely made of wood, with the instruments set in an aluminium insert.  

The large speedometer was changed in 2016 (according to notes on file) and is flanked by an ammeter, clock and fuel gauge, plus ignition key and light switch.  To the left of the driver is the gear lever that sprouts at a jaunty angle from the dashboard.  Simplicity itself, with just 3 forward gears plus reverse it is easy to use and shifts smoothly. The indicator switch is mounted on the column, with the horn button on the end. 

There are two knobs that when turned crank the bottom of the windscreen outwards for better ventilation.

The red carpets are immaculate and match the red leather seats perfectly. The fronts show a little more age than the rears, but nothing more than some light creasing.  There are seat belts fitted for all occupants. The roof lining is taut and clean with no mottling or stains.  

The rear mounted spare wheel is attached to the boot lid, and once tilted open the boot space is surprisingly generous. Lined with fawn carpet, it is very clean with only the odd mark from luggage and no damage.  The brace, scissor jack and other tools are all present and stored beneath the boot floor.

A good look at the photographs and we are sure you’ll agree; we think it’s hard to find fault with the interior; it is simply a lovely place to be!

The Exterior

 
● Excellent white paintwork
● Good chrome
● Matching white wheels with new Michelin tyres

These Traction Avant Citroens look fabulous from any angle, particularly this example.  The smaller booted 11BL version is better balanced with a shorter wheelbase than the 11CV and 15/6 versions. The welded body/chassis construction was ahead of its time and would become known as Unitary or Unibody construction that is still used today.  This allowed a much lower floor and roofline giving the Light 15 an almost Hot Rod appearance and sporty stance.  

The exterior is as nice as the inside.  The colour is a soft white, not bright, perhaps we could call it Old French White? The paint has been well applied, with no peel areas or runs, and there are no dents to the body.  On white steel wheels with recently fitted Michelin tyres the Citroen sits just “right”. Upon close inspection there are a few small marks in the paint here and there, but none bad enough to spoil the appearance.  

There are a couple of touched-in marks on the boot lid and rear wing and a mark on the front bumper that has been touched in with silver paint. The remaining chrome work is all excellent, as is the glass. The front grille is clean with no dents.  It is the correct Slough installed piece with the Citroen chevrons mounted behind the grill slats.  The lights all appear to function correctly.

Theirs is little that could be improved on the exterior; we think it’s just right as it is.

The Mechanics 


● Photographic engine rebuild in 2018
● Gearbox and brakes rebuilt
● Numerous invoices for work completed

We were lucky enough to drive the Citroen to and from the photo venue, and we were not disappointed as it drives beautifully.  Sure, it’s no racing car, but it cruises along happily with no untoward noises, light steering and a gearbox that is easy to use after a few minutes practice. 

Under the bonnet all appears correct with no drips and all period correct parts. With a comprehensive history of engine rebuilds, plenty of maintenance and steady use over the years it’s been back in the UK we think this Citroen unlikely to have any major issues in the short term. 

Summary


As you might have surmised if you have read the description to this point, we like this car.  With its comprehensive history, excellent record of care and maintenance it should be a reliable and interesting classic to own.  Now, if only we had the space… and the money!

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Vehicle specification
  • Year 1948
  • Make Citroen
  • Model Traction Avant 11BL (Light 15)
  • Colour White
  • Odometer 3,041 Miles
  • Engine size 1911
Auction Details
  • Seller Type Trade
  • Location Sussex
  • Country United Kingdom
Bidding history
13 bids from 5 bidders
  • griffit•••• £19,000 06/09/22
  • David T•••• £18,500 06/09/22
  • griffit•••• £18,250 06/09/22
  • David T•••• £17,750 06/09/22
  • griffit•••• £17,500 06/09/22
  • David T•••• £16,750 06/09/22
  • xlvaffi•••• £16,500 06/09/22
  • David T•••• £16,250 06/09/22
  • xlvaffi•••• £16,000 06/09/22
  • David T•••• £15,500 06/09/22

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