100 Cars That Changed History
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31. Citroën Traction Avant 1934–1957 France
Traction Avant is French for “front-wheel drive.” This was the first unitary bodied, front-wheel drive production car in the world. The Traction Avant pioneered front-wheel drive would transform first European then the world’s mass production market. The suspension on this model was very advanced for its time. The front wheels were independently sprung, using a torsion bar and a wishbone suspension arrangement. The Traction Avant was also considerably lighter than most vehicles, making it able to reach speeds over 60mph while maintaining conservative fuel usage. During World War II the Germans invaded France, disrupting production leading to sparse numbers of Traction Avants being made until 1945 when full production resumed.
*Car of the Century Finalist