No one approaches automotive engineering and design quite like the French, and of all of the French carmakers, none has been more innovative or visionary for the last 100 years than Citroën.
André Citroën, the company’s namesake and founder, sought to mobilize the French people like never before. Inspired by the American model of mass production, Citroën leapt from a start-up in 1919 to become the largest car manufacturer in Europe in under 10 years.
Citroën was a keen marketer as well. From 1925 to 1934, Citroën rented three sides of the Eiffel Tower and had the Citroën brand name illuminated across it using 250,000 lightbulbs. It was the tallest billboard in the world at the time.
From toy cars to Citroën logos on road signs to transcontinental expeditions in Citroën cars, Andre Citroën wanted his brand to “go viral” nearly a century before that phrase came into use.
Citroën is also known for its technological innovations. From the Traction Avant to the humble yet brilliant 2CV to the revolutionary DS/ID, Citroën engineers such as Pierre Boulanger and André Lefèbvre we’re decades ahead of their time, while Citroën designers headed by Flaminio Bertoni and later, Robert Opron, added a unique style to Citroëns that set them apart from anything else in the market. Many of their engineering and design efforts have been incorporated in all cars manufactured these days.