We are pleased to provide a status update to the custom-bodied Citroën Challenger roadster that surfaced in the Los Angeles area back in 2000.
Originally sold by Challenger Motors LA, it is a Traction Avant convertible with a Challenger body tag and a Traction engine, which makes it a true Challenger from before the war. (Challenger had to take out a “manufacturing” license since Citroën was not a recognized car builder by the State of California, hence all pre-war cars had a Challenger tag added alongside the Citroën one).
In 2000 the car was advertised in the Online Recycler. It was located at a body shop in a seedy section of LA. By that time the bodywork was massively redone. A photo of the car was still in Challenger’s office in the 1970’s and at that time the car was somewhere in the San Gabriel Valley. It was for sale back then however the guy who had it had used the sheet metal off of a 1938 Buick businessman coupe to customize it. By 2000 it had shed its grill and interior, had a one-piece hood, a trunk that went all the way to the rear and severe rot in the floors and monocoque body requiring an extensive rebuild from the firewall in both directions. The bodyshop, who had it for sale wanted $2800 for it but it could probably be have been had for less. There weren’t any takers…
The tag appears to read: Serial No. 406914, Motor No. DX04830.
After the flurry of activity surrounding the car in 2000, it went quiet until November of 2002 when it showed up on e-bay. The ad for the car read as follows (typos and all):
‘Every car guy wants to have somthing that is the only one in the world here is one of those historically single events after the second world war..an importer dealer who imported our allys cars french peugeots, renaults and Citroëns named challenger motorcars in los angeles built a convertible for … A movie star named maurice chavalier… It was or was not ever completed i do not know but this is the so called provenence on this car in any case here it is and if you are in europe and wish to attend the retro events here is a little car if fi nished in french blue would be a true diamond all steel construction challanger post war data plate’
The car had a minimum bid of $1800.00 US and did not sell. However it was eventually purchased in 2004 by Wiljan Cats in the Netherlands and shipped there for restoration. Wiljan writes:
“I’m glad to let you know that the restoration is nearing it’s completion. All the bodywork has been done, and the car is shining again in a fresh coat of paint. Engine and gearbox are ready to be reinstalled and so is the interior. I hope it to be back on the road within the next couple of months. You may notice that the nose has been changed back to its original Citroën grille. The only single part missing is a speedometer indicating MPH (only found one in KPH). If you would know of one, please let me know.”
Images from Wiljan and Jeroen Cats, and the Online Recycler.