In the 1960s and 70s, there were three futuristic looking Citroën based buses that ferried tourists around Paris. They were double-decker vehicles manufactured by Currus. (We first wrote about them back in the Fall of 2009 and posted an update in the Winter of 2011.)
These coaches caused a sensation as soon as they were introduced and they operated until the end of the 1970s.
The first Cityrama coach on a Citroën chassis was delivered in 1956 by coachbuilder Currus located on rue Watteau in Paris. The Parisian tour operator wanted to replace an aging fleet with a reliable vehicle in an innovative style that was easy to maintain.
The designer, Albert Lemaitre was inspired by the style of the Mouche boats that sailed on the Seine in Paris.
Two-thirds of the bodywork is glazed to give passengers a panoramic view. The center-portion of the roof consists of plexiglass roof panels that are retractable, sliding on rails. The curved plexiglass panels of the roof were shaped (after extensive testing) in wooden molds. An earpiece and a selector located on the armrest of each seat allowed commentary to be chosen from eight languages.
An anecdote about the enormous size of the Cityrama is that is was necessary to dismantle a wall of the workshop to take out the first copy which had a height of 4.35 meters.
Now there is a campaign underway to restore the only surviving one, built in 1959. The Fédération Française des Véhicules d’Époque (dedicated to preserving French heritage) and Motul France (a French company specializing in the design, development and distribution of lubricants for engines) are tackling the project and fundraising through this website. They are aiming to raise 50,000 €, which seems incredibly low given all the work that needs to be done. (As of this article’s date – July 3, 2002, they have raised 21% of their goal — 10,952 €.)
Here are photos of the only surviving Cityrama coach — just pulled out of storage for display at the Ruralies on weekend of June 26 and at Le Mans Classic.
As you can see, this Cityrama coach needs to be completely restored. The mechanics reportedly work but the body has suffered from corrosion, and the canopy has not stood the test of time. Its restoration is being co-ordinated by ANAU (Normandy Association of Old Utilitaires), an organization with a mandate to safeguard and restore French commercial vehicles over 30 years old. It brings together around thirty enthusiasts from all over Normandy.
Plans call for Normandy Classics, DG Carosserie, Normandy usinage (a machine shop), all in the Normandy village of Granville, to have the honour of bringing it back to life.
The restoration will focus in four stages:
- chassis and the mechanical components
- bodywork and the glazing
- interior fittings including upholstery
With that much plexiglass, we hope they equip it with modern air-conditioning!
Here are two videos. The first tells the story of the Citroën 55 based CityRama tour buses from Paris in the 1960s.
The second is a short video of the only remaining example. It also describes the fundraising effort to allow this piece of history to be restored.