Today we celebrate that on this day 140 years ago André Citroën was born. His foresight, innovation entrepreneurship and marketing expertise played a predominant role in the automobile industry and of course his influence in the lives of every one of us in Citroenvie is the reason we pay homage to his genius.
Aside from playing a significant part in our lives, André Citroën was an exceptional visionary. He capitalized on the mass manufacturing of armaments during WWI and transformed that business to manufacturing cars at the end of the war. He was shrewd yet also a risk taker in both his personal and business endeavors.
On the night of 4 July 1925, thousands of Parisians gawped in amazement as 250,000 light bulbs burst into life on the Eiffel Tower, emblazoning the name Citroën across the French capital. Even for a man renowned as one of the pioneers of modern communication, renting the tower was a daring and memorable coup. The letters, each more than 100 feet high, created a gigantic display so bright that it could be seen 60 miles away, and it came to be recorded in The Guinness Book Of Records as the world’s largest ad. For the next nine years, the lights continued to shine in tribute to a man dubbed Europe’s answer to Henry Ford by making mass-produced cars accessible to millions of people.
André Citroën’s courage to stake the company on the next big thing became his undoing with the Traction Avant, and while the pressure of that gamble contributed to his death in 1935, if it wasn’t for his courage and dedication to building the Traction Avant, the devotion he instilled in his employees, and sense that there was more to explore in every new undertaking, the engineering and design teams in the Citroën company would most likely not have gone on to develop the 2CV, the DS and the other models the company introduced that were cut from a different cloth (and arguably a cut above) in comparison to offerings from other automobile manufacturers.
As people trying to preserve Citroen’s automotive accomplishments today and experience the driving pleasure they afforded owners in an era where everything else seemed mundane, we owe André Citroën an immense degree of gratitude for enabling us to have a means of mobility that makes us appreciate these classic Citroëns, to contemplate how they came to be and moreover to drive them and experience their marvelous virtues. Vehicles that have clearly distinguished André Citroen and the company he built to be a significant part of automotive history.