1952 Citroën BIG SIX

Lot 40
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30 000 - 40 000 EUR

1952 Citroën BIG SIX

Complete restoration
Rare Weathershields sunroof fitted as an extra at the factory
Clear history

Swiss registration papers
Chassis number: 9-52 7549
Body number: BPVL6 2012
Engine number: PR 09 441 - casting date: 17.9B.34

Considered an important export market for Citroën, the company's British subsidiary built cars from 1925 - 1966 in its factory at Slough (then part of Buckinghamshire), to the west of London. The Customs regulations required that manufacturers from the Continent fit as many local parts as possible to their cars and the parent company therefore only sent the body and major mechanical components across the Channel, without any ancillary equipment.
It was on this basis that the Traction Avant went into production in autumn 1934, beginning with the 7 (known as the Twelve in line with the British ratings), the 11 (referred to as the Fifteen) and finally the 15 Six (known simply as the Six). The Six appeared in 1940 just after the start of the war and a few dozen cars were assembled at the start of that year. It would be September 1948 before the Six was once again seen on His Majesty's roads, when it made quite an impression. To travel in a Citroën was already quite exotic for the English, but the power and handling of the Six made for an exciting drive.
The English Traction Avant cars were all built in the same way: the main structure of the car and its basic bodyshell were delivered from the quai de Javel, together with various body panels, to be assembled at Slough, using high-quality paints and body protection. Two further jobs were carried out: the battery tray was enlarged to accommodate a 12-volt battery and a sunroof was fitted on a great many models.
The engine arrived as a bare block from Paris, as did the gearbox, but all the other components - such as the starter, dynamo and fuel pump - were British. The same approach was taken with the different accessories: the headlamps (from Lucas), battery, bumpers, electrical equipment and instruments, the radiator grille (still chromeplated) with its chevrons behind it and so on. Finally, the interior was fitted out to the standard expected by British customers: all the trim was in leather (Connolly or Bridge of Weir) and the dashboard was finished in burr walnut.
When the Six returned to the catalogue in 1948/49, the factory at Slough decked it out with all its British fittings, including straight, ribbed bumpers and large Lucas headlamps. There were no trim strips fixed along the beltline, just a simple piece of trim at the leading edge of the rear wing; the windscreen wipers were mounted at the base of the screen, while passengers were accommodated in the elegantly-upholstered interior. The Citroën was an expensive car, reserved for customers who knew what they wanted. The model evolved slightly for the 1950s with the fitment of rounded bumpers with large overriders. The range of colours was much wider than in France, with a choice of metallic finishes, red, green and grey, as well nonetheless as black. For its 1951 catalogue, the English subsidiary proclaimed: “Citroën Six, for Speed and Safety - Famous the World over”. For a price of £1525.
The ‘Big Six' presented here is a 1952 model finished in blue-grey with red leather upholstery and equipped with a Weathershields sunroof, fitted as an extra at the factory. It was owned for a long time by the English connoisseur B.H., who sold it to a major collector of 15s in Belgium before it made its way to its considerate current owner.
He carried out a rigorous restoration of the entire car over the period 2014 - 2015.
The bodywork was restored by Hubert Haberbusch, the engine by J.D. Favez and the gearbox by Aloïs Peter. The seats and carpets were handed over to Andover Family Upholstery in the UK, but the door cards, which were in very good original condition, were kept.
With only 1300 units built in all, the Six is an exceptional car; many were exported and few survive. Today, you have the opportunity to acquire one of these fabulous big saloons in as-new condition, with just a few heart-warming traces of its original patina.
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