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Homepage. This page: A couple of ladies photographed in a RHD Citroen Type C tourer in the 1920s/1930s.

A vintage Citroen 5CV Torpedo.

5CV Citroen car

This is another pic from Nigel's family album. The identity of this car was initially a bit of a puzzle, until someone on the forum identified it for us as Citroen's 5CV Torpedo, from the twenties, a French car of 856cc that is rarely seen in the UK now.

The 5CV was produced between 1922 and 1926. The first cars were known as the Type C, which evolved into the C2, and finally the C3 Cloverleaf in 1925, which benefited from a slightly longer chassis, offering an increase in interior space and enabled a single rear seat to be squeezed in between the front seat occupants and the folding hood. Unusually for a car of this age, it has an electric starter motor, so no swinging on the handle every time you wanted to start it up. The marketing back in the 1920s pointed out this feature, advising that it would be especially beneficial to the female automobilist(e). I wonder if that is why the two ladies in this photograph picked a Citroen, as opposed to a home-grown motor car?

Apart from the electrical side of things, the sidevalve-powered four cylinder Citroen 5CV was a simple, no-frills car, offering an affordable and straightforward mode of transport, and positioned one step up the pecking order from the lightweight cyclecars that were popular at the time with former motorcyclists (in the same way that bubble cars caught on with ex-bike riders in the 1950s). It might sound worrying that front wheel brakes were never fitted to the 5 CV, the 20s motorist making do with braking to the rear wheels only, and a transmission brake. However with a top speed of only 37mph or so, demon braking was rarely missed. Note how there was only a door on the passenger side, the driver's side sporting a fixed panel onto which the spare wheel was attached.

The 5CV was produced in two French factories, both owned by Citroen, and both former plants for different motor manufacturers. Many 5CVs were built in what had been a Clement-Bayard factory, used during the First World War by Citroen for munitions production apparently. The remainder were produced down the road at the former Mors plant. A variant was also produced in Germany, at Opel's plant in Russelsheim, employing a slightly pokier engine of 950cc. A rather smart 5hp van was also offered by Citroen, code named VL.

There is much more information about the 5CV on this site: 5HP Citroen (English version).

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