1953 Citroen Traction Avant 11BL

Registration Number OSL282
Engine Size 1991cc
Engine Number 610072
Chassis Number 610072

Manufactured 17/12/1952
Imported 17/10/1985 assigned reg ESV470
Re registered to OSL282 in Aug 2000

There was a very detailed website about OSL282 describing its restoration by David Faulkner. This website became defunct a few years ago, but thanks to the wonders of the internet, I have managed to recover most of it and it can be found HERE.

Some places visited so far HERE

Pictures of the car HERE

Here is description from when it was offered at auction at Brightwells in May 2024


Sympathetically restored about 12 years ago and only 13,000 miles since; various subtle upgrades; runs like a Swiss watch; huge history file; the nicest we have seen

Launched in 1934, the Traction Avant was an extraordinary car which positively bristled with innovations. Not only the world’s first mass-produced front-wheel drive car, it was also one of the first to feature a welded steel monocoque body, rack-and-pinion steering, hydraulic brakes, synchromesh transmission and independently sprung front suspension.

Considerably stronger, lighter and lower slung than conventional designs of its era, the Traction Avant initially used a 1.3-litre 32bhp engine, which delivered 62mph and 28mpg economy with exemplary handling and stability.

Only available in black, the updated 11B was launched in 1937, now with a 1.9-litre engine producing 46bhp which raised the top speed to nigh on 70mph. It also had a longer wheelbase and a wider track, a lighter and more sporty 11BL version also being offered (the ‘L’ standing for ‘Legere’). Production resumed after WW2 and lasted until 1957, when the Traction was replaced by the equally revolutionary DS after 760,000 examples had been sold, making it a huge success for Citroen.

This gorgeous 11BL Legere comes with a Citroen ‘Diplome de Collectionneur’ confirming that it left the Paris factory in December 1952. It was imported to the UK in October 1985 and was used around London for the next 15 years, moving to Kent in 2000. From 2012 – 2020 it was owned by a Mr Faulkner of Northumberland who spent much time and money on the car to bring it up to the standard you see here.

Clearly a Citroen fanatic, he documented his time with the car on a dedicated website, much of which is reproduced in paper form in the history file (the actual website is now sadly defunct). The full extent of the work is far too detailed to list in full here, but is amply documented in many hundreds of invoices and photos on file.

The car was already in good order when he acquired it, structurally sound but with dull paintwork, so the doors, wings, boot, bonnet and glass were all removed and the car was treated to some minor bodywork repairs followed by a full repaint in RAL9005 Gloss Black. New door hinges were fitted, along with new door and window rubbers and extra sound deadening material was installed. It also got new lights and indicators all round and new stainless steel door mirrors.

The interior was also mainly good, the seats had already been retrimmed in tan leather and the matching leather door cards were also good but had buckled so the back boards were renewed and the handles were all replaced. The original headlining was in good shape but the carpets were shot so these were renewed and new inertia reel seat belts were fitted in the front. The white Quillery Viraflex sprung steering wheel is a rare option, a tactile delight which sets the cabin off beautifully.

Mechanically the car was also in decent shape, the engine had been converted to run on unleaded fuel and it had received a new timing chain and sprockets, electronic ignition, new clutch plus much else besides. The drive shafts had also been uprated to CV type instead of the original Harvey Spicer type.

The whole braking system was fully rebuilt and uprated with servo assistance, as was the suspension with new shock absorbers all round and new bushes. The steering rack was also rebuilt, the wheel bearings were all replaced and a stainless steel exhaust was fitted. The wiring loom was renewed, the car was converted from 6v to 12v and the dynamo was replaced by a 75 amp alternator. A new set of quality Michelin 165x400 tyres were fitted, including the spare.

The car was then used throughout the summer of 2013, clocking up some 1,700 miles, but it had developed an oil leak so over the winter it was sent to Traction specialist James Geddes of Morpeth who soon diagnosed worn white metal bearings.

This resulted in a full engine rebuild with new pistons, liners, reground crank etc. The original white metal bearings were all upgraded with modern shell bearings and uprated 11D con rods were also fitted along with an uprated oil pump (50psi instead of 30psi), the cost for this lot coming to some £2,600.

The Solex 32 PBIC carb was also fully rebuilt and it got Powerspark electronic ignition and an uprated 4-core radiator. Additional oil pressure and water temperature gauges were also fitted to the left of the steering wheel to forewarn of any potential problems in the future (standard Tractions do not have these).

Back on the road in early 2014, the engine was carefully run in for 1,200 miles and in September of that year it completed a 1,000 mile tour around France as part of the Traction Avant 80th Anniversary Rally.

In regular use for the next few years, it then had another major bout of expenditure in 2018 including a new crown wheel and pinion supplied by Jose Franssen of Belgium who has supplied many parts for the car over the years. The gearbox was also fully rebuilt by Mark Harding of Devon with new bearings, pinions etc. which cost £690, another £985 being spent with James Geddes to refit the ‘box into the car along with a new clutch, flywheel etc.

Geddes also rebuilt the cylinder head in 2019 after an exhaust valve got damaged, with new valves, springs, rocker shaft etc. at a cost of £1,188. The fuel lines, pump and filter were also replaced to make them safe with today’s Ethanol fuel.

Mr Faulkner finally sold the car in October 2020 and the current registered keeper has continued to look after it well, including a major £1,250 service by Citroen specialist Andrew Galt of Salisbury in May 2021 since when the car has only covered a few hundred miles. It seems from the MOT history that the car has only done around 21,000kms (13,000 miles) since the engine rebuild in the winter of 2013.

There are some useful spares in the boot along with an indoor car cover plus a packet of Gauloises cigarettes and a string of very Gallic fake onions! An original instruction book and copy maintenance manual are also present along with many Traction club newsletters and Traction-related magazines.

Highly effective, even in today’s traffic, the Traction Avant was so far ahead of its time that it still makes an ideal everyday classic, despite being over 70 years old. There is a thriving owner’s club and parts and expertise are in plentiful supply from the many specialists who cater for the model.

As you can see the in the photos, this particular Traction looks absolutely gorgeous, both inside and out, and the underside looks equally good. The paintwork still gleams and the only real blemish we noted was some slight bubbling at the bottom corners of the driver-side doors. Starting instantly and running incredibly smoothly as we have moved it around on site, with healthy oil pressure, the engine is so quiet you can barely hear it running from inside the car.

Meticulously maintained and uprated over the last dozen years, with a vast history file, it is by far the nicest example we have ever offered and looks stupendous value at the modest guide price suggested.


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