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The story of CitroŽn begins with the founder of the company himself, the engineer Andrť CitroŽn. He built armaments for France during World War I but, after the war, he had a factory and no product. In 1919, the business started to produce automobiles, beginning with the conventional type A model.

Andrť CitroŽn was a keen marketer - he used the Eiffel Tower as the world's largest advertising sign, as recorded in the Guinness book of World Records. He also sponsored expeditions in Asia (CroisiŤre Jaune) and Africa (CroisiŤre Noire), intended to demonstrate the potential for motor vehicles equipped with the Kegresse track system to cross inhospitable regions. The expeditions conveyed scientists and journalists and were a publicity success.

In the beginning, the cars were successful but soon competitors, who still used a wood structure for their bodies, introduced new body designs on their cars. CitroŽn had no way to redesign the body of his cars and they began to be perceived as old-fashioned. The CitroŽns still sold in large quantities, despite the stylistic drawback, but the car's low price was the main selling point and CitroŽn experienced heavy losses.

This encouraged Andrť CitroŽn to develop the Traction Avant, a car so innovative that the competition would have no response. The 'Traction Avant' had three revolutionary features: a unitary body with no separate frame, front wheel independent suspension, and front wheel drive. CitroŽn commissioned Budd to create a prototype, which evolved into the 7 fiscal horsepower (CV), 32 HP Traction Avant of 1934.

The Traction Avant would set major elements of the mechanical design that was to be followed, thirty years later, by the Mini and, today, by nearly every other manufacturer.
 

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