Paris, France. Home to pointy towers, rude waiting staff, Austrian pastries (croissants were invented in Vienna, fact fans) and the Conservatoire - Citroen’s very own, very private Greatest Hits collection.
Tucked away in a top-secret location, next to the PSA factory in the Aulnay-sous-Bois region, it comprises more than 400 vehicles in 6500 square meters of temperature-controlled warehouse. It’s not open to the public, but it is awesome, so we thought you’d appreciate a virtual sneak-around.
The place is absolutely staggering. Firstly, it’s massive. Secondly, all of the cars are absolutely immaculate. Thirdly, there’s literally every contribution the manufacturer made to the wheeled world in here, from the sublime to the Very French.
There’s the first car ever made by the eponymous Andre Citroen - a 1919 Type A - right up to the latest Tubik concept, and the most quintessentially absurd contraptions inbetween. It’s a potent place, this - looking across the ranks of cars you realise just how many contributions this oft-derided manufacturer’s made to motoring.
When you look at the density of innovation in this place, the phrase ‘ahead of its time’ is unavoidable. OK, so we’ve descended into cliché, but we didn’t start it. Citroen did.
There’s the Traction Avant, which is the first car with torsion beam suspension and monocoque construction, The DS, which has swiveling headlights that move with the steering wheel (modern carmakers are still touting this as a cutting-edge innovation), hydraulic self-leveling suspension, which remains a staple of luxury cars. It appeared on the DS back in 1955. The list goes on….
But enough frotting. There’s plenty of stupid stuff too - fancy an AX roadster with a calculator in the dashboard? Or the very 2CV (equipped with four-pot GS engine) used in James Bond: For Your Eyes Only?
Click forth, brave TopGear.commer, and discover the wonders within…