New member in Suffolk, no car yet, but am considering..

Traction Owner’s Club Forums General discussions New member in Suffolk, no car yet, but am considering..

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    Non Member

      Hi, I’m Pete  ( preference to peat !) .  I’m early sixties and live just a little north of Ipswich, Suffolk (East Anglia).  I’ve owned a number of A-series Citroens during my youthful years, and presently have an Ami-Super Berline which I brought back from Slovenia (where Citroen had a satellite factory to build cars for the local market).  Unfortunately or foolishly (whichever !) I spent too much time and money on the Ami-super before recognising the undeniable fact that it is too small to be comfortable for anyone over 6′-3″.   And being of such an age – I’ve owned quite a few ‘other’ cars and motorcycles over the years – which might now be loosely described as ‘classics’, and I have restored a few / or at least much improved those cars from their condition as bought.  But I am a novice / picking up only what I’ve read about cars from the 40’s and 50’s  (..the nearest I got was a ’59 XK150, a ’59 TR3, and a ’62 MGA).  I do have a number of post-war Sunbeam motorcycles though, so I do relate to  ‘modest’ performance, leaky carburettors, 60+ year old 6v wiring and electrics, and barely-adequate braking performance.

      I’ve only just joined the TOC and am here as much as anything to find out or rather feel as to whether I might like to own a Traction, and then to establish whether I might afford such a car,  and I guess also to see if I might fit in here.!

      The first matter.. ‘feel as to whether I might like to own a Traction’ comes down in no small part to my being 6′-5″ (1.95cm) tall and 230lb in broadness.  I very much like the elegant style of a Rover P2 and other marques of a similar vintage and look, or indeed the slightly later Riley RM ..but each of these are RWD and sit aloof their chassis rails ..and so driver’s accommodation and peddle-room is particularly limited.  The Traction’s unity-body presents a much lower floor (compared to their contemporaries) but then too is the overall height of the cars – so I don’t know until I try one or two – whether the space, or indeed the proportions, of the TA driving position will suit me.  And even then I’ll have to balance up the pros & cons of owning another Citroen -vs- other marques.  Although the TA is an attractive proposition and I like ingenuity in their design – I have a great deal to learn.

      From the little I have gleaned so far ; the TA’s three speed gearbox and the specialist tools required appear to be achilles heels.  I also very much prefer the Slough built car’s interiors to their French counterparts, but then it’s a very limited market suit my minimalist budget (..redundancy prompting early retirement).  I also understand being Slough built rules out any of the long-wheelbase models – that’s unfortunate :((

      The second point, briefly touched upon is whether I might afford a Traction Avant.  That of course comes down to being in the right place at the right time (..I’m not yet ready to buy until I sell something else).  My third concern is whether I might fit in here (amongst Traction Owners) because I’m not rich and I snub snobbery.  Just a few years ago, I owned a beautiful (..after many hours of work on her) ’66 S-type  Jaguar 3.8 ..and despite being a senior professional at that time – I never felt comfortable with most club members or golf club luncheons.  To me, even the 2cv club has become pretentious and pseudo-fashionable.  Personally I’d prefer / and want an oily rag car in reliable, much loved, daily-driving order.  I’m not particularly concerned with ‘originality’ but prefer my own mod’s to be in keeping with the style and era.  I might add that – although opinionated, I’m generally not confrontational or outspoken. I simply cannot be arsed with twits, so I quietly slip away.

      So there we have it.  I’m Pete.  How do you do.  :))

      p.s.  I live between Witnesham and Westerfield so anyone in the area or passing, please feel to drop in for a coffee and chat – 07958 100 633

      • This topic was modified 5 years, 4 months ago by Non Member.
      Richard Larter

        Hi Pete

        And welcome to Traction world. Your size should not be a problem as for a publicity stunt Citroen squeezed a Polish count into a Traction and he was over 7 foot tall, not sure whether he drove it but he did work for Citroen. Slough built cars did come in two sizes, the Light 15 and the larger Big 15 although the latter are not so common, the even larger Familial and Comercial were not built at Slough.

        Cheers Richard

        David Faulkner

          You can make a set of seat adaptors to move the seat back (details in Floating Power) but if you regularly want to carry adult passengers in a small bodied car it might be a bit restricting, so a ‘Big 15’ may be the way to go but do try driving a Traction compared to anything else of the era, there is no comparison 🙂

          Non Member

            Thanks Richard and David for your prompt replies.  I’d familiarised myself with the Light (Legere) and Big (Normale) models, but thank you for confirming that the Familiale and Commerciale were not made to Slough specs.   Might I ask – what is the difference is between the 11cv Normale and the 11cv Limousine.  Were these the same wheelbase but 4 and 6 light respectively. ?

            And, if I were fortunate enough to find a long wheelbase car from France or Belgium, would it be a practical proposition to convert to RHD ?  (my Ami is LHD and it’s OK but not ideal).

            The seats I do move back., and even though I did this for the Ami – there’s not a lot of foreleg height because the body sits aloof the A-series chassis. Nor is there length because so does the front axle tube / steering rack ..just t’other side of bulkhead.   If I moved the seat back any further, then I’m sitting with shoulders positioned behind the B-post the seat-belts would have to be remounted to somewhere across the rear doors.

            I have changed the driver’s seat for one from the deluxe model of Ami, which gave an adjustable backrest ..and that helps a little, even though I have to do a sit-up to reach the gear change ( it’s good exercise ..but not slick :))   Sorry if this all sounds like I’m whining – I don’t wish to.  I’m just explaining that I’ve been adaptive – but really I’m just too big.  It cannot be helped ..and at my age I really don’t want to aggravate back problems .

            The steering column also has a UJ at its bottom inbetween the pedals with a rubber boot over it, which very much limits where my size 12 feet might go.  I narrowed the central gear-change box to gain an extra inch or more, so it is perfectly usable now ..but not really for me to travel hours at a time.

            And I also tried lowering the seat’s squab, but found this posture akin to that of a collapsed beach chair ..with my knees up and my behind down  – a non too comfortable stance.  And getting in and out was not easy because the seat frame tubes are high to either side.  So with the seat squab where it should be – I have to duck to see traffic lights and my head touches the underside of the roof. Fortunately there’s no metal headlining bars just there.  I have considered changing the seat yet again to one where the cushion sits on top of its frame, rather than is slung between them like the Ami’s and other A-series, but really I’d still be on a hiding to nothing regarding legroom.  It’s disappointing but the bottom line is that I’ll be selling this car because it’s just not convenient nor comfortable to use

            I can’t blame the cars nor their designers, as apparently my stature is only of one soul in ten-thousand, but I would say to kids – ” DON’T eat your vegetables – they’ll make you grow.! ”  😉


              Hi Pete, Welcome aboard.

              I think I recognise your story from an internet forum dedicated to less than glamorous older cars. One day I’ll come out of the closet and sign up – for now I’m one of the lurkers – it really makes me laugh! I was pleased someone suggested the Traction as a usable 40’s / 50’s car – it certainly is. My car regularly takes me to work and back – 18 miles each way, country lanes and dual carriageway. With the wide body you get huge leg room in the back which can make up for the smallish boot.

              Parts are pretty easy to get – at least for the post 1936 cars. I’d advise getting a car with a 1911cc engine because they are the most drivable and also the best parts availability. You’ll most likely end up with a 50’s car. When you drive one for the first time (once you mastered the gear change) you’ll be struck by how modern the drive is – precise rack and pinion steering, radial tyres and decent brakes (well they should be decent). This means you can keep up with traffic.

              Rust is the thing to look for – especially in the floor and sills because they hold the car together. Boot floors, battery boxes and doors also rust but they don’t matter so much. Slough cars always had flippers and often had sunroofs both of which allow water in so they rusted a bit more than French cars – but 60 years on all that means is more Slough cars have been scrapped. Secondhand wings and doors can be found. Some cars have GRP wings. Anything mechanical is fixable.

              One of our members is currently having to sell his 1926 B12 Taxi because he is too tall (6’4″) for it. He fits comfortably in his Normale. My sons are 6’7″ and a bit and fit mine comfortably too. Like David I would advise a wide body car – Big 15 or Normale – because you’ll also need some elbow room. But you want Slough so you can’t have a Normale – which will restrict your choice a bit. In which case best not be too worried about what size boot you want. The wider cars are easier to work on.

              As you know there are cars with ID / DS engines and / or 4 speed boxes. There are several different ways of making the gear change work for 4 speeds – some more complex than others. A simpler mod is to fit a higher ratio crown wheel and pinion to a 3 speed box. My Normale is bog standard 3 speed with the standard final drive ratio which suits me fine so I can’t comment on which is best. The further you go from standard the more careful you need to be with repairs. For instance if you have the crossflow head on the DS engine the exhaust needs to be custom and you need to remember which car the water hoses were originally made for.

              Even if the car is essentially standard spec it quite likely isn’t completely – diaphragm clutches and CV joints are common upgrades – again with a variety of designs – and there are some cars with modified brakes and suspension.

              Since you want a Slough car you’ll already have the benefit of 12 volts which makes adding a radio and decent lights easier.

              Someone on Autoshite mentioned the hydraulic suspension cars – you won’t be getting one of those! Many $$$! The car with the BX diesel engine has standard suspension – I don’t know of any traction to which hydraulic suspension has been added.

              Our Eastern Section meets alternately in Chelmsford and Norwich run by Jasmin and John. Here’s a picture of John adjusting their car which was parked next to mine at the CCC rally a couple of years ago. One of these cars won Best Traction of the Show. You may notice another Autoshiter in the background who is also currently chasing his first Traction.IMG_0275

              We’re a broad church here – several TOC members have very well preserved or restored cars to original spec. Others have very well presented but modified cars and others have cars with plenty of potential for improvement but who choose not to worry about the shininess. We all rub along. Welcome and good luck with finding your first Big 15.




                A “Broad Church” indeed and so, welcome.

                I personally prefer the French models but, having owned a mixture of Paris and Slough cars over the last 50 years, I can understand why the later appeal to many (as well as why the former may not).

                I believe you will have no trouble driving a Big 15 although you may possibly have to move the seat back a little, depending how much of your 6’5” is leg.  The space behind is so big that any rear passengers will still struggle to kick the back of the driving seat to attract your attention.

                Driver’s leg-room in a Light 15 will be similar but if your width is proportional to your height you will almost certainly be cramped against the door on your right and any unfortunate front seat passenger on the left. That can be fun when you are young but, at my age, I am very happy to have recently moved to a wide-bodied model after 28 happy years in a Légère.  Furthermore, if you find you do need to move the seat back beyond its normal range, only a legless dwarf is likely to be comfortable behind you.

                Slough-built 4-cylinder Familiales are, as Poirot might say, “having the rarity of the tooth of the female chicken”.  I have only ever come across 2 but my experience of LHD models is that the rearward travel of the driver’s seat is in fact restricted to ensure legroom for the passengers in the strapontin seats.  I am not tall but, even with the seat fully back, I found myself uncomfortably close to the steering wheel and I think you would definitely struggle with the pedals.  Altering the position of the Driver’s seat is possible but to do so would almost certainly render the strapontins impractical and therefore remove the key reason for owning a Familale.

                One of our members did successfully convert two Normales to RHD but, sadly, he passed away quite recently and both cars have now been sold to new owners.  I don’t know how he achieved it and we can no longer ask but I would anticipate getting hold of a serviceable RHD steering rack is likely to be one of the biggest challenges.

                Chris has suggested you contact Jasmin.  I think that is probably the best way for you to start because you can then go along to some local meetings and get the feeling of sitting in different cars – sort of try before you buy (and most owners don’t charge much for just sitting!).

                It only took me 47 years to find my dream car – I wish you all the luck in finding yours a little more swiftly.


                David Faulkner

                  On the point of conversion from left to right hand drive, James Geddes at Traction Repairs has just completed such a conversion which included going from Malle Bombe to Malle Platte, but it was a long (and I assume not inexpensive) process

                  However I, like Bernie prefer French models and if your shoe size is in proportion to your height…. sitting in a French car and a Slough car will quickly demonstrate one of the fundamental differences, especially in a small bodied car. I’m grateful to Tim Walker for pointing it out to me during my search for a Traction.

                  Non Member

                    Hi Chris,

                    Thanks for your insightful reply.  It is informative and interesting so aside from anything else I would urge you to come out of the closet, if necessary clinging to your handbag 😉 and to join in the conversations. Aside from which – aren’t you missing out on the non-car stuff, like my Other-boat-shite and my exploration into tiny (solid fuel) stoves.

                    The Traction has been in the back of my mind for a number of years now, so the suggestion was merely a reminder.  A few years ago I attended the Piston & Props show and spoke with the chaps with TA’s. Probably the TOC as there were six or seven cars together.  I was led to believe one of the LWB cars had the DS engine in it.  I also met another gent there, who was not on the club stand (.. seemed to be a bit of a trader) who offered his metallic silver Traction to me.   I guess I never took it any further because although superficially pretty – I didn’t trust what might be lingering under the very glossy paint.  It must have been a French car because I recall the interior only as shades of light to mid grey (the sort of colours where you wish the sun would break through).

                    I much prefer the autumn-sunshine colours and tactile nature of a wooden dashboard & door cappings instead took an interest in the Riley RM. I even joined their club.  I was very cramped in the passenger seat of one of the pre-war 1.5ltr models, but then I did have a thick leather motorcycle jacket in my lap, and it was miserable wet weather.  I never did get to try the 2.5ltr but was impressed with how very easily it started and then ticked over . . . .very quietly, smoothly and slowly – delightful, like a well honed steam engine.

                    Room in the RM’s back seat was equally as tight for me, and the boot space was deep still quite small.  In the end I decided that there was insufficient space for the RM to be useful with my lifestyle.  I’m left with the impression that all TA’s but the Legere wins hands down in those spaces.

                    “My car regularly takes me to work and back – 18 miles each way, country lanes and dual carriageway. With the wide body you get huge leg room in the back which can make up for the smallish boot.”

                    ^ that sounds very usable.

                    I used to like the 2cv’s gear change, and also the column change of the Vauxhall Victor FB I once had.  So I hope I’d soon get used to that of the TA.  I’ve read that it’s a long travel and consequently slow, which gives time for the gears to mesh very smoothly.

                    Rust is a bugbear of any pre-1990’s car body made of steel.  Often compounded by designed-in closed pockets or double and triple plates with spot welded seams – so no easy way to protect inside those places / inbetween the layers.  And then on many older cars there’s issues of poor &/or perished seals which let damp into the car.  Right through to the late 1970’s poor paint, condensation, and steamed windows appear to have been a safety issue.

                    There’s a Traction for sale (on Car& Classics I believe) which needs floors and sills.  It was informative to see where the obvious holes are.

                    Might I presume ‘Flippers’ are bulkhead openings / vents ?

                    Sunroofs. I very much like ..and would want, but I understand that unless used frequently and maintained, and drains are big enough and clear – then they are a problem awaiting just around the corner.

                    I’ve no problem with grp rear wings. In fact I’ve fitted them on my Ami – not least because I wanted to modify / cut a bit of arch clearance in them – to make tyre changing easier.  I keep the originals in the loft of my garage.

                    “Anything mechanical is fixable.”  ..if you have the special tool !?  I don’t know if it’s the same on a TA but on the Ami I’ve found Citroen use some peculiar sized nuts n’ bolts (9mm for the lower seat belt mounting for example).  Then there’s others with ridiculous torque settings (both high and low) to contend with.  And despite mine being a LHD Ami – it is nigh-on impossible to see to correctly adjust the hand brake pads.  Imho it is simply dumb that special tools are needed for routine adjustment and checking the brakes !  As an retired Engineer it is one of the things which might put me off buying another Citroen, even a TA.  The verdict is not in on that yet.

                    Thanks for advice on the wide body and your sons fitting in.  Big-15 now sound about right – being big enough to accommodate me and with its traditional English interior.  But do your sons drive the car for any distance ?   I drive my Ami readily enough locally, but tbh I wouldn’t choose to drive from Suffolk to tour the Lake District or Scotland in it, for fear of aching for a month thereafter.!

                    “The further you go from standard the more careful you need to be with repairs”  good advice, and yes again I found that with the Ami-super.  From what I gather a four speed conversion to the TA is very expensive ..and to find a car with that conversion already done is likely to be equally so.   Valid points also about the custom exhaust and water pipes, and possibly fuel and wiring too.  Thanks.

                    6v or 12v doesn’t make much difference to me, except for a radio.  I’ve kept each of my Sunbeam motorcycles 6v and for the lighting I use halogen or LED bulbs.  And I convert 6v to 5v for Tom-Tom.

                    Hydraulic suspension is not on my wish list.  My old S-type Jag has independent rear suspension, but it was already sorted when I bought the car 🙂 ..admittedly that was leaps n’ bounds better than the cart leaf of MkII Jags. But in the future I think I’m happy to settle for the simplest.

                    Aside from the DS and BX diesel engine, both of which are pretty rare coming to the market, have other types been tried. ?

                    Yes, in the new year I’ll drop Jasmin a line and (if allowed) come to an Eastern Section meeting to say hello.

                    A BIG  Thank You for your reply.  And again I hope I’ve not coming across sounding too negative.  Often I write as if I’m thinking out loud, arguing and counter-arguing with myself and anyone who joins in.  It’s just my somewhat analytical approach to deeper learning.   On Autoshite I often edit what I’ve written, both to correct grammar and spelling (aside from typos I’m dyslexic) and to tone down what I’m trying to express.   Unfortunately this website doesn’t allow me to edit and re-edit to achieve that.  Never-the-less there are a number of you who are enthusiastic enough to share your welcome and thoughts with us newbies.

                    Thankyou one and all. Peter

                    Dave Thornley

                      I am in the same sort of boat as yourself. Been a member now for 3 years and still looking, ernestly now. There is a chap who lives in Ipswich who was at the open day that Jasmin and John Gagen held back end of last year who kindly offered to assist in vetting any TA I might be considering. As usual I have forgotten his name but I sure Jasmin or John will be only too pleased to put you in touch.

                      I am just back from Belgium where I had a look at 3 TAs, 2 in a garage, overpriced I thought, but what do I know and one private which to my mind had too many kms on the clock. I am still undecided regards normale, bigger inside easier engine access and the legere easier to get through my garage doors. I would love to get one with the “malle plat” boot as I think it is so much nicer in appearance.

                      Maybe a trip to France beckons as each edition of the magazine seems to have less and less cars advertised.


                      • This reply was modified 5 years, 2 months ago by Dave Thornley.
                      Non Member

                        Hi David,   three year eh ..I should have thought you’ve seen prices go up in that time !  I’ll need to sell my Ami-Super before I can move on – which I’ll probably attempt to do come springtime ..or else I’ll chop the top of it and make it into a fun little cabriolet.

                        I wonder if the chap in Ipswich was Tony Slade ? I remember him saying he had one amongst his fleet.  When I’m up and about again it’s probably worth my dropping in to see him.

                        I haven’t seen any yet with the view to buy.  Still undecided as I’m mid boat project and I’d rather put that back in the water before I get distracted by old cars needing jobs done again.   Personally I’d like a long-wheel-base model in oily rag condition but unicorn horn is  more readily available and a better price, so I guess it’ll be a normale for me.    We’ll see what turns up when I have better cash flow.

                        The problem with looking in France is the logistics.. If you get tempted and part with your money are you prepared to drive it back.  I bought the Ami down in Slovenia (where she was made) and the reason I could drive her back was because I couldn’t get a steering rack pinion.  There always seems to be something on very old vehicles do take a care.   Of course if your spending top dollars then that might not be an issue.

                        Cheers for now, Pete


                        Dave Thornley

                          Ah it would all depend on the condition and if not on the Med driving back is the most straightforward solution, with fingers and everything else crossed.

                          I could always hire a car trailer if not feeling fully confident , been there and done that before. Or if it happened later in the year there is always the option of the motorail which is a wonderful solution though the routes get less every year and now Paris is as far north as you can get, unlike the good old days when you get to Calais.

                          • This reply was modified 5 years, 2 months ago by Dave Thornley.
                          David Faulkner

                            Malle Platt 11 B (Normale) even in France are becoming hard to find. Current search on Leboncoin only shows a couple for sale, though there is a nice looking 15/6 (at 26,000 euro though)

                            Big bodied, small booted Tractions are ‘different’ to small bodied ones, can’t fit one in my garage though 🙁

                            • This reply was modified 5 years, 2 months ago by David Faulkner. Reason: updated link
                            Dave Thornley

                              Totally agree my combination is looking more and more remote.

                              Dave Thornley

                                Just out of interest did some sums for getting a car from mid France, was interested in the rough cost. So I reckon Norwich to say Lyon fuel £250, ferry crossings £200 and hire of car trailer £200 giving a rough total of £650. Obviously if I drove one back would be much cheaper.  Now I have been quoted by a shipping company to get a car to me here in Norwich from Lyon of £850 which as is only £200 more and a lot less hassle seems, to my mind, a better option.

                                • This reply was modified 5 years, 2 months ago by Dave Thornley.
                                • This reply was modified 5 years, 2 months ago by Dave Thornley.


                                  TOC member, Antonia Loyson, specialises in transporting vehicles between the UK and mainland Europe.

                                  Antonia is a very long-standing member with a very sound Traction knowledge having herself owned and maintained numerous Tractions over many years.

                                  She is now based in Magny Cours, France.  I would suggest anybody considering bringing a car into the UK (or exporting one) contacts her for a quote.







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