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Hagerty Employee

Postwar France’s Gang des Tractions Avant was brazen, criminal, and stylish

On February 7th, 1946, guards aboard a Crédit Lyonnais van were shocked to see two low-slung, black Citroëns screech to a halt in front of them. The cars disgorged their occupants, and in broad daylight, on Paris’s Avenue Parmentier, grim-faced men leveled Sten submachine guns and demanded cash. This was the first of a number of daring and violent raids that would see the criminals getting away with some 80 million francs, almost $8 million in today’s money. They planned, struck, and got away, eluding police in the cars from which they took their name: Le Gang des Tractions Avants.


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Place a ‘57 Traction Avant next to a ‘57 Chrysler 300.... how “fresh” is it’s styling? As fresh as a ‘34 Ford.

Intermediate Driver

IIRC, the early cars had a windshield that opened at the bottom, allowing a bipod-equipped light machine gun to be propped on the hood and fired by the front seat passenger.

New Driver

Playing an excellent support role in the atmospheric, francophone, operaphilic, movie “Diva”


Postwar, the French franc wasn't worth much. In 1946, about 119 to the dollar. So the 80 million franc take would be about $672K, still nothing to sneeze at back then.

French resistance fighters found the Traction Avant useful as well for the same reasons. Its successor, the DS, saved de Gaulle's life in an assassination attempt thanks to its ability to raise its hydropneumatic suspension and keep going on flat tires. De Gaulle would never travel in anything else as a result.


Brendan, thank you. The article was wonderful as was (is) the car.


All these years later, the car still screams "gangster!" The biggest surprise when you see one in real life is how small it is. I seem to recall that the front axle had inboard brakes that are a real pain to work on. 


independent rear suspension hmmm, dual carbs on 4 cylinder hmmm. bit more research needed