It Took 27 Years to Build This French Hot Rod

The French mob’s favorite getaway car can be yours for about $36,000.

byJonathon Ramsey|
Builds photo


Citroën introduced the Traction Avant sedan in 1934, two years after the Ford Flathead V8 first appeared in the car later to be called “The Deuce.” Just like that Ford engine, the Traction Avant would become a post-war icon for gangsters and go-fast hot-rodders. Unlike that Ford, the Traction Avant was modern all over: engineered with a steel unibody frame when most vehicles were still built by placing coachwork on a separate chassis, it was one of the first mass-produced cars with front-wheel drive, independent wishbone front suspension, and hydraulic brakes, and it got 24 miles per gallon. When it finished production in 1957, Citroën would follow it up with the mighty DS.

Little is left of that original groundbreaking car in this Traction Avant Yacco hot rod. Built on The Continent in 1954, it ended up in the UK sometime after its last French owner discarded it. According to LAP63, the site selling this beauty, some local enthusiasts spent the decades from 1980 to 2007 turning it into a windowless demon. You read that correctly: it took 27 years to construct this rusty, rat rod magic. Its specialty bits include two metal planks from an Alouette II helicopter masquerading as seats, a custom gas tank, and engine components drilled out to save weight.

Lap 63

The Yacco connection goes back to the 1930s, when French oil maker Yacco teamed up with Citroën for endurance testing and racing. Among the famous collaborations were a Traction Avant called “Petite Rosalie” that set endurance records at Citroën’s test track and led to a production model called “Rosalie,” and a 2CV that set nine world records. The accomplishment led to Yacco billing itself as “The oil of world records.”

We don’t know if this hot rod is up for any Guinness runs, but it is in working order and “dirt track ready” with an unverified 27,279 miles on the odometer. The seller is asking £25,000 (about $36,200 US). That’s no bargain, but the Traction Avant was a favored ride for French mobsters and dignitaries, the Gestapo, and Tin Tin, which puts a ton of history and eccentricity in one patina-green place.