The 1930’s were a revolutionary decade for motor manufacturing. With technological advances, manufacturers were able to push the boundaries of mechanics, setting the template for our modern cars.
One manufacturer who was doing just that was Citroen, with their pioneering front wheel drive, Traction Avant. As the first mass production vehicle to be front wheel drive, the Traction Avant was built from a steel monocoque unitary body and chassis integrated into one another, most unlike other cars at the time which were based on a separate frame and non-structural body.
Successor of the early rear-wheel drive Citroen’s, production of the Traction Avant began in Paris 1934 and ran until 1957, with plants also in Belgium, Cologne and closer to home in Slough.
Roll forward 20 years and the Traction Owners Club was formed to preserve this pioneering vehicle. Complete with their own members specialist tool hire scheme, the club do their upmost to support members.
We caught up with Traction Owners Club Marketing & Press Officer, Bev Oates, to find out more…
Bev, would you like to tell us a bit about the club?
The Traction Owners Club was formed in 1976 and is devoted to the conservation, preservation and restoration of all pre-1957 water cooled Citroën vehicles. We currently have 600 members, about 15% are based overseas, but mainly local groups in the UK. There are 14 of us who run the club, a great team of volunteers!
The club puts big focus on giving advice to help members maintain their cars, tell us about what’s involved?
We have a helpline which is available by telephone or email. Steve Reed, a Committee member and Director, offers help and advice. If necessary, Steve will pass on the enquiry to a Section Co-ordinator if they are able to locally offer help.
We also have sets of specialist tools located with Section Co-ordinators around the UK for members to borrow.
We have an excellent Spares Shop run by Chris Treagust, who is able to offer advice to members on parts required for specific tasks. We offer a Levy scheme which is a one-off payment, and this allows members to buy parts at a discount price. The Club Shop stocks a lot of parts for Slough built Tractions and has many parts manufactured or refurbished such as front wings, dynamos, water pumps etc.
Aside from great insurance cover from ClassicLine, what other benefits do club members receive?
The biggest benefit is the Levy scheme so a reduction in buying parts. In a recent survey carried out to all members this was the main reason they joined the TOC. Being able to borrow specialist tools is also very helpful to a lot of members and being able to contact the Helpline and Club Shop for advice. We have a website with details of all events and a library of technical information. Also, an online Forum covering questions, parts for sale and member’s ongoing projects. Click here if you want to find out more.
Is there a club magazine?
Floating Power is a bimonthly magazine which contains social reports, details of local, national and international meetings plus useful technical articles.
And what about you Bev?
My husband John & I have been members of the TOC since 1989 and have served on the Committee since 1997. John has been Membership Secretary since 2007 and I am the Marketing & Publicity Officer. I am honoured to say I have been the only female Chairman – a post I held for 4 years! I really am proud of the fact we have been a Club for 40 years and our membership continues to grow steadily.
John & I own a 1953 11BL – a French Traction. We bought it in France in 1989 but know nothing of its previous history…
Money no object?
I currently drive a 1972 Austin Sprite which is one of the last ones made by Austin. However my dream car would be an E type Jaguar – red with a soft top – even though I am too short to see over the bonnet and I’m not sure how John would feel about a non-Citroën being on our drive!! CL: A very good choice Bev!
Tell us a bit about your club events?
There are a number of Section Co-ordinators who run events in their area – some are monthly, others like ours in the Peak Area are bimonthly.
Every year we have a rally – this can be anywhere in the UK – depends on who volunteers to organise it. Our Social Secretary, Laurence Acher, supports anyone willing to take on the challenge of organising a rally.
What other events does the club attend during the year?
Some members attend an annual rally in Brittany organised by the Brittany Club. There are also regular events in other areas of Europe. Every 4 years there is an International Citroën Car Club meeting – this has been held all over Europe.
What are the best bits of the events for you?
The fact that our annual rally moves around the UK, it attracts different members each year so is a good way to get more people involved actively in the Club.
What stands out for me is the dedication of a small number of people to keep the TOC running as a Club. It worries me that members are getting older and so we need to attract “younger” people to join us to keep the TOC going into the future. For me being a member of the TOC means I have a lot of friends I see maybe only once a year and we have had some super events in the UK and further afield.
A controversial one, what is your opinion on the MOT exemption regulations?
Personally, I do not agree with the MOT exemption as all drivers need to be sure their cars are roadworthy – regardless of age. We have our Traction checked by a MOT tester every year and I would recommend others do so. The TOC has no policy on this.
So, what’s next for TOC?
Well, Next year Citroën will be 100 years old so there will be an event in the UK organised by the TOC, 2CVGB and The Citroën Car Club. CL: Keep us posted on details!
So, here are the people behind one of our favourite clubs. Working hard behind the scenes to preserve one of the most pioneering vehicles of all time. The Traction Owners Club, thank you for being our car club of the month.
ClassicLine Insurance offer a range of car club insurance schemes that can provide revenue for your club as well as benefits and discounts for your members. To find out more, visit our Car Clubs page.