André Citroën produced his first car in 1919 – the Type A. As the first truly mass-produced European car, in an age when the manufacturer supplied a running chassis to be bodied by a coach builder, it was unusual in being delivered from the factory complete and ready to drive. The Type A was the first left-hand-drive French car, starting a trend that spread throughout Europe.

Two years later, the 5CV was announced. Barely one step up from the then-popular cycle-cars, it was basic but well equipped with electric lighting and starting. The little car was a big hit. Its 856cc side-valve engine produced 8kW at 2100rpm and was rated at five taxable horsepower. Top speed was a heady 60kph but its fuel consumption of less than 5.6L/100km was very appealing. So was its purchase price – an affordable ₤195, later reduced to ₤130 in Britain.

To read this and other articles on the Classic Driver website please click here to sign up for a membership. Once a member and logged in, you'll be able to read all the articles on the site. If you are already a paid up member, please log in, using the Log In link in the menu at the top of the page.