It doesn’t happen very often that a car manufacturer puts its collection for sale. That’s exactly what Citroën does on the event of its 100th anniversary. Showing just how unique the brand can be.
PSA caused quite a stir in the automotive world and amongst Citroën enthusiasts in particular, when they announced to auction of part of the Conservatoire Citroën collection. ‘Selling out a legendary brand’, the headlines read. The beginning of the end for Citroën. The liquidation of what once was the most progressive of car manufacturers in Europe. Luckily things are never as they seem. L’Aventure Peugeot Citroën DS, the new trustee to the collections of all three PSA brands, is busy working out how to emphasise on the heritage of the concern. This includes a move of the collection from the Conservatoire Citroën. The perfect moment to have a clearance in the collection. A collection way larger than what could be shown to the public until now.
‘Vente des réserves de l’Aventure Peugeot Citroën DS’ is what the title of the on line catalogue says, sale of the reserves. However it truly does exclusively comprise parts of the collection of the Conservatoire Citroën, the factory collection of the French manufacturer. For a long period the collection and the archives of the Conservatoire were housed on the grounds of the Aulnay sous Bois plant, just north of Paris. Since the production of cars at the Aulnay plant seized in October 2013, the wildest rumours about the survival of the collection have been going around. The Conservatoire has never been a real museum and could be visited on special demand only. Following the incorporation of Citroën Heritage in l’Aventure Peugeot Citroën DS rumours only got worse. PSA wouldn’t have eye for Citroëns interests, for the brands rich heritage. Something painfully emphasised by the introduction of a new website on Citroëns history, on which the existence of the legendary ID/DS-models was completely left out. Models that were simply shifted to the heritage of the new premium DS Automobiles chapter. A storm op protest was the part of the new website, to which the D-models were rapidly re-instated to Citroëns time line. All by all not that strange that Citroën enthousiasts around the world took the news on the Conservatoire auction with suspicion.
Today we know what the auction catalogue looks like. Did PSA ensure the automotive world that this auction serves only one purpose, to strengthen the collection itself. During the online auction on December 10th over 60 automobiles will be on offer. Prototypes, pre-war models, but more modern stuff as well. In the catalogue we find a 1924 5HP fraternising with a 2014 C4 Cactus. Besides the cars the auction also brings 90 lots of Citroën related automobilia. From racing overalls to tools from the Quai de Javel plant, where it all started for Citroën in 1920. Lots that are mostly part of the Conservatoires sleeping collection, cars they own at least three examples of, prototypes and purpose built show cars that probably will find a better home in other museums or collections. The estimates in the catalog at least leave some room to dream.
Interested in buying a piece of your favourite brands heritage? There will be a viewing day at the Conservatoire on Saturday December 9th, the strictly online auction itself is planned for the next day, Sunday December 10th. More information in the online catalog of the Leclere auction house.
Marc GF Zaan