A Traction Story

The Garage 0 replies 0 votes 9 views

(posted on behalf of Allen Maze)


This story was penned by the late Ron Purvis, a member of Citroen Car Club of Queensland. - An example of true dedication of the Marque.

My parents had a small sheep and cattle property at Texas (Q’ld) where I was raised and did all my primary schooling there.

In the early fifties, when wool was a pound a pound and rabbit skins were fetching good money, and tobacco growing was booming, the result was that in Texas and the surrounding district the inhabitants had a bit of spare money – after years of depression and wartime conditions.  Some of the money found its way into the new car market.

Wilson and Mayne was a large (for Texas) stock and station agent.  They were doing very well and actually had a Citroen agency also.  They had three Tractions on the road for staff use, on B6 and two Lt 15’s, not to mention a light ‘plane.

My father had a green Traction at the time, and my mother who, with her young daughter (my sister) were in town and ready to go home, strolled to a green Traction, climbed in with sister in the back seat, and proceeded to wait for Dad.  After about five or ten minutes Mum started to worry – you guessed it – wrong Light 15.  The odds against that happening would be huge today.

They handled the corrugated, gravel roads extremely well, and the dust was swept away by the front mud flaps, keeping the interior clean – much cleaner than the English cars available in the late 40’s and early 50’s.  (There was a 12 month waiting list for Holdens).

Maxim Motors were distributors of Citroen and, periodically, Archie Porter would travel to Texas on servicing visits – the original ‘Home Tune’/ He would visit the grazing properties and renew a CV joint, muffler, or change the oil on the spot.

From driving the family Light 15 periodically, when I was home on holiday, I became ‘hooked’ on Citroens. My first one was a 1950 French-built Light 15 which I purchased in 1958 (while living in Warwick) from an Army officer at Wacol.  The price was 450 pounds (pre-metric). It had a 6 volt system with a faulty voltage regulator, which I never managed to renew.  One had to start the engine, exit the car, lift the bonnet and press the regulator points together. The generator would then charge the battery – simple operation really.  We kept it approximately 5 years during which time we were transferred to Longreach and Texas. It was sold through Maxim Motors.

In 1963 the next purchase was a 1955 B6 from a Charleville grazier. It had hydraulic rear end and white leather upholstery (practically unmarked), but  the body had suffered from the west Queensland rough roads. The citizens of Texas were greatly entertained by watching the B6 raise its rear end, and so was I.  Its clutch became jammed, and my inexperience caused me to panic and decide to get rid of the car.  I somehow drove it to Brisbane with stuck clutch – used to press starter switch and move off in top gear.

I arrived at Maxim Motors and Jim Reddiex was impressed with this vehicle and did me a clean swap for a practically immaculate 1954 Big 15 which I proudly drove to Texas, instead of having the Six repaired.

We were transferred to Brisbane from Texas and sold the Big 15 to meet house deposit.  Unfortunately, we had no photos of it.

Not many months later (May 1965) while passing a car lot, I spotted this immaculate 1951 grey Big 6 with a 450 pounds sticker on the windscreen.  Not able to resist, I managed to borrow all of the purchase price.  All it needed was a new muffler.  It had a Lukey straight through system fitted and it went like a bird.  It even had the original Queensland number plates.

I left my job to become self-employed and needed the money so, reluctantly, Six had to go.

Later, I did manage to buy another (mechanically horrible) black Big 6 for about 80 pounds.  However, it was disappointing in condition and I managed to sell it for $120. (into dollars now).  Bought a Peugeot 202, but this was a very temporary departure from Citroens.

In 1968 we moved to Canberra and there I came across a 1950 model B6 in a backyard for $40.  I completely renewed the front-end in my spare time and gave it a backyard paint job.

Managed to pick up a similar model Six in Sydney which had a good motor but nothing much else of value.  Drove it home from Sydney without brakes and loose pulley on the generator. Swapped the motor into the $40 Six and sold the other for parts for $12 which was a piece of madness.

Then an acquaintance told me there was a 1955 Big 15 – nine seater – in a car yard for $120. Front-end was clapped, also the motor.  Sold the Six to finance the Big 15 which still had the original immaculate leather upholstery and, of course, the three fold-down seats behind the front bench seat. It was also a one-owner. Had the motor rebuilt and we drove it to Queensland on holiday but, on return to Canberra, decided to go in for a 1958 Safari wagon – and had a neighbour lined up to buy the now-very-mechanically-fit Big 15.  However, he much preferred the Safari and offered me $1500 for it – a $600 profit in a week’s ownership.

I kept the Big 15, 9-seater, a while longer but eventually sold it to the Citroen agents in Canberra who took it back to Victoria when they ‘migrated’.  It was a collector’s item as I have never seen another like it, and I regret having not kept it. (One drawback was the requirement of a two acre paddock to do a u-turn).

Then Continental Cars in Sydney came up with a 1964 one-owner Safari wagon. The price was $2400.  I flew to Sydney, paid the deposit, and drove it home.

Meanwhile, for business reasons, I purchased a new 1971 H.G. Holden wagon and the 1964 Safari had to gol. An A.B.C. employee purchased it through the Citroen agen, but he (agent) made a loose deal and I had to repossess the Citroen. It was later bought by a policeman.

While tripping back and forth to the Citroen agent’s, I noticed that the lady purchaser of (two years previous) the grey B6 had traded it on an ID. The agent wanted $400 for it and, of course, I could not resist, so bought it back. This time I did up the motor, at great expense, imported a spare gear box, bought four Michelin tyres and had new carpets and roof lining fitted. I kept it for about 3 years but it was not used fully as a main vehicle.

Another Big 6 came to notice and I purchased this for $500. With the pair of Sixes I had ideas of restoring them for wedding vehicles – this idea died – so I sold the black one for $900. It had an unscathed body but was rough mechanically.

Next, in 1976, came an immaculate 1971 DS 21 EFI auto hydro sedan – a beautiful car, and from then on it was D’s in the garage.

Ron Purvis


Photo Attachment

Rare vintage 1955 Citroen Traction Avant Family 9. 1 of only 24 ever built in Slough, England. 4 cylinder.
This was the 3*d car built out of the 24.

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