Citroën van

Citroën HZ
HCZ 1850

Historical background

The Citroën H-series van was introduced in 1947, replacing the TUB model which had been in production since 1939. The success of the new design revolved around several revolutionary ideas. The vehicle was designed around the concept of le cube utile (the useful cube), and the combination of traction avant (front wheel drive) and monocoque (chassis-less) construction enabled the provision of a remarkably low floor line, something not even bettered by the modern Ford Transit.

The majority of these vans were built in France, first at Javel and then, from 1975, at Alnay-sous-Bois. Some were also built at Forest in Belgium (1949 – 1963) and Amsterdam in Holland (1963 – 1970) which were marketed throughout the Benelux countries. Three experimental right-hand drive models were built at the British Citroën factory at Slough in the late fifties, but mass production never took place.

HCZ 1850
Photo: J Hinson

The commonest type produced was the fourgon (van), although a number were later produced as plateau cabine (pickup truck), betaillere (cattle truck) and also plateau nu (without body for other bodybuilders). These vans could be found serving any purpose from travelling butchers to horse boxes.

The design remained remarkably consistent for such a long production run, and the basic specification was only changed when absolutely necessary, making the vehicles look distinctly basic and old-fashioned. Type “HZ” designated softer suspension (not that you would notice!) with a lighter permitted load.

After no less than 473,289 had been built, production ceased. The last of the type left the production line at the factory in Alnay-sous-Bois in December 1981. Once ubiquitous, the numbers to be found in France are now dwindling.

HCZ1850 at Ockham
Photo: J Hinson

This van was registered in France on 3rd November 1977 as 8147 RV 67 for civilian use. It is a model HZ72 Series B, and would have cost 25,578 francs. The last French owner was Mme Hess of Rue Longue, Rhinau, which is near the German border south of Strasbourg.

It was imported to the UK in 1993 by Alan Bradford of Rainham, Kent, receiving the registration YKO 475S in July. The vehicle was not used after February 1994.

It was sold to Alan Lloyd of Capel, Surrey around 1997 and underwent a thorough restoration with great care being taken to ensure all original features were retained. In July 2001, it was re-registered as HCZ 1850.

The van was purchased by Gill & John Hinson in November 2001.

How to repair an H van, Northampton 3/3/16.

Photo: J Hinson


Model HZ72B
Chassis number: 5255568
Engine: Citroën 1628cc (9hp) petrol
Bodywork: Fourgon (van)
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