Citroen has been in the business of vehicle manufacturing since the early part of the 20th century and the company, which is now part of the PSA Peugeot Citroen Group, is one of the famous names in the motor industry. They have been at the forefront of many automobile innovations during their years in operation and this has been for more than just cars. In the late 1940s they took the van world by storm with the introduction of the Citroen H Van. This remained in production for over 30 years.
The idea for the H van was conceived in the early 1940s, with Citroen looking to produce a vehicle using some of the new techniques being developed at the time. This included constructing the van as an integrated unit, where the bodywork and chassis were one piece as opposed to the existing manufacturing method that bolted bodywork onto a separate chassis. The benefit of this was it resulted in a lighter, stronger vehicle more capable of coping with the everyday demands it was needed for.
Other features used in the design of the H van that were innovative for the time included an ultra low floor to make loading and unloading easier, a larger 2 litre engine, side loading door, front wheel steering, and torsion bar suspension. Its most distinctive feature was its corrugated bodywork and this helped in making it lighter and stronger, which gave it the advantage of being able to carry heavier loads in comparison to other vans in its class. All this was intended to make it the best vehicle possible to help Citroen become the top manufacturer for commercial vehicles.
Production of the van commenced in 1949, with the first vehicles being given the H designation. In the years following, this was replaced by the upgraded HY and HZ models, with manufacturing work being carried out in the UK, Holland, and France. It was immediately successful when brought to market, with van buyers taking to in their thousands and this ensured it remained in production for many years. Almost half a million were manufactured during this time, with the last one rolling off the production line in 1981.
The Citroen H Van was well ahead of its time when it first came to market, with the many innovations ensuring it took the commercial vehicle world by storm. This helped it become one of the most successful vans of all time.