The Citroen Type-H van combined practical capabilities with striking design choices and has been cemented as an iconic European vehicle. With so few left in existence, we were delighted when we were approached to speak with someone who claims to own the only remaining example in the UK.
Speaking to an enthusiast
Hearing owner’s account of the Citroen H-Type Van, was both interesting and educational. He told us that the H-Vans were never built in the UK; instead the right hand drive variants were shipped from Paris and converted at the Citroen factory in Slough. Additionally, there were only three of these vehicles ever converted by Citroen and these were then quickly distributed to new owners.
The Right Hand Drive Experiment
This venture was considered an experiment by Citroen from which some complications arose. For example the H-van’s engine is offset slightly to the right which meant the conversion only allowed for a small amount of room for the right hand drive variant.
There is little to no official information from Citroen on this topic and as a result these vans have garnered a legendary status from the stories that have been passed on by word of mouth.
Unfortunately none of these vans have survived as a complete vehicle. The Type-H owner’s van was converted using the salvaged parts from one of the three vans and believes that his vehicle is as close to the original right hand drive Type-H you could possibly get minus some restorative pieces. Other right hand drive variants have been produced since but these have not used the original Citroen parts implemented in the fabled three prototypes.
Why wasn’t the Type-H sold in the UK?
We also spoke about why the H-Van was never formally sold in the UK even though it was such a success in Europe. One theory is based on how at the time Citroen had quite a small product range. For example Citroen offered its high class vehicle to the market in the form of the Traction and then the DS, for its more economic option it had the 2CV. The classic H-Van owner believes that Citroen was attempting to compete in the luxury market with vehicles such as the Traction against the likes of Jaguar. As a result there may have been a reluctancy at the time to introduce the more rugged H-Van as it would potentially muddy the luxury perception Citroen were trying to achieve in the UK market.
The Type-H’s Legacy
A long time has passed since the right hand drive experiment and now the classic H-Van has had a second chance in the UK. The H-Van is now a popular vehicle and is sought after by businesses who want to add some classic flare to their image. Just like how it was once a common sight at a French market years ago it’s now easy to spot a Type H at an English festival or street fair.
We look forward to seeing the innovative uses for the Type-H in the UK well into the future. I’d like to conclude this article by thanking classic H-Van’s owner for his input on this subject; he has a wealth of knowledge of Citroens and helped inform us on this enigmatic topic. We also encourage any other enthusiasts reading this to contact us regarding the story of their classics for a chance for it to be featured in a future article.
Are you looking for buying guide information on the Citroen H Van?
Produced between 1947 and 1981 the H-Type delivered a 1911cc engine and its innovative design based off the Junker airplane allowed a relatively low weight of 1500kg. For a full breakdown of the vehicles stats and specifications you can visit our Vital Stats page