Citroën Type C 5HP

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Citroën Type C 5HP
B - 5HP T2 21-1gr.jpg
First presentation in October 1921 at the Paris Automobile Exhibition
Production1922–26. 83,000 made
DesignerEdmond Moyet
Body and chassis
Body styleTorpedo & Cabriolet
LayoutFR layout
EnginePetrol: 0.8 L Straight-4
Transmission3-speed manual
Wheelbase2.25 metres (88.6 in) (C2) 2.35 metres (92.5 in) (C3)
Length3.20 metres (126.0 in)
Width1.40 metres (55.1 in)
Curb weight543 kg (1,197 lb)

The Citroën Type C was a light car made by the French Citroën car company between 1922 and 1926 with almost 83,000 units being made. Known as Citroën 5HP or 5CV in France and 7.5HP in Britain, it was the second model of automobile designed and marketed by André Citroën, between 1922 and 1926. It was also the first car mass-produced car.It followed the 10HP ”Type A “ (June 1919) which was replaced by the 10HP “B2” (June 1921) ; they were the first European mass-produced cars.

The first colour in which it was made was yellow,(a pale “ grapefruit “ yellow) which earned it the first nickname “ petite citron "(little lemon). It was also nicknamed "Cul de poule " (hen's bottom) , "boat tail” or “boat deck Citroën" referring to the tapered rear of the little car's body and also “Trefle “ ( clover leaf ) referring to the shape of the three-seat version.


[1] While the French government encouraged, by means of tax benefits, car manufacturers to invest in cyclecars, André Citroën preferred to turn to small cars. The 5HP was the first Citroën to enter the small car sector, then monopolized by Peugeot and Renault.

Despite its resemblance to the Type A designed by Jules Salomon, the 5HP was in fact the work of engineer Edmond Moyet who a few months earlier had made a very similar vehicle for Amilcar, the” CC” .

The genius of André Citroën was to promote this car to a female audience, which was very unusual at the time. All the 5HP advertising documents represented the car driven by a young woman.

With the 5HP, Citroën allied itself to mass motoring. This is emphasised by the fact that the 5HP could also be bought on credit, a new method for the time, thanks to a consumer credit company, founded by André Citroën.

After a slow start in 1922, the success was such, that, from 1924, it accounted for nearly half of Citroen’s sales and became the first European popular automobile .The selling price of the 5HP “Torpedo” in 1922 (8,500 FR) was about 60% of that of the 10 HP (13,900 FR).

The initial commercial name: 5HP became 5CV in 1925 on the occasion of the change of calculation of the power of engines: from HP ( Horse Power ) to CV ( Cheval Vapeur) ).

A network of 5000 agents was built up between 1919 and 1925. Exclusive subsidiaries and dealers were located all over the world: Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Spain, Belgium, North Africa, Australia South America etc. Factories were built in Spain, Italy, Poland, Algeria, Belgium, and England from 1925 in order to avoid customs taxes on imported products (such as: Mac Kenna taxes in England)

Launched in May 1922, the "Torpedo" ( tourer) , was a two-seat version, which in 1923, became available in a more luxurious “ Cabriolet “ (convertible) version. In 1924, a three-seater version of the “ Torpedo “ initially with a "folding seat" , then with two seats at the front and one at the rear, was introduced which got the nickname "Cloverleaf ".

"Bubsy" back to Perth on 30/12/1925 after 17000 Km in 5 months.

The 5HP was a model of reliability and frugality compared to the competition; it was extremely robust evidenced by the journey of 17000 Km in 5 months around Australia in 1925 of Bubsy, a "used" Torpedo with two students on board: in extreme conditions ... without any engine problem .[2]

Unfortunately, although the 5HP was a success, it was insufficiently profitable, and in order to prepare for the introduction of the "all steel" B14, André Citroën personally took the decision, against general opinion, to end its production in May 1926. A C4 “all steel“ version was envisaged but was abandoned because of excessive cost.

Today, the 5HP is the typical 20s vintage car. Its success is due to the fact that it was already an immense commercial success in its time and also that it is possible to rebuild it very easily from period parts and re-fabrications.

Of the 83000 5HP built, many have been converted into utility vehicles, tractors etc. It is estimated that about 3000 (4%) survived.


[1] [3]

Controls on Torpedo Trefle ...
... and on Cabriolet C3

The little Citroën was ahead of the competition: it was equipped with a differential and an electric starter, allowing the car to be advertised as especially suitable for lady drivers sensitive to ease of driving. The weight of 543 kg is essentially that of the engine , gearbox, and rear axle . The maximum speed was 60 km/h (37 mph) with a fuel consumption of 5 l/100 km (56 mpg imp; 47 mpg US).

The 5HP chassis were assembled in the Levallois factory , ( Paris suburbs ), and the assembly of the car was in the Javel factory ; Right hand drive versions were available for the French market ( there was still a demand for this) and for export ( England, Commonwealth, Sweden, Argentina, Australia )

The body was of a wooden structure, on which the body panels were nailed. It was the last Citroen with a wooden body. The car had only one door, on the passenger side, it opened forwards. The hinges were invisible (except for the “Cabriolet” ) and the vibrations were absorbed by a double cone lock avoiding accidental opening of the doors.

Pre-production vehicles had a bonnet with 3 airvents that was quickly followed by a 16 airvents version. It had one of the most handsome radiator masks. In 1922, for technical reasons, the radiator was separated into a cooling element and a nickel-plated outer casing. Initially the first Citroën badge on the radiator was blue chevrons on a nickel-plated base ; later the colours were swapped.

The four-cylinder, 856 cc (52.2 cu in) engine had a bore of 55 mm (2.2 in) and stroke of 90 mm (3.5 in), generating an output of 8.2 kW (11 bhp) and was cooled by thermosiphon. From June 1, 1925, the cooling system was improved on all models by a fan ( previously fitted only to the Cabriolet ).

Engine 5HP 1924

There was a single Solex carburettor ( Zenith on VL model ) The ignition initially by battery, coil and distributor was replaced around March 1923 by a magneto ignition.

The gearbox had three unsynchronized ratios plus a reverse gear ; the straight sized sprocket tended to "sing" especially in 1st and 2nd gear ( not in 3rd, direct drive ) and became noisy when the gears were worn or when the bush between primary and secondary shaft was loose. This excessive play caused the primary train to become mis-aligned from the secondary train, causing the sprockets to operate on the end of the teeth, hence additional noise and premature wear.

As on contemporary cars of the time, the accelerator pedal was located centrally between those of the clutch and the brake.

There was no braking on the front wheels but braking on the transmission was controlled by the foot brake and on the rear wheels by a hand brake lever. Braking was not the strong point of the car; it was necessary to anticipate and balance the action of the two braking systems at the risk of breaking a rear wheel shaft. Many 5HP have been modified to couple the transmission brake and the rear brakes and this modification was finally offered in series on the last 1926 models.

Engine 5HP 1924

To avoid distortion of the U shaped side members, the ladder frame was trapezoidal and reinforced by cross beams .

The suspension consisted of four inverted quarter-elliptical leaf springs. Friction dampers became fitted, at the rear from 1925 on the heavier “Cabriolet”.

At the end of 1923, the short chassis Type C.2 was lengthened by 10 cm from 2.25 m (7 ft 5 in) to 2.35m (7 ft 9 in) and re-inforced by an additional crossbar which protruded from the rear deck and supported the rear of the body. This became the long wheelbase chassis Type C.3 .The extension of the bodywork had become necessary to allow the construction of the new "three seat" version of the “Torpedo” as well as the “ Voiture de Livraison “ ( delivery car ). The lengthening can be noted by the longer distance between the spare wheel and the rear wing. This chassis was produced without modification until the end of production.

The rear axle was of the "banjo" type with a round or oblong (oval) shape. The teeth of the rear axle pinion were of the "Citroën chevron" type. An helical cut, easier to produce and more robust became available, as replacement parts, in 1928 .

Initially, the 700x80 beaded edge Michelin "Cablé" tyres were inflated at "high pressure", ( 4 to 5 bars) , hence a mediocre roadholding and comfort. They were replaced in June 1924 by 715x115 beaded edge Michelin "Cablé Confort" (balloon ) tyres inflated at low pressure (2.5 bars), initially offered as extra equipment and then fitted on all cars in June . 11-12x45 wired on rims appeared in 1927 with « Confort Bibendum «  tyres, low pressure (1.5 to 1.75 bars). and were fitted as replacement of original beaded edge rims .


[4] In 1922-23, the " Torpedo " ( tourer) T2 , and the "Cabriolet" ( convertible ) TL, were two-seat versions on the short wheelbase chassis (C2). Then in 1924 ,the lengthening of the chassis (C3)allowed the production of : ...a long wheelbase version of the “ Torpedo “ T2 and “ Cabriolet “ TL ...the “ Voiture de Livraison “ VL , a light commercial vehicle, … .and the “Torpedo” three-seat version , initially with a third foldable seat : T3-1 " a Strapontin " … which was replaced in October 1924 by another three-seat version T3-2 “ Trefle “ ( clover leaf ) with room for a single passenger in the rear.

Citroen 5HP Torpedo T2

Torpédo 2 seater T2[edit]

[5] Production: Short wheelbase Chassis C2: May 1922 to September 1923 ... then Long wheelbase chassis C3: October 1923 to Spring 1925

Catalog 1924 5HP T2
5HP C2 Torpedo 2 places T2 1923

Its back end gave the “Torpedo” a sporty look but it also added the nickname "Cul de Poule"( hen’s bottom ).

Original (C2-1922/23) body colour was yellow then with the introduction of the long chassis (C3-1924/25). , colours available were : Bordeaux red, blue or Havana (brown ). The comfortable bench seat was covered with leatherette initially (C2): black, then (C3): red, black (for blue cars) or brown.

The floor covering was brush carpet. Door storage pockets were fitted in the door and alongside the driver.

The spare wheel was mounted on the driver's side. Door hinges were not visible. At the rear of the car was a chest, accessible from the top and closed by a lid. On the boot lid could be fitted two supports to fit a trunk of dimensions 40 x 80 cm.

The running boards were made of aluminium reinforced with long grooves. They were black in colour, the top of the grooves was polished. The wings and bodywork were made of black painted metal sheet. The headlamps (bowls : black paint ; rims : nickeled) were connected by an adjustable nickel-plated cross bar.

The polished and machined aluminium dashboard was simple, with only an ammeter and a headlight / ignition switch.

The pivot point of the movable windshield was placed in the top third section.

The convertible top was openable around a single axis and covered with waterproof fabric. The hood irons were bent ash. All weather equipment (side curtains) was provided.

The flat-profile wings, called "flat wings" ( ailes plates ) were replaced for the 1926 model by "round wings"(ailes rondes ) : very few such cars were made .

Citroen 5HP Torpedo T3-1

"Torpedo 3-seater a Strapontin " (with "folding seat) T3-1[edit]

[6] Production: Long wheelbase chassis C3: October 1923 to end 1924.

Catalog 1923 5HP T3-1
5HP T3-1

The body , based on the 2-seater “Torpedo” but with a rounded rear end was enlarged to be more spacious than the Torpedo T2. The spare wheel was mounted on the driver's side.

The boot compartment was located behind the driver's seat. It was accessible from above and closed by a lid.

The driver's seat was fixed. The passenger seat mounted on two cylindrical rails could be moved back and forth. At the front, under the dashboard, was a folding jump seat that could be mounted when the passenger seat was in the rear position.

Body colour: Bordeaux red, blue or Havana. A small number were painted green ( moss green ) Seats and interior fittings : leatherette red, black (for blue car ) or brown. The floor covering was black brush carpet.

Door storage pockets were fitted in the door and alongside the driver.

This model had a limited production (only 800 ) because the customers did not like the discomfort of the folding seat. This model has since been improperly called "Faux Trefle" (false clover leaf) by collectors.

Citroen 5HP Torpedo T3-2

“Torpedo 3-seater Trefle “ ( Clover leaf ) T3-2[edit]

[7] Production: Long wheelbase chassis C3: Early 1925 to June 1926.

Catalog 1924 5HP T3-2
5HP T3-2 TREFLE 1924

This model replaced T3-1. Its door was enlarged by 12 cm compared to models T2 and T3-1. At the front, were two individual seats; the third seat was placed at the rear, in the centre, hence the nickname "Torpedo Trefle ". A passage between the front seats allowed access to the rear seat.

Two small compartments were placed to the right and left of the rear seat. They were accessible from above and closed by a lid.

Body colour: dark beige then (Dec 24): Bordeaux red, Canon blue or Havana. Seats and interior fittings in leatherette : red or black for red cars ; black for blue cars; brown or black for Havana cars. The floor covering was black brush carpet.

Door storage pockets were fitted in the door and alongside the driver.

The spare wheel was fitted at the back.

Catalog 1924 5HP Cabriolet TL

“Cabriolet” ( convertible ) TL[edit]

[8] Production: Short wheelbase chassis (C2) : March 1923 to September 1923 ... then Long wheelbase chassis (C3) : October 1923 to June 1926.

5HP C3 Cabriolet 1924

The “Cabriolet” was a more luxurious and comfortable version than the “Torpedo” .The rear end was identical to the “Torpedo”.

Body colour: yellow or Havana (C2- mid-1923), then (C3-mid-1923/26): Bordeaux red, Canon blue or Havana . Seats and interior fittings : leatherette : red or black for red cars ; black for blue cars; brown or black for Havana cars. The floor covering was black brush carpet.

The hood closed hermetically; it was made of black imitation leather, with a fabric liner, and metal hoops. The roof could be opened and closed from the inside. On long wheelbase chassis, the hood became available in red, brown or black imitation leather.

Door storage pockets were fitted in the door and alongside the driver.

On the short wheelbase chassis, the lid of the luggage compartment was larger than on the T2 model; which did not allow the fitting of the external luggage rack; Customers having complained, the long wheelbase chassis reverted to the smaller lid.

Inside, behind the seats, there was a hatch closed by a lid giving access to the trunk.

A T-shaped door handle was mounted on the outside. The hinges are visible.

A comfortable bench seat offered enough space for two people. On the first models the passenger seat was slightly narrower for ease of access.

On the short wheelbase chassis, the dashboard was polished machined aluminium; on the long wheelbase chassis , it was replaced by mahogany varnished with inlaid cabinetry friezes on the dashboard and inlays on the strips below the windows.

The two side windows could go down into the interior of the door and were operated by a strap as on the railway cars of the time. These windows could also be kept clipped in the high position when the hood was open.

The windshield was in two parts, the upper part opens towards the front in order to give more fresh air and some visibility in case of heavy rain.


“ Voiture de Livraison" (Delivery Car) VL[edit]

[9] Production: Chassis Long (C3): Early 1924 to mid-1925

5 HP C3 VL 1924

The payload of the vehicle was 125 kg. The internal dimensions of the utility section are 750 mm long, 1,070 mm wide and 1,070 mm wide.

The car had two separate seats, imitation leather. The driver's seat was fixed; the passenger seat could be removed.

The roof is a single piece consisting of a wood frame covered with wire mesh ,underfelt and moleskin or leatherette

Door storage pockets were fitted in the door and alongside the driver.

The dashboard was made of black lacquered sheet metal.

The handrails were made of aluminium and painted black.

The windshield was in two parts, the upper part opens towards the front as on the Cabriolet ;

The utility area at the rear was equipped with two swing doors.

In the front passenger partition was a sliding door allowing carrying loads of 1500 mm long.

The vehicle had only one door, optionally to the right or left, which opened forwards . On both sides , were curtains made of waterproof canvas. Body color: Havana; Seats: black leatherette. The floor was covered with rubber.

Further reading[edit]

  • Reynolds, John (1996). André Citroën – The man and the motor car. John Reynolds. Sutton Publishing. ISBN 0-905778-32-4.
  • Bernard Laurent , Citroën 5HP , Editions Bernard Laurent, Fevrier 2006 .
  • Paul Blank ,« Bubsy » ,, ; Video on YouTube
  • Bozi Mohacek,
  • Willy Schafroth,


  1. ^ a b "Citroën 5HP par Bernard Laurent". (in French).
  2. ^ "First Car Around Australia". Retrieved 2018-12-04.
  3. ^ "Chassis of Citroën 7.5hp". Retrieved 2018-12-04.
  4. ^ Laurent, Bernard. Citroen 5HP. p. Chassis Models 29 to 47.
  5. ^ "Citroën 5HP, Model T2 (Torpedo)". Retrieved 2018-12-04.
  6. ^ "Citroën 7.5hp, Model T3-1". Retrieved 2018-12-04.
  7. ^ "Citroen 7.5hp, Model T3-2". Retrieved 2018-12-04.
  8. ^ "Citroën 7.5hp, Model TL". Retrieved 2018-12-04.
  9. ^ "Citroen 7.5hp, Model VL". Retrieved 2018-12-04.

External links[edit]