Citroën HY continues to inspire

Citroën HY continues to inspire
ER Classics Desktop 2022

The local fries farmer used to do with his Citroën HY the round. That was a holiday. Much later I heard that the deep-fat fryer earned quite a bit by selling jenever – there were no more exotic spirits at that time – from under the serving tray. Cheers! Real entrepreneurs see their opportunities.

Citroën HY: Devised during the war, a success after the war

De Citroën HY was presented in 1947 and entered the market the following year. Bee Auto Motor Klassiek we have found a HY with an even better history. That copy has been with the same owner for 46 years.

And in the meantime we were pleasantly surprised that at Wheeler Dealers one was once restored/made ready for sale by installing a Ford Pinto two liter block and a lot of electronics, which a French village would be jealous of. Typically a case of "Is that allowed?"

The iconic quality of the Citroën HY works through the decades

And the range of HYs is limited. But in the meantime a solution has been offered that will make the purists shudder. An even worse solution is that mounting a Pinto block in a HY: you can get a fresh one Citroën – luckily it still is – Turn Jumper into a with a special, simple body kit Citroën HY. The idea of ​​this special body kit comes from a certain Fabrizio Caselani and designer David Obendorfer from FC Automobili. The result? We think that's funny, but it's pointless for us classic enthusiasts.

Back to basic

With its characteristic 'corrugated sheet body' for ultimate rigidity with minimal weight, the HY became a well-known appearance in Europe. The bus remained virtually unchanged in production for 34 for years. That was and is a record for a delivery van. A total of 475.000 units were built. And many of them have come to a terrible end after a long and hard life.

There was also a heavier version with a higher load capacity, which was called 'HZ'. The practically box-shaped loading space was used for all kinds of purposes, from transporting agricultural goods to use for patient transport. And the buses were also wanted by the gendarme and Dutch police.

Must be practical

The book of requirements for the design of the Citroën HY were in fact equal to that of a 2CV: a simple, reliable construction, front-wheel drive, low fuel consumption and good road holding. The first drawings of this legend were ready during the Second World War, but the first prototype only rolled off the production line after the end of it.

The design of the Citroën HY is based on the self-supporting largely box-shaped body. All technology was at the front of the car (engine, gearbox and drive). An additional advantage of this approach was that a HY can be extended quite easily.

De Citroën HY has been made and converted in countless variants. As a motorhome, catering sales vehicle, pickup, horse transport vehicle, etc.

In recent years quite a few specimens have been upgraded to continue working as a food truck even after their retirement.

At the moment the prices are from around 4.000-35.000 euros…

Also read:
- 100 years Citroën. The company car history. Part One
- 100 years Citroën. The company car history. Part 2 (slot)
- VW bus and Ford Transit ... van is coming soon
- Citroën and its electrical history
- Citroën HY (1963). Ultimate freedom

Citroën HY


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  1. My father had an extended HY for the dairy district, taken over from a colleague somewhere in Groningen. Picking up from North Holland was an experience in itself, because bought blind because there was no internet at the time, you just had to wait and see what you came across. Compared to the VW bus, there was a huge amount of space in it, but sending in narrow dikes and roads .... that gave you muscles!

  2. There is a wonderful story behind the naming of this all-rounder;

    as indicated, a line was sought next to the well-known TUB series of vans and light trucks.
    Built in the style of the 2cv (corrugated sheet, so stiff but light) André seems to have asked the designer for a (code) name for this bus design.
    He had to sneeze (hatsie), and André took that as HY (pronounced in French)…

    Fable or not; it's still a fun story.
    Citroën only started incorporating 'puns' into its models from '55, such as DS (déesse=goddess), L'Ami6 (la missus, the car for madam) and ID (idea..).
    HY (hatsjie!) could have fit in here…

    • Nice story about that sneeze. Andre passed away in 1935. In 1937 the TUB came and in 1947 the HY. But he continues to inspire

  3. The milkman/grocer who used to deliver the groceries to our house (roughly 1970) drove a HY (at least, I wouldn't know if it was an HZ after all?) I still remember how the moving business smelled inside and the sound of that Citroën still ringing in my ears. You could enter the store through the sliding door on the side.
    Beautiful car, wonderful memory!

  4. Indeed a great car and 5 years of experience with such a cart as a delivery cart for a bakery. In a certain street where I had to unload, a large and dangerous crook was barking, contacting him twice, pressing the gas and a blow and the dog was with the tail between away. Didn't have to happen too much otherwise your exhaust would come off .. The double beater was also special and still a real enthusiasts car that I think back to a lot of driving pleasure.

  5. Great car, great design!

    Bizarre, incidentally, that certain 'traditional' manufacturers (VW) only switched to 'everything up front' in 1990 (!) Even more bizarre that people kept buying the T1-T3, but good.

    As far as I'm concerned, the Citroën H-series a place among the first ten or twenty (high in any case) most innovative cars of all time.

    Together with the Traction Avant, 2CV and ID/DS, the H-series forms the core of the Citroën legend. The other cars of that brand are further developments, derivatives or (weak) derivatives of it.

    • Well Henk, if you put Volkswagen on it, everything will sell. They are only now with the ID5 and I already have an ID19 (from 1967).

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