Citroën’s H Van is much more than a corrugated catering carriage

 

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There’s no confusing Citroen’s H Van with anything other than itself Image credit 

With its distinctive corrugated body panels and coffin-like angles, Citroën’s H Van has to be one of the most recognisable vehicles ever sold.

Being the innovative company Citroën used to be, the H Van was also clever, sharing many of its parts in common with Citroën’s revolutionary Traction Avant passenger car. Like the Traction Avant, the H Van featured a unibody construction with front wheel drive and independent suspension at each of its wheels.

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With a unibody chassis, front wheel drive and independent suspension the little H Van was leagues ahead of its competition when it launched back in 1947

The corrugated body panels were inspired by components from German Junkers planes, and allowed for a good strength-to-weight ratio without the need for complex or expensive machinery.

It was popular too, with over 473,000 examples registered throughout 34 years of production. Now, it’s hardly a surprise that there aren’t many of these about anymore. After all, commercial vehicles such as these were always supposed to have a tough life. But the sad fact is, in the UK at least, the only time you tend come across the H van now will be in a field used as a prop to sell overpriced bagels, stone-baked pizzas, pulled pork or artisan coffee.

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This, this needs to stop.. (credit: Angie Chung/Flickr)

Plastered in logos and painted like something from a country show home, they tend to be trailered to and from events where they probably do rather well. You’d hope so too, as a quick search at a specialist website shows a fully kitted out example will cost £35,000! Hell, even rough examples still seem to command more than £15,000

Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t help but think that this is a rather undignified end for this French workhorse. I guess the same can be said for Volkswagen’s T2 camper, which features a design so iconic that it now frequents the t-shirts, pencil cases and posters of those who lack personality.