The cunning linguists among you will have spotted that Traction Avant means front traction, or front drive. While the Avant was by no means in the vanguard of FWD technology, it was a pioneer of mass-produced monocoque bodies with some rudimentary built-in crash protection. It was also a pioneer of rack and pinion steering.
Some 759,111 were built between 1934 to 1957. Although referred to generically as the Traction Avant, the models were actually given numbers according to their fiscal or taxable horsepower - 7, 11 or 15 - much like British cars of the twenties and thirties.
All sorts of variants entered the fray, including pick-up versions and the splendid ‘Familiale’ model, which knocks most modern people-carrier / crossover vehicles into a cocked hat with its ability to seat 9 people on 3 rows of seats, while still looking much like any other Traction Avant.
Unsurprisingly, production of Traction Avants dropped off during the war. So much so, in fact, that in 1946 only one car was produced.
Perhaps more surprisingly, 26,400 RHD Traction Avants - like the one we have here - were assembled on a Slough trading estate. At least 51% of their parts had to be sourced in the UK to avoid Government import duties being levied.
Due to the fiscal horsepower calculations of the UK and France not being the same - vive la différence - the Light Fifteen model was actually the RHD equivalent of the Onze Légère (11 Light) with a 1,911cc four-cylinder engine.
It seems rather churlish to include performance figures for such a car, but under test a post-war Light Fifteen accelerated from zero to 60mph in 29.7 seconds and went on to a top speed of just over 72mph.