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						Seidlitz Citroen10

1957 Seidlitz Special Citroën Race Car

By Dean Larson

Photos: Seller, Craigslist

If you told me you had an old Citroën race car in your garage, this probably isn’t the first thing I’d picture. I think my brain would default to some sort of rally car, maybe a DS or 2CV, with huge fog lamps and mud flaps. The low and wide SCCA racer seen here on Los Angeles Craigslist is something different entirely though. In fact, it’s so different that I’m willing to bet it's the most interesting race car you’ll see all week. Boasting 500 cc of air-cooled flat-twin power, front-wheel drive and pancake-flat bodywork, the Seidlitz Citroën Special is a super-intriguing and innovative 1950s road racer that remains in original, unrestored condition today.

Unfortunately, there isn’t any information out there on this spectacular race car, other what the seller has provided. According to him, the car was built by Carl Seidlitz in the late 1950s, and was campaigned in small-displacement classes in 1957 with moderate success. Searching the car in the racingsportscars.com database, we can see that the Seidlitz Citroën was entered in various events at Pomona and Riverside in 1957, with Seidlitz and Pete Woods listed as drivers. It would have competed against other small-displacement sports specials, likely 750 cc Crosleys, Panhards and the like.

For the most part, it’s easy to appreciate the line of thinking that led to the Seidlitz Citroën Special. The air-cooled Citroën 2CV flat-twin engine was probably pretty lightweight when compared to water-cooled alternatives. The fan was also mounted forward of the engine, unlike most air-cooled VWs, permitting a seriously low hood height as well. Then there’s the transmission, which was a four-speed unit that sent power to the front wheels, and was equipped with inboard front drum brakes. With independent suspension and lightweight road wheels, this seems like it would make for a fun and flickable combination. The only problem I can see however, is that the Citroën engine was probably significantly underpowered when compared to cars like the 750 cc Crosley.

While the seller lists the engine as a 500 cc Citroën, the only engines that would have been available at that time were 375 cc and 425 cc versions, which produced 9 and 12.5 hp respectively. A bored and stroked version of the engine could surely approach 500 cc, but I’m still assuming it would fall below the Crosley’s 26.5 and 32.5 hp engines. But of course there’s no way to be sure today, and we have to take into account the Citroën’s probable weight advantage.

Regardless of performance, the Seidlitz Citroën is just plain cool, especially considering its pancake-flat bodywork, listed as alloy in composition with an aluminum underbelly. Without seeing the car in person, it’s tough to determine any more information as to what sort of alloy the body is constructed from. It does however remain in excellent condition today, other than a few dents here and there. The steel tubular chassis however, will require a pretty substantial overhaul to get it up to snuff. The seller also states that the engine’s dual carburetor setup and intake are currently missing.

All in all, there are a lot of unknowns with this car, but it doesn’t detract at all from how intriguing it is. It has a totally unique look and would surely draw a huge crowd at any concours event you attended. Furthermore, I bet it’s an absolute blast to drive.

The seller says the car is available for purchase to the highest offer over $35,000. Find it here on Los Angeles Craigslist.

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