Sociťtť Belge des Automobiles CitroŽn S.A. was created on 31st January
1924 and was the second such foreign enterprise to be set up by Andrť
CitroŽn (the first being the factory at Slough in England). Its
registered office was at rue de l'Amazonie, 47-51 at Saint-Gilles where
the offices and factory occupied an area of 2,500 m2 but the massive
increase in production and sales in Belgium soon meant that the company
was obliged to seek larger premises. In 1926, the company set up a new
factory in Forest/Vorst with an area of 6,632 m2 and this was followed
by the establishment of a huge showroom in bvd. Adolphe Max and another
in rue Emile Claus. In 1934, the company moved its administration,
sales, after sales and technical development operations to a 16,500 m2
complex at Place de l'Yser/Ijzerplein alongside the Brussels - Antwerp
Canal in the centre of Brussels. Designed by Alexis Dumont (1877-1962),
the building was the architectural expression of the avant-garde
techniques employed by CitroŽn and is still used as the HQ of CitroŽn
Between 1924 and 1940, more than 30,000 vehicles had been sold on the
Belgian market. In 1940, the company was evicted from its premises at
the Place d'Yser by the occupying German forces who remained there
until 1944. The premises were badly damaged by the blowing up of a
nearby bridge and were left largely unrepaired for six years.
During the occupation, the Forest factory became the registered office
of the company and ceased all manufacturing, confining itself to the
repair of vehicles and conversion to "GazogŤne" and acetylene fuel.
On 11th and 12th May 1944, the factory was bombed by Allied aircraft
resulting in the almost total destruction of the paint shop.
After the war, British forces requisitioned the factory and its assets
but despite this, in 1944 and 1945, the factory was repaired and in
1946, production re-commenced with 1,536 vehicles being built in 1946,
4,098 in 1947 and 4,955 in 1948.
Partial rebuilding of the Place d'Yser premises meant that the
administration returned there in 1947 but it was not until 1959 that
all the damage was fully repaired.
The Forest factory built most of the models that were built in Paris
including the 5CV, B12, B14, Traction Avant, DS, 2CV, Dyane, Mťhari,
LNA and Visa, as well as Panhards. A large proportion of Belgian
production was exported to Luxembourg and the Netherlands as well as to
the remnants of Belgium's African empire. From 1970, the factory
specialised in making 2CV and 3CV camionettes and from 1974, the LN and
This book confines itself to the twin pot CitroŽns which, in order to
ensure that the local content was sufficiently high to allow relief
from import taxes, featured specific lighting, different wheel
embellishers, larger bumpers, cut out rear wings and sometimes included
variants that were not available in France such as a six light 2CV
‘limousine’ and a 602cc 2CV long before the advent of the 2CV6.
Indeed my second CitroŽn was one of these – a 2CV AZAM6...
Reconstructing the history of the cars produced in Forest was quite a
puzzle due to a lack of documentation in the factory archives.
‘Les filles de Forest’ describes the production and evolution of the
two-cylinder cars built at Forest, from the first 2CV A in 1952 to the
latest Visa in 1980. Other models such as the Ami 6, the Dyane, the
Mťhari and the LN are also covered in depth, along with the Radar and
Lohr. There are full descriptions of body colours, fabrics, production
figures and chassis numbers by type and by year.
The book contains hundreds of images, many of which have never been
When I put together the Belgian
pages on this site, the author,
Vincent Beyaert was very helpful with both the provision of information
and photographs and I therefore approached this book with a great deal
As with all Citrovisie books, the production and presentation are
faultless. The only complaint is that there is not an English
language version available. However, most Anglophones ought to
find the French version slightly more comprehensible than the Dutch.
And if the text does defeat you, there are still the wonderful pictures
to look at.