Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

Lord K's Garage #142: La Petite Rosalie

The one and only endurance record-breaker, built by Citroën.

These days, with rigorous prototype testing and computer-aided manufacturing, we take our cars’ reliability for granted. Carmakers have every confidence their products will last.

It was very different in the early 1930s, when human error meant that few cars — and roads — could be entirely depended upon. In this environment, Citroën decided to prove the longevity of its products.

1932 Citroën 8CV RosalieIts smart new 8CV Rosalie model made its debut at the 1932 Paris motor show, with an up-to the-minute unitary-construction body and a 89ci (1,452cc) engine, advertised as “floating power.” Citroën arrived at the Montlhéry race track in 1933 with a special 8CV. It was called “Petite Rosalie” (or Rosalie IV, or Rosalie des Records) thanks to its cut-down, skimpy two-seater body. The idea was to see how far the car could be driven, non-stop, with a team of drivers.

(photo by CITROËN @ Flickr)

Five ACF officials and eight timekeepers kept a close eye on the operations. After some stops, due to the ACF Grand Prix and the Women Grand Prix taking place on the same track, André Citroën waved the checkered flag to stop the Petite Rosalie on July 27th.

1933 Citroën 'La Petite Rosalie'The car ran for 133 days and nights, and only stopped when it had covered over 186,000 miles (300,000km). This incredible total — 120,000 laps at an average speed of 58mph (93kph) brought Citroën enormous publicity. Petite Rosalie also broke or established 300 other records. Before long, the name Rosalie became a byword for dependability.

Citroën Petite RosalieSome more pictures of the original Rosalie and her replica (or replicas?):

(photo by CITROËN @ Flickr)

Citroën Rosalie IV

(photo by Laurent DUCHENE @ Flickr)

Citroën Petite Rosalie 1933

(photos by tautaudu02 @ Flickr)

Citroën Petite Rosalie 1933

Citroen Rosalie 1933

(photo by fangio 678 @ Flickr)


  • PLACE OF ORIGIN Paris, France
  • HISTORICAL STATUS speed record car
  • ENGINE four-cylinder, 89ci (1,452cc)
  • LAYOUT front-mounted engine driving the rear wheels
  • BODYWORK two-seater roadster
  • TOP SPEED 70mph (113kph)

See it on the Montlhéry track:

Sources: The Automobile Age, motorsnaps.com

Headline photo by CITROËN @ Flickr

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