Bring back some good or bad memories


January 11, 2024

Vintage Photos of Citroën U55 Cityrama Currus, the World’s Finest Bus Ever Built

In 1956, the French travel firm Groupe Cityrama commissioned the famed coachbuilder Currus to build transport suitable for a new generation of tourists. This would be a bus that would allow foreign and provincial visitors to Paris to experience the Arc de Triomphe or the Eiffel Tower in the minimum of time and the maximum of comfort. The reality was one of the most incredible buses in the history of public transport.

After World War II, one of the primary roles of Currus was converting the Renault 4CV into the famous black and white “Pie” police squad cars, but the Cityrama bus represented a far more significant challenge. The base was to be the Citroën Type 55 lorry chassis in long-wheelbase form with power from a six-cylinder diesel engine.

The 55 made its bow in 1953, with production lasting until 1965. During those 12 years, it became a part of everyday life in France as a delivery wagon, fire engine and car transporter but it was in no way a radical machine. However, Currus’s technical director Albert Lemaître devised bodywork for the Cityrama, putting even the DS 19 and Facel Vega FVS in the shade.

Firstly, all 50 passengers (20 on the top deck) would benefit tom the vast number of windows, plus the retractable roof. The latter was an essential fitting, both for coping with a Paris summer and Gauloise-smoking occupants. Furthermore, the passengers would also enjoy reclining seats, headphones with commentary in seven different languages and even on-board catering.

Naturally, the Cityrama became a tourist attraction in its own right, and bus drivers apparently took pride in being assigned duty in this magnificent machine. It also induced terror amongst the city’s motorists - just imagine seeing its ‘prow’ loom in the rear-view mirror of your Simca Aronde or Peugeot 403.

Currus built between five and 10 buses, and in the 1960s Cityrama ordered a slightly more conventional vehicle based on the Saviem S105 chassis. The coachbuilder ceased trading in 1975, but their original tourist transport was immortalized in the 1960 Louis Malle film Zazie dans le Métro.

The buses were defunct in the 1980s; just one is believed to survive. As many a late 1950s visitor to Paris must have stated: “Once seen – never forgotten.”


Post a Comment



Browse by Decades

Popular Posts


09 10