1932 CITROËN HALF-TRACK
THE FINESSE OF THE KEGRESSE
Production Years: 1921-1939
Number Produced: Unknown
In 1911, Adolphe Kegresse, head of the garage of the Russian Czar in St Petersburg, modified the Czar’s Rolls Royce with tracks in order to go hunting on the snow. In the 1920s and 1930s Andre Citroën put his marketing expertise to use by sponsoring two expeditions meant to show off the marriage of his body design with Kegresse’s track system, as well as to demonstrate the ability of a half-track to cross extremely inhospitable land.
The first expedition (1922-1923) involved 12 people crossing the Sahara Desert from Toggourt, Algeria, to Timbuktu, Mali. It was the first exploration of that desert by motorcar.
The second, also known as La Croisière Noire, traversed Africa from north to south, beginning on October 28th, 1924, and ending on June 26th, 1925.
The third, and most famous expedition, known both as the Citroën-Haardt Expedition and La Croisière Jaune, commenced on April 4th, 1931 in Beirut, Lebanon, and followed Marco Polo’s Silk Road route to Beijing, while seven other half-tracks left the Yellow Sea City of Tianjin to meet them part-way. The expedition was covered by publications such as National Geographic. The half-tracks survived Russian bureaucracy, arrest, bandits, rebels, severe weather, and the death of Georges-Marie Haardt, who succumbed to pneumonia at the end of the journey, but finally arrived in Beijing on December 2, 1932.