It Came From Outer Space: Citroën U55 Currus Cityrama

by J Kraus

Citroën U55 Currus Cityrama behind a Mercedes 170 V and a Panhard Dyna Z in the 1960 film "Zanzie dans le Métro"

Citroën U55 Currus Cityrama behind a Mercedes 170 V and a Panhard Dyna Z in the 1960 film “Zanzie dans le Métro”

No; this is not a mirage, nor a frame from an old science fiction film.

Parisians in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s were routinely treated to the sight of these space age double-decker Citroëns ferrying tourists along the Champs Élysées and Quai Voltaire. Seeing one stopped in the 18th century setting of the Place de la Concorde, was as if a spaceship from the future had landed.

A Cityrama in front of the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel at the Palais des Tuileries

If passengers were bold enough to overcome their fear of being abducted and probed by aliens once aboard, they were treated to plush high-back seats, panoramic windows and tinted skylights. The whole of the upper-deck roof was comprised of tinted glass panels. In pleasant weather, a large section of the upper deck roof was removed. It would not seem too much a surprise to see George Jetson making himself comfortable.

down blv

Approaching the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile via Avenue Foch alongside a Panhard Dyna Z and Simca Versailles

After the general gloom and deprivation of the post-war years, these futuristic buses plying the boulevards of Paris were as much a beacon of optimism for a new and brighter European future as Le Courbusier’s Chapel of Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp or the Atomium in Brussels.

More Cityrama (25 July, 2012) ››

4 thoughts on “It Came From Outer Space: Citroën U55 Currus Cityrama

  1. I had forgotten all about these great buses. I only ever saw one once, from the window of a taxi in Paris on a business trip. I thought then that it was fantastic, and it still appears futuristic today.

    I followed the link to the colour photos and after seeing the roof detail; I believe that this bus was the first Targa!

  2. What a brilliant bus design; hard to believe it is fifty years old. They should put them back in production.

  3. This design really was extraordinary. To this day, they are about the only bus that does not look like just a box. Citroën provided the U55 truck chassis and the bodies were designed by the French coachbuilder Currus. They were commissioned and operated by tour operator Groupe Cityrama, which still exists. I was quite young when they were in operation, and I always wanted to ride on one. Unfortunately, they were only for tourists…

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