Down on the Street: Citroën HY Van Food Truck

A funky French food truck appears out of nowhere on campus!

35w ago

This post originally appeared on the now deceased Kinja Oppositelock (RIP) on 9/02/2020. You can view an archived version of the post here. Join us on The Hyphen for more content like this.

My brother let me know that the Citroën HY Van food truck was back on campus so I rushed over to take a gander. Good thing I rushed, as I managed to have a nice little chat with the owner before he left for a lunch break. This being Metro Atlanta, Georgia, USA, a Citroën is the last thing you expect to see.

According to Svend in the previous post, it was last registered in the UK in 2018. This backs up what the owner said. It’s a 1971 model with the 1911 cc engine. He said it was originally a flatbed that was retrofitted in England for food truck duty before being imported here. It makes sense as there is a wall between the driver’s seat and the cooking area.

I’ve never seen an H Van before, this being just my third Citroën I’ve seen, the previous two being 2CVs. I must say I was not disappointed. These things are quite striking in person. I especially love how the front tapers to a point. It’s just so effortlessly handsome despite almost no efforts being made whatsoever to style it.

Perhaps more surprising is how small the thing is. Specifically, this Citroën is just so narrow! It's clearly proportioned very differently than the regular step vans that are usually used for food trucks.

The owner said he likes it because it can fit in a normal parking spot while retaining almost as much interior room as a conventional step van. His donut making stuff fit nicely in the back while leaving room to move around.

Note the three part rear doors. Since it used to be a flatbed I imagine the roof of a regular HY was used since it uses the usual flip up rear hatch and license plate mounting position (the real Georgia plate is in the front window).

You can clearly see the cut line from where the flatbed was built upon. That wheelbase really leaves so much room for activities, doesn’t it?

Not too large of a menu but it’s also a small van. He said he thought about expanding into a gluten free menu but couldn’t fit another fryer in when I mentioned why I was chatting and not buying anything. I waited until there were no more customers so it’s ok. He was more than willing to talk about the van with someone who could appreciate it. The proprietor talked about how he was opening a permanent location next year though I can’t remember the city.

This angle of the HY Van is so iconic. The suicide doors swooping down to the step point on the fender actually didn’t give me the impression of easy ingress or egress but I also didn’t see them open. The interior was spartan as you might imagine but free of trash and very clean.

I asked him if he though the unique van brought him any more business and he said yes. Apparently it is very popular at festivals as even people who don’t know what it is can recognize it for something special and out of the ordinary.

I was told a story about how his mechanic rebuilt his first Citroën engine at 8 years old. Not sure how accurate that story is but clearly the van is well looked after. I didn’t get to hear it in action but I saw it drive by from the window of a dining hall a few minutes later. He had been getting ready to leave.

I hope I see this plucky little Citroën around some more. He asked me about locations on the other end of campus and I told him about how the dining halls aren’t as good but there are also other restaurants close by. I might see him again every now and again as he has had some success here. In either case, the HY Van sure made my day.


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Comments (37)

  • There's one of these that operates as a mobile coffee shop where I live in Bristol, UK. Here it is set up beside a popular cycling route.

      8 months ago
    • Very nice! They're for small food trucks as they have lots of interior room in a small footprint. But seeing one in the US is an extraordinary occurrence. I wish there were more of them around.

        8 months ago
    • Wheeler Dealers did an HY into food truck guise...perhaps this one is it!

        8 months ago
  • Isn't it fantastic when functional design is also highly aesthetic as well? Just love this. Great post!

      8 months ago
    • It's so not styled it's stylish again! Everything about it is utilitarian to a degree you simply don't see anymore. Like the front tapering to a point simply because that space wasn't used up with the engine.

        8 months ago
  • There’s one of these in Hawaii set up as an ice cream truck. The owners head nearly exploded when I identified it as a Citroen. 😆

      8 months ago
    • I waited until there were no customers around and I said, "I've never seen an HY Van before." A surefire way to start a conversation with any Citroen owner is to identify it immediately. We talked for a while all about it. They're such obscure...

      Read more
        8 months ago
  • Spotted this one selling ice cream in Helsinki, Finland

      8 months ago
    • I love the paint job on that one! Orange and tan is such a great combo. I really wish there were more of them around. Most food trucks around here are boring step vans.

        8 months ago
  • c^o^r^r^u^g^a^t^e^d

      8 months ago