André Citroën, the founder of the French automobile company that bears his name, was a bold marketer who decided to promote his brand by taking Citroën vehicles to the furthest and most rugged reaches of the globe. Using specially designed tracked vehicles, a party led by explorers Georges-Marie Haardt and Louis Audouin Dubreuil completed the first automobile crossing of the Sahara Desert in 1923. Inspired by this success, Citroen next organized an expedition Colomb-Béchar, Algeria to Cape Town, South-Africa. A convoy of 8 half-tracks and 24 men started their journey on in October, 1924 and arrived in Cape Town in June, 1925, becoming the first people to drive across the whole length of the continent of Africa.
The third and most impressive expedition of them commenced in Beruit in April, 1932. Again led by Haardt and Audouin-Dubreil, the expedition marked the first time anyone had driven an automobile in the Himalayas and set the a world altitude record for automobiles, reaching 13,806 feet at the Burzil Pass (in what is now northern Pakistan). The party, which included several scientists and journalists (among them Pierre Teilhard de Chardin), returned with extensive notes and interview transcripts, film footage, and thousands of photographs.
This gathering of material includes a scarce souvenir view book with a map and profile of the route, brief text (in French) and reproductions of more than 60 photographs taken during the expedition; three illustrated booklets covering different aspects of the expedition (design of the automobiles, the journey itself, and the history of central Asian exploration); and a colored map of the itinerary published prior to the expedition. The titles included are: Expédition Citroën-Centre Asie – IIIème Mission (46 pp); Le But Atteint de Beyrouth a Pekin, Le Retour (20 pp); La Haute Asie by Paul Pelliot (37 pp); Ses Buts, Son Itineraire, Son Materiel (17 pp); and the map (Expédition Citroën-Centre Asie 3ème Mission, G.M-Haardt – L. Audouin-Dubreuil), which includes an inset titled “Profil de l’itineraire de l’expedition de Beyrouth a Pekin“.
Tipped on the back of the map is a printed slip noting changes to the route following Haardt’s sudden departure from the expedition due to illness (he died in Hong Kong in 1932).