Drop Au Van, Liberty Walk Meet Citroen!

There are little hidden treasures of automotive culture wherever you look in Japan. Sometimes they’re right in front of your eyes and you don’t even notice them. This Citroën H Van is a good example; I must have probably seen this van three times, if not more, sitting outside either the Liberty Walk shop or the LB Works garage.


With so many crazy widebody exotics and Kato’s kyusha rides sitting around the place, the little van was something my brain just didn’t acknowledge. It happens, trust me. But then, after seeing it sitting in the back of some of my shots, I made a mental note that next time I would be back down in Nagoya, I would at least have to do a little spotlight on it.


You can probably call these H Vans the French version of the VW Kombi; I know it’s a rather loose comparison, but you get what I’m saying. They’re a little bit bigger, were mainly built for commercial use and didn’t even come close to matching the popularity of the rear-engine Vee-Dubs. But it’s precisely this that makes Liberty’s H Van so special: its rarity. You hardly see these things in Europe, let alone in Japan, and this one has been given the Kato touch with a full flat-green coat of paint, air suspension and wire mesh wheels that look like they came off Snoop Dogg’s Coupe de Ville!


The story behind the van is pretty simple: it was once used by a mobile food vendor and once up for sale, Kato-san came across it and bought it straight away seeing the potential in it. Once customized, it was used a few times at Liberty Walk events and meets, as it’s great for carrying stuff around in style. Unfortunately, with all the projects Kato has been up to these last couple of years, the Citroën hauler has been left sitting in front of the LB Works workshop awaiting its much needed overhaul to bring it back up to usable condition.


I just find these sort of vehicles to be little glimpses of a bygone area, when vehicles were put together with so much simplicity and curious touches. Like a lot of cars back in the days, the H Van is equipped with suicide doors, which actually make it so easy to swing your body into the driver’s seat.


Check out the door handles. If they were all polished up, they wouldn’t look out of place in a period home and those hinges as are agricultural as they come. It’s these small details that help give these older vehicles character, and there are plenty more to be found in the interior.


The H Van was a little part-borrowing exercise, so most of what you see in there was taken from other Citroën production cars like the Traction Avant – things that included its engine and transmission. The engine sits right in between the passengers and drives the front wheels. The air suspension controls are laid out on the passenger side of the dashboard and lift only the front wheels; the rear just sits plain low.


The rear opens up with a main gate that swings upwards and a pair of little doors below it – perfect for what the van was used for in one of its previous lives! In fact it still has a ventilation opening next to the high-mount French number plate. For the time being, it’s doubled up as a little storage unit, most of the cargo space taken up with a variety of things from old tyres to boxes and spare parts.


The corrugated panels are what really make the H Van instantly recognizable, a then easy and cheap way to make a flat sheet of metal more rigid without added strengthening. It’s probably the last vehicle you would expect to find in Japan, or at Liberty Walk for that matter, but its charm and potential were obviously too much for Kato-san to resist. Let’s hope it’s put back on the road soon; it’s already got the overfenders and the right sort of stance so it can really wear the LB Works name with pride!

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino



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I am openly declaring my love for this van. Right here, right now. Downright kinky...


Not that uncommon in Europe at all. I still see them quite often....


Kevski Style  I see them when I visit Mother Bryn in France, but I can't remember the last time I saw one outside of a special event in the UK. Maybe a coffee stall in London, but certainly not common. Where are you Kevski? I seem to have wondered in to a google vehicle search that will cost me a lot of money...

sandpaper condom

My aunt and uncle in france have one of these, i promised myself that one day I'll do something interesting with it. I was thinking to turn in into a nice van to move my motorbikes here and there, with an itlian coffee machine in the back so I can ride, repair and have pie and coffee when I'm done.

Hope I'll find the time and means to get my hands on it and make something nice out of it :)


Gotta say, I like it. If the last shot was of the cargo door open with the buzz lightyear statue somehow peering around the side I think that would be strangely fitting for this van.


Those are some mean looking Cesar Garcias'


Speedhunters_Bryn Kevski Style  : Holland, and to be more precise: Rotterdam area. You see them quite a lot in more rural parts of France and Belgium, and there are quite a few of them in Holland. Germany not so much, as they really suck on the autobahn (85kph topspeed, or about 50mph for you in other parts of the world) Most of them smell like garlic, as they tend to be rubbed in Garlic oil to prevent them from rusting to much. They have been made for 35 years though, (until 1981) so really aren't that rare....


Now that's an interesting build.


What the fuck they did with this car ? It's very dificult to find an H in good condition even in France and they transformed it in a stanced car


wow, these things go for good money!



You guys should have taken better care of them then.


We have a stock one at my work here in the U.S. Kinda noisy to drive, being a rolling echo chamber. But it looks so cool...


It kinda reminds of this Morris J-Type, and being Australian, it's stuffed full of V8


Hope they make it run soon. I use to own a Peugeot J7 camper van in Switzerland, also with corrugated panels, the Citroen H has far more character though.


I've always wanted a Citroen H Van! In fact, I drew this a few months ago. Your move, Japan!


BrockHarvison Badass!


Never seen one before!


Kevski Style  That is true. I also live in the Netherlands and there are quite a few of them. My girlfriend lives in Amsterdam and there are two in her street that need a bit of TLC but look fine. Also, there is a food event every year in Amsterdam called 'Rollende Keukens' (rolling kitchens) and you see some of them being used as snack van or espresso bar.


kphillips9936 BrockHarvison OMG I opened the article thinking this H van was possibly the coolest van I had ever seen, scrap that this J-Type is THE coolest van I have ever seen! I want it!


We call them "tube" in France ;)


not me, if it's a van or bus it has to be VW :)


MartinBrandan  Wow, badass or what!!


maxvr6 kphillips9936 BrockHarvison  Impressive! You Aussies are nuts lol


iProGam3r  But you can do FWD burnouts with this one lol


Max_Ryde  How come?


koko san  Can't recall ever seeing one of these in Japan. But this being Japan you know there are some, somewhere!


speedhunters_dino Max_Ryde  
TUB, Transport Utilitaire Bas in french, which means Low transport utility vehicle. :)


speedhunters_dino koko sanhaha maybe :)


BrockHarvison sliding doors!


hey guys :D
If you are searching for more info on these vans hop to our facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/HippsyCitroenHy
thank you ... 


reminds me of haute tension


Cool! There's one in Nagano still working as a food van, ice cream in fact.....last time I was there there was a decent red FD parked behind it that looked like it hadn't been used in a while.


VictorVanderpooten Looks good, hey? It's hardly "stanced" though....bags and wheels don't ruin a car/van.


All I can think of is Up in Smoke and fiberweed


With this Citroen H Van in Japan, I think that this amazing country just has it all the goodness in this auto world, in. I only saw this vans in Belgium and rural French villages. There, those little vans looked in the right place. In Japan, its like a UFO.


Those, are Dayton Wire wheels. About six - ten years (possibly more like 15-20...) ago Daytons became THE wheel to have on your VW round these parts but owners soon became bored of the work needed to keep them clean.
However, I'd still remove an arm for a set which is handy as they cost an arm and a leg :(.


This Citroen H-Van makes me think of a food truck you see in construction site mixed with an ice cream truck you'll see in Los Angeles with the Dayton wheels. I like it!
Great stuff Dino


speedhunters_dino maxvr6 kphillips9936 BrockHarvison  

Check out this bad boy then, built maybe ten years ago in the UK and runs on air, hence this is not a photoshop!

The J type has got the same wheelbase as a Mitsubishi Delica L300, as we tried to mate the two once when I was in NZ. 



that is just so rad 
im sick of seeing vw vans they are just to common modify.Never seen on in NZ i would love a commer bagged  van though.Any thing but a vw


This things pretty cool, but I think ultimate shop transport is still the Fat 57 COE!


BrockHarvison  That looks WAY cooler, in my opinion.


the french touch lol , in japan , so crazy and fabulous


Speedhunters_Bryn See here my proud ! One of the last HY-vans ever made (1981). Rebuilt and now for years in use as a camper. In The Netherlands (Holland) at least 500 of these vans are still in use and driving around; most of them as a camper. Many more are in a "state of rebuilding". There's a great association of this type of Citroën with many enthusiastic members and a great store of (repair-)parts.
Nowadays there are a few (rich) lovers of this HY in Japan and also in the U.S.A. Countries who have never seen before this special car ...