CITROEN may be the quintessential French car maker but it's a little known fact that it had a British satellite.

Andre Citroen opened his English factory on February 18, 1926. The site - on the Slough Trading Estate - was a long way from the Parisian chic that had made Citroen one of the most successful car companies in the world. So successful, in fact, that Citroen was able to turn the Eiffel Tower into the world's biggest advertising hoarding - painting his name up the side with the help of 250,000 light bulbs.

The Slough operation, which was soon overshadowed by a chocolate factory which made Mars bars, was tasked with building right-hand drive Citroens for the UK domestic and Empire markets. Remarkably, it continued to churn them out until 1965.

But the Slough set-up was more than a mere copycat - it had its own design and engineering team who often made substantial changes to the donor cars coming across the Channel.

The factory also screwed together special kits for the British military.

A fleet of 2CV pick-ups was built for the Royal Navy and served aboard the commando carrier HMS Bulwark. Their long suspension meant they could be airlifted ashore by helicopter where they were able to traverse everything from jungles to desert sands.

They were so successful that the Ministry of Defence ordered a second batch for the Bulwark's sister ship, HMS Albion.

However, even the navy pick-ups paled in comparison to the most drastic example of an Anglicized Citroen - the dinky little Bijou.

The iconic 2CV had been a European-wide hit but it flopped in the UK. A legal wrangle over the inboard brakes delayed the launch until 1953 and the avant garde looks were too much for British buyers.

In a bid to solve this problem, Citroen gave Slough the go-ahead to dress the 2CV up in a new fibreglass body designed by Peter Kirwan-Taylor, who also penned the Lotus Elite.

Not surprisingly, he came up with a two-door coupe. The moulds were built by a local company which had prior experience in building cabs for commercial vehicles. Unfortunately, every mould was different and the early Bijou production hit problems.

There were other drawbacks.

The fibreglass frock made the Bijou pretty but it added weight - and the 2CV's wheezy 425cc twin-cylinder engine was short on power.

Nevertheless, the smooth bodywork gave the BiJou a higher top speed than the 2CV; it just took longer to get there.

When the Bijou went on sale in 1959 it was expensive, too. The £674 price was easily undercut by other small cars, including the Mini.

Over five years Citroen only managed to sell 207 examples making the Bijou, the only Citroen ever designed outside France, also one of the rarest.