Citroën 2CV

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Citroën 2CV
Citroen 2CV - Flickr - mick - Lumix.jpg
Overview
Manufacturer Citroën
Production 1948–1990[1]
Assembly Forest/Vorst, Belgium
Liège, Belgium
Slough, UK
Jeppener, Argentina (1960–1962),
Buenos Aires, Argentina (1962–1980)
Montevideo, Uruguay (Panel van & pick-up)
Arica, Chile
Mangualde, Portugal
Paris, France
Vigo, Spain
Koper, Slovenia (former Yugoslavia)
Designer André Lefèbvre
Flaminio Bertoni
Walter Becchia
Marcel Chinon
Body and chassis
Class Economy car
Body style 5-door hatchback
2-door panel van
2-door pick-up
Layout Front engine, front-wheel drive / four-wheel drive
Related Citroën Dyane
Citroën FAF
Citroën Méhari
Citroën Ami
Citroën Bijou
Powertrain
Engine 375 cc (23 CID) H2 air-cooled 9 hp.
425 cc H2 air-cooled 12hp.
435 cc H2 air-cooled 18 hp.
602 cc H2 air-cooled 29 hp.[2]
Transmission 4-speed manual
Dimensions
Wheelbase 2.40 metres (94.5 in)
Length 3.86 metres (152.0 in)
Width 1.48 metres (58.3 in)
Height 1.60 metres (63.0 in)
Curb weight 600 kg (1,300 lb)
Chronology
Successor Citroën Dyane
Citroën AX (indirectly)

The Citroën 2CV (French: "deux chevaux" i.e. "deux chevaux-vapeur" (lit. "two steam horses", "two tax horsepower") is a front-engine, front-wheel-drive, air-cooled economy car introduced at the 1948 Paris Mondial de l'Automobile and manufactured by Citroën for model years 1948–1990.[1]

Conceived by Citroën Vice-President Pierre Boulanger[3] to help motorize the large number of farmers still using horses and carts in 1930s France, the 2CV is noted for its minimalist combination of innovative engineering and utilitarian, straightforward metal bodywork — initially corrugated for added strength without added weight.[4][5][6] The 2CV featured a low purchase cost; simplicity of overall maintenance; an easily serviced air-cooled engine (originally offering 9 hp); low fuel consumption; and an extremely long travel suspension offering a soft ride, light off-road capability, high ground clearance, and height adjustability via lengthening/shortening of tie rods.[6] Often called "an umbrella on wheels",[7][8] the fixed-profile convertible bodywork featured a distinctive and prominent full-width, canvas, roll-back sunroof, which accommodated oversized loads and until 1955 reached almost to the car's rear bumper, covering its boot.

Manufactured in France between 1948 and 1989 (and its final two years in Portugal 1989–1990), over 3.8 million 2CVs were produced, along with over 1.2 million small 2CV-based delivery vans known as Fourgonnettes. Citroën ultimately offered several mechanically identical variants including the Ami (over 1.8 million); the Dyane (over 1.4 million); the Acadiane (over 250,000); and the Mehari (over 140,000). In total, Citroën manufactured over 8.8 million "A Series" cars, as 2CV variants are known.[6]

A 1953 technical review in Autocar described "the extraordinary ingenuity of this design, which is undoubtedly the most original since the Model T Ford".[9] In 2011, The Globe and Mail called it a "car like no other".[10] Noted automotive author L. J. K. Setright described the 2CV as "the most intelligent application of minimalism ever to succeed as a car",[5] calling it a car of "remorseless rationality".[11]

History[edit]

The 2CV belongs to a short list of vehicles introduced in the middle of the 20th century that remained relevant and competitive for many decades, such as the Jeep, Land Rover Series, Fiat 500, Mini and Volkswagen Beetle.

Development[edit]

In 1934, family-owned Michelin, being the largest creditor, took over the bankrupt Citroën company. As far back as 1922, when Michelin first conducted market research, they had been interested in expanding the market for economy cars (and tyres) in France, in the same way that the Ford Model T had done in the United States. The new president of Citroën, Pierre Michelin, had gone so far as to build a scale model of what he had in mind, even before the Citroën takeover. By the mid-1920s Citroën had stopped producing the economy cars that established the company after the First World War, when they moved to using Budd-type pressed steel bodies. Michelin believed that decision was a contributing factor in the later bankruptcy. [6]

The new management ordered a fresh and detailed market survey that was conducted by Jacques Duclos.[6] France at that time had a very large rural population which could not yet afford automobiles; Citroën used the survey results to prepare a design brief for a low-priced, rugged "umbrella on four wheels" that would enable four small farmers / peasants in clogs to transport 50 kg (110 lb) of farm goods to market at 50 km/h (31 mph),[12] if necessary across muddy, unpaved roads. The car would use no more than 3 liters of gasoline to travel 100 km (78 mpg ). The most famous design brief requirement[dubious ] was that the envisaged smallholder-customer be able to drive eggs across a freshly ploughed field without breaking them.[13]

In 1936, Pierre-Jules Boulanger, vice-president of Citroën and chief of engineering and design, sent the brief to his design team at the engineering department. The TPV (Toute Petite Voiture — "Very Small Car") was to be developed in strict secrecy at Michelin facilities at Clermont-Ferrand and at Citroën in Paris, by the design team who had created the Traction Avant. Boulanger hand-picked members added to the team, preferring those qualified through night-school courses over university trained engineers, because he believed greater practical experience made for better engineering.[6]

Boulanger was closely involved with all decisions relating to the TPV, and was obsessed with reducing the weight to targets that his engineers thought impossible. He set up a department to weigh every component and then redesign it, to make it lighter while still doing its job.[6] Later he had the roof raised to allow him to drive while wearing a hat.[dubious ]

Three unrestored TPVs

Boulanger placed engineer André Lefèbvre in charge of the TPV project. Lefèbvre had designed and raced Grand Prix cars, his own speciality was chassis design and he was particularly interested in maintaining contact between tyres and the road surface.[6] In an era of poor damping, beam axles and leaf springs this gave his cars vastly superior grip and handling to most other cars.[6]

The very first prototypes were bare chassis with rudimentary controls, seating and roof; test drivers wore leather flying suits, of the type used in contemporary open biplanes.[6] By the end of 1937 20 TPV experimental prototypes had been built and tested.[6] The prototypes had only one headlight, all that was required by French law at the time.[6]

At the end of 1937 Pierre Michelin was killed in a car crash; Boulanger became president of Citroën while Lefèbvre was responsible for engineering and design, though without official title or position.[6]

By 1939 the TPV was deemed ready, after 47 technically different and progressively improved experimental prototypes had been built and rigorously tested.[6][14] These prototypes made use of aluminium and magnesium parts and had water-cooled flat twin engines with front-wheel drive. The seats were hammocks hung from the roof by wires. The suspension system, designed by Alphonse Forceau, used front leading arms and rear trailing arms, connected to eight torsion bars mounted beneath the rear seat: a bar for the front axle, one for the rear axle, an intermediate bar for each side, and an overload bar for each side. The front axle was connected to its torsion bars by cable. The overload bar only came into play when the car had three people on board, two in the front and one in the rear, to support the extra load of a fourth passenger and fifty kilograms of luggage.[4] (This suspension system was not the one used later in the delayed and redesigned production model.)[citation needed]

During the summer of 1939 a pilot run of 250 cars was produced and on 28 August 1939 the car received French market homologation.[14][15] Brochures were printed and preparations made to present the car, renamed the Citroën 2CV, at the forthcoming Paris Motor Show in October 1939.[15]

World War II[edit]

On 3 September 1939, France declared war on Germany following that country's invasion of Poland. Although it would be another eight months before the Wehrmacht invaded France, an atmosphere of impending disaster led to the cancellation of the 1939 motor show less than a month before it was scheduled to open.[15] The launch of the 2CV was abandoned.

During the German occupation of France in World War II Boulanger personally refused to collaborate with German authorities, and actively organized and encouraged sabotage against production for the German war effort to the point where the Gestapo listed him as an important "enemy of the Reich",[6] under constant threat of arrest and deportation to Germany.

Michelin (Citroën's main shareholder) and Citroën managers decided to hide the TPV project from the Nazis, fearing some military application as in the case of the future Volkswagen Beetle, manufactured during the war as the military Kübelwagen.

Several TPVs were buried at secret locations; one was disguised as a pickup, the others were destroyed, and Boulanger spent the next six years thinking about further improvements. Until 1994, when three TPVs were discovered in a barn, it was believed that only two prototypes had survived. As of 2003 there were five known TPVs. For a long time it was believed that the project was so well hidden, that all the prototypes had been lost by the end of the war. It seems that none of the hidden TPVs were lost after the war, despite that in the 1950s an internal memo ordered them to be scrapped. The surviving TPVs were in fact hidden from top management by some workers who were sensitive to their historical value.

By 1941, after an increase in aluminium prices of forty percent, an internal report at Citroën showed that producing the TPV post-war would not be economically viable, given the projected further increasing cost of aluminium[6] Boulanger decided to redesign the car to use mostly steel with flat panels, instead of aluminium.[6] The French motor industry before the war believed that aluminium would become cheaper, and become the standard material for car manufacture.[6] The Nazis had attempted to loot Citroën's press tools; this was frustrated after Boulanger got the French Resistance to re-label the rail cars containing them in the Paris marshalling yard. They ended up all over Europe, and Citroën was by no means sure they would all be returned after the war.[6] After the liberation, Citroën, along with all the other major French car makers, evaluated and were offered the rights to the air-cooled AFG (Aluminium Français Grégoire) prototype, by Jean-Albert Grégoire, who was unaware of the secret TPV project.[6] It emerged in 1946 as the aluminium Panhard Dyna X.[6] In the Spring of 1944 Boulanger made the decision to abandon the water-cooled two-cylinder engine that had been developed for the car and installed in the 1939 versions. Walter Becchia was now briefed to design an air-cooled unit, still of two cylinders, and still of 375 cc.[15] Becchia was also supposed to design a three-speed gearbox, but managed to design a four-speed for the same space at little extra cost.[6] At this time French small cars like the Renault Juvaquatre and Peugeot 202 almost invariably featured three-speed transmissions. Even Citroën's own mid-size Traction Avant only had a three-speed gearbox. But the 1936 Italian Fiat 500 "Topolino" "people's car" did have a four-speed gearbox. Boulanger was displeased when he found out that his instructions had not been followed.[6] Becchia persuaded him that the fourth gear was actually an overdrive, this is why on the early cars the gear change was marked "S" for "surmultiplié"[6][16] The increased number of gear ratios also helped with the performance penalty caused by the extra weight of switching from light alloys to steel for the body and chassis. Other changes included seats with tubular steel frames with rubber band springing (pictured here[17]), and a restyling of the body by the Italian Flaminio Bertoni. Also, in 1944 the first studies of the Citroën hydro-pneumatic suspension were conducted using the TPV/2CV.[18]

It took three years from 1945 for Citroën to rework the TPV into what was its third incarnation,[6] resulting in the car being nicknamed the "Toujours Pas Vue" (Still Not Seen) by the press. The development and production, of what was to become the 2CV was also delayed by the incoming 1944 Socialist French government, after the liberation by the Allies from the Germans. The five-year "Plan Pons" to rationalise car production and husband scarce resources, named after economist and former French motor industry executive Paul-Marie Pons, only allowed Citroën the upper middle range of the car market, with the Traction Avant. The French government allocated the economy car market, US Marshall Plan aid, US production equipment and supplies of steel, to newly nationalised Renault to produce their Renault 4CV.[6] The "Plan Pons" came to an end in 1949.[6] Postwar French roads were very different from pre-war ones. Horse-drawn vehicles had re-appeared in large numbers.[6] The few internal combustion engined vehicles present, often ran on town gas stored in gasbags on roofs or wood/charcoal gas from gasifiers on trailers.[6] Only one hundred thousand of the two million pre-war cars were still on the road.[6] These were known as "Les années grises" or "the grey years" in France.[6]

Water-cooled engine from the TPV 
Restored Citroën TPV with a single headlight 
Restored TPV, rear view 

Production[edit]

Citroën finally unveiled the car at the Paris Salon on 7 October 1948. The early Citroën 2CV models had frontal suicide doors from 1948 to 1964. After 1964, the Citroën 2CV models have front conventional doors due to the lack of the front suicide doors.[19] The car on display was nearly identical to the 2CV type A that would be sold the next year, but it lacked an electric starter, the addition of which was decided the day before the opening of the Salon, after female company secretaries had trouble using the pull cord starter.[6] Walter Becchia had designed in a space for a starter motor to be mounted, even though Boulanger had forbidden them from fitting an electric starter.[6] In keeping with the ultra-utilitarian (and rural) design brief, the canvas roof could be rolled completely open. The Type A had one stop light, and like the black Ford Model T was available only in one colour, grey. The fuel level was checked with a dip stick/measuring rod, and the speedometer was attached to the windshield pillar (the only other instrument was an ammeter.[20][21] The car was heavily criticised by the motoring press and became the butt of French comedians for a short while.[9] One American motoring journalist quipped, "Does it come with a can opener?"[22] The British Autocar correspondent wrote that the 2CV "is the work of a designer who has kissed the lash of austerity with almost masochistic fervour".[23] Nevertheless, Citroën was flooded with orders at the show, and the car had a great impact on the lives of the low-income segment of the population in France.[citation needed]

First generation "Ripple Bonnet" Citroën 2CV built from 1949 to 1960
Early AZU Fourgonnette rear
Slough built pickup dressed in Royal Navy colours/decals with a rear mounted recoilless anti-tank gun

The 2CV was a commercial success: within months of it going on sale, there was a three-year waiting list, which soon increased to five years. At that time a second-hand 2CV was more expensive than a new one because the buyer did not have to wait.[9] Production was increased from 876 units in 1949 to 6,196 units in 1950. Grudging respect began to emanate from the international press: towards the end of 1951 the opinion appeared in Germany's recently launched Auto Motor und Sport magazine that, despite its "ugliness and primitiveness" ("Häßlichkeit und Primitivität"), the 2CV was a "highly interesting" ("hochinteressantes") car.[24]

In 1950 Pierre-Jules Boulanger was killed in a car crash, while on the main road from Clermont-Ferrand (the home of Michelin), and Paris.[6] This was the same road that Pierre Michelin had been killed on in 1937.[6]

In 1951 production reached over 100 cars a week.[6] By the end of 1951 production totalled 16,288.[25] Citroën introduced the 2CV Fourgonnette van. The "Weekend" version of the van had collapsible, removable rear seating and rear side windows, enabling a tradesman to use it as a family vehicle at the weekend as well as for business in the week. It pioneered the use of a large box rear section, as later used by the Morris Minor, Renault 4 F6 panel van, and numerous others. In the 1990s General Motors Vauxhall/Opel and Ford launched similar vans while the later Citroën Berlingo and Renault Kangoo people carriers further developed the dual use vehicle.

A pick-up truck version was used by the British Royal Navy for pioneering Royal Marine helicopter carrier amphibious operations aboard HMS Bulwark and Albion in the late 1950s and early 1960s, because of the payload limitations of their Westland Wessex helicopters.[6][26][27] By 1952, production had reached more than 21,000 with export markets earning foreign currency taking precedence, the home was strictly rationed.[6] Boulanger's policy, that continued after his death was: "Priority is given to those who have to travel by car because of their work, and for whom ordinary cars are too expensive to buy."[6] Dealer sales contracts were provisional and customers' needs were verified by the company.[6] The deserving cases were country vets, doctors, midwives, priests and the small farmers that it was originally designed for.[6]

A 1970s Citroën 2CV with rectangular headlights.
A 1970s Citroën 2CV Club / 1980s Charleston front interior.
A 1980s 2CV6 Spécial.

A special version was the 2CV Sahara, for difficult off-road driving. Built from December 1960 to 1971, The Sahara had an extra engine mounted in the rear compartment and both front and rear-wheel drive. Only 694 Saharas were built. The target markets for these cars were French oil companies, the military, and the police.[citation needed]

From the mid-1950s economy car competition had increased — internationally in the form of the 1957 Fiat 500 and 1955 Fiat 600, and 1959 Austin Mini. On the French home market, from 1961, there was a new small Simca 1000 using licensed Fiat technology, and the new front-wheel-drive Renault 4, a more practical design than the 2CV with an estate bodystyle.[6] It marked the beginning of Renault's 1960s switch to front engine front wheel drive FF layout, from the rear engine rear wheel drive RR layout. It was the biggest threat to the 2CV, eventually outselling it.[6]

1960s

In 1960 the 2CV was updated. In particular the corrugated Citroën H Van style "ripple bonnet" of convex swages was replaced (except for the Sahara), with one using six larger concave swages and looked similar until the end of production. Prior to this demand so outstripped supply that Citroën did not need to spend money on marketing, apart from a few dealer leaflets, at all.[6] A new marketing effort was set up to seriously market the 2CV.[6] Director of publicity Claude Puech came up with humorous and inventive campaigns.[6] Robert Delpire of the Delpire Agency was responsible for the stylish brochures.[6] Ad copy came from Jacques Wolgensinger Director of PR at Citroën.[6] Wolgensinger was responsible for the youth orientated "Raids", 2CV Cross, rallies, the use of "Tin-Tin", and the slogan "More than just a car — a way of life".[6] The austerity of the speedometer driven wipers and grey only colour, were replaced by electric wipers and a range of colours, which first started with Glacier Blue in 1959, then yellow in 1960. The fabric roof that had previously been a matter of lightness and practical carrying capability, became a "sun roof".[6] Marketing materials in the 1960s showed young people and families, having fun and picnics with the removable seats, and even carrying grandfather clocks and bric-a-brac through the open roof.[6] All of this was to try to distance the car from its 1940s post-war austerity associations.[6] The improved 1963–1970 AZAM model was the result of all this marketing work. The 1960s were the heyday of the 2CV, when production finally caught up with demand.[21] In 1964 the fuel original dip stick/measuring rod, was replaced with a fuel gauge.

In 1967 Citroën launched a new model based on the 2CV chassis, with an updated but still utilitarian body, with a hatchback (a hatchback kit was available from Citroën dealers for the 2CV, and aftermarket kits are available) that boosted practicality: the Citroën Dyane. This was in response to the direct competition by the Renault 4. Citroën also developed the Méhari off-roader.

The purchase price of the 2CV was always very low. In West Germany during the 1960s, for example, it cost about half as much as a Volkswagen Beetle, the car for which it was designed as a direct competitor.

From 1961, the car was offered, at extra cost, with the flat-2 engine size increased to 602 cc (36.7 cu in), although for many years the smaller 425 cc (25.9 cu in) engine continued to be available in France and certain export markets where engine size was critical in determining car tax levels. This was replaced by an updated 435 cc (26.5 cu in) engine in 1968.

1970s

In 1970 the car gained rear light units from the Citroën Ami 6, and also standardised a third side window in the rear pillar on 2CV6 (602 cc) models. All 2CVs from this date can run on unleaded fuel. 1970s cars featured rectangular headlights, excepting the Spécial model.

The highest annual production was in 1974. Sales of the 2CV were reinvigorated by the 1974 oil crisis. The 2CV after this time became as much a youth lifestyle statement as a basic functional form of transport. This renewed popularity was encouraged by the Citroën "Raid" intercontinental endurance rallies of the 1970s where customers could participate by buying a new 2CV, fitted with a ruggedising "P.O." kit (which stands for Pays d'Outre-mer — overseas countries),[28] to cope with thousands of miles of very poor or off-road routes.

The Paris to Persepolis rally was the most famous.[21] The Citroën "2CV Cross" circuit / off-road races were very popular in Europe.

In July 1975, a base model called the 2CV Spécial was introduced with the 435 cc engine. In order to keep the price as low as possible, Citroën removed the third side window, the ashtray, and virtually all trim from the car. It also had the earlier round headlights.[31] For the first few years of production, the Spécial was only available in yellow.[citation needed] From the 1978 Paris Motor Show the Spécial gained the third side windows; beginning in the summer of 1979 the 602 cc engine was installed.[31] In June 1981 the Spécial E arrived; this model had a standard centrifugal clutch and particularly low in-town fuel consumption.[32]

1980s
2CV 007 (as used in For Your Eyes Only)

In 1981 a bright yellow 2CV was driven by James Bond in the film For Your Eyes Only, including an elaborate set piece car chase through a Spanish olive farm, in which Bond uses the unique abilities of the modestly powered 2CV to escape his pursuers in Peugeot 504 sedans. The car in the film was fitted with the flat-4 engine from a Citroën GS which more than doubled the power. Citroën launched a special edition 2CV "007" to coincide with the 2CV product placement in the film, while fitted with the standard flat-twin engine it was painted in yellow with "007" on the front doors and fake bullet hole stickers. This car was also popular in miniature, from Corgi Toys.

In 1988, production ended in France after 40 years but continued for a further two years at the Mangualde plant in Portugal. This arrangement lasted until 1990, when production of the 2CV finally ended. The 2CV actually outlasted the Visa, another of the cars which might have been expected to replace it, and was produced for four years after the start of Citroën AX production. Citroën did not directly replace the 2CV, instead concentrating on the AX as its entry-level model in the modern supermini market.[citation needed]

Portuguese-built cars, especially those from when production was winding down, have a reputation in the UK for being much less well made and more prone to corrosion than those made in France.[33][34][35] Paradoxically according to Citroën, the Portuguese plant was more up-to-date than the one in Levallois near Paris, and Portuguese 2CV manufacturing was to higher quality standards.[36]

As of January 2013, 3,382 remained in service in the UK.[37] The final two years of 2CV production took place in Mangualde, Portugal, before production formally ended in 1990.

Special edition saloon models

The special edition models began with the 1976 SPOT model and continued in the with the 1980 Charleston, inspired by Art-Deco two colour styles 1920s Citroën model colour schemes. In 1981 the 007 arrived in association with the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only. In 1983 the 2CV Beachcomber arrived in the United Kingdom; it was known as "France 3" in France or "Transat" in other continental European markets — Citroën sponsored the French America's Cup yacht entry of that year. In 1985 the bicolour Dolly appeared, using the "Spécial" models most basic trim rather than the slightly better-appointed "Club" as was the case with the other special editions. In 1986 there was the Cocorico. This means "cock-a-doodle-doo" and tied in with France's entry in the 1986 Football World Cup. "Le Coq Gaulois" or Gallic rooster is an unofficial national symbol of France. In 1987 came the Bamboo, followed by the 1988 Perrier in association with the mineral water company.

The Charleston, having been presented in October 1980 as a one-season "special edition" was incorporated into the regular range in July 1981 in response to its "extraordinary success".[38] In the 1980s there was a range of four full models:

  • Spécial
  • Dolly (an improved version of the Spécial)
  • Club (discontinued in the early 1980s)
  • Charleston (an improved version of the Club)

All the special editions made a virtue of the individual anachronistic styling. The changes between the special editions and the basic "Spécial" base model, (that was also continued until the end of production), were only a different speedometer, paint, stickers, seat fabric, internal door handles, and interior light. Many of the "special edition" interior trim items were carry-overs from the 1970s "Club" models.

Export markets[edit]

Citroën 2CV with front "suicide doors", post-1960 bonnet, and oversized factory protective bumpers in Buenos Aires, Argentina
1965 US Export Citroën 2CV AZAM
1970s Argentinian 3CV hatchback
1965 US Export Citroën 2CV AZAM interior

The 2CV was originally sold in France and some European markets, but went on to enjoy strong sales in Asia, South America, and Africa. During the post-war years Citroën was very focused on the home market, which had some unusual quirks, like puissance fiscale. The management of Michelin was supportive of Citroën up to a point, and with a suspension designed to use Michelin's new radial tyres the Citroën cars clearly demonstrated their superiority over their competitors' tyres. But they were not prepared to initiate the investment needed for the 2CV (or the Citroën DS for that matter) to truly compete on the global stage. Citroën was always under-capitalised until the 1970s Peugeot takeover. Consequently, the 2CV suffered a similar fate to the Morris Minor and Mini, selling fewer than 10 million units, at 8,830,679[39] of all 2CV based vehicles, whereas the Volkswagen Beetle, which was available worldwide, sold 21 million units.

Some of the early models were built at Citroën's plant in Slough, England from 1953. Until then British Construction and Use Regulations made cars with inboard front brakes such as the 2CV illegal. Producing the car in Britain allowed Citroen to circumvent trade barriers and to sell cars in the British Empire and Commonwealth. It achieved some success in these markets, to the extent that all Slough-built 2CVs were fitted with improved air cleaners and other modifications to suit the rough conditions found in Australia and Africa, where the 2CV's durability and good ride quality over rough roads attracted buyers. The 2CV sold poorly in Great Britain in part due to its excessive cost because of import duties on components.

In 1959, the British Royal Navy ordered 65 2CV pick-ups from the Slough plant, following sea tests aboard HMS Bulwark in the West Indies and the Indian Ocean during 1957–58, with the Westland Whirlwind helicopters of 845 squadron RNAS. The pick-ups also served aboard HMS Albion. They were to serve as motor transport with the 42nd Commando regiment of the Royal Marines, which required robust and reliable vehicles to cope with jungle tracks and worse that were light enough to be taken ashore by helicopter from the aircraft carriers.[40] Sales of Slough-produced 2CVs ended in 1960.

In 1959, trying to boost sales, Citroën introduced a glass-fibre coupé version called the Bijou that was briefly produced at Slough. Styling of this little car was by Peter Kirwan-Taylor (better known for his work with Colin Chapman of Lotus cars on the 1950s Lotus Elite), but it proved to be too heavy for the diminutive 425 cc (25.9 cu in) engine to endow it with adequate performance. It served to use up remaining 2CV parts at Slough in the early 1960s. In 1975, the 2CV was re-introduced to the British market in the wake of the oil crisis. These were produced in France but avoided the crippling import duties of the 1950s, because the UK was by then a member of the EEC. In the 1980s the best foreign markets for the 2CV were the UK and Germany.[21]

Only a few thousand 2CVs were sold in North America when they were new; as in England their pricing was excessive relative to competitors. The original model that produced just 9 hp (6.7 kW) and had a top speed of only 64 km/h (40 mph) (even the fastest of the later models struggled to 115 km/h (71 mph))[41] was unsuited to the expanding post-war US freeway network, and was never widely accepted in North America.

A rare Jeep-esque derivative, called the Yagán[42] after an Aborigine tribe, was made in Chile between 1972 and 1973. After the Chilean coup of 1973, there were 200 Yagáns left that were used by the Army to patrol the streets and the Peruvian border, with 106 mm (4.2 in) cannons.

A similar car was sold in some west African countries as the Citroën "Baby-brousse".[43]

In Iran, the Citroën 2CV was called the Jian.[44] The cars were originally manufactured in Iran in a joint venture between Citroën and Iran National up until the 1979 Revolution, when Iran National was nationalised, which continued producing the Jian without the involvement of Citroën.[45]

1961 13hp "Citroneta" pickup truck
IES 3CV in Tandil Argentina

The 2CV was built in Chile and Argentina for South America. The 1953 Citroneta model of the 2CV made in Chile and Argentina used a type AZ chassis with 425 cc engine developing 12 bhp (8.9 kW). Both chassis and engine were made in France while the "three box" bodywork (in both 2- and 4-door versions) was designed and produced in Chile. It was the first economy car on the market in Chile. The 1970s Chilean version mounted a 602 cc engine with an output of 33 hp (25 kW), and was designated as the AX-330. It was built between 1970 and 1978, during which it saw changes like different bumpers, a hard roof, front disc brakes, and square headlights.[46] A derivation called the "3CV" was built in Argentina with various modifications such as a hatchback. Citroën had produced more than 200,000 cars in Argentina by 1977; production ended in 1979. A 2CV with a heavily modified front end called the 3CV IES America was produced well into the 1980s, by an Argentinian company that bought the rights and factory from Citroën.[47][48]

The 1981 James Bond movie For Your Eyes Only caused a surge in sales of the car in Chile where it was specially imported from Spain to meet demand (mostly in yellow), since it had already been phased out on the Chilean assembly line.

In 1985, Citroën drew up plans with the Escorts Group to manufacture the 2CV in India for the rural market, as well as spare parts for export. However, the Indian government rejected this scheme as it would have resulted in competition for Maruti in which they held a stake.

Construction[edit]

All 2CVs have flap-up windows: roll up windows were considered too heavy and expensive in 1948, and the design did not allow any update.
Later 2CV Chassis and Suspension System — Cut away top plate showing spring cylinder mounting cross tube and internal chassis bracing. Also, front wheel tuned mass damper 'Batteur', splined driveshafts and steering linkage to steering rack mounted in front cross tube.

The level of technology in the 1948 2CV was remarkable for a car of any price in that era, let alone one of the cheapest cars on the planet. While colours and detail specifications were modified in the ensuing 42 years, the biggest mechanical change was the addition of front disc brakes[38] (by then already fitted for several years in the mechanically similar Citroën Dyane 6), in October 1981 (for the 1982 model year). The reliability of the car was enhanced by the minimalist simplification of the designers, being air-cooled (with an oil cooler), it had no coolant, radiator, water pump or thermostat. It had no distributor either, just a contact breaker system. Except for the all hydraulic brakes, there were no hydraulic parts on original models as damping was by tuned mass dampers and friction dampers.

Features of the 1948 2CV[edit]

  • radial tires, which had just been commercialized [49]
  • front-wheel drive
  • rack and pinion steering mounted inside the front suspension cross-tube, well behind the front wheels, away from a frontal impact
  • four-wheel independent suspension, unusual in that suspension between front and rear wheels was connected on each side
  • leading arm front suspension
  • trailing arm rear suspension
  • rear fender skirts, but the suspension design allowed wheel change without removing the skirts / rear wings
  • inboard front brakes, in order to help lower unsprung weight thus making ride even softer
  • Four-wheel hydraulic brakes, (British Austin economy cars of the time only had hydraulic front brakes, the rears were by mechanical linkage)
  • small, lightweight, air-cooled, flat twin engine, (with overhead valves when side valves were still common), mounted very low in front of the front wheels for stability
  • four-speed manual transmission, (when three speeds were common) with an unusual dashboard push/pull/twist linkage
  • bolt-on detachable front and rear wings/fenders
  • detachable doors, bonnet (and boot lid after 1960), by "slide out" P profile sheet metal hinges
  • front rear-hinged "suicide doors"
  • flap-up windows, as roll up windows were considered too heavy and expensive.[50]
  • detachable full length fabric sunroof and boot lid, for almost pickup-truck-like load carrying versatility
  • ventilation in addition to the sunroof and front flap windows was provided by an opening flap situated underneath the windscreen.
  • load adjustable headlights.
  • a heater (heaters were standardised on British economy cars in the 1960s)

Body[edit]

The body was constructed of a dual H-frame platform chassis and aircraft-style tube framework, and a very thin steel shell that was bolted to the chassis.[51][52] Because the original design brief called for a low speed car, little or no attention was paid to aerodynamics. The result was that the body had a drag coefficient (Cd) of a high 0.51 by today's standards, although actually typical for the era.

The 2CV used the fixed-profile convertible, where the doors and upper side elements of its bodywork remain fixed, while its fabric soft top can be opened. This reduces weight and lowers the centre of gravity, and allows the carrying of long or irregularly shaped items, but the key reason was that fabric was cheaper than steel which was in short supply and expensive after the war. The fixed-profile concept was quite popular in this period.

Suspension[edit]

The suspension of the 2CV was uncommonly soft; a person could easily rock the car side to side dramatically. The leading arm / trailing arm swinging arm, fore-aft linked suspension system together with inboard front brakes had a much smaller unsprung weight than existing coil spring or leaf spring designs. It was designed by Marcel Chinon.[6]

  • The system comprises two suspension cylinders mounted horizontally on each side of the platform chassis. Inside the cylinders are two springs, one for each wheel, mounted at each end of the cylinder. The springs are connected to the front leading swinging arm and rear trailing swinging arm, that act like bellcranks by pull rods (tie rods). These are connected to spring seating cups in the middle of the cylinder, each spring being compressed independently, against the ends of the cylinder.(Pictured Here[53][54])[6][53][55][56]
  • If each cylinder was rigidly mounted to the chassis, it would provide fully independent suspension, but it is not rigidly mounted. It is mounted using an additional set of springs, originally made from steel, called "volute" springs (that are visible on the ends of cylinder in the external linked drawing above), but on later models made from rubber. These springs allow the front and rear suspension to interconnect.[6]
  • When the front wheel is deflected up over a bump, the front pull rod compresses the front spring inside the cylinder, against the front of the cylinder. This also compresses the front "volute" spring pulling the whole cylinder forwards. That action pulls the rear wheel down on the same side via the rear spring assembly and pull rod. When the rear wheel meets that bump a moment later, it does the same in reverse, keeping the car level front to rear. When both springs are compressed on one side when travelling around a bend, or front and rear wheels hit bumps simultaneously, the equal and opposite forces applied to the front and rear spring assemblies reduce the interconnection significantly, or even completely.[4] This stiffens the suspension after a certain amount of body roll has been achieved. It allows the 2CV to have very soft "bump mode" absorption, without wallow or uncontrolled float.[6]
  • It reduces pitching, which is a particular problem of soft car suspension.[4]
  • At high angles of body roll, the swinging arms that are mounted with large bearings to "cross tubes" that run side to side across the chassis; combined with the effects of all-independent soft springing and excellent damping, keeps the road wheels in contact with the road surface and parallel to each other across the axles. A larger than conventional steering castor angle, ensures that the front wheels are closer to vertical than the rears, when cornering hard with a lot of body roll. All this provides excellent road holding, while appearing to look like a softly sprung American car with poor handling and road holding because of poor body control.
  • The soft springing, long suspension travel and the use of leading and trailing arms means that as the body rolls during cornering the wheelbase on the inside of the corner increases while the wheelbase on the outside of the corner decreases. As the corning forces put more of the car's weight on the inside pair of wheels the wheelbase extends in proportion, keeping the car's weight balance and centre of grip constant. promoting excellent road holding.
  • The other key factor in the quality of its road holding is the very low and forward centre of gravity, provided by the position of the engine and transmission.[6]
  • The suspension also automatically accommodates differing payloads in the car- with four people and cargo on board the wheelbase increases by around 4 cm (2 in) as the suspension deflects, and the castor angle of the front wheels increases by as much as 8 degrees thus ensuring that ride quality, handling and road holding is almost unaffected by the additional weight.[6]
  • On early cars friction dampers (like a dry version of a multi-plate clutch design) were fitted at the mountings of the front and rear swinging arms to the cross-tubes. Because the rear brakes were outboard, they had extra tuned mass dampers to damp wheel bounce from the extra unsprung mass. Later models had tuned mass dampers ("Batteurs") at the front (because the leading arm had more inertia and "bump/thump" than the trailing arm), with hydraulic telescopic dampers / shock absorbers front and rear. The uprated hydraulic damping obviated the need for the rear inertia dampers.[6] (It should be noted that only dampers designed to be able to work horizontally should be used as replacements. Some that will physically fit do not work properly horizontally.)
  • It was designed to be a comfortable ride by matching the frequencies encountered in human bipedal motion.[6]

This sophisticated suspension design ensured the road wheels followed ground contours underneath them closely, while insulating the vehicle from shocks, enabling the 2CV to be driven over a ploughed field without breaking any eggs, as its design brief required. More importantly it could comfortably and safely drive at reasonable speed, along the ill-maintained and war-damaged post-war French Routes Nationales. It was commonly driven "Pied au Plancher" — "foot to the floor" by their peasant owners.[4][57]

The 2CV suspension and vehicle dynamics was assessed by Alec Issigonis and Alex Moulton in the mid-1950s (according to an interview by Moulton with CAR magazine in the late 1990s); this inspired them to design the Hydrolastic suspension system for the Mini and Austin 1100, to try to keep the benefits of the 2CV system but with added roll stiffness in a simplified design.

Front-wheel drive[edit]

Front-wheel drive made the car easy and safe to drive. Citroën had developed expertise with it due to the pioneering Traction Avant, which was the first mass-produced steel monocoque front-wheel-drive car in the world. The 2CV was originally equipped with a sliding splined joint, and twin Hookes type universal joints on its driveshafts; later models used constant velocity joints and a sliding splined joint.

Gearbox[edit]

The gearbox was a four-speed manual transmission, an advanced feature on an inexpensive car at the time. Boulanger had originally insisted on no more than three gears, because he believed that with four ratios the car would be perceived as complex to drive by customers. Thus, the fourth gear was marketed as an overdrive, this is why on the early cars the "4" was replaced by "S" for surmultipliée.[16] The gear shifter came horizontally out of the dashboard with the handle curved upwards. It had a strange shift pattern: the first was back on the left, the second and third were inline, and the fourth (or the S) could be engaged only by turning the lever to the right from the third. Reverse was opposite first. Although this may seem an odd layout, it is in fact logical. The idea is to put most used gears opposite each other — for parking, first and reverse; for normal driving, second and third. This layout was adopted from the H-van's three-speed gearbox.

Windscreen wipers[edit]

The windscreen wipers were powered by a purely mechanical system: a cable connected to the transmission; to reduce cost, this cable also powered the speedometer. The wipers' speed was therefore dependent on car speed. When the car was waiting at a crossroad, the wipers were not powered; thus, a handle under the speedometer allowed them to be operated by hand. Although this system was far from perfect, it was better than some 1950s British Ford economy cars that had wipers powered by inlet manifold vacuum that ran at full speed at engine idle but slowed down to a crawl when cruising at speed and stopped entirely when the engine was fully loaded, as when accelerating up a hill. From 1962, the wipers were powered by a single-speed electric motor. The car came with only a speedometer and an ammeter.[2]

Braking system[edit]

The 2CV design predates the invention of disc brake, so 1948–1981 cars have drum brakes on all four wheels. In October 1981, the design was altered to fit front disc brakes.[38] Disc brake cars use green LHM fluid – a mineral oil – which is not compatible with standard glycol brake fluid.[58]

Engines[edit]

2CV6 engine compartment, post-1981 (with inboard disc brakes)
2CV ignition system diagram
Movement of flat-twin engine pistons, connecting rods and crankshaft
2CV flat-twin engine halved with piston removed — showing connecting rod, crankshaft, crankcase, camshaft, spring-loaded split timing gear and engine oil pickup

The engine was designed by Walter Becchia and Lucien Gerard,[4] with a nod to the classic "boxer" BMW motorcycle engine (it is reported that Becchia dismantled the engine of the BMW motorcycle of Flaminio Bertoni before designing the 2CV engine). It was an air-cooled, flat-twin, four-stroke, 375 cc engine with pushrod operated overhead valves and a hemispherical combustion chamber. The notoriously underpowered earliest model developed only 9 PS (6.6 kW) DIN (6.5 kW). A 425 cc engine was introduced in 1955, followed in 1968 by a 602 cc one giving 28 bhp (21 kW) at 7000 rpm. With the 602 cc engine, the tax classification of the car changed so that it became in fact a 3CV, but the commercial name remained unchanged. A 435 cc engine was introduced at the same time in replacement of the 425 cc; the 435 cc engine car was christened 2CV 4 while the 602 cc took the name 2CV 6 (although a variant did take the name 3CV in Argentina). The 602 cc engine evolved to the M28 33 bhp (25 kW) in 1970; this was the most powerful engine fitted to the 2CV. A new 602 cc giving only 29 bhp (22 kW) at a slower 5,750 rpm was introduced in 1979. Despite being less powerful, this engine was more efficient, allowing lower fuel consumption and better top speed, at the price of decreased acceleration. All 2CVs with the M28 engine can run on unleaded petrol, but attention is needed to ensure that valve clearances are maintained.[59] Although there were not any more powerful engines for this model, Citroën used the same engine design on other cars, like the AMI, the LN, the Dyane. The slightly increased capacity 652 cc mapped electronic ignition version in the Visa was significantly different. They had a bit more power, and many 2CV owners installed those engines in their car for more flexibility. Cutaway drawings of the 2CV engine are pictured on the citroenet.org.uk website[60][60][61][61][62][62][63][63] The final development of the engine was within the PSA Peugeot-Citroën / Renault / French government ECO 2000 project, first prototype SA103 of March 1982. It was watercooled and increased to 704cc. Later prototypes used a three-cylinder Fiat FIRE engine instead, which was then being developed in conjunction with PSA.[64][65]

The 2CV used the wasted spark ignition system for both simplicity and reliability and had only speed-controlled ignition timing, no vacuum advance taking account of engine load.[66]

Unlike other air-cooled cars (such as the Volkswagen Beetle and the Fiat 500) the 2CV's engine had (for simplicity and reliability) no thermostat valve fitted to its oil system. Engine needed more time for oil to reach normal operating temperature in cold weather. All the oil in the system passed through an oil cooler mounted behind the fan and received the full cooling effect regardless of the ambient temperature. This removes the risk of overheating from a jammed thermostat that can afflict water- and air-cooled engines and the engine can withstand many hours of running under heavy load at high engine speeds even in hot weather. To prevent the engine running cool in cold weather (and to improve the output of the cabin heater) all 2CVs were supplied with a grille blinds (canvas on early cars and a clip-on plastic item called a "muff" in the owner's handbook, on later ones) which blocked around half the grille aperture to reduce the flow of cool air to the engine.

The engine's design concentrated on the reduction of moving parts. The cooling fan and dynamo were built integrally with the one-piece crankshaft, removing the need for drive belts. The use of gaskets, seen as another potential weak point for failure and leaks, was also kept to a minimum. The cylinder heads are mated to the cylinder barrels by a lapped joints with extremely fine tolerances as are the two-halves of the crankcase and other surface-to-surface joints.

As well as the close tolerances between parts the engine's lack of gaskets was made possible by a unique crankcase ventilation system. On any 2-cylinder boxer engine such as the 2CV's, the volume of the crankcase reduces by the cubic capacity of the engine (375 to 602cc in the Citroen's case) when the pistons move together. This, combined with the inevitable small amount of "leakage" of combustion gases past the pistons leads to a positive pressure in the crankcase which must be removed in the interests of engine efficiency and to prevent oil and gas leaks as the pressure tries to escape. The 2CV's engine has a combined engine "breather" and oil filler assembly which contains a series of rubber reed valves. These allow positive pressure to escape the crankcase (to the engine air intake to be recirculated) but which close when the pressure in the crankcase drops as the pistons move apart. Because gases are expelled but not admitted this creates a slight vacuum in the crankcase so that any weak joint or failed seal causes air to be sucked in rather than allowing oil to leak out. Since the oil both serves as the engine's lubricant and forms a vital part of the cooling system this "anti leak" system was especially important.

These design features made the 2CV engine highly reliable; test engines were run at full speed for 1000 hours at a time, equivalent to driving 80,000 km (50,000 mi) at full throttle. They also meant that the engine was very much "sealed for life" — for example, replacing the big-end bearings required specialised equipment to dismantle and reassemble the built-up crankshaft, and as this was often not available the entire crankshaft had to be replaced. However, the engine is very under-stressed and long-lived, so this is not a major issue. Until the 1960s it was common for other car manufacturers' engines to need full strip downs and rebuilds at as little as 80,000 km (50,000 mi) intervals; un-rebuilt 2CV engines are still running that are passing 400,000 km (250,000 mi).[citation needed]

If the starter motor or battery failed, the 2CV had the option of hand-cranking, the jack handle serving as starting handle through dogs on the front of the crankshaft at the centre of the fan. This feature, once universal on cars and still common in 1948 when the 2CV was introduced, was kept until the end of production in 1990. The jack handle also served as the wheelbrace (lug wrench) and could be used to remove the nuts that held the front wings (fenders) on — part of the car's design to facilitate easy maintenance.[citation needed]

Variant Bore
× Stroke (mm)
Displacement (cc) Compression
ratio
Carburettor Power
HP/rpm
Torque
Nm/rpm
Application Years
produced
A-2CV 62×62 375 6.2 Solex 22ZACI 9/3500 19.6/2000 Citroën 2CV A 1948–56
Citroën 2CV Fourgonnette AU 1951–56
7 Citroën 2CV A 1956–59
A53 66×62 425 6.2 Solex 26CBI 12/3500 Citroën 2CV AZ 1954–56
Citroën 2CV AZU 1954–63
7 Citroën 2CV AZ, AZL, AZLM 1956–60
12.5/4200 1960–61
7.5 13.5/4000 1961–62
15/4500 26.5/2500 1962–63
Solex 28CBI 18/5000 Citroën 2CV AZA, AZAM Export 1963–67
7.75 28.5/3500 Citroën 2CV AZA 1967–70
Citroën 2CV AZU 1963–67
A79/0 66×62 425 Solex 32 21/5450 29.4/2400 Citroën Dyane 4 1967–68
Citroën 2CV AZU 1967–73
A79/1 68.5×59 435 8.5 Solex 34 26/6750 30.4/4000 Citroën 2CV 4 1970–79
Citroën Dyane 4 1968–75
Citroën 2CV AZU250 1972–77
M4 74×70 602 7.5 Solex 30PBI 21/4500 39.5/3500 Citroën Ami 6 1961–63
Citroën Dyane 6 1968
Citroën 2CV AK350 1963–68
7.75 Solex 40PICS 25.5/4750 42/3000 Citroën Ami 6
M28/1 8.5 Solex 34 32.8/5750 42/3500 Citroën 2CV 6 1970–78
Citroën Dyane 6 1968–70
Citroën Méhari 1968–78
Citroën FAF 1973–78
Citroën Acadiane 1978–87
M28 9 Solex 26/35 32/5750 46.4/3500 Citroën Dyane 6 1970–83
Citroën Ami 8 1969–78
8.5 41/3500 Citroën LN 1976–78
29/5750 39/3500 Citroën 2CV 6 1979–90
V06 77×70 652 9.5 Solex 26/35 CSIC 35/5750 52/3500 Citroën LN 1978–86
49/3500 Citroën Visa Club 1978–87

Performance[edit]

When asked about the 2CVs performance and acceleration, many owners said it went "from 0–60 in one day".[13] The original 1948 model that produced only 9 hp[67] had a 0–40 time of 42.4 seconds and a top speed of just 64 km/h (40 mph), far below the speeds necessary for North American highways or the German Autobahns of the day. The top speed increased with engine size to 80 km/h (49 mph) in 1955, 84 km/h (52 mph) in 1962, 100 km/h (63 mph) in 1970, and 115 km/h (71 mph) in 1981.[41]

The last evolution of the 2CV engine was the Citroën Visa flat-2, a 652 cc featuring electronic ignition. Citroën never sold this engine in the 2CV, but some enthusiasts have converted their 2CVs to 652 engines,[68] or even transplanted Citroën GS or GSA flat-four engines and gearboxes.[69] Cars with the flat-four engines and subtle bodywork changes so they appear to be standard are known as "Sidewinders" in the UK.[6]

In the mid-1980s CAR magazine editor Steve Cropley ran and reported on a turbocharged 602 cc 2CV that was developed by engineer Richard Wilsher.[21][70] [71]

Nicknames[edit]

DIY paintwork was often seen on the 2CV

Popular French nicknames were "Deuche" and "Dedeuche".

The Dutch were the first to call it "het lelijke eendje" ("the ugly duckling") or just "Eend" ("duck"), while the Flemish called it "de geit" ("the goat").

In German-speaking countries, it is called "Ente" ("duck"), except in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, where Döschwo is commonly used, a Germanized spelling of the French pronunciation of 2CV.

English nicknames include "Flying Dustbin","Tin Snail", "Dolly", "Tortoise"[72][73] and "Upside-down pram".

In the former Yugoslavia, the car was called "spaček" (pronounced "spa-check", Slovene for "little freak").

In Spanish-speaking countries, where horsepower figures are often quoted in "CV" ("caballos de vapor"), they were nicknamed "dos caballos" (two horses), as well as "citrola", "citruca", "cirila", "la rana" (the frog) and derived from "Citroën" were called "citroneta" and "la cabra" (the goat).

In Portugal, the car was called "dois cavalos".

In Denmark, the car has many names like "Gyngehest" (Rocking horse) or "Studenter-Jaguar" (student's Jaguar) or "Pædagog-Jaguar" (peagogue's Jaguar, which comes from the hippies, who later became teachers) while amongst 2CV enthusiasts the cars are affectionately called "De kære små" (the dear small ones).

In Finland, the 2CV is known as "Rättisitikka" (Finnish for "rag Citroën") because of its canvas roof.

In Swedish (at least in the Swedish-speaking areas of Finland), it's called "Lingonplockare" (since the looks are similar to a device for picking lingonberries).

In Tunisia, it is called "karkassa".

In Hungary it is called "Kacsa" (pronounced "kacha" and meaning "duck").

In Israel, it was called "פחנוע" (pronounced "pah-noa", meaning "tin car").

In Iceland it was named "Sítróen braggi" (meaning "Citroën Quonset hut").

In Norway, the name was "Jernseng", meaning "iron bed".

In Iran, the manufacturer named it "Jian / Zhian ژیان", which means "Fierce" but popularly, it was sometimes referred to as "ماشین حلبی" (pronounced "machin halabi", meaning "tin car").

End of production[edit]

The 2CV was produced for 42 years, the model finally succumbing to customer demands for speed, in which this ancient design had fallen significantly behind modern cars, and safety, where it was better than was generally realised: the front of the chassis was designed to fold up, to form a crumple zone according to a 1984 Citroën brochure. It was rated as comparable for safety with contemporary small cars (that are all very poor by modern standards), by Which? magazine in the 1980s. Which? started rating safety in 1983, originally with their own rating system.[74] Which? also recommended the 2CV as a basic car to buy in the mid-1980s, but had changed their minds by the late 1980s. (The drive for improved crash worthiness in Europe has happened from the 1990s onwards, and accelerated with the 1997 advent of Euro NCAP.) Its advanced underlying engineering was ignored or misunderstood, by the public, being clothed in an ultra basic anachronistic body. It was the butt of many a joke, especially by Jasper Carrott in the UK.[75] It was not helped by Citroën failing to promote it after the mid-1980s and by falling quality standards. The car was viewed as an embarrassment by Citroën, and they tried to kill the model for several years before the end came.

Citroën had attempted to replace the ultra-utilitarian 2CV several times (with the Dyane, Visa, and the AX). However, its comically antiquated appearance became an advantage to the car, and it became a niche product which sold because it was different from anything else on sale. Because of its down-to-earth economy car style, it became popular with people who wanted to distance themselves from mainstream consumerism — "hippies" — and also with environmentalists.

Although not a replacement for the 2CV, the AX supermini, a conventional urban runabout, unremarkable apart from its exceptional lightness, seemed to address the car makers' requirements at the entry level in the early 1990s.

In 1988 production ceased in France but was continued in Portugal. The last official 2CV, a Charleston with chassis number 08KA 4813 PT which was reserved for the Mangualde plant manager Claude Hebert, rolled off the Portuguese production line on 27 July 1990. But during the following week, five additional 2CV Special vehicles left the plant;[76] three of their number (one blue, one white with chassis number KA 372168 fitted for a 1991 series that also never materialized,[77] one red) for exhibition at the French "Mondial de l'Automobile" in Paris, October 1990 but this project was later cancelled.

The chassis numerical incrementation was not always sequential. The series number identification badge stock were ordered in bulk and fixed at random on the vehicles when leaving the production line. It often left gaps in the numbering sequence. For instance, on 29 February 1988 a gap of more than 17,500 numbers existed between cars carried on the last truck leaving the Levallois plant. Furthermore, the official end of this last French line had been observed on 19 February. This confusion began in 1948: the first six 2CVs received in succession the chassis numbers 000 007, 000 002, 000 005, 000 003, 000 348 and 000 006. Thus it is not possible to locate precisely the assembly date of the ultimate chassis numbers displayed: KA 366 694 (Great Britain), KA 359666 (Belgium), KA 375 563 (Germany), KA 376 002 (France) and 08KA 4813 PT (Portugal).[78]

In all a total of 3,867,932 2CVs were produced. Including the commercial versions of the 2CV, Dyane, Méhari, FAF, and Ami variants, the 2CV's underpinnings spawned 8,830,679 vehicles.[39] The 2CV was outlived by contemporaries such as the Mini (out of production in 2000), Volkswagen Beetle (2003), Renault 4 (1992), Volkswagen Type 2 (2013) and Hindustan Ambassador (originally a 1950s Morris Oxford), (2014).

Continued popularity[edit]

The design of the 1989 Nissan S-Cargo (a play on the word "Escargot") was directly inspired by the appearance of the French Citroën 2CV Fourgonnette or small truck/delivery van, even including the single-spoke steering wheel. The 2CV was relatively popular in Japan at this time. The Chrysler CCV or Composite Concept Vehicle developed in the mid-1990s is a concept car developed to illustrate new means of construction suitable to developing nations. The car is a tall, fairly roomy four-door sedan, of modest dimensions. The designers at Chrysler note they were inspired to create a modernised Citroën 2CV.

The company Sorevie of Lodève was building 2CVs until 2002. The cars were built from scratch using mostly new parts. But as the 2CV no longer complied with safety regulations, the cars were sold as second-hand cars using chassis and engine numbers from old 2CVs.

The long-running 2CV circuit racing series organized by The Classic 2CV Racing Club continues to be popular in the UK.

Styling of the Citroën C3 and Pluriel included motifs reminiscent of the 2CV design.

In 2009 Citroën showed in the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show the Revolte Concept, the design of which was inspired by the 2CV. According to the Spanish car magazine, Autofacíl; the car will be released as the Citroen DS2 around late 2012.[79]

Media appearances[edit]

According to Internet Movie Cars Database, the 2CV has made over 2,200 film and TV appearances.

It made an appearance in Hayao Miyazaki's anime feature film The Castle of Cagliostro. A yellow 2CV6 had a key role as the humble getaway car of James Bond (Roger Moore) in the 1981 film For Your Eyes Only. In one scene the ultra light 2CV tips over and is quickly righted by hand.[80]

Another yellow 2CV appears in the 1968 wedding episode of the American comedy series Get Smart, where the plot requires Maxwell Smart to stand while driving, so he needs the 2CV's integral open roof ("With Love and Twitches" (Episode 4.09)).[81]

Models[edit]

Chronology of the development of models during production[edit]

Year Developments made to models during production.
1949 The first delivered 2CV (A) 375 cc, 9 hp, 65 km/h (40 mph) top speed, only one tail light and windshield wiper with speed shaft drive (the wiper speed was dependent on the driving speed)
1951 The 2CV receives an ignition lock and a locked driver's door.
1954 The oval frame around the Citroën sign on the grille is removed. The speedometer gets a light for night driving.
1955 The 2CV side repeaters are added above and behind the rear doors. It is now also available with 425 cc (AZ), 12.5 hp and a top speed of 80 km/h (50 mph).
1957 A heating / ventilation system is installed. The colour of the steering wheel switches from black to grey. The mirrors and the rear window are enlarged. The bonnet is decorated with a longitudinal strip of aluminum (AZL). In September 1957, the model also AZLP (P for "porte de malle", appears with a boot lid panel. Now you no longer had to open the soft top at the bottom to get to the trunk.
1958 In a Belgian Citroën plant has a higher quality version of the duck (AZL3) produced. It had for the first time a third side window, not available in the normal version, improved details.
1960 The production of the 375 cc engine is ended. In the front fenders round turn signals are integrated. The corrugated metal hood is replaced by a 5-rib glossy cover. Simultaneously, the grille is slightly modified (flatter shape with a curved top edge). Also appears the 2 CV 4 × 4 Sahara, later called bimoteur 2 CV. This had been an additional engine-transmission unit in the rear, mounted the other way around and drives the rear wheels. For the second engine, of course, there was a separate push-button starter and choke. With a stick shift between the front seats both transmissions were operated simultaneously. For the two separate engines, there are separate gasoline tanks, under the front seats. Two ignition switches were provided. The filler neck sat in the front doors. Both engines (and hence axles) could be operated independently). The spare wheel was mounted on the hood. The car had, thanks to the all-wheel drive, enormous off-road capability, but at twice the price of the standard 2CV. It was built until 1968 only 693 produced. 1971 one other. Many were used by the Swiss Post as a delivery vehicle. Today they are highly collectible.
1962 The engine power is increased to 14 hp and top speed to 85 km/h (53 mph). In addition, sun roof is installed.
1963 The engine power is increased to 16 hp. The bumper is changed. An electric wiper motor is replacing the drive on the speedo.
1964 From December 1964 the front doors hinge at the front of the door, instead of at the rear "suicide doors". The ammeter is replaced by a charging indicator light. The speedometer is moved from the window frame into the dash. Instead of a dip stick/measuring rod, there is now a fuel gauge.
1965 The grille is changed again: the Citroën logo now sits above the radiator grille. Wavy grille is replaced by three horizontal bars.
1966 The 2CV gets a third side window. As of September 1966 is sold in Germany in Belgium produced a variant with the 602 cc engine and 21 hp Ami6 than 3 CV (AZAM6). This version was only sold until 1968 in some export markets, in France itself, this model was never available.
1967 Between 1967 and 1983 were about 1.4 million Citroën Dyane built. The car is technically based on the 2CV. The exterior is more modern and distinguished by the recessed lights in the fenders and bodywork. The car was designed to appeal to those buyers who were lost after the introduction of the Renault 4. The Dyane was originally planned as an upmarket version of the 2CV and it was supposed to supersede it later. But ultimately, the Dyane was outlived by the 2CV by seven years — it was simply not accepted by the customers.
1970 The taillights (from the obsolete Ami 6), and front turn signals are changed. From 1970, only two series were produced: The 2CV 4 (AZKB) with 435 cc and the 2CV 6 (Azka) with 602 cc displacement.
1971 The front bench seat is replaced with two individual seats.
1972 2CVs are now fitted with standard three-point seat belts.
1973 The 2CV gets new seat covers, a padded single-spoke steering wheel and ashtrays.
1975 Because of new emission standards power of 28 hp is reduced to 25 hp to reduce emissions. The round headlights are replaced by square, from the interior which are adjustable in height. A new plastic grille is fitted (the Citroën logo now sits back in the middle of the grille). The bumper is changed.
1976 After the Dyane had come onto the market, the sales figures fell rapidly at first. Between 1975 and 1990 under the name of AZKB "2CV Spécial" a drastically reduced trim basic version is sold. It is at first only in yellow, the third rear side windows are gone, the roof can only be opened from the outside, the seats are upholstered in vinyl and it has round headlights only. The small, square speedometer (that dates back to the Traction Avant), and the narrow rear bumper was installed.
1978 The 2CV Spécial was now also available in red and white colours, while also getting a third side window.
1981 Originally planned as a limited edition, which was initially only available in red and black, by popular demand the Charleston becomes a standard model. By changing the carburettor to achieve 29 hp and a top speed of 115 km / h. Other changes are, A new rear-view mirror and inboard disc brakes at the front wheels.[38]
1982 All the other 2CV models also get inboard disc brakes at the front wheels.[38] The Charleston gets chromed headlights and a new seat upholstery. In addition, it is available in yellow and black, the colour combination, but a year later replaced by the cormorant grey/night grey.
1986 In Germany and Switzerland a special edition called, "I Fly Bleifrei" — "I Fly Lead Free" is launched, that handles ordinary unleaded, instead of then normal leaded petrol and super unleaded. It was introduced mainly because of stricter emissions standards. In 1987 it was replaced by the "Sausss-duck" special edition.
1990 The last 2CV leaves the production hall in Mangualde, Portugal on 27 July. A total of 5,114,966 units were built.

Production history[edit]

Model 1949 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 Total
2CV Saloon 876 6,196 14,592 21,124 34,361 52,791 81,170 95,864 107,250 126,332 145,973 152,801 158,659 144,759 158,035 167,419 154,023 168,357 98,683 54,473 72,044 121,096 121,264 133,530 123,819 163,143 122,542 134,396 132,458 108,825 101,222 89,994 89,472 86,060 59,673 54,923 54,067 56,633 43,255 22,717 19,077 9,954 3,867,932
2CV Van None None 1,696 7,711 13,121 19,197 23,904 23,859 31,431 37,631 50,058 57,724 56,639 54,191 55,775 64,994 59,211 55,817 55,281 51,545 53,259 46,485 62,074 64,592 68,357 64,235 44,821 54,533 52,721 12,647 2,535 135 30 None None None None None None None None None 1,246,299
2CV Sahara None None None None None None None None None None None 20 274 112 87 138 35 27 None None None None 1 None None None None None None None None None None None None None None None None None None None 694[82]
Belgian-built Citroën 2CV AZ-Luxe

Standard saloon[edit]

Production Data[6]
Model Range Official Code Production Dates Sales Description Engine CC
2CV A 07/49 – 07/59 2CV 375
AZ 10/54 – 10/55 2CV 425
AZ 10/55 – 10/58 2CV 425
AZ 10/58 – 10/61 2CV 425
AZ 10/61 – 04/62 2CV 425
AZ 04/62 – 02/63 2CV 425
AZ (séries A et AM) 03/63 – 12/63 2CV AZL & AZAM 425
AZ (séries A et AM) 12/63 – 02/70 2CV AZL & AZAM 425
AZ (séries A 2) 02/70 – 09/75 2CV 4 435
AZ (série KB) 09/75 – 09/78 2CV 4 435
AZ (série KB) 09/78 – 07/79 2CV Spécial 435
AZ (série KA) 02/70 – 09/75 2CV 6 602
AZ (série KA) 09/75 – 09/78 2CV 6 602
AZ (série KA) 09/78 – 07/79 2CV 6 602
AZ (série KA) 07/79 – 07/81 2CV 6 Spécial, Club 602
AZ (série KA) 07/81 – 07/90 2CV Spécial, Club, Spécial E, Charleston 602

Utility[edit]

1978 Citroën 2CV AK400 van
AZU Van
Production Data[6]
Model Range Official Code Production Dates Sales Description Engine CC
2CV Fourgonnette AU 03/51 – 10/54 2CV – AU 375
AZU 10/54 – 12/55 2CV – AZU 425
AZU 12/55 – 10/58 2CV – AZU 425
AZU 10/58 – 11/61 2CV – AZU 425
AZU 11/61 – 02/62 2CV – AZU 425
AZU 02/62 – 03/63 2CV – AZU 425
AZU (série A) 03/63 – 08/67 2CV – AZU (séries A ) 425
AZU (série A) 08/67 – 08/72 2CV – AZU (séries A ) 425
AZ (série B) 08/72 – 09/75 Citroën 250 435
AZ série AP (AZU) 09/75 – 02/78 Citroën 250 435
3CV Fourgonnette AK 04/63 – 05/68 AK 350 602
AK (série B) 05/68 – 08/70 AK 350 602
AK (série AK) 08/70 – 09/75 Citroën 400 602
AK (série AK) 09/75 – 02/78 Citroën 400 602
AK (série CD) 02/78 – 09/80 Acadiane 602
AK (série CD) 09/80 – 07/87 Acadiane 602
AK (série CD modifie) 09/80 – 07/87 Acadiane G.P.L (L.P.G.) 602
1958 Citroën Radar
1957 UMAP
2CV Bijou

Cabriolet (Radar)[edit]

Robert Radar designed a fibreglass body on the chassis of a 2CV in 1956 and built a few prototypes in his Citroën Garage in Liège, Belgium. Citroën Belgium was enthusiastic about this model and decided to produce it as an official Citroën 2CV in its Forest (near Brussels) factory. They manufactured about 50 bodies and added the model called 2CV "Radar" on the price list. They were assembled on order, but in 1958 and 1959, only 25 were sold and production ceased. The remaining bodies were destroyed later. There are five or six of them left, one in the Netherlands and four or five in Belgium.

Coupé[edit]

UMAP

The small French company UMAP was established in 1956 in the northern French village of Bernon, ( Aube ) by Camille Martin, the former mayor. The acronym UMAP stands for Usine Moderne d'Applications Plastiques — (Factory for Modern Plastic Applications). UMAP produced the SM 425 and SM 500 from 1957, two externally identical coupés based on the Citroën 2CV. In 1958 the production was discontinued.[83][84]

Bijou

The Bijou was built at the Citroën factory in Slough, UK in the early 1960s. It was a two-door fibreglass-bodied version of the 2CV designed by Peter Kirwan-Taylor who had been involved in styling the original 1950s Lotus Elite. The design was thought to be more acceptable in appearance to British consumers than the standard 2CV. Incorporating some components from the DS (most noticeably the single-spoke steering wheel, and windscreen for the rear window), it did not achieve market success, because it was heavier than the 2CV and still used the 425 cc engine and so was even slower, reaching 100 km/h (62 mph) only under favourable conditions. It was also more expensive than the Austin Mini, which was more practical. Only 207 were built.

"Sahara" four-wheel drive[edit]

Production Data[6]
Model Range Official Code Production Dates Sales Description Engine CC
2CV 4×4 AW 03/58 – 03/63 2CV 4 × 4 "SAHARA" 2 × 425
2CV 4×4 AW/AT 03/63 – 07/66 2CV 4 × 4 "SAHARA" 2 × 425

One novel model was the 2CV Sahara, a four-wheel drive (4×4) car, equipped with two engines (12 hp each), each one having a separate fuel tank.[85] One was mounted in the front driving the front wheels and one in the back driving the rear wheels. A single gearstick, clutch pedal and accelerator were connected to both engines. It was originally intended for use by the French colonies in Northern Africa. As well as a decreased chance of being stranded, it provided four-wheel-drive traction with continuous drive to some wheels while others were slipping because the engine transmissions were uncoupled. Therefore, it became popular with off-road enthusiasts. Between 1958 and 1971, Citroën built 694 Saharas, but only 27 are known to exist today. The top speed was 65 km/h (40 mph) on one engine, but this increased to 105 km/h (65 mph) with both engines running.

Citroën 2CV Sahara 
Sahara rear engine bay 
Citroën 2CV Sahara 

The Méhari was also built as a 4×4 from May 1979, but with only one engine and a reduction gear.[32]

Various 4×4 conversions were built by independent constructors, such as Marc Voisin, near Grenoble, some from a Méhari 4×4 chassis and a 2CV body. In the UK, Louis Barber builds single-engined four-wheel-drive 2CVs. In the late 1990s, Kate Humble from BBC Top Gear tested one against a Landrover Defender off road. The 2CV won.[86]

Although the terminology is sometimes confused, 2CV 4×4 generally refers to conversions such as these, whereas 2CV Sahara refers to the two-engined Citroën vehicle.

1952 Citroën Cogolin

Another very different double front-ended, four-wheel drive (but not at the same time) 2CV, the 1952 Citroën Cogolin, also known as the Bicéphale, was built for the French Fire Service — the Sapeur-Pompiers. This was meant to enable the car to drive into a narrow position and away again without having to turn.[87]

Citroën Coccinelle project[edit]

The Citroën Prototype C was a range of vehicles created by Citroën from 1955 to 1956 under the direction of André Lefèbvre. The idea was to produce a water drop-shaped, very lightweight vehicle, which would be more modern and smaller than the 2CV. One of the prototypes, the Citroën C-10 has survived and is still owned by Citroën. The overall look of the vehicle was quite similar to the Messerschmitt bubble car. It was equipped with the same 425 cc engine as the 2CV. The vehicle was also nicknamed Citroën Coccinelle (Ladybug or Ladybird in French).[88]

Boot extensions[edit]

Some late model owners fitted "hunchbacks", an extension to the car's trunk. This used the original boot lid, but in a horizontal position with the extension underneath, unlike the 1950s equivalent, which had a curved boot lid reminiscent of a post-war "big boot" Traction Avant. The late models are usually hunchbacks with boot extension.

1950s style boot extension 
1970s/80s style boot extension 

Complete knock down (CKD) locally built cars[edit]

The Greek market Citroën Pony[89] and African market Citroën FAF[90] and Baby-Brousse[91] were flat-panelled Mehari type, 2CV based utility cars, built from kits in small low tech assembly plants. There was widespread production of similar 2CV-based vehicles in a large number of countries, including Iran[92] (Baby-Brousse, Jyane-Mehari), Vietnam (Dalat),[93] Chile (Yagan),[42] Belgium (VanClee), Spain, Portugal and others.

Belgian Vanclee Mungo 
Citroen Yagan, Chile 

Kit cars and specials[edit]

The 2CV's availability, platform chassis construction, low cost and propensity to rust make it an ideal donor car for a special or kit car. Examples of 2CV-based kit sports cars include the Pembleton, BlackJack Avion and the Lomax from Britain, and Burton and Patron from the Netherlands. Most are also available as three wheelers (single wheel at the rear), like an early Morgan sports car. Some have been fitted with larger air-cooled twin-cylinder motorcycle engines. For transportation purposes, some saloon models were rebuilt into vans using glassfibre reconstructions of corrugated 2CV Fourgonnette rear box sections. The "Bedouin"[94] was a flat-panel wooden-bodied kit car, that was a spin-off from the ill-fated "Africar"[95] project. It had similarities in looks, to the Citroën Pony and Citroën FAF, CKD locally built cars.

Lomax 223 3 Wheeler 
Pembleton side view 
Blackjack Avion Front/Side 
Le Patron 
Manx 

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Video references[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Cats Citroen Net 2CV, History, Buyer's/Owners's Guides, Restoration, Modifying, Codes/Serial Numbers, Reference, Photos — further information.
  • Citroën A Series Index Page Citroënet 2CV site. Externally linked and referenced in the main text, for further information.