Citroen 2CV – the Deux Chevaux

The Citroen 2CV (deux chevaux) was first released on the market in 1948, and the last one rolled off the production line in 1990.

This little car was technologically advanced and innovative, with unconventional looks.It was powered by a small air-cooled 2 cylinder engine and its chassis was suspended on coil springs. In some quarters, because of its tendency to wobble, earned citroen 2CV the nickname of the Duck or the Jellymobile.

It was the French equivalent of the VW Beetle, the German mass market low end car. Sold mainly in France and within Europe the Citroen 2CVCitroen 2CV was by no means the most majestic of cars, but it was to become one of the most loved and iconic cars ever built by a French manufacturer. High import taxes and the fact the Citroen 2CV, to the British eye, looked ugly, meant the model never enjoyed big sales in the UK. However, that started to change in the 70s and 80s as they became very chic cars to own.

The original design brief was to enable 2 people or peasants as it was stated, to drive 100kg of their farm goods to their local market at a speed of around 60km/hr (37mph), across muddy unpaved roads if necessary. Under this same brief it was stated that the car would use no more than 3L of gasoline to travel a distance of 100kms, which would have given Citroen 2CV an astonishing fuel consumption of 78mpg, and of course one of the most famous parts of the brief was that the Citroen 2CV would be able to drive across a ploughed field without breaking any of the eggs that it was carrying!

From these humble beginnings, the Citroen 2CV has spawned a huge range of merchandise including Alex Clark Citroen 2CV MugCiroen 2CV mug, the infamous Pink Power Citroen 2CV Combi ClockCitroen 2CV clock and of course the inevitable 2CV Ash Grey T-Shirt by CafePressCitroen 2CV tee shirt

Originally only designed to move the French peasantry away from their horse and cart into the modern world, it still remains one of the most iconic Citroens to date! It was designed for its low cost, simplicity of use, versatility, reliability and it’s off road driving ability. With its light, easily serviceable engine and extremely soft and long travel suspension, it was certainly suited to the rugged French countryside. But it still struggled with sand so the 4 wheel drive citroen was introduced. Instead of some complex and potentially unreliable and easily damaged drivetrain, the solution was to use 2 independednt engines! The Citreon 2CV Sahara was born. Not a lot were built (hmm, wonder why?) and so they command a high price when they do occasionally come onto the market.

Originally built with an air cooled, flat twin, four stroke 375cc engines, giving the driver a tiny 9bhp, followed by a slightly bigger 425cc engine in 1955. Then finally a 602cc engine arrived giving a much better 28bhp but only at 7000rpm! At the time, due to the tax classification of the car changing it then made this a 3cv engine, but the commercial name remained the same. One of the other small advantages to owning one of these used Citroens was that if the motor of the battery ever failed then the 2CV had the option of hand cranking, with a jack handle serving as a starting handle, and Citroen cleverly kept this on the cars until the end of production in 1990. Apart from the pre-war cars, this is the only used Citroen you can buy with a hand crank!

When it comes to driving one of these retro Citroens, many owners describe them as fun to own and drive, easy to maintain, allegedly only needing one spanner and a hammer to repair it. That I can’t believe!

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