22 Dec. 2011
What is The Citroën 2CV?
The Citroën 2CV is a pioneer in the small, economical car market. André Citroën was inspired by the 1930s economic crisis, and the original name for this compact four-door car was the TPV - an acronym of "tres petit voiture" or "very small car". A car aimed at urban and rural working classes and the specifications, drafted in 1936, state that the car must be able to transport four people and 50kg of potatoes or a barrel at a top speed of 60km/h.
When was it Produced?
Originally planned for a 1939 launch, this was delayed by WWII. In 1940, Citroën's Quai de Javel plant was bombed in the war but Citroën's engineers hid the 2CV prototype in the Rue du Theatre in Paris where it stayed safe. It was finally presented to the world at the 1948 Paris Motor Show, equipped with a 375cc engine and a centrifugal clutch. It was manufactured between 1949 and 1990 and in that time 5,114,920 were made, including 1,246,335 vans.
Who Designed It?
The 2CV was a team effort led by André Citroën and Pierre Boulanger, who told engineers to look to the aerospace industry for inspiration. Flamini Bertoni, who also designed the legendary DS, created the visual concept for the 2CV. The result was a car with a light, stiff structure like an aircraft. Interestingly, the new Citroën DS5's interior is also inspired by the aviation industry, with a cockpit aircraft cabin style interior. During WWII, design work carried on in secret and the resulting non-conformist design raised eyebrows at the 1948 Paris Motor Show but it was agreed that the 2CV had impressive interior space for a small car.
What was Under the Bonnet?
The original 2CV had a 375cc, 9hp air-cooled engine with a four-speed gearbox as standard. Over the years, other air-cooled engines were used, including a 425cc, a 435cc and a 602cc engine. At its most powerful, the 2CV pumped out 29hp.
Why was it Special?
The 2CV was a pioneering small car, a segment that's now an essential part of the modern automotive marketplace. It captured the public's imagination because it was affordable, cheap to run and maintain, easy to drive and surprisingly spacious. The quirky styling also made it an iconic car and it was part of a trend towards eye-catching design for small cars that continues today. Citroën C1 and C-Zero continue that theme.
Different 2CV body shapes were manufactured including the standard saloon, a van, a cabriolet, a coupé and even a four-wheel-drive variant.
Where Can I See One?
In a testament to the hardiness of the 2CV, they can still be spotted on European and British roads. Visitors to Paris can also take advantage of tours in open-top 2CVs. They can also be spotted in car museums such as the Citroën Conservatoire.
Where Can I Buy One?
You should be able to find a Citroën 2CV for sale as there are many still in circulation. You could check out a specialist distributor like 2CV City (who also carry 2CV parts) or join a fan community like International 2CV Friends.