70 years of Citroen 2CV

By: Guy Allen, Unique Cars magazine

Citroen 2CV Citroen 2CV Citroen 2CV

It's 70 years since the quirky and much-loved 2CV emerged

When you consider the original design brief for the Citroen 2CV, you can't help wondering how the devil it managed such an extraordinarily long production life - all the way to 1990.

The concept for the car came at a traumatic time in the brand's history. It was the 1930s and ownership was passing from Andre Citroen to the Michelin tyre company.

CEO Pierre Borlanger came up with a very specific brief: the car had to be simple, roomy, able to carry a couple of farmers complete with clogs, and a good 50 kilos of their produce, be it spuds, grapes or even wine.

Not only that, but it had to be nimble enough to cross a field without breaking an egg.

In fact the 2CV had some modest rally success and there was even a twin-engine 4WD version called the Sahara.

The designer given the task was none other than Flaminio Bertoni (no, not Bertone) an Italian sculptor who did some legendary work for Citroen.

It was he who penned the DS or Goddess series.

World War II of course got in the way and it wasn't until 1948 that the first production car emerged blinking into the sun.

It was powered by a tiny 375cc boxer twin engine, which was barely adequate for the task. That was soon upgraded to 425cc and eventually all the way out to 602cc.

The transmission was a four-speed manual, with a somewhat unusual shifter and pattern under the dash, which owners swear works a treat.

Construction was essentially a ladder chassis with steel panels for the cabin and a canvas roll-back roof.

That basic layout remained for its production life, though the configuration of the doors changed from hinging off the centre pillar to a more convenional forward hinge layout.

Its long-travel suspension is notorious for enabling the car to develop some wild lean angles when cornering.

Around 8 million are said to have been built over the decades.

See our 2CV features

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