A French Classic?
by: Rob Morgan

Citroen 2CV: A French Classic?
1956 Citroën 2CV image By skinnylawyer from Los Angeles, California, USA (1956 Citroën 2CV) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The used Citroen 2cv ( deux chevaux vapeur) meaning 2 tax horsepower was first released on the market in 1948, and continued to stay on the production line until 1990. This funny little car was technologically advanced and innovative, with unconventional looks, which were inspired by the bodywork of the Bauhaus.

Originally only designed to move the French peasantry on from their horse and carts into the automotive world, it still remains one of the most iconic used 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.

During production which spanning over 42 years 3,872,583 2cv’s were produced and many of these used Citroens are still on the roads today – although are getting rare!

Research shows that 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 this little used Citroen a return 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!

Many different special editions were produced including the SAHARA, which was built for the more difficult off road journeys – with only 694 of these made. At peak time of production a new Citroen 2cv could have taken anything from 3 years to 5 years for delivery, so at the time used Citroen 2cv’s were more expensive than the new as customers were not willing to wait.

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!

In today’s market, searching online for a used Citroen 2cv, you can easily find one or two unrestored models for as little as £350, and restored models fetching up to £8,750. In the U.K, it seems that most onwers tend to keep hold of them and take a lot of care for them, and this hard work can pay off as a used Citroen 2cv SAHARA in perfect condition could fetch you as much as €62,000 on the European market.

When it comes to driving one of these retro Citroens, many owners describe them as fun to own and drive, easy to maintain, only needing one spanner and a hammer. Although performance may be a little poor, with a little bit expertise any drive could keep up with the flow of traffic, and you will never have to fear a speed bump again (the faster that you drive over them the less you will feel it!), one other cool upside to owning a Citroen 2cv is the fact that you can paint them any way or design in the comfort of your own garage!

About The Author

Rob Morgan is the Web Manager at Budgen Motors, and is responsible for the development of www.budgenmotorcars.co.uk
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