The Citroën 2CV: a little French masterpiece...
The famously-French Citroën 2CV, or Deux Cheveux if you eat baguettes and drink red wine, started to roam the roads back in 1948, when my Grandad who has a 2CV was classed as 'young'. Citroën came up with the idea originally for farmers as a cheap alternative to using horses, and their plan worked, and the car soon became an all-time great. The 2CV was soon to become revolutionary worldwide!
The early 2CVs only had one headlamp, it looked pretty bonkers, sort of piratical. It also had a start-handle to start the minuscule engine producing 'neuf chevaux', but it was good enough for farmers and for people that were sick of being kicked in the arse by their horses...
-One of the first 2CVs ever made.
The 2CV progressed over the years until Citroën finally pulled the plug on the 27th July 1990, never to make another 2CV for as long as we live. It was a sad day for some, not for the people that hated it of course, they were probably dancing around with their berets on. James May's mother had one, before quickly selling it for a Vauxhall, but don't let that make you click off this article. Here are 10 reasons why the 2CV is so special, and a car that once you get to know, is one of the most joyous cars of them all.
1. The 2CV is fun!
Believe me when I say this, 2CVs are fun! I've driven my Grandad's around Mallory Park, the bit of gravel around it that is. They're super entertaining to drive; you are always busy, and you can approach a corner at full chat without messing up your seating upholstery.
-My Grandad's 2CV at Mallory Park.
2. The 2CV has POWERRR!
This may be a bit strange, seeing as the later 2CVs only have a 602cc engine that produces a dreary 29bhp, but they are actually quite nippy. You do not need a massive V12 with 787bhp, because really you should only be doing 70mph at tops, should be. The 2CV tops out at 70mph, so you will never break the national speed limit, which is fantastique! What's great is that the power the car has, you can use pretty much all the time. There are some people that put more powerful engines in 2CVs, like BMW motorcycle engines for example!
3. It looks tremendous!
The 2CV has a very unique design, and that makes it look so fantastic. With its slick roof line, wide wheel arches, and alien-like lights, it is a true design icon.
-2CV convoy to Bala.
4. It's a Range Rover beater!
The 2CV is actually quite legendary off-road, thanks to the masses of suspension travel and the lightweight body. They only weigh 600kg, which is half the weight of a Lotus Exige! I have a story to prove my point, actually. Many years ago, I lived in France, and there was a massive hill up to my old house. One winter, it snowed and snowed, which made the hill extremely slippy. One day, we tried to drive our Renault Laguna up, and it would't budge. We were borrowing my Grandad's 2CV at the time, and it drove straight up as if it was nothing. That's a superb win for the Citroën, and a tragic loss for the Renault.
5. You can cross a field with a basket of eggs without them breaking!
Now I'm sure you've all heard the story how you can cross a field in a 2CV without breaking any eggs in the passenger seat, it was actually one of Citroën's design briefs, as well as being able to accommodate a farmer and his wife wearing top hats! I don't know why you would want to drive across a field with a basket of eggs, but if you ever found yourself needing to, you can! It just proves you don't need a quarter-million pound Rolls Royce Cullinan, all you need is a 2CV! Watch this clip of Chris Harris crossing a field in his-own 1957 2CV without any eggs breaking, nearly.
6. They are bulletproof, nearly...
Ever wondered out of the Renault 5 and the Citroën 2CV which would be better if you were being shot at? Of course you have, so take a seat and watch James May answer the question you never really asked...
7. They're track weapons!
This title may sound unusual seen as it's the 2CV we are talking about, but no. Some people, the crazy ones, the best people, actually convert them into race cars, and race them around real race tracks!! All you need to do is fit a roll cage, fit a fixed roof, lower the suspension, do a few other bits and bobs and you are off. At the start of this year, I went to Muffin Motorsport HQ to have a look round Clarence and Roobarb, two 2CV race cars. I also went to see them race along with other 2CV teams at Mallory Park back in May.
2CV racing at Mallory Park - May 2019
8. They're safe, ish.
Before I start writing about this topic, if I'm not active on DriveTribe again, it means my mum has killed me.
Back in 2009, my family went on holiday to Saint Tropez, it was a lovely holiday! We needed two cars, so as well as our Laguna, we brought my Grandad's 2CV, what could possibly go wrong? As it turned out, everything.
First, a flat tyre made an appearance, then the battery decided to go flat, then my mum crashed the thing. It's the only car my mum's ever had an accident in and I've inherited my love of cars from her so she's always a bit 'touchy' when the subject of the crashed 2CV comes up. It dented her pride as much as the car! But let's not blame her to harshly, she had the onset of Lymes Disease at the time that she didn't know about then, so let's not be too strict eh!
However, my Grandad later bought a second 2CV, which was 10 times better than the old one that my mum binned. So a round of applause for my mum, I guess...
9. Everybody's heard of them!
The 2CV is the automotive equivalent of Ant & Dec, everybody knows who they are. Most people know somebody who's had a 2CV and it's a car that everybody gives a name to, such as Daisy, or Dolly...
10. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Sadly, I'm unable to type number 10; my mum came in and read number 8 and now I've got a black-eye just like the old 'plum and custard' 2CV I bravely showed you earlier on...
All in all, the 2CV is a car that is extremely close to my heart. Quite frankly, without it I probably wouldn't be into cars as much as I am today. I remember all of the car shows, and the laughs I had and still have today looking at its incredibly strange face. It was and always will be known as the 'wobbly car' to me, and I look forward to the day when my Grandad hopefully hands over the keys! (just sayin' Grandad!!)
Above is me, 10 years apart, no difference.
Below is my recent article for 2cvGB News, all about that 2CV convoy to Bala, North Wales at the start of November.
Thank you for reading, I hope I've got you into the wonderful Deux Cheveux. If I was successful, why not share this article to charge up the love for the 2CV!
Daniel Achterhuis is a 14-year-old motoring journalist on DriveTribe and motoring podcaster on RedShift Radio. Daniel writes about the cars that are often forgotten about, like the legendary Fiat Panda, and in this case, the Citroën 2CV!
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