31.12.2010 Citroen 2CV

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CitroŽn 2CV
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Manufacturer CitroŽn
Production 1948ó1990 [1]
Assembly Forest/Vorst, Belgium
LiŤge, Belgium
Slough, UK
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Arica, Chile
Mangualde, Portugal
Paris, France
Vigo, Spain
Class Economy car
Body style(s) 2-door panel van - 2-door truck - 4-door landaulet
Engine(s) 375 cc H2 air cooled - 425 cc H2 air cooled
435 cc H2 air cooled - 602 cc H2 air cooled
Transmission(s) 4-speed manual
Wheelbase 2.40 metres (94.5 in)
Length 3.83 metres (150.8 in)
Width 1.48 metres (58.3 in)
Height 1.60 metres (63.0 in)
Curb weight 560 kg (1,200 lb)
Related CitroŽn Dyane
CitroŽn FAF
CitroŽn Mťhari
CitroŽn Ami
CitroŽn Bijou
Designer Flaminio Bertoni

The CitroŽn 2CV (French: ďdeux chevauxĒ i.e. ďdeux chevaux vapeurĒ, literally ďtwo tax horsepowerĒ) was an economy car produced by the French automaker CitroŽn from 1948-1990.[1] It was technologically advanced and innovative, but with uncompromisingly utilitarian unconventional looks, and deceptively simple Bauhaus inspired bodywork, that belied the sheer quality of its underlying engineering. It was designed to move the French peasantry on from horses and carts. It is considered one of CitroŽn's most iconic cars. In 1953, 'Autocar' in a technical review of the car wrote of, "...the extraordinary ingenuity of this design, which is undoubtedly the most original since the Model T Ford."[2] It was described by CAR magazine journalist and author LJK Setright as "the most intelligent application of minimalism ever to succeed as a car."[3] It was designed for low cost, simplicity of use, versatility, reliability, and off-road driving. For this it had a light, easily serviceable engine, extremely soft long travel suspension (with adjustable ride height), high ground clearance, and for oversized loads a car-wide canvas sunroof (which until 1960 also covered the boot).

During a production run of 42 years between 1948 and 1990, 3,872,583 2CVs were produced, plus 1,246,306 Fourgonnettes (small 2CV delivery vans), as well as spawning mechanically identical vehicles like the Ami ó 1,840,396, Dyane ó 1,444,583, Acadiane ó 253,393, and Mehari ó 144,953: a grand total of 8,756,688.

From 1988 onwards, production took place in Portugal rather than in France. This arrangement lasted for two years until 2CV production halted. Portuguese built cars, especially those from when production was winding down, have a reputation in the UK for being much less well made and more prone to corrosion than French built.[4][5][6]This is paradoxical : in fact the Portuguese plant was more up-to-date than the Levallois one and Portuguese 2cv manufacturing was to higher quality standards.[7] For instance from 1985 to 1990 cars can be identified with the engine compartment bulkhead half covered with a painted blackson and a larger & thicker protection placed under the front part of the chassis. It avoids any penetration of dust or water into the engine compartment and improves the phonic isolation of the car.


The 2CV belongs to a very short list of vehicles introduced in the middle of the twentieth century that remained relevant and competitive for many decades, such as the Jeep, Land Rover Series, Fiat 500, Austin Mini and Volkswagen Beetle. The 2CV would be produced for some 42 years with minimal design changes.

Pierre-Jules Boulanger's early 1930s design brief, (after a pioneering market research survey done by Jacques Duclos), was to be astonishingly radical for the time, was for a low-priced, rugged "umbrella on four wheels" that would enable two peasants to drive 100 kg (220 lb) of farm goods to market at 60 km/h (37 mph), in clogs and across muddy unpaved roads if necessary. France at that time had a very large rural population, who had not yet adopted the automobile, due to its cost. The car would use no more than 3 L of gasoline to travel 100 km (78 MPG). Most famously, it would be able to drive across a ploughed field without breaking the eggs it was carrying. Boulanger later also had the roof raised to allow him to drive while wearing a hat.

Andrť LefŤbvre was the engineer in charge of the TPV (Toute Petite Voitureó"Very Small Car") project. By 1939, the TPV was deemed ready and several prototypes had been built. Those prototypes made use of aluminium and magnesium parts and had water-cooled engines. The seats were hammocks suspended from the roof by wires.

During the German occupation of France in the Second World War, Boulanger refused to meet Dr Ferdinand Porsche or communicate with the German authorities except through intermediaries. He organised a 'go slow' of production of trucks for the Wehrmacht, many of which were sabotaged at the factory, by putting the notch on the oil dipstick in the wrong place resulting in engine seizure. In 1944 when the Gestapo headquarters in Paris was sacked by the French Resistance, his name was prominent on a Nazi blacklist of the hundred most important 'Enemies of the Reich' to be arrested in the event of an allied invasion of France.[9] Michelin (CitroŽn's main shareholder) and CitroŽn managers decided to hide the TPV project from the Nazis, fearing some military application. Several TPVs were buried at secret locations, one was disguised as a pickup, and the others were destroyed, and Boulanger had the next six years to think about more improvements. Until 1994, when three TPVs were discovered in a barn, it was believed that only two prototypes had survived. As of 2003, five TPVs are known. For long, it was believed that the project was so well hidden that all the prototypes had been lost at the end of the war. It seems that none of the hidden TPVs was lost after the war, but in the 1950s an internal memo ordered them to be scrapped. The surviving TPVs were, in fact, hidden from the top management by some workers who were sensitive to their historical value.

After the war, internal reports at CitroŽn showed that producing the TPV would not be economically viable, given the rising cost of aluminium in the post-war economy. A decision was made to replace most of the aluminium parts with steel parts. Other changes were made, the most notable being an air-cooled engine, new seats and a restyling of the body by the Italian Flaminio Bertoni. It took three years for CitroŽn to rework the TPV and the car was nicknamed "Toujours Pas Vue" (Still Not Seen) by the press.

CitroŽn finally unveiled the car at the Paris Salon of 1948.[10] The car on display was nearly identical to the 2CV type A that would be sold next year, but lacked an electric starter, the addition of which was decided the day before the opening of the Salon. The car was heavily criticised by the motoring press and became the butt of French comedians for a short while.[2] One American motoring journalist quipped, "Does it come with a can opener?".[11] The British 'Autocar' correspondent said that the 2CV, "...is the work of a designer who has kissed the lash of austerity with almost masochistic fervour."[12] Nevertheless, CitroŽn were flooded with orders at the show, and it had a great impact on the low-income segment of the population in France.
First generation "Ripple Bonnet" CitroŽn 2CV built from 1949 to 1960
Early "Fourgonnette" (small truck / delivery van)

The 2CV was a great commercial success: within months after it went on sale, there was a three-year waiting list. The waiting list was soon increased to five years. At that time a second-hand 2CV was more expensive than a new one because the buyer did not have to wait.[2] Production was increased from four units per day in 1949 to 400 units per day in 1950. Grudging respect began to emanate from the international press: towards the end of 1951 the opinion appeared in Germany's recently launched Auto Motor und Sport magazine that despite its "ugliness and primitiveness" ("HšŖlichkeit und Primitivitšt"), the 2CV was a "highly interesting"

In 1951, CitroŽn introduced the 2CV Fourgonnette van. It pioneered the use of a large box rear section, as later used by the Morris Minor, Renault 4, CitroŽn Acadiane and CitroŽn C15 vans and copied in the 1990s by Vauxhall/Opel and Ford. The "Weekend" version of the van had collapsible, removable rear seating and rear side windows, enabling a tradesman to use it as a family vehicle at the weekend as well as for business in the week. This was the fore-runner of the CitroŽn Berlingo and Renault Kangoo people carriers introduced in the 1990s. A pick-up truck version was used by the British Royal Navy for pioneering Royal Marine helicopter carrier amphibious operations aboard HMS Bulwark and Albion, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, due to the payload limitations of their first large helicopters.[9][14]
2CV CitroŽn Sahara (spare wheel in bonnet recess)
2CV CitroŽn Sahara - showing rear engine air intake and reshaped rear wings
1967 Export Model with 1960-on bonnet and many period accessories
A 1970s CitroŽn 2CV with rectangular headlights
A 1970s CitroŽn 2CV Club / 1980s Special Edition front interior
German market 2CV Dolly, with front seat head restraints.

A special version of the 2CV was the Sahara for very difficult off-road driving, built from December 1960-1971. This had an extra engine mounted in the rear compartment and both front and rear wheel traction. Only 694 Saharas were built. The target markets for this car were French oil companies, the military, and the police.

In 1960, the 2CV was updated, and looked similar until the end of production. In particular the corrugated CitroŽn H Van style "ripple bonnet" of convex swages was replaced (except for the Sahara), with one using six larger concave swages. The 1960s were the heyday of the 2CV, when production finally caught up with demand.[15]

In 1967, CitroŽn launched a new model based on the 2CV chassis, with an updated but still utilitarian body, with a hatchback that boosted practicality: the CitroŽn Dyane. This was in response to the direct competition by the Renault 4, that had used so many stolen design ideas from the 2CV and Traction Avant that CitroŽn contemplated legal action at the time of its launch. (Similarly, Volkswagen had had to pay damages to Hans Ledwinka over the Beetle in the 1960s.) At the same time, CitroŽn developed the Mťhari off-roader.

The purchase price of the 2CV was always very low. In Germany in the 1960s, for example, it cost about half as much as a Volkswagen Beetle.

In 1970, the flat-2 engine size was increased to 602 cc (36.7 cu in) and the car gained rear light units from the CitroŽn Ami 6, and also standardised a third side window in the rear pillar on 2CV6 (602 cc) models. All 2CVs from this date can run on unleaded fuel. 1970s cars featured rectangular headlights.

The highest annual production was in 1974. Sales of the 2CV were reinvigorated by the 1974 oil crisis. The 2CV after this time became more of a youth lifestyle statement than a basic functional form of transport. This renewed popularity was encouraged by the CitroŽn "Raid" intercontinental endurance rallies of the 1970s where customers could participate by buying a new 2CV, fitted with a ruggedising kit to cope with thousands of miles of very poor or off-road routes. The Paris to Persepolis rallye was the most famous.

In 1981, a bright yellow 2CV was driven by James Bond in the film For Your Eyes Only, including an elaborate set piece car chase through a Spanish olive farm, in which Bond uses the unique abilities of the modestly powered 2CV to escape his pursuers in Peugeot 504 sedans. The car in the film was fitted with the flat-4 engine from a CitroŽn GS for slightly more power.[17] CitroŽn launched a special edition 2CV "007" to coincide with the 2CV product placement in the film, it was fitted with the standard flat-2 engine, painted in yellow with "007" on the front doors and fake bullet hole stickers. This car was also popular in miniature, from Corgi Toys.

Special Edition Saloon Models

The special edition models, that started with the 1976 SPOT model continued in the 1980s:

* 1979/1981 Charleston ó inspired by Art-Deco style 1920s CitroŽn model colour schemes.
* 1981 007 ó in association with the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only.
* 1983 Beachcomber ó known as 'France 3' in France or 'Transat' in other continental European markets ó CitroŽn sponsored the French Americas Cup yacht entry of that year.
* 1985 Dolly.
* 1986 Cocorico ó supporting France in the 1986 Football World Cup.
* 1987 Bamboo.
* 1988 Perrier ó in association with the mineral water company.

The Charleston became a full model in 1981 and the Dolly in 1985. All the special editions made a virtue of the individual anachronistic styling. The changes between the special editions and the basic "Spťcial" base model, (that was also continued until the end of production), were only a different speedometer, paint, stickers, seat fabric, internal door handles, and interior light. Many of the "special edition" interior trim items were carry-overs from the 1970s "Club" models. CitroŽn probably gained former VW customers as the only other "retro alternative" economy car style of vehicle[citation needed], the Volkswagen Beetle, was withdrawn from the European market in 1978, (special order only from Mexico in the 1980s), when it ceased production in West Germany.

The 2CV in export markets

The 2CV was mainly sold in France and some European markets. In the post-war years, CitroŽn was very focused on the home market, which had some unusual quirks, like puissance fiscale. The management of Michelin was supportive of CitroŽn up to a point, and with a suspension designed to use Michelin's new radial tyres the CitroŽn cars clearly demonstrated their superiority over their competitors' tyres. But they were not prepared to initiate the investment needed for the 2CV (or the CitroŽn DS for that matter) to truly compete on the global stage. CitroŽn was always under-capitalised until the 1970s Peugeot takeover. Consequently, the 2CV suffered a similar fate to the Morris Minor and Mini, selling fewer than 10 million units, whereas the Volkswagen Beetle, which was sold worldwide, sold 21 million units.

Some of the early models were built at CitroŽn's plant in Slough, England from 1953- before this date British Construction-and-Use Regulations made cars with inboard front brakes such as the 2CV illegal. Producing the car in Britain also allowed Citroen to circumvent trade barriers and sell cars in the British Empire and Commonwealth. It achieved some success in these markets, to the extent that all Slough-built 2CVs were fitted with improved air cleaners and other modifications to suit rough conditions found in Australia and Africa where the 2CV's durability and good ride quality over rough roads attracted buyers. The 2CV sold poorly in Great Britain in part due to its excessive cost because of import duties on components. Sales of Slough-produced 2CVs ended in 1960. In 1959, trying to boost sales, CitroŽn introduced a glass-fibre coupť version called the Bijou that was briefly produced at Slough. Styling of this little car was by Peter Kirwan-Taylor (better known for his work with Colin Chapman of Lotus cars), but it proved to be too heavy for the diminutive 425 cc (25.9 cu in) engine to endow it with adequate performance. It served to use up remaining 2CV parts at Slough in the early 1960s. In 1975, the 2CV was re-introduced to the British market in the wake of the oil crisis. These were produced in France but avoided the crippling import duties of the 1950s, because the UK had joined the EEC. In the 1980s, the best foreign markets for the 2CV were the UK and Germany.

Only a few thousand 2CVs were sold in North America when they were new; as in England their pricing was excessive relative to competitors. The original model that produced just 9 hp (6.7 kW) and had a top speed of only 40 mph (64 km/h) (even the fastest of the later models struggled to 70 mph (110 km/h))[18] was unsuited to the expanding post war US freeway network, and was never widely accepted in North America, unlike the Volkswagen Beetle, which was designed with Autobahns in mind and could reach speeds of over 70 mph (and later versions were faster still). CitroŽn was marketed as a luxury brand after the launch of the mid 1950s CitroŽn DS in North America, and the importers didn't actively promote the 2CV, as doing so would undermine the brand image. Unlike larger CitroŽns, there are no legal issues with owning a 2CV; the car is effectively a restored pre-1968 vehicle. It was one of these vehicles that became the focus of a recent news story, when musician Billy Joel had an accident in his 2CV in 2004, on Long Island, New York.[19] Joel gave another 2CV to his bride Christie Brinkley as a present.

A rare Jeep-esque derivative, called the YagŠn[20] after an Aborigine tribe, was made in Chile between 1972 and 1973. After the Chilean coup of 1973, there were 200 YagŠns left that were used by the Army to patrol the streets and the Peruvian border, with 106 mm (4.2 in) cannons.

A similar car was sold in some west African countries as the CitroŽn "Baby-brousse".

In Iran, the CitroŽn 2CV was called the Jian.[22] The cars were originally manufactured in Iran in a joint venture between CitroŽn and Iran National up until the 1979 Revolution, when Iran National was nationalised, which continued producing the Jian without the involvement of CitroŽn.[23]

The 2CV was built in Chile and Argentina for South America. The 1953 Citroneta model of the 2CV made in Chile and Argentina used a type AZ chassis with 425 cc engine developing 12 bhp (8.9 kW). Both chassis and engine were made in France while the 'three box' bodywork (in both 2- and 4-door versions) was designed and produced in Chile. It was the first economy car on the market in Chile. The 1970s Chilean version mounted a 602 cc engine with an output of 33 hp (25 kW), and was designated as the AX-330. It was built between 1970 and 1978, during which it saw changes like different bumpers, a hard roof, front disc brakes, and square headlights.[24] A derivation called the "3CV" was built in Argentina with various modifications such as a hatchback. CitroŽn had produced more than 200,000 cars in Argentina by 1977; production ended in 1979 due to the collapse of the Argentinian economy. A 2CV with a heavily modified front end called the 3CV IES America was produced well into the 1980s, by an Argentinian company that bought the rights and factory from CitroŽn.

The 1981 James Bond movie For Your Eyes Only caused a surge in sales of the car in Chile where it was specially imported from Spain to meet demand (mostly in yellow), since it had already been phased out on the Chilean assembly line.

In 1985, CitroŽn drew up plans with the Escorts Group to manufacture the 2CV in India for the rural market, as well as spares for export. However, the Indian government rejected this scheme as it would have resulted in competition for Maruti in which they held a stake.


The level of technology in the 1948 2CV was remarkable for a car of any price in that era, let alone one of the cheapest cars on the planet. While colours and detail specifications were modified in the ensuing 42 years, the biggest mechanical change was the addition of front disc brakes in 1981 (from the discontinued CitroŽn Dyane), for the 1982 model year.

The 1948 2CV featured:

* unusual four wheel independent suspension, front and rear wheels which connected the front and rear suspension on each side
* leading arm front suspension
* trailing arm rear suspension
* rear fender skirts, but the suspension design allowed wheel change without removing the skirts / rear wings
* front-wheel drive
* inboard front brakes, in order to help lower unsprung weight thus making ride even softer
* Four wheel hydraulic brakes, (British Austin economy cars of the time only had hydraulic front brakes, the rears were by mechanical linkage)
* small, lightweight, air-cooled flat twin engine, (with overhead valves when side valves were still common), mounted very low in front of the front wheels for stability
* 4-speed manual transmission, (when three speeds were common) with an unusual dashboard push/pull/twist linkage
* bolt-on detachable front and rear wings/fenders
* detachable doors, bonnet (and boot lid after 1960), by "slide out" P profile sheet metal hinges
* front rear-hinged "suicide doors"
* flap-up windows, as roll up windows were considered too expensive in 1948
* detachable full length fabric sunroof and boot lid, for almost pickup-truck-like load carrying versatility
* rack and pinion steering mounted inside the front suspension cross-tube, well behind the front wheels, away from a frontal impact
* load adjustable headlights.
* a heater (heaters were standardised on British economy cars in the 1960s)

The body was constructed of a dual H-frame platform chassis and aircraft-style tube framework, and a very thin steel shell that was bolted to the chassis. Because the original design brief called for a low speed car, little or no attention was paid to aerodynamics. The result was that the body had a drag coefficient (Cd) of a high 0.51.

The Suspension of the 2CV was almost comically soft; a person could easily rock the car side to side dramatically (back and forth was quite a bit more resistant). The leading arm / trailing arm swinging arm, fore-aft linked suspension system together with inboard front brakes had a much smaller unsprung weight than existing coil spring or leaf spring designs. It was designed by Alphonse Forceau.

* The system comprises two suspension cylinders mounted horizontally on each side of the platform chassis. Inside the cylinders are two springs, one for each wheel, mounted at each end of the cylinder. The springs are connected to the front leading swinging arm and rear trailing swinging arm, that act like bellcranks by pull rods (tie rods). These are connected to spring seating cups in the middle of the cylinder, each spring being compressed independently, against the ends of the cylinder. Pictured in reference.[27][9]

* If each cylinder was rigidly mounted to the chassis, it would provide fully independent suspension, but it is not rigidly mounted. It is mounted using an additional set of springs, originally made from steel, called "volute" springs, but on later models made from rubber. These springs allow the front and rear suspension to interconnect.

* When the front wheel is deflected up over a bump, the front pull rod compresses the front spring inside the cylinder, against the front of the cylinder. This also compresses the front "volute" spring pulling the whole cylinder forwards. That action pushes the rear wheel down on the same side via the rear spring assembly and pull rod. When the rear wheel meets that bump a moment later, it does the same in reverse, keeping the car level front to rear. When both springs are compressed on one side when travelling around a bend, the equal and opposite forces applied to the front and rear spring assemblies reduce the interconnection significantly. This stiffens the suspension after a certain amount of body roll has been achieved. It allows the 2CV to have very soft "bump mode" absorption, without wallow or uncontrolled float.

* At high angles of body roll, the swinging arms that are mounted with large bearings to "cross tubes" that run side to side across the chassis; combined with the effects of all-independent soft springing and excellent damping, this keeps the road wheels in contact with the road surface and parallel to each other across the axles. A larger than conventional steering castor angle, ensures that the front wheels are closer to vertical than the rears, when cornering hard with a lot of body roll. All this provides excellent road holding, while appearing to look like a softly sprung American car with poor handling and road holding because of poor body control. The other key factor in the quality of its road holding is the very low and forward centre of gravity, provided by the position of the engine and transmission.

* The suspension also automatically accommodates differing payloads in the car- with four people and cargo on board the wheelbase increases by around 4 cm (2 in) as the suspension deflects, and the caster angle of the front wheels increases by as much as 8 degrees thus ensuring that ride quality, handling and road holding is almost unaffected by the additional weight.

* On early cars friction dampers (like a dry version of a multi-plate clutch design) were fitted at the mountings of the front and rear swinging arms to the cross-tubes. Because the rear brakes were outboard, they had extra tuned mass dampers to damp wheel bounce from the extra unsprung mass. Later models had tuned mass dampers at the front (because the leading arm had more inertia and "bump/thump" than the trailing arm), with hydraulic telescopic dampers / shock absorbers front and rear. The uprated hydraulic damping obviated the need for the rear inertia dampers. (It should be noted that only dampers designed to be able to work horizontally should be used as replacements. Some that will physically fit do not work properly horizontally.)

This sophisticated suspension design ensured the road wheels followed ground contours underneath them closely, while insulating the vehicle from shocks, enabling the 2CV to be driven over a ploughed field as its design brief required. More importantly it could comfortably and safely drive at reasonable speed, along the ill-maintained and war-damaged post war French Routes Nationales. It was commonly driven 'Pied au Plancher' - 'foot to the floor' by their peasant owners.

The 2CV suspension was assessed by Alec Issigonis and Alex Moulton in the mid-1950s (according to an interview by Moulton with CAR magazine in the late 1990s); this inspired them to design the Hydrolastic suspension system for the Mini and Austin 1100, to try to keep the benefits of the 2CV system but with added roll stiffness in a simplified design.

Front-wheel drive made the car easy and safe to drive and CitroŽn had developed expertise with it due to the pioneering Traction Avant, which was the first mass produced steel monocoque front wheel drive car in the world. The 2CV was originally equipped with a sliding splined joint, and twin Hookes type universal joints on its driveshafts; later models used constant velocity joints and a sliding splined joint.

It was powered by a flat-twin air-cooled engine designed by Walter Becchia, with a nod to the classic "boxer" BMW motorcycle engine (it is reported that Becchia dismantled the engine of the BMW motorcycle of Flaminio Bertoni before designing the 2CV engine).

The Gearbox was a 4-speed manual transmission, an advanced feature on an inexpensive car at the time. Boulanger had originally insisted on no more than three gears, because he believed that with four ratios the car would be perceived as complex to drive by customers. Thus, the fourth gear was marketed as an overdrive, this is why on the early cars the "4" was replaced by "S" for surmultipliťe. The gear shifter came horizontally out of the dashboard with the handle curved upwards. It had a strange shift pattern: the first was back on the left, the second and third were inline, and the fourth (or the S) could be engaged only by turning the lever to the right from the third. Reverse was opposite first. Although this may seem an odd layout, it is in fact logical. The idea is to put most used gears opposite each other: for parking, first and reverse; for normal driving, second and third. This layout was adopted from the H-van's 3-speed gearbox.

In keeping with the ultra-utilitarian (and rural) design brief, the canvas roof could be rolled completely open. The Type A had one stop light, and like the black Ford Model T was available only in one color, grey. Blue was offered in 1959, then yellow in 1960. The windscreen wipers were powered by a purely mechanical system: a cable connected to the transmission; to reduce cost, this cable also powered the speedometer. The wipers' speed was therefore dependent on car speed. When the car was waiting at a crossroad, the wipers were not powered; thus, a handle under the speedometer allowed them to be operated by hand. Although this system was far from perfect, it was better than some 1950s British Ford economy cars that had wipers powered by inlet manifold vacuum, that ran at full speed at engine idle, but slowed down to a crawl when cruising at speed. From 1965, the wipers were powered by a single speed electric motor.

The reliability of the car was increased by the fact that, being air-cooled (with an oil cooler), it had no coolant, radiator, water pump or thermostat. It had no distributor either, just a contact breaker system. Except for the all hydraulic brakes, there were no hydraulic parts on original models as damping was by tuned mass dampers and friction dampers.


The car featured an air-cooled, flat-twin, four-stroke, 375 cc engine with pushrod operated overhead valves and a hemispherical combustion chamber. The notoriously underpowered earliest model developed only 9 bhp DIN (6.5 kW). A 425 cc engine was introduced in 1955, followed in 1968 by a 602 cc one giving 28 bhp (21 kW) at 7000 rpm. With the 602 cc engine, the tax classification of the car changed so that it became in fact a 3CV, but the commercial name remained unchanged. A 435 cc engine was introduced at the same time in replacement of the 425 cc; the 435 cc engine car was christened 2CV 4 while the 602 cc took the name 2CV 6 (although a variant did take the name 3CV in Argentina). The 602 cc engine evolved to the M28 33 bhp (25 kW) in 1970; this was the most powerful engine fitted to the 2CV. A new 602 cc giving only 29 bhp (22 kW) at a slower 5750 rpm was introduced in 1979. Despite being less powerful, this engine was more efficient, allowing lower fuel consumption and better top speed, at the price of decreased acceleration. All 2CVs with the M28 engine can run on unleaded petrol, but attention is needed to ensure that valve clearances are maintained.

The 2CV used the wasted spark ignition system for both simplicity and reliability and had only speed controlled ignition timing, no vacuum advance taking account of engine load.

The engine's design concentrated on the reduction of moving parts. The cooling fan and dynamo were built integrally with the one-piece crankshaft, removing the need for drive belts. (Late models (shown in photo) used an alternator mounted high above the engine, to keep it dry, run with a drive belt). Instead of using the usual two-piece crank bearings, one-piece items were pressed onto the crankshaft with a hydraulic press once the crankshaft had been submerged in liquid nitrogen to cause it to contract (thus providing enough clearance to press the bearings on). The camshaft drive gears incorporate a spring-loaded split gear, to reduce the effects of gear wear and backlash on valve timing and ignition timing. With the contact breaker in a housing on the end of the crankshaft there was no separate jackshaft to be affected by chain or gear wear and associated backlash.

These design features made the 2CV engine highly reliable; test engines were run at full speed for 1000 hours at a time, equivalent to driving 50,000 mi (80,000 km) at full throttle. They also meant that the engine was very much "sealed for life" ó the main bearings, for example, could not be replaced individually; the entire crankshaft had to be replaced. However, the engine is very under-stressed and long-lived, so this is not a major issue. Until the 1960s it was common for other car manufacturers' engines (British Fords especially) to need full strip downs and rebuilds at as little as 50,000 mi (80,000 km) intervals; un-rebuilt 2CV engines are still running that are passing 250,000 mi (400,000 km).

If the starter motor or battery failed, the 2CV had the option of hand-cranking, the jack handle serving as starting handle through dog clutches on the front of the crankshaft at the centre of the fan. This feature, once universal on cars and still common in 1948 when the 2CV was introduced, was kept until the end of production in 1990, by which time it was unique.[citation needed]


When asked about the 2CVs performance and acceleration, many owners said it went "from 0-60 in one day". Others jokingly said they "had to make an appointment to merge onto an interstate highway system".

The original 1948 model that produced only 9 hp had a top speed of just 40 mph, far below speeds necessary for North American highways or the German Autobahns already existing then. The top speed would increase with engine size to 49 mph in 1955, 52 mph in 1962, 63 mph in 1970, but would not finally be capable of US freeway speeds of 71 mph until 1981.

The last evolution of the 2CV engine was the CitroŽn Visa flat-2, a 652 cc featuring an electronic ignition. CitroŽn never sold this engine in the 2CV, however some enthusiasts have converted their 2CVs to 652 engines, or even transplanted CitroŽn GS or GSA flat 4 engines and gearboxes. Cars with the flat-4 engines and subtle bodywork changes so they appear to be standard are known as "Sidewinders" in the UK.

In the mid 1980s CAR magazine editor Steve Cropley ran a turbocharged 602 cc 2CV that was developed by engineer Richard Wilsher.[15]


The 2CV has also been used for travel around the world. In 1958Ė1959, two young Frenchmen, Jean-Claude Baudot and Jacques Sťguťla started at the Paris Motor Show on October 9, 1958; headed south and crossed the Mediterranean Sea by boat from Port Vendres to Algeria; traversed the African continent and crossed the South Atlantic from Cape Town to Rio de Janeiro; cris-crossed South America and the United States; and boated from San Francisco, California to Yokohama. They returned to Paris on November 11, 1959. During the 13 months, they drove 100,000 kilometres, and consumed 5000 litres of petrol and 36 tires.

CitroŽn promoted 2CV events called "Raids" in the 1970s and main dealers would supply a ruggedising kit. Paris to Persepolis in Iran was best known.


Popular French nicknames were "Deuche" and "Dedeuche". The Dutch were the first to call it "het lelijke eendje" ("the ugly duckling") or just "Eend" ("duck"), while the Flemish called it "de geit" ("the goat"). In German-speaking countries, it is called "Ente" ("duck"). English nicknames include "Tin Snail", "Dolly" and "Upside-down pram". In the former Yugoslavia, the car was called "spaček" (pronounced "spa-check", Slovene for "little freak"). In Spanish-speaking countries, they were nicknamed "dos caballos" (two horses), "citrola", "citruca", "cirila", "la rana" (the frog) and derived from "CitroŽn" were called "citroneta" and "la cabra"(the goat). In Denmark, the car has many names like "Gyngehest" (Rocking horse) or "Studenter-Jaguar" (student's Jaguar) while amongst 2CV enthusiasts the cars are affectionately called "De kśre smŚ" (the dear small ones). In Finland, the 2CV is known as "Ršttisitikka" (Finnish for "rag CitroŽn") because of its canvas roof. In Swedish (at least in the Swedish-speaking areas of Finland), it's called "Lingonplockare" (since the looks are similar to a device for picking lingonberries). In Tunisia, they call it "karkassa". Hungarians call it "Kacsa" (pronounced "kacha" and meaning "duck"). In Israel, it was called "פחנוע" (pronounced "pah-noa", meaning "tin car") and in Iceland it was named "SŪtrůen braggi" (meaning "CitroŽn Quonset hut"). In Norway, the name was "Jernseng", meaning "iron bed". In Iran, it is known as "Jian / Zhian ژیان", which means "Fierce". In the U.S., it was known as the "flying rag top". American cartoonist Gilbert Shelton referred to it as the "duh-shuh-vuh", referring to the French pronunciation of "2CV". In Ireland it was noticed as the underdog or ŪochtarŠn or it was either called bucket of rust or Buicťad na meirge. This was because most imported cars at the time that come to Ireland would've to wait at the pier or harbour for at least for 3Ė12 months and especially in Westport, County Mayo where it is well known for its constant rain as the 2cv was very prone to corrosion. Outside France, the 2CV's most common nickname today[citation needed] is "The Duck", which seemed to be endorsed by CitroŽn which released a stuffed toy animal in the 1980s representing a duck with CitroŽn on its side and 2CV under its right foot.

The End of Production of the 2CV

The 2CV was produced for 42 years, the model finally succumbing to customer demands for speed, in which this ancient design had fallen significantly behind modern cars, and safety, where it was better than was generally realised[citation needed]. The front of the chassis was designed to fold up, to form a crumple zone according to a 1984 CitroŽn brochure. It was rated as comparable for safety, with contemporary 1980s small cars, (that are all very poor by modern standards), by Which? magazine since 1983 when it started rating safety. (The drive for improved crash worthiness in Europe has happened from the 1990s onwards, and accelerated with the 1997 advent of Euro NCAP.) Its advanced underlying engineering was ignored or misunderstood, by the public, being clothed in an ultra basic anachronistic body. It was the butt of many a joke, especially by Jasper Carrott.[32] It was not helped by CitroŽn failing to promote it after the mid-80s and by falling quality standards. The car was viewed as an embarrassment by CitroŽn, and they tried to kill the model for several years before the end came.

CitroŽn had attempted to replace the ultra-utilitarian 2CV several times (with the Dyane, Visa, and the AX); however its comically antiquated appearance became an advantage to the car and it became a niche product which sold because it was different from anything else on sale. Because of its down-to-earth economy car style, it became popular with people who wanted to distance themselves from mainstream consumerism ó "hippies" ó and also with environmentalists.

While not a replacement for the 2CV, the AX supermini, a conventional urban runabout, unremarkable apart from its exceptional lightness, seemed to address the automaker's requirements at the entry level in the early 1990s.

In 1988, production ceased in France but was continued in Portugal. The last official 2CV, a Charleston with chassis number 08KA 4813 PT which was reserved for the Mangualde plant manager Claude Hebert, rolled off the Portuguese production line on July 27, 1990. But during the following week, five additional 2CV Special vehicles left the plant;[33] three of their number (one blue, one white with chassis number KA 372168 fitted for a 1991 series that also never materialized,[34] one red) for exhibition at the French "Mondial de l'Automobile" in Paris, October 1990 but this project was later cancelled.

In fact, the chassis numerical incrementation was not always sequential. The series number identification badge stock were ordered in bulk and fixed at random on the vehicles when leaving the production line. It often left gaps in the numbering sequence. For instance on February 29, 1988 a gap of more than 17500 numbers existed between cars carried on the last truck leaving the Levallois plant. Furthermore the official end of this last French line had been observed on February 19! This confusion began in 1948: the first six 2CVs received in succession the chassis numbers 000 007, 000 002, 000 005, 000 003, 000 348 and 000 006. Thus it is not possible to locate precisely the assembly date of the ultimate chassis numbers displayed: KA 366 694 (Great Britain), KA 359666 (Belgium), KA 375 563 (Germany), KA 376 002 (France) and 08KA 4813 PT (Portugal).[35]

In all, a total of 3,872,583 2CV sedans were produced. Including the commercial versions of the 2CV, Dyane, Mťhari, FAF, and Ami variants, the 2CV's underpinnings spawned over nine million cars. The 2CV was outlived by contemporaries such as the Mini (out of production in 2000), VW Beetle (2003), Renault 4 (1994), VW Type 2 (still in production as of 2010) and Hindustan Ambassador (originally a 1950s Morris Oxford, still in production as of 2010).

Continued popularity - rebirth?

The design of the 1989 Nissan S-Cargo (a play on the word "Escargot") was directly inspired by the appearance of the tiny French CitroŽn 2CV Fourgonnette or small truck/delivery van, even including the single spoke steering wheel. The 2CV was relatively popular in Japan at this time. The car was introduced at the Tokyo Motor Show, along with the Nissan Figaro, and was built from 1989-1992 by Pike Factory for Nissan. It was based on the K10 Nissan Micra. Approximately 12,000 were manufactured. All S-Cargos are right hand drive. While initially marketed only in Japan, S-Cargos have spread as grey market import vehicles.

The Chrysler CCV or Composite Concept Vehicle developed in the mid-1990s is a concept car developed to illustrate new means of construction suitable to developing nations. The car is a tall, fairly roomy four-door sedan, of modest dimensions. The designers at Chrysler note they were inspired to create a modernised CitroŽn 2CV.

The company Sorevie of LodŤve was building 2CVs until 2002. The cars were built from scratch using mostly new parts. But since the 2CV no longer complied with safety regulations, the cars were sold as second-hand cars using chassis and engine numbers from old 2CVs.

The 2CV-Mťhari Club Cassis also reconditions the 2CV and the CitroŽn Mťhari. Recently they entered a 2CV prototype in the Paris-Dakar Rally; this was a four-wheel drive, twin engine car (like the 2CV Sahara) powered by two 602 cc engines, the traditional one in the front and an engine in the rear boot space.[36]

The long running 2CV circuit racing series by The Classic 2CV Racing Club continues to be popular in the UK.

Auto Express reported in a May 2007 news item that a 2CV concept similar in appearance to the 2005 Evoque would make an appearance in 2009, with CitroŽn likely to position its modern interpretation of the car against premium rivals such as the Mini.[37]

Styling of the CitroŽn C3 and Pluriel included motifs reminiscent of the 2CV design.

In 2009, CitroŽn showed in the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show the Revolte Concept, whose design was inspired by 2CV.


Standard Saloon

* A (1948-?)
* AZ
* AZKA (2CV6, ?-1990)
* AZKB (2CV4)


* AU
* AZU, AZU 250
* AK 350
* AK 400, AKS 400
* AYCD (Acadiane)
Cabriolet (Radar)

Robert Radar designed a fibreglass body on the chassis of a 2CV in 1956 and built a few prototypes in his CitroŽn Garage in LiŤge, Belgium. CitroŽn Belgium was enthusiastic about this model and decided to produce it as an official CitroŽn 2CV in its Forest (near Brussels) factory. They manufactured about 50 bodies and added the model called 2CV "Radar" on the price list. They were assembled on order, but in 1958 and 1959, only 25 were sold and production ceased. The remaining bodies were destroyed later. There are five or six of them left, one in the Netherlands and four or five in Belgium.

Coupť (Bijou)

The Bijou was built at the CitroŽn factory in Slough, UK in the early 1960s. It was a two-door fibreglass-bodied version of the 2CV designed by Peter Kirwan-Taylor. The design was thought to be more acceptable in appearance to British consumers than the standard 2CV. Incorporating some components from the DS (most noticeably the single-spoke steering wheel, and windscreen for the rear window), it did not achieve market success, because it was heavier than the 2CV and still used the 425 cc engine and so was even slower, reaching 100 km/h (62 mph) only under favourable conditions. It was also more expensive than the Austin Mini, which was more practical. Only 207 were built.

Four-wheel drive

One novel model was the 2CV Sahara, a four-wheel drive (4x4) car, equipped with two engines (12 hp each), each one having a separate fuel tank.[38] One was mounted in the front driving the front wheels and one in the back driving the rear wheels. A single gearstick, clutch pedal and accelerator were connected to both engines. It was originally intended for use by the French colonies in Northern Africa. As well as a decreased chance of being stranded, it provided four-wheel drive traction with continuous drive to some wheels while others were slipping because the engine transmissions were uncoupled. Therefore it became popular with off-road enthusiasts. Between 1958 and 1971, CitroŽn built 694 Saharas, but only 27 are known to exist today. The top speed was 65 km/h (40 mph) on one engine, but this increased to 105 km/h (65 mph) with both engines running.

British journalist Paul Walton flew to Israel to drive one of the 27 examples left, in the desert for the April 2000 issue of Classic Cars magazine.

The Mťhari was also built as a 4x4, but with only one engine.

Various 4x4 conversions were built by independent constructors, such as Marc Voisin, near Grenoble, some from a Mťhari 4x4 chassis and a 2CV body. In the UK, Louis Barber builds single engined four wheel drive 2CVs. In the late 1990s, Kate Humble from BBC Top Gear tested one against a Landrover Defender off road. The 2cv won.

Although the terminology is sometimes confused, 2CV 4x4 generally refers to these models, whereas 2CV Sahara refers to the two-engined CitroŽn vehicle.

Another very different double front ended, four wheel drive (but not at the same time), 2CV the 1952 CitroŽn Cogolin was built for the French Fire Service - The Sapeur-Pompiers
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