To my surprise and delight, I encountered up to three Citroën 2CV on today’s stroll. This deux chevaux-vapeur (meaning ‘two tax horsepower’) was an economy car produced by the French car manufacturer Citroën between 1948 and 1990.
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 Citroën’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. It was described by CAR magazine journalist and author LJK Setright as the most intelligent application of minimalism ever to succeed as a car.
The Citroën 2CV 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 height adjustment by lengthening/shortening of tie rods), high ground clearance, and for oversized loads a car-wide canvas sunroof (which until 1955) also covered the boot.
The 2CV belongs to a short list of vehicles introduced in the middle of the 20th century that remained relevant and competitive for many decades, such as the Jeep, Land Rover Series, Fiat 500, Mini and Volkswagen Beetle.
These cars are called Ugly Ducklings in Holland, but I think they are adorable! When I was young, we used to have a Citroën Dyane back home, and I loved driving in it.
What do you think? Are these really Ugly Ducklings, or Beautiful Swans? 😉