Bicker’s blog: Citroën 2CV

It’s been a number of weeks since Dave Bicker graced PetrolBlog with his thoughts on the Perodua Kelisa. Well now he’s back to reminisce about his old Citroën 2CV. Like the 106 Rallye last week, I’m surprised PetrolBlog has made it this far without a proper mention for the 2CV. There was a brief mention when the Saab 9000 arrived on the PetrolBlog Fleet, but nothing that would constitute a proper blog post.

So it’s over to Dave to set that record straight.

When I was young and living was easy, a friend of mine invited me to have a go in his Citroën 2CV. I distinctly remember the thing lurched as we got in and rocked itself to equilibrium as we settled.

We set off.

I cannot to this day find an adjective that adequately describes the driving experience, everything was a fierce mixture of ‘floaty’ and ‘noisy’, so make up your own word, it’s defeated me.

It was love at first drive.

Citroen 2CV in the water

The unusual gear change pattern had a certain masonic quality to it, but once mastered, it was a delight. The engine was a shy item, hiding below a pair of heat exchangers and metres of cardboard tubing, 602cc of horizontally opposed twin, offering almost 30bhp when encouraged. Apparently these units were designed for all day ‘pied au plancher’ motoring – flat out in each ratio was necessary to achieve any progress whatsoever and the vehicles took such behaviour with a Gallic shrug.

Citroen 2CV InteriorInside it was a minimalist’s dream – four ridiculously comfortable seats, a speedo, milometer and a fuel gauge. A heater was there in name only. No warning lights for open doors, no alarm when seat belts weren’t instantly clicked home, no ‘see you to your door’ headlamps or theatre dimming in the cabin, not even a cigarette lighter. Maybe it was assumed that Jean Claude or Pierre would have a Disque Bleu lit on the way to the voiture, and light subsequent ones from that. The roof could be rolled back in summer so open air motoring was yours. (Curiously, after circa 35,000 miles mine developed the ‘sunshine floor’ too, a reflection on the integrity of French steel of the period).

On the road these things were so much fun. I often found myself quite unnecessary hurling them into a left hand bend, my right cheek hard against the cool flappy window. They need to be driven with confidence and the knowledge they will not tip over.

Honestly, they won’t.

Driving a Citroën 2CVChanging a wheel is a nightmare, as the tyre holds tenaciously to the ground as the rest of the car is cranked skywards. 2CVs are more worrying to observe going around corners, but if you are inside the vehicle it is no more than a Saturday night thrash on a waltzer. Even the most innocuous B-road is magically transformed. So, in essence – don’t panic. In 145,000 miles of motoring in one of these, on only two occasions did it make me crave Imodium. One occasion involved a fierce crosswind and a humpback bridge. The car was so unnerved it almost went over the bridge wheel by wheel.

So, in truth there is no secret to driving these things other than putting your foot to the floor and being fearless. The Clarksonesque reader may say that they are slow, which indeed they are, no one will have a trouser twitch at a 2CV’s 0–60 figures. But slow does not always equate with boring.

Modern car design has taken out much of the skill of driving – ABS, synchro on every gear, intelligent suspension and banks of CPUs that negate our driving foibles. None of these lie within the fragile bowels of Citroën’s snail. It isn’t boring, simply because the driver is obliged to be aware of what he’s doing to a much greater degree than those in the eurobox.

Citroen 2CV with happy GermansThe Blessed St. James of the May said that a car is at its most interesting and fun when it is at the limits of its performance. This is true, especially so of the 2CV and it’s derivatives. Of course, I may have misheard, as these sensible and accurate words were drowned by a loud gallumphing and a squeaky “You are my favourite Jeremy, I love you”).

So after 145,000 miles of motoring pleasure I gave the car away. In fairness, although the engine, clutch and gearbox were still mint, both the body and chassis had been replaced by earlier metal that didn’t have all the frailty of Dolly’s knickers.

Would I buy another?

I don’t really know. Back in 1986 the world and I were different. The 2CV sold to a demographic that embraced the live yoghurt floor mat and humus air freshener. These days they have been repositioned in the market, no longer the default vehicle for the consciously eccentric vegetarian or the impoverished geography teacher. Now these things tip up on the north Norfolk coast, lounging outside the gastro-yurts that infest this once lovely area. Mellisas and Tobys with American teeth and designer ballbags stand louche against the refurbished paintwork. I’d feel awkward buying a car that’s at home in Burnham Market amid the underused holiday cottages and the media glitterati.

Not only that, but I am less inclined to spin the motor with a starting handle these days, not as indifferent to the sub zero winters as I was. In essence, a miserable old bastard. But….the joys of ownership are still in my mind, still freshly minted.

So, if you have the money, buy one, drive it like you mean it and let it have the patina of bumps, scuffs and dings that these things collect. And don’t just take it to a holiday cottage in the summer. In conclusion, it passes the boutille de vin test every time with panache, aplomb and a Gallic, garlic charm absent from many of today’s French offerings.

Get one….and a box of Imodium.

Girl on a bonnet of a Citroen 2CV driving on a beach

Words by Dave Bicker.

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ABOUT AUTHOR
Gavin Big-Surname
The chief waffler and founder of PetrolBlog in 2010. Has a rather unhealthy obsession with cars from the 80s and 90s, and is on a one-man mission to collect the cars nobody else wants. Also likes tea and Hobnobs.

98 comments

  1. July 10, 2012
    simonpownall

    Wonderful car. I once drove one from Glasgow to Stuttgart non-stop (apart from when on the boat of course). Probably the most comfortable long journey I ever made, flapping side windows aside! 25 years later would I drive one? Probably not since I saw a video of one crash tested at 30mph. Nasty 🙁

    Reply
  2. July 10, 2012
    Simon Hingston

    Love 2CV’s but as with so many never owned one. Did officiate at a number of 24 2CV races which second only to a caravan endurance test for being deathly dull, probably nothing to do with the cars though!
    Not too suitable for modern roads perhaps but fab beasties and good writing. Thanks.

    Reply
  3. July 10, 2012
    Peter Counsell

    Beautifully written.
    My memory of 2cvs is from a similar era, as a student housemate had one in the mid 80s. As a household we had two cars, that and my mark 1 Capri. Sublime and ridiculous.
    I can also verify that two tall men with megaphones standing up in a briskly-driven 2CV attracts a lot of attention. Not good attention, but attention nonetheless.

    Reply
    • July 17, 2012
      Dave Bicker

      Thank you Peter.
      re. the roof of the 2CV – Top Tip: Don’t clean it with an upholstery steam cleaner, it shrinks, and you can’t get the b****r to fit back.
      I would imagine. Not being foolish enough to do such a thing myself.

      Reply
      • July 17, 2012
        Peter Counsell

        Dave, sounds like an episode of The Great Egg Race. “this week Professor Heinz Wolff asks the teams to recreate Van Gogh’s Sunflowers using a Citroën 2CV, an upholstery steam cleaner and other easily found household items”. Probably around 7pm on a Tuesday.

        Reply
  4. July 10, 2012
    Ian

    I had a number of 2cv’s over the years, the last one left the fold about 7 years ago. Back in June I rented one for a day whilst on holiday on france.

    Seriously, things have moved on! I felt really unsafe chugging up hills with big lorries careering down behind me. I’d forgotten just how tiring they are to drive!

    After a full day I was sooooo pleased to get back behind the wheel of my Defender TDi, the landy felt like a racing car in comparison!

    In summary, i’d never have another but everyone’s different and that makes the world go round 🙂

    Reply
  5. July 11, 2012
    Richard B

    I think I’ve commented here before about the awesomeness of these cars in a British winter (as long as you dress for the occasion). I’ve had two (a 2CV6 and a Dyane) and I loved them both. I drove the shoovie through three East Yorkshire winters and it never once failed to get me to work. If I had a spare grand or so (and after I had satisfied all those dream motorbike fantasies) I would have one again in a heartbeat – and use it as a daily driver. Low-tech, slow, noisy – anti-everything I hate about modern cars and the things that make them so bland and unexciting.

    +1 about keeping the pedal to the metal. I once toured Norfolk in mine, following an anti-car hippy friend who thought that going over 30 mph was, like, giving in to the Man, and the shoovie kept failing to start. It was fouling its plugs on a daily basis. I asked my Citroen garage about it afterwards, and was advised to thrash the pants off it at every opportunity. I did so, and the issue vanished. The words he said to me I have never forgotten: “Sir, just remember that the French are not known for under-driving their cars”.

    No safety features? Good – just drive more carefully. It’s what we all used to do before ABS and airbags.

    Long live the 2CV, and thanks for a great post.

    Reply
    • July 11, 2012
      Dave Bicker

      Yes Richard! The 2CV was a pearl on the Leicestershire steppe. Often it was only those and Land Rovers that went out to play in winter.
      Thanks everyone for the kind words.

      Reply
  6. July 13, 2012
    Jesaja 66:2

    Great story – owned 4 2CV and loved them! (and miss them, too)

    Reply
  7. July 13, 2012
    Mikalee Byerman

    What a fun looking car!

    Great pix — love that last one…

    🙂

    Reply
  8. July 13, 2012
    cartoonmick

    That looks great fun.

    I had a 1957 VW beetle many years ago, and it was as good as your 2CV looks.

    Reply
  9. July 13, 2012
    Appetite 4 Life

    Was raised in one of these – Red – remember it so well….The roll down roof, the lack of safety/security inside the car – and unless my memories lie, the plug in the bottom of the car that allowed for an internal wash!?
    Even if this last item is a child dreaming – I loved that car. My sister, brother and I were stuffed in the back and off we went…
    One day, when my three are slightly older, maybe I will get one….
    Beautiful car!

    Reply
    • July 13, 2012
      Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

      I like the way a car that evoke such strong memories from childhood.

      We had a Citroën Dyane when I was young. Similar memories to you – full of smiles and sunshine. But I doubt that was actually the case!

      Reply
      • July 13, 2012
        Appetite 4 Life

        Doesn’t matter if it was right – if your memories are good then that is what should remain….

        🙂

        Reply
  10. July 13, 2012
    Alexander Aucott

    Wonderful cars! A shame there aren’t that many around any more.

    Reply
    • July 13, 2012
      Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

      That reminded me to check out the numbers.

      In the UK at least, they seem to be hanging in there: http://www.howmanyleft.co.uk/combined/citroen_2cv Looks like the rapid decline in numbers is over with the figure holding steady. Good news.

      Reply
      • July 13, 2012
        Alexander Aucott

        My elder brother’s first car in about 1997 was a 2CV – a Charleston – and I remember driving around with him we would often see a fellow 2CV driver and stop to let them out. I can’t remember the last one I saw one in the UK when I’ve been back recently.

        I’m living in France now though, and even there aren’t loads of them around, but I see them occassionally. I haven’t had the pleasure of driving one yet, but I always wanted to, especially for the funny gear stick. I think I’m more likely to succeed on a go with that if I drive an old Renault 4, there are plenty of those knocking about.

        Great website by the way! Thank you.

        Reply
        • July 13, 2012
          Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

          Thank you.

          I owned a Charleston as a child. It was a Corgi model. It’s probably in the attic somewhere.

          As for the Renault 4 – now there’s another PetrolBlog hero! 😉

          Reply
  11. July 13, 2012
    starostneradost

    Just what I think about using your 2CV (if you´ve got one). See mine at http://starostneradost.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/levak.jpg .
    I also had a number of 2CVs over the years/decades – a Belgian Postal Services 1973 AK 400, a Dolly, a 16hp version dating from 1969, several standard saloons, and they always were at their best when driven hard. Nothing like the sense of achievement when having driven your 2CV to, say, Normandy, or Manchester (from Germany), except perhaps cycling there.

    Reply
  12. July 13, 2012
    conlatestaingiu

    wonderful car, my parents had one when I was little and I loved it!

    Reply
  13. July 13, 2012
    Joanna

    So much fun to drive. I had one as my first car but then it went up in flames on the motorway. Think I was driving it too fast!

    Reply
  14. July 13, 2012
    roadwax

    Gavin, you are quite wrong in your assertion that the car lacked a cigarette lighter.

    Ensure car is in neutral and handbrake is on. Start engine. Lift bonnet. Jam throttle lever fully open by removing return spring and adding a twig. Wait 5 minutes. Light cigarette from one of the two exhaust manifolds.

    I once chased a very clean maroon Austin 1800 across Leicestershire A-roads in my ’71 Ami 8 Estate. After 12 miles, he pulled over in a lay-by and suggested that we call it a draw. He was a Police CID Officer.

    More, please!

    Reply
    • July 13, 2012
      Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

      Ha! I love both stories.

      Sadly I think the days of a cross country chase with a CID officer are over. Unless this happened last week?! 😉

      Have never driven an Ami, but would love to.

      Reply
      • July 13, 2012
        roadwax

        I was 18 and it was 1979. *sigh*…

        Being CID, in an un-marked car, he had no power to enforce the Road Traffic Act. Lucky me.

        Ami’s extra space and sound-proofing made it good for the motorway (no-honestly!). Ami Van had 2bhp extra – a 36bhp lump – the weapon of choice for the 2CV-Cross nutters.

        Love your blog!

        Reply
        • July 13, 2012
          Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

          Cheers. The blog has a select but growing audience! 😉

          Reply
    • July 13, 2012
      Dave Bicker

      Constipated?
      Can I suggest a trip along the B6047 between Tilton-on-the-Hill and Thimble Hall, S.Leics by 2CV, it sorted me.

      Reply
  15. July 13, 2012
    teknoemekli

    In 1973 my husband wanted this car but got a renault in the end. Still he is regrets why he didnot buy one.

    Reply
  16. July 13, 2012
    peterjfoster

    I’d been taking time out in South of France (Recovering from an illness!) I was single then. I was driving a 2CV; loaned by my French friends. I absolutely loved it. When I returned to U.K. I went in search of a 2CV and found one at an auction (Bet you don’t find many at auctions these days!) I drove my (plumbs & custard) 2CV up and down the motorway for 4-5 years.
    I lived in Bath – lovely city – and would ‘pose’ around the streets looking terribly French!
    I really, really miss that old 2CV. I threaten my children I’m going to get another one, one day. They’ve put it on record that they will have absolutely nothing to do with me if I do!
    Great Blog and pics. Thanks for bringing back good, VERY GOOD memories.

    Reply
  17. July 13, 2012
    emmalaw

    Although I have a soft spot for older, battered cars, I’m not much of a car buff at all. That said your writing and insight was a joy to read, thank you.

    Reply
  18. July 13, 2012
    vanbraman

    Thanks for bringing up memories from a trip to France in the late 80’s. I remember seeing many of these.

    Reply
  19. July 13, 2012
    nikro000

    I remember that my uncle in Austria had one as a student in the 70ies. I loved it! We called it the “duck”.

    Reply
  20. July 13, 2012
    chaumierelesiris

    I so want to find one in good nick to keep for all driving in France. Love them.

    Reply
  21. July 13, 2012
    chancedagger

    When I lived in Ireland, I fell in love with the two tone models, the charmingly named Dolly and Charleston. One of them had a burgundy and black color scheme. I yearned for it tragically.

    Reply
  22. July 13, 2012
    Ares

    I have one of these, it’s awesome!

    Reply
  23. July 14, 2012
    Sue Palmer

    This was my first car which I learned to drive in (my driving examiner was a bit dubious about it before he got in). Then I had a couple more before moving on to a real car. I loved them! My favorite memory is of returning to my green 2CV in a car park after shopping. I opened the locked boot and couldn’t understand why somebody had dumped a load of rubbish inside MY car! Turns out it was somebody else’s green 2CV, but my key had opened the boot no problem! Perhaps they had just made the same key for all 2CVs?!

    Reply
    • July 14, 2012
      Antony Ingram (@antonyingram)

      Hah! That’s an excellent story. It’s very possible that Citroen only made a certain different number of key/lock combinations. As late as the early 1990s even Ford only had a finite number of keys, so there was every chance if you had a Fiesta your key would also open a Sierra somewhere in the supermarket carpark…

      Knowing what my mum’s old Citroen Visa was like, I’m surprised it needed a key to get into in the first place!

      Reply
  24. July 14, 2012
    siouxrx

    This was my first car, which I learned to drive in (my driving examiner was a bit dubious about it before he got in). Then I had a couple more before moving on to a real car. I loved them! My favorite memory is of returning to my green 2CV in a car park after shopping. I opened the locked boot and couldn’t understand why somebody had dumped a load of rubbish inside MY car! Turns out it was somebody else’s green 2CV, but my key had opened the boot no problem! Perhaps they had just made the same key for all 2CVs?!

    Reply
  25. July 14, 2012
    S

    What a fun read!

    Reply
  26. July 14, 2012
    Lucifers Hammer (@LucifersHammer1)

    Great article. Being that I am a yank in the U.S. I am probably one of the few people here that even know about this strange and funky auto. I did get to drive one once and was amazed at the seats. I love small cars, too bad here in the states everyone wants a friggin land yacht. Cheers to you. Bob

    Reply
  27. July 14, 2012
    letroll2clermont

    Bonjour,
    En mai 1968 les eules voitures que les étudiants ne retournaient pas sur le capot c’était les 2CV à cause de leurs suspensions. Il faut la monter très très haut pour pouvoir espérer la retourner. Et en plus c’était “LA” voiture.

    Reply
  28. July 14, 2012
    ghummakkad

    Beauty! I love the car!

    Reply
  29. July 14, 2012
    jual sewa mobil

    this cool, vintage car by France

    Reply
  30. July 14, 2012
    abdominal imaging at UCL Brussels

    I had one during two years. Funny car but so dangereous to drive.
    Thanks for this back-up. Now I drive a Mercedes, with quite different sensations

    Reply
  31. July 14, 2012
    Antony Ingram (@antonyingram)

    Excellent read. It’s interesting reading your debate about whether you could drive one today… in many ways, I feel cars from the recent past come across worse in contrast to modern cars than classic cars do. Cars from ten years ago often feel curiously unaccomplished next to modern vehicles, where classics feel different enough to forgive them their foibles, and appreciate them as something different.

    Of course, if it’s an image thing then I can understand, but I’m absolutely the wrong person to talk about image…

    Reply
  32. July 14, 2012
    markberwick

    Fantastic evocative post about a car that brings back many happy memories from my childhood, my mother had a second hand Citroen Dyane then a 2CV from brand new during my school years, though looking back I think she just had a penchant for driving something a bit different having previously had an original Fiat 500.

    Re the Burnham Market crowd, and the likelihood that these now infest North Norfolk driven by Melissas and Tobys I can concur, mainly because I live in Burnham Market (and am a local not a weekender) and as an example, my next door neighbour when he rocks up from his London life arrives with all the smooth uncluttered grace that only his beautiful (and immaculately preserved) Citroen DS can give.

    Reply
    • July 14, 2012
      Dave Bicker

      10/10 as to the choice of motor, but, I lose tooth enamel when I see wonderful working towns and villages tarted up and their character replaced by Messrs Farrow & Ball. Come the Glorious Day brothers and sisters…

      Reply
  33. July 14, 2012
    Os Ishmael

    Reblogged this on fotofranca and commented:
    I reblogged this as this is my favorite car of all time! Unbeatable!

    Reply
  34. July 14, 2012
    kavips

    I lived in Pau in Southwest France during the late 70’s. These “were” the car of our generation. There were no bounds. We once packed 12 grown men into two of these, and drove up into the mountains to get plastered at a shepherd’s pub that sold homemade wine for 1 franc a liter. . We got totally plastered, then drove back down. The car in front went off the road and plunged 100 meters down a grassy embankment to the creek below. The car was in perfect condition. Someone joked we should pick it up and carry it up the hill. After laughing for three seconds, we all serendipitously at the same moment thought: why not? The twelve of us put it over our heads and marched up the mountain, setting it down gently and continuing or journey without further incident. It truly is a great car.

    Reply
  35. July 14, 2012
    stephaniedi

    We had one of these when we lived in France and seeing it again just takes me right back to Marseilles. Thanks!

    Reply
  36. July 14, 2012
    federico federici

    I still drive one, now and then… and it’s amazing along the Riviera die fiori…

    Reply
  37. July 14, 2012
    Andreas Moser

    This car is surprisingly stable if you go around a corner fast. I was impressed.

    Reply
  38. July 14, 2012
    Rob Wiltsher

    I have never ever been for a ride in a 2CV but have always wanted to ! Drop me a line if you are ever in the Bristol area ! lol

    Reply
  39. July 14, 2012
    Dave

    after 20 years 2CV ownership I gave up my beloved 2CV earlier this year (I’m now the somewhat less proud owner of a Pluriel – mod cons, far less charm but importantly a convertible I can get a sofa into). This article brought back many memories of drives to Berlin, Prague, John O’Groats, across the Lake District and Peaks in a blizzard and over 30% passes etc. The 2CV to a degree has paralleled my marriage so it is really part of me.

    Agree with the driving tips – I used to unnerve petrol headed friends with that smooth right/left swerve to get the car to what felt like 45 degrees, and 80 mph on that steep hill on the M4 just before you get into Bristol with everything feeling just on the edge of control gave the best adrenaline hit.

    As an engineer I loved the perfection of the thing – so few things to break, so easy to mend on the roadside (I mean to watch ADAC take the starter motor apart and fix it by the side of the autobahn).

    Came across this post by accident. You’ve made my day!

    Reply
    • July 15, 2012
      Dave Bicker

      The bit of the M5 westbound N. of Bristol…. the speedo needle was hard against the stop.Ah! We were younger then…

      Reply
  40. July 15, 2012
    Nick

    I never knew any French vehicle lasted 145,000, let alone 100,000. Guess the American engineering influence rubbed off on ’em, eh? 😀

    Reply
    • July 15, 2012
      Dave Bicker

      God Bless America!
      God Bless the 325cu. in. petrol engine and cart spring! 🙂

      Reply
      • July 18, 2012
        early93

        I’m assuming you’re talking about the 5.3 liter (325 ci) gm engine, found in some european cars? If so, I couldn’t agree more. The 5.3 in my gmc truck has 267k miles on it and it still runs good and strong

        Reply
  41. July 15, 2012
    joiedevivre74

    Reblogged this on This beautiful life.

    Reply
  42. July 15, 2012
    Pixie Gaby

    Love this car! Was the one we drive off after we got married and the one that will always have sentimental value for us! We had a Bamboo edition! Rocking green and we’d love to own one again!! Thanks for such a lovely blog!

    Reply
  43. July 15, 2012
    Pixie Gaby

    Reblogged this on Pixie Light Writer and commented:
    The car that witness all our love story till the day we got married!!

    El coche que presencio nuestro noviazgo hasta el día de nuestra boda! <3

    Reply
  44. July 15, 2012
    Mr. Natural

    The 2CV is a dangerous metal box on wheels that should never have been allowed onto the roads – but then quality engineering is not what French cars have ever defined by.

    Reply
    • July 15, 2012
      Dave Bicker

      Does somebody need a hug…?

      Reply
    • July 16, 2012
      Bob Row

      Dangerous? Ah! In the late sixties my older brother (then 20 y.o.) used to drive one as to help my mother in her business. One day he crossed in a hurry into a double way avenue and got caught from the side by a sturdy Ford Falcon. The 2CV just lifted and jumped to his side with a big bump in the middle, but my brother went off without a scratch! Now, beat that!

      After two years of fun, summer camps and beaches, we changed to a 3CV with added power. Our first trip with the new car was a trans-continental from Buenos Aires to Valparaíso and back across the Andes mountains without a single problem.

      I just can remember one fault: at 190 cm tall each, the windshield was a bit low for our needs. And that’s the sole reason I wouldn’t buy one again.

      Reply
      • July 19, 2012
        Richard B

        I had the only serious accident of my driving career in one of these and walked away from it. A car pulled out from the central reservation of a dual carriageway into my path and we met head-on (and I’ve been nervous of that scenario ever since). Luckily it was snow/slush on the ground and I was travelling at a modest speed. The impact bent the floorpan downwards until it touched the ground, and the bonnet, wings and cooling fan assembly were toast. The other car was a write-off. It was recovered to a main dealer who had it back on the road in a week. They simply unbolted the body from the floor, lifted it up, rolled a new floorpan underneath and bolted it back together. Total cost was £1100, IIRC.

        Hell, safety is over-rated anyway. What’s life if there isn’t a bit of risk involved?

        Reply
  45. July 15, 2012
    Joe Labriola

    Those were the days…

    Reply
  46. July 15, 2012
    petradragon

    ‘Would I buy another?’ you ask! YES!! We did!

    Our first 2CV, Charlie, was our much loved only car, in our years as a young couple. He wasn’t always well behaved, and seemed to need quite a bit of welding, but gave great joy. We parted company when ubber sensible-ness struck, with the pregnacy of our first child, and the nerotic feeling as parents-to-be that a car that is all crumple zone might not be good enough for our beloved child.

    Now we have come full-circle, and the beloved child is an awkward teenager with a pre-teen brother. We are blessed to have practical (boring) transport options, but my very wise husband bought me another red 2CV for a special zero birthday. (Who wants jewellry when there are 2CVs?!) The child for whom we parted with Charlie for looks on derision, but son 2 is warming to the joys of 2CV-dom. I get to commute with a massive grin on my face, and husband is spending spare time he doesn’t have getting oily making my wonderful Vikram (who has his own blog!) younger by the week.

    On a practical note, we paid the same in 2012 for B reg Vikram as we got for E reg Charlie in 1997. The insurance already has him valued at double that (although we have spent that sum again on the handsome boy). With the seat covers we have ordered on and other such details, he’ll be worth quite a bit more. That free motoring folks! No depreciation on these babies! So if we ever go crazy and see the world from the teenager’s point of view and sell up, we should get back what we have paid, at least.

    And yes, Vikram is practical. He is more reliable that the 04 plate Ford Ka we sold recently, and being old folks we can afford to garage him (and save 6 months road tax!) every winter whilst we drive warmer vehicles.

    I haven’t seen any 2CVs, never mind Mellisas and Tobys, since we got Vikram, and I finally feel I am being true to who I am as a human being, not a sheep. And true to myself as a primary teacher. If you remember the unique sound of a 2CV engine with joy and don’t feel able to rediscovering it, you have my sympathy.

    Reply
    • July 15, 2012
      Dave Bicker

      Your sympathy? I’d be happy with an income that would support two cars. 🙂

      Reply
      • July 15, 2012
        petradragon

        Road tax £70 for the six summer months. Insurance less than £100 per year fully comp. 45 mpg+ Parts cheap and many can be fitted with as little experience and expertise as my husband has. He’s cheap fun!! (The car, not the husband!)

        Reply
      • July 15, 2012
        Dave Bicker

        They are wonderful cars, but I am a poor man who needs a cheap, reliable motor to get to work.
        If I had spare cash then I would have one tomorrow and watch the years fall away as I drove into the sunset.

        Reply
  47. July 15, 2012
    GerryGomez

    Reminds me of a Fiat Uno i drove in the Andes Mountains with six people stuffed in there. It was fun!

    Reply
  48. July 15, 2012
    jorgetule

    Reblogged this on jorgemendez1.

    Reply
  49. July 15, 2012
    Max

    You forgot to mention that James Bond even drove one.

    I used to carpool in a 400 cc version, that one really had no power whatsoever, I was always looking for the pedals to give it a bit more speed.

    My brother had one that for a while seemed to have lost power: it would just not move above 20mph, but revved just fine out of gear. The nice guy at the garage did not blink an eye, just raised the bonnet, reconnected the sparkplug, and send us on our way.

    The funniest thing was that in the 80s, this was the car of choice for the antinuclear protesters. Did they not know that these cars are built by nuclear-generated electricity, as most things in France?

    Reply
  50. July 15, 2012
    georgianteacher2012

    I too had a 2CV…yellow and black; it looked like a liquorice allsort! I never tired of rolling the top back, packing a picnic and taking the kids out for a drive. Sigh!

    Reply
  51. July 16, 2012
    maidstonejewelry

    Beautiful. Reminds me of my white 2CV purchased in 1966 from a junk yard for 100 swiss francs (at the time that was US $25). I drove the car all over Europe. On the autobahn i used a brick placed on the accelerator to keep the car going at top speed, about 80-90 km/h (I think?) and it was always a good idea to draft behind a large truck and pick up a bit of speed. Sweet memories.

    Reply
  52. July 16, 2012
    John

    Nice post, brought back a lot of memories. From when I was born, up until the age of 15 we always had a 2cv in the family, my mum refused anything modern and my dad loved how easy they were to fix.
    Haven’t had one since about 2006 and prices for them seem to have sky rocketed which is a shame. Still thinking about getting one as a project for me and my old man, think it would be a lot different to drive than the cars I learnt in though!

    Reply
  53. July 16, 2012
    w.w.wygart

    If you love the 2CV you are either completely irrational, insane, or French. Speaking as some one who grew up with his dad’s [French] two DS’s and an SM, I know what is possible for a Citroën – over engineered, expensive to maintain, but my first experience going over 220km/hr. The 2CV is a complete piece of junk, its single virtue is that it was cheap. Its secondary major characteristic is that it was so underpowered it simply couldn’t burn gas fast enough to be considered a gas guzzler [but on a kilo per kilo basis its fuel economy probably isn’t that great]. Not half the car of the VW.

    Reply
    • July 18, 2012
      Mike

      rubbish comment…..

      Reply
  54. July 16, 2012
    Life Style Over 40

    I never drove this car but it certainly looks like a great one. I love the photos!

    Reply
  55. July 16, 2012
    timberbookshelvesOmega3

    I have driven cars that take work to drive – skill and concentration. I like the idea, specially as its good to know what to do when a gadget fails in the newer cars. The 2CV is an ideal starter car – I have mentioned it to my son. My starter was a Renault 4. I loved the lean on the bends, the economy and the need to put up an umbrella when it rained. It never had a handbrake worth a damn so I started as a natural for hill starts. When you move on from something like that, other cars are appreciated more. Best way to learn the basics.

    Reply
  56. July 16, 2012
    Grumpa Joe

    Great hood ornament. I could go for that.

    Reply
  57. July 16, 2012
    Classic Hub

    Some of us 2CV owners are still hippies you know. 😉
    I love people who slag off the 2CV. They just don’t understand it. To compare it with a Beetle is to compare champagne with a bucket of slops. The Beetle is a car, but not a very good one. The 2CV is so entertaining to drive that it should be a prescription drug. I’ve driven over 100,000 miles in my little snail, have had it airborne on several occasions, have driven it mercilessly hard and it broke down last week for the first time (that couldn’t be fixed roadside with a bit of garden twine and gaffer tape). It is a simple car packed with clever engineering with handling that is simply sublime.

    Reply
    • July 16, 2012
      Dave Bicker

      They are a little gem, from the outrageous suspension to the glorious roof. It’s only tinworm, safety legislation and aggressive PR promoting ‘aspirational’ cars that hastened it’s demise.
      The selfsame media types that sold us the bland and willfully dull cars on our roads today spend £8K for a 2CV that they may pose near it.
      *wipes away flecks of spittle*

      Reply
  58. July 16, 2012
    zoetic * epics

    CUTE CAR! I also find driving a blissful experience!

    Reply
  59. July 16, 2012
    dakrizzz

    Oh, God! Here in Spain we still have cars like this!!! hahahaha

    Reply
  60. July 16, 2012
    dfmw

    Reblogged this on motor workx and commented:
    great blog. love the old citroen

    Reply
  61. July 17, 2012
    Astrid | Pohutukawa PhotoGraphic

    Lovely description of the Classic Driving Experience – you’ve got to love it 🙂

    Reply
  62. July 17, 2012
    maftravelgraphy

    That’s my dream car! Thanks for sharing 😀

    Reply
  63. July 17, 2012
    Alyssa

    One of my fave car, looks vintage yet with grace and elegance, like sort of. Love the photos and the interesting words. Congrats on making this post to freshly pressed, by the way. 🙂

    Reply
  64. July 17, 2012
    bashshinycap44

    I love the post… and the pics are awesome! 🙂 😀

    Reply
  65. July 17, 2012
    Ken Holland

    I rode in one of these in my last year of High school in 1970, Maryland- USA. I just remember the looks we got as this was the era of the big muscle cars in the States.

    Reply
  66. July 17, 2012
    John Hayden

    Dave Bicker’s writing style is absolutely joyful!

    Reply
    • July 17, 2012
      Dave Bicker

      Thank you so much John, I’m pleased you enjoyed it. I have to say I was expecting more grief, especially from the militant wing of the Clarksonistas, or the more affluent.
      I stand corrected.

      Reply
      • July 17, 2012
        Peter Counsell

        …but only once the roof has been rolled back.

        Reply
  67. July 18, 2012
    Jarek Michalski

    I want one. Badly. Actually, having a huge soft spot for all things different and quirky, I’ve wanted one since I was a little kid.

    Reply
  68. August 1, 2012
    austinferrari

    Ahh the Citroen! What an excellent car

    Reply
  69. September 16, 2012
    Geoff Wulff

    I have driven our 1990 2cv Charleston for 13 years now…you either love them, or you don’t understand them!!!

    Reply
  70. January 24, 2014
    Angky

    Hi I am Angky 2CVer from Jakarta Indonesia

    I Have driven 2CV since 1997

    restored in 2008, now with red n white Dolly style

    love my 2CV always

    Regards

    Angky

    Reply
  71. January 22, 2015
    Justice VC Misra

    Touching post, thanks Bicker. Owning a 2cv Azam 1964 is in itself a thrill for me, and every drive is more thrilling. It is a wonderful car. DKW an old time German 2 cylinder car has been another wonder.

    Reply

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