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Citroen 2CV: Buying guide and review (1948-1990)

Citroen 2CV Citroen 2CV Citroen 2CV Citroen 2CV Citroen 2CV Citroen 2CV Citroen 2CV Sahara 4x4
The Citroen 2CV is one of those cars that polarises opinions, some love its honest charm, while others poke fun at the very basic and unconventional looks. But even its detractors cannot deny that over its 42 year production lifespan it become an automotive legend. The 2CV is the ultimate example of the automobile distilled down to its pure essence, and while it may look as basic as a wood burning stove from the outside, it also featured some genuinely ingenious technology under the skin at launch.
 
The 2CV’s gestation was a somewhat difficult period, a World War. major changes in aluminium prices and all manner of production challenges meant that despite the initial design having being penned in the mid-‘30s, the first 2CVs rolled off the production line in 1948. 
 
The design brief stated that the car had to be basic, affordable and excel at traversing rough terrain with a full complement of passengers and do it all day long if necessary. It is this last point that lead to the development of an ingenious suspension system that provided the 2CV with both a soft ride and excellent road holding. 
 
Over the intervening years it has provided reliable, fuss free motoring for millions and has become the automotive expression of minimalist French chic.
 
Which one to buy?
 
With production spanning over four decades there are numerous variants to choose from with many detailed running changes along the way. With very modest performance, basically no safety or luxury features and poor protection from the elements the 2CV is best suited for sunny weekend drives, UK models were sold with the 602cc engine which provided a heady 26bhp and were a fair bit speedier than the original 9bhp 375cc versions. 
 
The original body style featured a fabric roof, corrugated bonnet and simple steel panels for easy repair. This basic design was left relatively unchanged so the relaxed ride, quirky body style and basic running gear can be experienced in any 2CV. Derivatives included the Dyane hatchback, Mehari convertible Acadiane van and even a very limited build of twin engined Sahara versions. 
 
With over 3.8million 2CV saloons built and a further 1.2 million van derivatives there are still a lot of cars out there to choose from and with parts being widely available the final choice comes down to whether you are looking for a project, weekend toy or mint condition collectors car. 
 
Peformance and specs
 
1948 Citroen 2CV 
Engine 375cc 4 valve OHV two-cylinder 
Power 9bhp 
Torque 17ft lb 
Top speed 40mph 
0-60mph n/a 
Fuel consumption 65+ mpg 
Gearbox Four-speed manual
 
Dimensions and weight
 
Wheelbase 2370mm
Length 3778mm
Width 1478mm
Height 1600mm
Weight 682kg
 
Common problems
 
• Thanks to this little cars enduring popularity the 2CV community is very well catered for in the UK with a number of clubs providing advice and specialists providing basically any part you can think of for your car. 

• The chassis is known to be very rust prone, thankfully repairs and replacement parts are easy enough to carry out. If you intend to keep your car having the chassis components galvanised is highly recommended as they leaked water even from new.

• Body panels, trim and even entire chassis are available from specialists making the 2CV a great starter classic for those keen to get their hands dirty.

• Engines are tough but require regular oil changes (every 3000 miles or so). Cars built after 1970 can run on unleaded fuel without modifications. 

• Front disc brakes are inboard and are labour intensive to replace, drum brakes were standard all round until later in production when the front discs were introduced from 1981. Be aware of the different brake fluid requirements for each system.

• Quirky dash mounted 4 speed gearbox is tough, no synchro on first so some crunching is normal, although worn gearboxes will exhibit this trait in third gear as well.

• Interiors tend to wear well, vinyl covered seats stand up to the elements best but a general re-upholstering is required on most older cars
 
Model history
 
1948: Launched at the Paris Auto Salon, the first 2CV features a 9bhp 375cc air cooled engine powering the front wheels and suicide style front doors.
1954: Minor changes to bonnet badging and the addition of dashboard lighting
1955: 425cc 12bhp engine introduced raising top speed to 49mph
1958: 2CV Sahara 4x4 introduced featuring a second engine in boot
1961: Twin engined 4x4 Sahara version launched. A total of 694 units built
1964: Windscreen wipers become electrically operated
1965: Front doors now open conventionally
1967: Dyane version introduced as slightly upmarket 2CV with two levels of trim
1968: Citroen Mehari introduced using ABS plastic for the body shell, a world first
1970: Electrical system now 12V and new indicators and taillights introduced
435cc and 602cc engine variants available
1975: 2CV reintroduced to UK market. Exterior changes include new bumpers, grille and squared off headlights
1977: Acadiane utility vehicle launched – built until end of 1987
1982: Front brake discs introduced on all 2CV’s
1990: Final 2CV manufactured with production having moved to Portugal for last two years
 
A number of limited run and special edition models were made available globally such as the Spot, Charleston and 007 model following its appearance in James Bond's ‘For your Eyes Only’.
 
Owners clubs, forums and websites
 
• www.citroencarclub.org.uk – UK Citroen car club
• the2cvshop.co.uk – Source of parts and information on 2CV
• www.mehari-2cv-spare.co.uk – parts supplier for 2CV range
• www.citroenclassics.co.uk – still more parts for your 2CV
• www.2cvracing.org.uk – 2CV racing club for UK enthusiasts
 
Summary and prices
 
If you are looking for an original unrestored 2CV you may be out of luck, with rust and wear and tear claiming many original components it is best to look for a professionally restored one rather than an untouched ‘barn find’. Useable examples can be found for £4000, the earliest cars were built in limited numbers so they command a healthy premium with some trading for £15,000. Restored Meharis are closer to £25,000, and if you can find one, a mint condition Sahara can cost as much as £100,000 in today’s market.
 
In the other camp there is great fun to be had restoring a 2CV and prices for project cars start as low as £1000. It’s wise to get the advice of a specialist on the potential costs of restoration as while individual parts are reasonable a full refurbishment can be a costly exercise.
 
A car that has often been referred to as being more than the sum of its parts, the 2CV is the perfect minimalist classic with style. It remains a very accessible and rewarding car providing a driving experience that no modern car can replicate. 
 
Words: John Tallodi
Citroen 2CV Citroen 2CV Citroen 2CV Citroen 2CV Citroen 2CV Citroen 2CV Citroen 2CV Sahara 4x4
Last updated: 21st Jul 2016
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Citroen 2CV cars for sale

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Citroen 2CV
1750 13950 GBP
  • Citroen - 2CV Fourgonnette - 1957

    €12,500 - €16,250 est. (£11,145 - £14,488.50 est.) €12,500 - €16,250 est. (£11,145 - £14,488.50 est.)
    Online Auction
    Auction Date: 01 Jan 1970
    RESERVE PRICE
    Catawiki Auctions
  • Citroen 2CV

    €9,900(£8,826.84) €9,900(£8,826.84)

    This beautiful original 2 CV AZ is built in 1959 and is in very good condition. The car is imported to the Netherlands in 2010. Car has Holland title. Easy to register in every EU country. You do not need to pay any import taxes. We can help with transport. This car is not in our showroom and can only be seen by appointment. To view this car and others, please visit the website at kucarfa.nl

    • Year: 1959
    • Mileage: 19000 mi
    • Engine size: 0.4
    For sale
  • Citroën 2CV Charleston Bordeaux & Black '82

    €13,950(£12,437.82) €13,950(£12,437.82)

    The Citroën 2CV (French: “deux chevaux” i.e. “deux chevaux vapeur”, literally “two tax horsepower”) was an economy car produced by the French automaker 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". 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

    • Year: 1982
    For sale
  • 1987 Citroën 2CV6 Dolly

    POA POA

    The Citroën 2CV or 'deux chevaux' (two horsepower) was an economy car produced by the French car maker from 1948 to 1990. It was technologically innovative but uncompromisingly utilitarian and of unconventional looks. Its deceptively simple Bauhaus inspired bodywork belied the sheer quality of its underlying engineering. It was designed to move the French peasantry on from horses and carts and is considered one of Citroën's most iconic cars. In 1953 'Autocar' wrote a technical review of the car, stating "...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 L. Setright as "the most intelligent application of minimalism ever to succeed as a car." First registered on 29th October 1987, this charming 2CV has, throughout its life, remained in the north Cambridgeshire area and was owned by only two owners in the last 32 years. The vendor reports that the car retains its original chassis which is in good condition and the car has no rust. Supplied with an MoT test certificate valid until 16th May, 2017 and showing some 44,600 miles, you cannot help but smile as you drive and,

    • Year: 2016
    For sale
  • 1966 Citroen 2CV

    $9,950(£8,132.14) $9,950(£8,132.14)

    This 1966 Citron 2CV is a very original and very collectible car that could benefit from minor cosmetics. Burgundy and black with blue seats. It runs and drives well. The 2CV was a front-engined, front-wheel-drive, air-cooled economy car introduced at the 1948 Paris Mondial de l'Automobile and manufactured by Citron. A great buy at just $9,950

    • Year: 1966
    For sale
  • 1984 Citroën 2CV

    POA POA

    Details: This is a 1984 Citroen 2CV in highly restored condition. This car has just completed a highly detailed professional restoration and is an amazing example of a 2CV. Car has new paint, excellent restored interior and superb mechanicals. For more details call 631-283-8819. Stock: Color: GRAY Interior color: BLACK VIN: Transmission: MANUAL Body style: 4 DOOR Year: 1984 Engine: 4 CYLINDER Miles: 774771

    • Year: 1984
    • Mileage: 774771 mi
    For sale
  • Citroen 2CV

    £9,995 £9,995

    *SIMILAR CLASSIC CARS ALWAYS REQUIRED* SOLD Thinking of selling? Our proven commission sale or SOR (Sale or Return) program is a great way to utilise and access our professional services and facilities while still maximising the return from your vehicle with minimal hassle, stress and time, If you’d like to take advantage of this then please get in touch for further information. Alternatively If you’d like to move your vehicle on quickly and efficiently with minimal delay then we can make an offer on an outright purchase basis with payment and collection arranged soon after. An astonishing Citroen 2CV6 Charleston with just 22,759 miles and two owners from new. EQUIPMENT Headlamp adjustment control knob, check-button for brake level warning lamp, inertia reel front seatbelts, day/night rear view mirror, hazard warning switch, ashtray, windscreen/floor air distribution control, rear fog lamp, choke control with warning lamp, oil pressure warning lamp, battery charge indicator, removable seats, folding rear bench seat, complete and half opening hood, interior lamp. Factory options; Enlarged boot opening. EXTERIOR This delightful 2CV is finished in the desirable Charleston colour scheme of Rouge Delage/Noir (dark red/black), code EXY/EKA. The stunning paint finish boasts a brilliant glossy shine and is a real eye catcher. Structurally perfect with recent preventative works undertaken by renown Specialists, Deux Chevaux, and still on the original chassis and wearing factory supplied panels. The incredible low mileage nature of this preserved example is clearly evident with a tiny faint undulation to the finish on the offside rear door, barely noticeable. All the correct 2CV/Charleston badges are present and the glass is window etched with the original Saint Gobain factory fit items. Unmarked bumpers and grill help to complete the factory fresh appeal, and the original winter muff grille is present. The cloth backed vinyl hood remains in excellent condition with only one tiny nick to the outer material. Even the original dealer plates remain fitted the front being slightly cracked. An outstanding example of this fun and quirky classic. INTERIOR The delightfully sparse interior of this French icon is in remarkable condition. The grey diamond shape seat coverings are pristine and offer renowned Gallic esq levels of comfort! The immaculate dashboard houses the original Veglia instrument binnacle and all switches, gauges and warning lights are all fully operational and are a delight to use, transporting the driver back to simpler motoring times! A supplying dealer tax disc holder and manufacturer stickers in the front and rear screens remain in situ. The floor is perfect and still protected by the original Citroen rubber over-mats. Factory stickers still remain such as tyre pressure limits on door edge. The boot floor is spotless and the pristine spare wheel and jack are still present. Enchanting! ENGINE & TRANSMISSION The two cylinder 602cc 28bhp engine with its distinct rumbling soundtrack is instantly familiar and offers a truly unique driving experience at a rather relaxed pace! The column gear change operates exactly as it should and being like no other car today, is guaranteed to put a big smile on your face. WHEELS, TYRES & BRAKES The original painted steel wheels with bright spotless chrome hub-caps are presented in impeccable order and support the correct and expensive Michelin Radial X 125R15 tyres with good tread all round. The vehicle stops quickly and in a straight line with the inboard disc brakes providing adequate stopping power. HISTORY FILE Supplied by Citroen Main Agent, Minden Motor Company, and registered new on 4th January 1985, this remarkable example has had just two owners from new. An original sales invoice made out to Mr A Bennett confirms a purchase price of £3,432 including the optional enlarged boot opening at £39 and Delivery Pack consisting of Chevron Mats (still fitted), bulb kit (still present) and three gallons of fuel. A post order/pre delivery letter from the supplying dealer to Mr Bennett is in the history file informing him of a Citroen price increase adding a further £32 to his on the road price! After nearly 30 years of ownership and a mere 21,216 miles covered under his ownership Mr Bennett made the difficult decision to pass this wonderful 2CV Charleston on for the next enthusiast and KGF Classic Cars were entrusted to seek a new owner to enjoy and preserve just as he has. The second owner, Mr Eyre, purchased the car, named it Monique and ventured down the show circuit. Unfortunately recent house expansion works will result in the imminent loss of garage space meaning this car is ready for a lucky new custodian. The Citroen book packs, service record and dealership directory remain in the original A5 wallet, and even an original sales brochure comes with the car and tells the story of ‘The adventures of the Citroen 2CV6 and The Arctic Snowman! The absolute mechanical simplicity along with a huge network of parts availability and owners club support makes this amazingly low mileage example the ultimate economical and dare to be different classic car. MOT May 2016, HPI Clear. To see a video of this car please click on the link below: http://youtu.be/EFfKLeQ9Y6Y To see a full set of photographs of this car please click on the link below: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kgfclassiccars/sets/72157644811317714 'Like us' or 'Follow us' for exciting new cars coming soon at KGF Classic Cars: https://www.facebook.com/KGFClassiccar https://twitter.com/KGFClassicCars

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