When is a 2CV not a 2CV? When it’s a Dyane! You could be forgiven for thinking that a Citroen Dyane is nothing more than a 2CV with a nose job, and up to a point that’s true. The two models shared the same mechanicals and a very similar design, but the Dyane’s bodyshell was a bit larger and hence more spacious.
While Citroen didn’t admit it at the time, the assumption is that the Dyane was intended to replace the 2CV, but with the latter having such a huge following, it was the Dyane that would be killed off first – but not until 1.4 million had been built during a 17-year production run. As Citroen has a lot of other projects on at the time of the Dyane’s conception, innovative French manufacturer Panhard (which had recently been bought out by Citroen) was drafted in to undertake a lot of the design work.
The Dyane differed from the 2CV by featuring a larger glass area (especially the windscreen), restyled front wings, a wider bodyshell and a tailgate in place of a more conventional boot lid. There were also push-button door handles, more comprehensive instrumentation and the inner door panels were moulded to incorporate an arm rest. The front windows slid to open, whereas the 2CV’s were hinged.
Under the skin, the 2CV’s simple mechanicals make the Dyane a similarly unique driving experience. Thanks to the extremely soft suspension set-up, you’ll quickly learn to love the body roll, although with enough commitment a Dyane can still take corners at surprising speeds.
Which one to buy
The chances of you finding a Dyane 4 are small, because most of the cars for sale are from late in the Dyane’s production run. That’s no bad thing because if you think the Dyane 6 makes hard work of a journey, the Dyane 4 has even less power and can really struggle if you’ve got lots of miles to cover.
As with the 2CV, there are plenty of options for bringing the Dyane up to speed with modern traffic. Engine swaps are relatively common, with engines from Citroen GS and GSA a popular choice, although some people have chosen to go with motorbike engines. There is also the less extreme option of old fashioned engine tuning, which can see 50bhp liberated from a healthy engine.
If you can find one of the earliest Dyanes it’ll make an interesting collector’s piece; these are the cars with a solid C-pillar. Within a year of the Dyane’s launch a window had been cut into the pillar, giving three windows on each side; the four-window cars are now very rare and you’re unlikely to find one in the UK as imports didn’t start until the car had been facelifted.
Felling a little bit more adventurous? The Dyane was also built in Iran from 1968-1980, under the Jyane name. A few have made there way out of the country, but it is very unusual to find one on the market. It’s though that a few still remain in Iran, although exporting a car out of the country is a surprisingly difficult undertaking.
Other than deciding which model to go for, it’s a question of just trying to find a really good example that isn’t harbouring major corrosion. Such cars are a lot more common than you might think, so make sure you look before you leap...
Performance and specs
Citroen Dyane 6
Engine 602cc, 2-cylinder
Power 33bhp @ 5750rpm
Torque 33lb ft @ 4000rpm
Top speed 71mph
Fuel consumption 40mpg
Gearbox Four-speed manual
Dimensions and weight
Kerb weight 600kg
• Expect chassis rot on all but the very best examples. The original frame comprises of a large box section, which generally corrodes from within. Repair is not a viable option, so most have been replaced with improved aftermarket items. These differ from the original, in that you will notice two C-section side rails, easily differentiated by the separate top and bottom panels.
• Check the front axle mounts first; rust is most likely where the suspension bolts on, so a careful inspection is important. Due to the car’s unique construction, this is where all the strength is, so MoT-style bodge repairs aren’t good news. Check the rear chassis legs too, as it’s the same story with these. If consistently heavy it might just need new kingpins.
• If corrosion has attacked the chassis, you will be able to feel it through the steering – which weighs up nastily and inconsistently through corners.
• There are several rot-spots to check on the bodyshell for rust. Rear wings rust around the top, below the rear seats and boot floor could be crusty. Sills and the double-skinned bulkhead should also be poked and prodded. Basically, check everywhere! Although getting body panels isn’t as easy as the standard 2CV, most parts are available.
• The air-cooled engine uses an oil cooler mounted behind the fan to keep temperatures down. If this isn’t kept clean, the engine will overheat causing further problems. Cars with electronic ignition are more likely to suffer this problem, as the fan assembly is removed far less often.
• Carefully inspect the cylinder heads for oil leaks. A small amount of weapage is to be expected as there are no head gaskets, but major leaks should be viewed with caution. Clattery engines are the norm, but listen very carefully for more terminal-sounding knocks.
• If you’re on the test drive, stick the heater on full with the windows closed. If you can smell exhaust gasses then it will need new heat exchanger unit. Similar to the air-cooled Beetle, the Dyane transmits warm air from the exhaust manifold through ducts into the cabin.
• Gearboxes last well; the first thing to go is normally the third gear synchromesh, with crunchy changes the result. On the road, stay in third while listening for a high-pitched whine. If apparent, it will need a full rebuild soon. It’s also worth mentioning that cars with non-standard engines will wear out a gearbox significantly faster.
• The gear change isn’t the best, but if you find it too hard the linkage bushes may have been neglected, although it’s an easy and cheap remedy. Some specialists offer fully rebuilt gear change assemblies for less than £50.
• One particular weakness of the front suspension is the arm that connects the hub to the track rod ends. The ball-joint wears, causing the steering to behave abnormally over bumps.
• Brakes should be strong, especially on models with discs, but being mounted inboard means they can be neglected. Later cars with discs also use Citroen-specific LHM fluid (closer to ATF than normal brake fluid), so check for a bright green glow in the reservoir. If different fluid is used, every seal will need to be replaced and the system flushed.
• All Dyanes have a fabric roof, which shrinks and splits. Specialists 2CV City offer a range of new fabric roofs in a range of colours. These are made from the same vinyl material as the original roof.
1967: The Dyane debuts, with a 425cc engine; within seven months this evolves into the 435cc Dyane 4.
1968: UK imports of the Dyane 6 begin, with a 625cc engine and Comfort or De Luxe trims.
1974: The Dyane 6 Weekend arrives with separate front seats and folding rear seats.
1976: The Dyane 4 goes out of production.
1977: The special edition Dyane Caban comes with dark blue paint, white wheels plus coachlines galore; 1500 are made.
1978: Front disc brakes are now standard.
1980: The limited edition Dyane Capra features GSA wheel trims and is aimed at the Spanish/Italian markets.
1982: The last Dyane 6s are imported to the UK, including the run-out Cote d’Azur with blue and white paintwork.
1984: The last Dyane 6 is made.
Owners clubs, forums and websites
Summary and prices
It might not quite carry the kudos of the 2CV’s ‘Tin-Snail’ looks, but the Dyane does offer slightly more usability and practicality. Some even prefer the looks. The fact it’s slightly less mainstream does mean that prices in the UK are still quite attractive, with a great example likely to come in at around £4500, while you could bag a usable runner for as little as £2000. Cars are regularly imported from France, where corrosion is less of an issue, but if you are considering it yourself, it’s best to familiarise yourself with the potential pitfalls.