Citroën celebrates the 75th birthday of its most iconic models: the 2 CV. Designed at Citroën’s design office on Rue du Théâtre in Paris and fine-tuned at the La Ferté-Vidame test centre in the Eure-et-Loir region, it was unveiled to the public at the Paris Motor Show on 7 October 1948. The 2 CV enjoyed an exceptional career: a total of 5,114,969 units were produced, including 1,246,335 2 CV vans. The very last 2 CV left the Mangualde factory in Portugal 42 years after its launch at 4 PM on 27 July 1990.
The “TPV” (“Toute Petite Voiture or very small car) project was born in the mid-thirties, in 1936. Its aim was to provide people on low incomes with an economical, versatile car. In 1937, the first roadworthy prototype of the TPV project saw the light of day, weighing just 370 kg and with only one headlight (legislation at the time did not require two). The vehicle could carry up to four people and 50 kg of luggage at a maximum speed of 50 km/h and was extremely comfortable.
250 pre-production models were due to be unveiled at the 1939 Paris Motor Show. But the outbreak of war put paid to this. The models which had been built were therefore destroyed – all except four which were secretly kept at the Citroën Test Centre at La Ferté-Vidame.
When it went into production in July 1949, the 2 CV was a small car with a 9 bhp, 375 cc, air-cooled, flat-twin engine capable of a top speed of 50 km/h. Citroën had revolutionised the car industry with an economical and versatile vehicle.
Its unique body shape and appeal quickly won over a large part of the population. But its huge success can also be attributed to its infinite range of uses, as well as its removable benches, its lightness, agility and comfort. Not to mention the fact that it was ultra economical to run, making it the most popular car. By 1950, orders were flooding in, pushing delivery times up to 6 years.
Its avant-garde spirit, with its ingenious technologies for the time, ensured that it remained part of the motoring scene for many years. The 2 CV is a timeless model that has become a veritable social phenomenon, attracting collectors from all over the world. And it is still frequently seen on our roads.
The 2 CV is also known around the world in many different ways, and its reputation made it earned a number of nicknames. Some of the best known are “Deuche”, “Deudeuche” and “Ugly Duckling”, to name but a few. This wide variety of nicknames shows just how popular this historic and iconic model was.
In total, there were ten special editions of the 2 CV, launched in France and a number of other European countries. They included the Spot, the Charleston and the Cocorico. The 2 CV also underwent a number of changes, including the launch of the 2 CV van (known as the 2 CV AU) in 1951, and then the 2 CV AZ in 1954, equipped with a 12 bhp engine and the famous centrifugal clutch.
What’s more, the 2 CV got to drive on roads the world over thanks to various Raids – such as the 16,500 km Paris-Kaboul-Paris Raid in 1970, the 13,500 km Paris-Persépolis Raid in 1971 and the 8,000 km Africa Raid from Abidjan to Tunis in 1973, all three organised by Citroën.
On 7 October, an unmissable automotive event is on the horizon: the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the legendary Citroën 2 CV at the Conservatoire Citroën. To mark this memorable anniversary, seventy-five 2 CVs restored and passionately maintained by private collectors, registered and will be brought together at the Conservatoire Citroën in Aulnay-sous-Bois. From 10 a.m., visitors will have the chance to discover these jewels of automotive history and talk to their owners.
The event is open to the public and will be an unforgettable day out for Citroën fans, classic car enthusiasts and the curious. Visitors will also have the opportunity to visit the Conservatoire, which houses around 250 iconic models from the double-chevron brand, providing a fascinating insight into Citroën’s rich history.
To mark this anniversary, eight iconic 2 CVs from the Citroën Conservatoire have been photographed from a particularly artistic angle:
The 2 CV 6 by Hermès, dressed by Hermès inside and out, was shown at the 2008 Paris Motor Show to mark the 60th birthday of the 2 CV.
The 2 CV 6 Spécial, one of the last 2 CVs produced at the Levallois plant in 1988
The 2 CV Spot, Citroën’s first special edition, 1,800 of which were built with two-tone upholstery and bodywork based on a design by stylist Serge Gevin.
The 2 CV A, one of 250 prototypes built in 1939 for the Motor Show, which ended up being cancelled because of the Second World War. One of the four remaining vehicles at the Citroën Conservatoire.
The 2 CV A Berline (1950), identical to the one unveiled by Pierre Boulanger at the opening of the Paris Motor Show in 1948.
The right-hand-drive 2 CV A, built in Slough (UK) from 1953. It had a sheet-metal trunk and opening rear windows. To this day, it is the oldest British 2 CV in Europe.
The 2 CV AZU, a 2 CV van produced from 1954 until March 1978, has a large load capacity and rear “cupboard” doors for easy loading.
The 2 CV 4 x 4 “Sahara”, with four-wheel drive and two engines that enable it to negotiate gradients of over 40 per cent in the sand.