The iconic Citroën 2CV is 75 years old – and that is one heck of a heritage. Unveiled to the public at the Paris Motor Show in October 1948, the quaint little car went on to sell more than 5-million units, with the last one leaving the Mangualde factory in Portugal 42 years after the launch.

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.

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 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 6,7 kW, 375 cc, air-cooled, flat-twin engine capable of a 50 km/h top speed.

In total, there were 10 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 8,9 kW engine and the famous centrifugal clutch.

It also became famous as a ‘raider’ having participated in 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.

Colin Windell - proudly CHANGECARS