Tin Snail Site
Ten Good Reasons to Drive a 2CV
2CVs are simple.
- The design of the A series (2CV and derivitives)
is very basic. It consists of a platform chassis
on which the engine, transmission, suspension and
bodywork are fixed. This allows a wide range of
different body styles to be used on the same
running gear (hence the Ami, Dyane, Mehari 4X4
The engine itself is a horizontally opposed twin
cylinder "aircooled" or "oil
cooled" unit with overhead valves.
Originally a 375cc unit, it was replaced by 425,
435 and eventually the big banger 602cc,
developing around 30 b.h.p. Although simple in
design, the engine is apparently unburstable,
reliable and efficient.
2CVs are cheap.
- 2CVs are cheap to buy, and to run. They are no
longer made, but many second hand examples are
available at pocket money prices (In the U.K.: £300
for a tatty but usable example, £1500 for a
really nice one). Obtaining spare parts is not a
problem with many specialist suppliers, and both
new parts and service items are inexpensive.
Although outclassed by many modern super
efficient cars, the 2CV will regularly return 40
or 50 miles on a gallon of fuel. Insurance is as
cheap as it could be (group 1 in the UK), and
older cars (before 1973) are exempt from road tax
in the UK. DIY is fairly simple with few special
tools needed (I changed a gearbox in 4 hours, and
an engine rebuild doesn't take much longer), and
if the 2CV is looked after, and serviced
regularly, it won't eat your bank balance.
2CVs are practical.
- Although apparently quite a small car, the 2CV is
surprisingly practical. Fairly roomy for four
people, the 2CV also has a decent boot, larger
than many newer hatchbacks. With four doors, an
opening roof and the option of a full length
tailgate, access is easy. The seats can be
removed in seconds, giving a truly cavernous load
space inside, and despite a modest power output,
low gearing and a willing engine make towing a
trailer fairly simple.
2CVs are easy to drive.
- Although somewhat unconventional in design, the 2CV
was designed with ease of use in mind, and it is
a reasonably easy car to drive. Low gearing and a
heavy flywheel make stalling difficult, and once
on the move the steering is quite light and
precise, although it can become heavy when
parking or cornering hard. The unusual push/pull/twist
gearchange is surprisingly simple once mastered
and the scattered controls are all quite
2CVs are comfortable.
- The bodywork squeaks and shudders, the suspension
crashes over bumps, the engine buzzes like a
demented bumblebee and the gearbox rattles and
whines in any gear, but the incredibly soft
independant suspension, along with the simple but
surprisingly comfortable seats soaks up any road
surface. The car has a full length roll back
"canvas" roof for hot weather and a
simple heater which draws hot air from around the
engine, directing it into the car.
2CVs are safe.
- Not really. As the basic design can be traced
back to the 1930s, not much crash protection is
built into the 2CV. Despite this, it is
apparently quite difficult to lose control of a 2CV.
The handling is predictable, understeering at the
limit, and brakes, especially on dyanes and later
2CVs which were fitted with inboard front disc
brakes are powerful. Despite the fact that the 2CV
leans at incredible angles when cornering it is a
stable car. The lean is a characteristic of the
soft, independant suspension, which keeps all
four tyres firmly on the ground.
2CVs are reliable.
- The car's simple design means there is not a
great deal to go wrong. If serviced regularly,
the engine should last extremely well, although
niggling faults can crop up. Rust is the enemy of
the 2CV, and rust protection (undersealing etc.)
is vital. However, rust is often only cosmetic,
and because the bodywork consists of simple
panels which are easily replacable, many of
which, such as the wings and doors, bolt into
place. Even the chassis, which tends to rust from
the inside, can be replaced, and as well as the
original Citroen chassis, may U.K. based
specialists build replacement chassis.
2CVs have character.
- The 2CV is unique in its design. Its eccentric
appearance, considered either ugly or beautiful
hides some equally eccentric technology. Although
unconventional, it is a design that works well,
as evident by the 2CV's 40 years of successful
production, and its status as a classic car with
a cult following worldwide.
2CVs are slow?
- They are not the swiftest of vehicles, but are
still surprisingly able. The 2CV6 and Dyane 6 are
capable of 70 m.p.h on a flat road, although
headwinds and inclines have a significant effect
on speed, and when driven well, can usually keep
up with most other traffic. Because the 2CV is so
light (580 kg) a full load of passengers, or
towing a trailer can double its weight, having a
noticable effect on its performance, although it
is rarely a problem, just making progress a bit
2Cvs are Fun
- 2CV drivers are generally fairly friendly people
who will wave to each other, and join thriving 2CV
clubs all over the world. The 2CV is a fun car to
own and drive and each has a unique personality.