the romantic deux cheaveaux on the french roads

Restoring the workhorse: Citroen 2CV

With an unmistakable profile the Citroen 2CV is not just a car with a heritage going back to the 1940’s, but a national icon and a highly sought after collectable. Having started as a workhorse in rural France, the ‘deux cheveaux vapeur’ (two steam horses) quickly became an affordable and easy to maintain method of transport across France. Before long it was being produced across Europe, with thousands sold globally.

Having ceased production in the 1990’s, Citroen has moved on to other things, but the 2CV is still a popular car for collectors with the chassis alone often being bought for a premium. Collectors can buy a refurbished model for a relatively small outlay and those with an old model rusting in the back yard may find that there are some surprising choices for that old ‘tin snail’ (as the 2CV has been affectionately called). So here are a few options for the budding 2CV enthusiast.

2cv car in actionPRET-A-ALLER: The old deux cheveaux can still be picked up on popular shopping websites (such as eBay or Gumtree), often pre-restored and ready to go. These are perfect if you are after this classic for a runaround or as a collectable item. There are also several companies dedicated to lovingly restoring the old ugly duckling back to its full potential. However if you are looking to get hands on there are still options for finding unloved 2CV frames in farmyards and driveways across Europe or even the above-mentioned websites. From a mechanical point of view, this is a straightforward car to play with with no electric parts and mostly straightforward engineering.

PIMP THAT RIDE: Anyone looking to turn heads with a unique look would do well to pick up an old 2CV and see what can be done. From crazy paint work and fat tyres to high torque motorbike engines, there is a world of possibility for the creative mechanic. If time and money are no object, there are plenty of companies that could come up with a very good idea for a tired old flying dustbin. As there is a surprising amount of room in these old cars so, you can have fun putting in extras such as sound equipment or plush seating to create a fast and furious ride that no one would forget in a hurry.

WORK THE WORKHORSE: Another idea is to take the old workhorse and take it to a new market. The modern taste for retro and vintage means that in the right hands a 2CV could become an integral centrepiece to the right project. Perhaps a pop-up coffee shop, posh burger stand or even part of a mobile vintage clothes shop. The sky is the limit. There are also several models of 2CV van that can be found if needed for the right type of project. The Citroen HY and the H van are both designed as more heavy duty workhorses in a similar mould and can still be found if you look.

TAKE HER FOR A RIDE: One thing about certain old cars, the 2CV in particular, is the fuel economy. A well-restored Deux cheveaux would make a fabulous long distance road trip companion with plenty of interior space, good suspension, and high ceilings. The original model was designed to do around 50 mpg, but one might find that new reconditioned tin snails have different engines with varying degrees of fuel consumption. If you’re looking to go on a tour with a difference this summer, then take a look at a restored 2CV.

These old cars are popular for a reason, mainly their accessibility and ease of use and the surprising amount of fun you can have driving one, especially with the top down. If you’re looking for a little bit of retro ‘joie de vivre’ or even thinking of an engineering project then finding one of these flying dustbins would be a great start!