Citroen 2CV 6 Charleston (1983)


Citroen 2CV 6 Charleston

The Citroën 2CV (French: deux chevaux, literally "two horses", from the tax horsepower rating) was an economy car produced by the French automaker Citroën from 1948 to 1990.

The 2CV belongs to a very short list of vehicles introduced right after World War II that remained relevant and competitive for many decades - in the case of the 2CV, 42 years.

Pierre-Jules Boulanger's early 1930s design brief - said by some to be astonishingly radical for the time - was for a low-priced, rugged "umbrella on four wheels" that would enable two peasants to drive 100 kg of farm goods to market at 60 km/h, in clogs and across muddy unpaved roads if necessary. France at that time had a very large rural population, who had not yet adopted the automobile due to cost. The car would use no more than 3 litres of gasoline to travel 100 km. Most famously, it would be able to drive across a ploughed field without breaking the eggs it was carrying. Boulanger later also had the roof raised to allow him to drive while wearing a hat.

André Lefèbvre was the engineer in charge of the TPV (Très Petite Voiture - "Very Small Car") project. By 1939, the TPV was deemed ready and several prototypes had been built. Those prototypes made use of aluminium or magnesium parts and had water-cooled engines. The seats were hammocks suspended from the roof by wires.

During the German occupation of France during World War II, Michelin (Citroën's main shareholder) and Citroën managers decided to hide the TPV project from the Nazis, fearing some military application. Several TPVs were buried at secret locations, one was disguised as a pickup, and the others were destroyed, and Boulanger had the next six years to think about more improvements. Until 1994, when three TPVs were discovered in a barn, it was believed that only two prototypes had survived. As of 2003, five TPVs are known. For long it was believed that the project was so well hidden that the all the prototypes were lost at the end of the war (in fact it seems that none of the hidden TPVs was lost after the War, but in the 1950s an internal memo ordered them to be scrapped. The surviving TPVs were, in fact, hidden from the top management by some workers who were sensitive to their historical value).

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