Saturday, October 29, 2005

Citroen 2CV


I haven’t posted on the “Vehicles I have Known and Loved” series for awhile. So here’s one for the memoirs. A Citroën 2CV, circa 1959/1960. I bought this little car in 1969 for £100 and borrowed most of the money from my parents. I’d finished my studies at Guildford Tech and was taking, what is now know in the UK as a “Gap Year” prior to going to University of Wales as an undergraduate. During this time I worked as a lab technician for the pharmaceutical company, Eli Lilly, and a commute was involved from the parental home. Back in 1969, Citroëns were rarely seen outside of France and having a left hand drive car in the UK was seen as eccentric, to say the least. But I loved this little two cylinder beast. It was very spartan but had some wonderful features. The canvas roof would roll all the way back and al fresco motoring was great fun. Furthermore the backseats could be lifted out and used for picnics and beach trips. The windscreen wipers operated from a drive on the speedometer cable so the faster I went the quicker they moved however when I stopped at a light they would also come to a halt and in heavy rain this would reduce my visibility to about a foot in front of the car. There was no gas gauge, just a 4’ long dipstick in the tank that I would examine at petrol station to the great amusement of onlookers. I don't remember any seatbelts.

I ran around in it for a year. It was probably the most fun, reliable, economical and easy to fix car I’ve ever owned. Indeed I once changed a rocker arm by the side of the road with a very minimal toolkit. It wasn’t fast and the body rolled like crazy but it stuck to the road like glue thanks to a suspension that was the work of genius. I repainted it in its Gallic Grey colour for the sum of £6 (the deal was that I would do the rubbing down and masking) and eventually sold it for £150 prior to heading off to University. A nice tidy profit -I don’t think I’ve achieved such a satisfactory conclusion on an automobile sale since…!

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