The Citroen 2CV, affectionately (and unaffectionately) known as ‘ the tin snail’ owing to its looks and glacial speed, is one one of the world’s most important cars. Yes, you did read that right.
Designed in the 1930s, Citroen’s Car-for-the-People was intended for France’s numerous rural workers who were largely still dependent upon the horse for transportation. Reliable, fuel efficient, easy to maintain, and above all cheap, the 2CV was engineered to mobilise an entire population class. And then Hitler decided to be ‘a bit of a dick’.
The German invasion and the subsequent commandeering of French factories to build stuff for blowing up the British meant production for the innovative and much-needed 2CV never started. Fearful of the Nazi’s stealing the design, Citroen hid their 2CV prototypes across France in the hope they would remain undetected (some of which are still being unearthed today).
The Allied victory in 1945 left behind a ruined France, but thankfully for Citroen an undetected cache of 2CV prototypes. Three years later, and a decade after the car was first engineered, the 2CV finally reached production.
As much as Europe’s poor workers needed cheap reliable transportation before World War 2, they really needed it afterwards, and the little Citroen was a huge success. Half the price of Germany’s ‘People’s Car’ – the Volkswagen Beetle, the 2CV sold almost 4 million units in a production run that spanned five decades and nine different countries.
When Citroen 2CV production finally ceased in 1990 the car had become a bit of a joke, but for much of its life the 2CV was the most important car in Europe, and is surely one of the greatest car designs ever created.
This fitting tribute to one of France’s icons of motoring comes from previous bloggee and Technic building legend Nico71 who has recreated the simplicity of Citroen’s engineering beautifully. The 2CV’s legendary leading and trailing arm suspension (designed so a peasant could carry eggs unbroken across a ploughed field) has been faithfully reproduced in Lego form, plus there’s working steering and the doors, hood and trunk all open.