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The 2CV, brief history 1936-1990
The TPV (Any small car) project, which will give rise to the 2 CV, was launched by Citroën in 1936. Purchased by Michelin at the beginning of 1935, the manufacturer of the Quai de Javel was then managed by Pierre Michelin, son The great boss Edouard Michelin, seconded by his trustworthy Pierre Boulanger.
These three men are then animated by a common goal, to democratize the automobile by producing an economy car to buy and daily, which can thus be accessible to the most modest. It is true that at this time, even occasionally, a car is still the prerogative of the wealthiest classes. The first prototypes were in motion at the beginning of 1937.
From then on, all the solutions are tested provided they are at the same time light, solid and inexpensive to produce. On August 28, 1939, the 2 CV, ready to be launched in production, is approved by the mining department.
The Petite Citroën boasts a water-cooled 375cc engine, a three-speed gearbox and a suspension with eight torsion bars. Its body and its revolutionary chassis are made of aluminum and its suspension arms in magnesium. To make it light and economical, it is also equipped with a single headlight on the left and a central wiper mounted on a telescopic arm.
The Second World War came to a halt, when only a hundred copies were assembled. The Salon de Paris, where it was to be presented in October 1939, was canceled. Citroën therefore devoted himself mainly to war productions. Under the Occupation, Pierre Boulanger, who has become CEO of Citroën since the death of Pierre Michelin in December 1937, does everything he can to subtract the 2 CV from the curiosity of the Germans.
In 1942, convinced of the final victory of the Allies, he relaunched the studies of the TPV project. Aluminum and magnesium are abandoned in favor of the steel for the body, the chassis and the suspension arms, but the engine which finally adopts the air cooling and the gearbox which receives a fourth gear have Now casings not of classic cast iron but cast aluminum. We finally opt for an electric starter and a second headlight ...
The first presentation takes place at the Grand Palais on Thursday, October 7, 1948 as part of the Salon de Paris. Until then, the secret had been jealously guarded, and no one had been able to see the little Citroen. It's a real surprise! Some even shout at the hoax ... How can a car with such a small engine, as its manufacturer says, carry four people, 50 kilos of luggage, over 60 km / h and consume only five Liter to the hundred!
Since production at the Levallois plant was only effective in July 1949, it was therefore necessary to wait a year before the first buyers were delivered. The car certainly has a few small flaws, but it has so many great qualities that the
Commands flow very quickly. Comfort, handling, braking, economy, Petite Citroën holds all its promises! Delivery times climb even more than five years, and a second-hand 2 CV, immediately available, resells more expensive than a new 2 CV! This first model, the 2 CV A, is equipped with a 375 cm3 engine delivering 9 real ch.
In 1954, it is backed by the 2 CV AZ whose 425cc engine boasts 12 hp and is coupled in series to the famous semi-automatic centrifugal clutch. Another novelty, it also receives two turn signals, two rear lanterns and a stop light! Over the years, the 2 CV gains in equipment.
In 1956, the 2 CV AZL, L for Luxe, is equipped with polished aluminum rods which make it more exhilarating, but it also sees its visibility particularly improved with the adoption of a large rear window, a more interior rearview mirror And a defroster nozzle for the windscreen.
The following year, in 1957, the 2 CV AZLP was the first to abandon the long hood and adopted a sheet metal trunk door. In addition to the latter equipment, it receives the same level of finish as the 2 CV AZL. In December 1960, the 2 CV changed its face by exchanging its old hood with small ribs for a sleeker hood equipped with a removable grille, more modern, aluminum. The small engine also gains steadily, but significant progress is made in this area in February 1963 when it increases from 15 to 18 real hp on all models in the range. The following month, in March, is presented the brand new 2 CV AZAM, more luxurious and more comfortable, whose finishing and presentation are largely inspired by that of the Friend 6 launched in 1961.
Then, in 1964 and 1965, the 2 CV adopts front doors opening in the right direction as well as a new aluminum grille with three horizontal blades and a third lateral glass providing luminosity and visibility.
If the 2 CV must disappear before the new Dyane from the end of August 1967, it finally knows a second youth in February 1970 when the 2 CV AZLP, the only model of 2 CV Sedan still marketed, Is replaced by 2 CV 4 and 2 CV 6.
Apart from a few details, these two identical cars differ essentially by their mechanics. The first one receives the 435 cc engine from the Dyane 4 and the second the 602 cc engine from the 2 CV AK 350. From a tax point of view, the 2 CV 6 is thus a 3 CV! The main aesthetic changes of these two models are the appearance of new headlights, rectangular, and a plastic grille in September 1974.
A year later, in order to respond to the effects of the first oil crisis, Citroën offers an economical version of the 2 CV 4 dubbed 2 CV Special. Only available painted in Yellow, this one marks the return of the round headlights and abandons the third lateral ice. It was not finally equipped until July 1978 when production of the 2 CV 4 ceased. The following year the 2 CV Special receives the engine of the 2 CV 6 and becomes the 2 CV 6 Special while the 2 CV 6, which keeps the headlights rectangular, is now dubbed 2 CV 6 Club. The last
The mechanical evolution of the 2 CV, is the assembly of front disc brakes in July 1981.
But the end of the seventies and the eighties were marked by the successive launch of the limited and special series. The first, the 2 CV Spot, the only one on a 2 CV 4 basis, was launched in April 1976. In October 1980 was launched the 2 CV 6 Charleston. Its success is such that it is produced in series from July 1981.
In October 1981 there appeared the 2 CV 007 and the 2 CV 6 Charleston yellow and black, then it was the turn of the 2 CV France 3 in April 1983 and March 1984, the 2 CV Dolly in March 1985, October 1985 and March 1986 and the 2 CV Cocorico in January 1986. Meanwhile, in July 1983, the 2 CV 6 Charleston yellow and black was replaced by the light gray and dark gray version.
Despite all these colorful series, sales of the 2 CV decline inexorably and its compliance with standards imposed by Brussels is increasingly expensive. Production in France at the Levallois plant ceased on 29 February 1988.
However, its marketing continued until the production stopped on Friday 27 July 1990 at 4.30 pm at the Portuguese factory in Mangualde ...
With the contributions of Antoine Demetz, Journalist, historian of 2cv.