Citroën Celebrates the 75th Anniversary of the French “Beetle”

Citroën 2 CV. Photo: Release
Citroën 2 CV. Photo: Release

The Citroën celebrates the 75th anniversary of its most iconic and enduring model: the 2 CV, which had 5,114,969 units produced between 1949 and 1990 and was as popular in France as the beetle was in Brazil (also in Mexico, Germany, USA, …)

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The 2 CV has its roots in the “TPV” project (“Toute Petite Voiture” or “very small car”) in 1936 – much like the project that originated the VW Sedan or beetle, aimed to make cars versatile, economical, and accessible.
The “TPV” project (“Toute Petite Voiture or very small car”) was born in the mid-thirties, in 1936. Its objective was to offer low-income people an economical and versatile car.

In 1937, the first road prototype of the TPV project saw the light of day, weighing only 370 kg and with only one headlight (the legislation of the time did not require two). The vehicle could carry up to four people and 50 kg of luggage at a maximum speed of 50 km/h and was extremely comfortable.

250 pre-production models were supposed to be revealed at the 1939 Paris Motor Show. But the outbreak of World War II put an end to that. The models that had been built were therefore destroyed – all except four, which were kept secret at the Citroën Test Center in La Ferté-Vidame.

When it went into production, in July 1949, the 2 CV was a small car with a 9 hp, 375 cc, air-cooled, flat-twin engine capable of a maximum speed of 50 km/h.

Its unique body shape and appeal quickly won over a large part of the population. But its enormous success could also be attributed to its infinite range of uses, as well as its removable seats, its lightness, agility, and comfort. Not to mention the fact that it was ultra-economical to run, becoming the most popular car. In 1950, orders were pouring in, pushing delivery times up to 6 years.

In total, there were ten special editions of the 2 CV, released in France and several other European countries. They included the Spot, the Charleston, and the Cocorico. The 2 CV also went through a series of changes, including the launch of the 2 CV van (known as 2 CV AU) in 1951, and later the 2 CV AZ in 1954, equipped with a 12 hp engine and the famous centrifugal clutch.

Furthermore, the 2 CV was able to run on roads all over the world thanks to various Raids – such as the 16,500 km Raid Paris-Kabul-Paris in 1970, the 13,500 km Raid Paris-Persepolis in 1971, and the 8,000 km Raid Africa from Abidjan to Tunis in 1973, all three organized by Citroën.

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