In France the 2 c.v. Citroën is the least-expensive practical four-wheeler.
Its design originated before the war and output is approximately 1,500 a week. The 2 c.v. is selling like “hot buns” and causing tremendous enthusiasm.
For an unladen weight of 10 cwt. it has a brake lining area of 65 sq. in.
The air-cooled 375-c.c. flat-twin engine, using fan-cooled, finned steel cylinders with push-rod o.h. valves in hemispherical, light alloy heads, was designed from the word go as a car engine. It is deliberately limited to 9 b.h.p. by restriction of the inlet tract, but Frenchmen are already finding ways round this!
Contact-breaker simplification produces sparks on the exhaust stroke as well as on the power stroke.
All four doors are easily removable in hot weather.
A rebore is not likely to be required before 36,000 miles, and then costs the equivalent of under £8 for replacement barrels, pistons and rings.
All body panels are phosphate-coated to defeat rust.
A new front wing costs the equivalent of £2 14s., a replacement back wing a mere £2.
The 2 c.v. is delivered with a free five-days’ third party, fire and theft insurance, and the annual premium is about 30 per cent, less than that on other small cars.
The Citroën Company operates an ingenious engine exchange scheme, whereby the owner gets a new unit immediately and pays only for the cost of restoring his original engine.
Citroën experimented with a 425-c.c. version for the van but abandoned it when Frenchmen threatened to use these cylinders in their cars, which would spoil the whole object of the 2 c.v.
Here it is then — an astonishingly smooth-sprung, reliable, 60-m.p.g., 40-m.p.h., open/closed four-seater with comfortable seats, plenty of room, and no water to freeze in its engine. It holds the road well; is an excellent performer under “trials conditions.”
[Editorial note: British designers and manufacturers, please copy, if you can!]