A two horse tale...
Reading the 50th Anniversary issue of the Citroenian, the Citroen’s CC excellent magazine, reminded me of the great French make’s history and my association with some of these cars, which were in production until only a couple of years ago. On MOTOR SPORT’s road test of the 375cc Deux Chevaux in 1954 I took it over the two routes of the 1924 RAC Small Car Trial, which it did at 56.3mpg. Going to the cinema one evening we had a bit of bother restarting on damp plugs, but before going to bed I read the instruction book – there was a little blind we should have clipped on the front, to keep the rain out. From that moment I was in love with the 2CV.
Then, returning one evening from Silverstone in a Jowett Jupiter, we saw a broken-down 2CV, and as one did then, stopped to help. The driver said if he could get to Slough he could obtain a new coil. So off we went and at the gates he said “blow the horn”. The gates opened, he went in, and returned with a new coil. Back at his car, in which his wife was waiting to go to a dance, he removed the duff one with a lead at each end, threw it over a hedge, fitted the more conventional replacement and drove off I later discovered he was the top engineer at Slough. Road test cars were expedited by this episode DS19, ID19, Ami 6, several DS21 s, Dyane 6, Visa Club, and CX 2400GT1, apart from a number of 2CVs.
I recall a boring fuel consumption test in 1956 up and down Bwlch-y-Groes innumerable times in another willing 2CV and, much more exciting, being driven by Bernard Cahier from his house high in the Cote d’Azur down the hairpinned Lower Corniche in his 2CV, the wheel rims scraping the road on the corners as he tried to frighten me. I remember we wanted to photograph the road test 2CV beside two horses, but had to settle for one downcast nag pulling a scruffy cart.
The first one I drove, before the 425cc model, gave over 60mpg on flattish terrain, and in an economy run, coasting allowed, another came second at 83.7mpg, after I had persuaded co-driver Holly Birkett not to drive as if in a GP, by telling him if we won I would divide the cash prize with him! The Citroen Club has over 400 members who still run these little cars. It makes me almost want to go out and buy myself a two-pot.