It all started several years ago. I was 14-years-old and regularly found myself browsing eBay dreaming of bidding on my first car. One day, in our little town, an old 2CV popped up for auction.
A Citroën 2CV in its natural habitat
I’ll be honest. It was knackered. You could see that from the photos – it was as rusty as, well, an unloved 1980s 2CV. With my rose tinted specs on I convinced myself that, although I was hopeless at mechanical stuff (and still am) and certainly couldn’t weld, a 2CV would be easy to work on. I also convinced myself that it was “cool” – it would stand out from all the Corsas my mates would inevitably buy and therefore young ladies would flock in my direction.
To cut a long story short, I somehow convinced my parents to put a bid in (“it’s slow and therefore safe and here, have some more wine”), but it sold to some rich sole for £420 – a whole £20 more than I’d persuaded them to stump up.
Ever since then I’ve had a bit of a thing of the old tin snail. Numerous holidays in France have seen me wasting time in the Super-U looking through their vast selection of 2CV magazines. But the simple fact that so many of these dedicated publications exist show that even in France, 2CVs are owned by enthusiasts. You rarely see one being worked hard and in fact, the archetypal mode of transport for an elderly Frenchman who couldn’t give a toss is probably a Renault 4 or a Peugeot 205 diesel.
Andy dreams of French tin ownership
I have a habit on French holidays of finding a car museum. If you do the same, I guarantee that the museum you find will have a 2CV. Even in the Musée Automobile de La Sarthe in Le Mans, next to all the ex-24 hour race cars, is a knackered old 2CV that has travelled around the world.
An honest 2CV at the Musée Automobile
The French are proud of the 2CV, just like we are of the Mini. Both are, to be honest, a little bit crap (apologies to our editor here – I’m sure you’ll have heard that he’s just bought a Mini), but this crapness adds character. And character is what makes the retro and classic cars appeal to people like us.
I have a feeling that it’s a case of “never meet your hero”, which is why the closest I’ll come to owning the real deal is the numerous die-cast 2CVs I’ve acquired over the years. But maybe, one day, I’ll be brave and you’ll spot me driving through the Shropshire countryside in a 2CV with a massive grin on my face.