A drive in the past - Citroen 2CV not TARDIS

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Bassetts
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Joined: 2013-05-17

My initial opinion on getting in the 2CV was 'WOW!' as the
suspension adjusted to take my weight. If you thought a classic Range Rover is
lightly sprung think on. Simply putting one foot in the foot-well is like
standing on a "silent night" mattress and when you settle in the seat
the 2CV settles down and then down a little more prior to eventually achieving
its equipoise point, just where you imagine you really must be practically
sitting on the ground. These feelings are not helped by the fact that the body
is really high; the windshield is really slim and incredibly high also, so you
are certainly sitting IN the 2CV. The seats do their own little bit also; being
really wide and exceedingly heavily sprung so you slump right into them like an
overused sofa.

 

My next impression was of the interior, or rather the lack
of interior. Seriously, by the principles of older budget cars the Citroen 2CV
is not generous with equipment. The 2CV instrument panel is a fragile layer of
metal riveted to the bulk-head with a speedo and a handful of switches from the
Citroen GS.

 

The throttle is concealed beneath its parcel shelf, merely
detectable in the driver's position when out. When I turned the ignition key a
sound similar to a waste disposal unit secretes from beneath the bonnet.

 

The 2CV engine requires a touch of churning-up on the
starter before each of the two cylinders kick in. The engine itself trembles,
screeches, whizzes and pops like my favourite breakfast cereal at idle. It
installs a roar of fan racket when you start to speed up.

 

Needless to say everyone is aware that the Citroen 2CV
possess a gear stick protruding from under the dashboard instead of the base
with an unusual rotate and pull switch style. Like all sporty time-machines,
its 1st gear is selected left then back, where 2nd is on traditional cars.

 

The "Tin-Shed" is appropriately named. Its 600cc
engine delivers a top-end of 28 horse-power and even as light as the 2CV is,
it's going nowhere fast. 0 to 60 in 30 secs and a top speed of around 70 MPH.
The engine does not feature a power-band intrinsically; it simply sits beneath
the bonnet to turn the wheels. The accelerator is basically irrelevant in
defining how quickly you will go, assuming you are in the correct gear, which
you basically need to be.

 

The 2CV sports 4 gears, comparable to other cars in the time
period. 1st gear is especially low, but ratios of each of the gears are evenly
and broadly spread. There exists a red-line for every gear labelled on the
speedometer and this certainly is the spot that you rev up the engine to make
reasonable progress. There is also little point shifting up in gears until you
have maxed the previous one as you will merely crunch to a stop. Actually being
linked by rods immediately into the gearbox means it’s easy to feel the synchro
performing while you change as there is very little slack. The other oddity is
the 'jerk of my wrist' necessary to move from 3rd in to 4th, due to the fact it
is very simple to select 2nd instead, that definitely will result in 2CV
flipping on end.

 

To explain the Citroen 2CVs suspension system thoroughly
could take a long time. The bouncing is laughably cushy and its travel incredibly
long. The eradication of un-sprung weight translates to the wheels following
every contour without ever challenging the limitations of the suspension. Its
dampers were developed to control the billow and surge while not restricting
spring, and this is what gives the Citroen 2CV its unique gait. The ride
improves the quicker you go, therefore speed-bumps are to be enjoyed instead of
feared.

 

The front heavy design result in the overpowering sense of
under-steer. Basically if you can hold on to the 2CVs steering-wheel it will go
round just about any corner.

 

Basic drive-ability is exactly, as the above indicates, the
2CV is remarkably good for a vehicle so miserably under-powered and plain. The
intrinsic comfort level of its suspension and seats, together with the
unusually exceptional mechanical accomplishment means that the 2CV is
effortless to drive longer distances. The restricting aspect is the very small
fuel tank that means even with the significant MPG the Citroen 2CV may confine
your distance to around two hundred miles. You will find it effortless for
driving around town with exceptional field of vision and an excellent
turning-circle. Its unique removable set of seats does mean that you can put
numerous things in the back.

 

It's difficult to highly recommend a Citroen 2CV today as
the perfect car for everybody; however it's undeniably a personal experience
that everybody who loves cars really should try once.

 

I’m a car enthusiast with a passion for old, new, fast and
slow! Whether it’s private, commercial, car, buggy or van? If it comes on four
wheels it rocks! I currently work for The Bassetts Group – Citroen Commercial vehicles and love
the regular opportunities I have to drive both old and new!

roderik
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Joined: 2011-09-28

Great article. Only, the switches it didn't got that from the GS but the other way around. The "Ugly Duck" (Dutch!) was what the beetle was for Volkswagen. Cheers Alfred