Lane Motor Museum Basement Outtake: Citroen 2CV Sahara – 4×4, Thanks To Two Engines

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I haven’t figured out yet how to share the hundreds of cars we saw at the Lane Motor Museum. But at this late hour, I’m just going to share one random car. But it’s a pretty rare one, as only 694 Saharas were ever built and only 27 are known to exist. What makes them so special? In order to turn the 2CV into a genuine Sahara-dominator, Citroen fitted a second complete drive train in the rear. This was back in 1961, when a 2CV engine had 425 cc and 12 hp. So doubling that makes for a combined 850cc and 24 hp! And if one engine were to crap out (not likely, given its rep for being highly durable), there was always a spare on hand.  As well as a spare tire on the hood, since its former resting place is now occupied by the rear engine.

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There’s a number of 2CVs at Lane, but seeing that spare on the hood from some distance caught my eye. And as I got closer, the hood ornament did too. Except to be really representative, it needs four horses (2CV = 2 taxable horsepower, based on displacement, for tax purposes).

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Yes, the Sahara was well named, and one of the advantages of its double drive train was that there was no need for any sort of central differential, since each engine and transmission worked essentially independently. If the front one starts losing traction and encounters wheel slip, the rear one is still chugging away. The controls operated both engines and transmissions simultaneously, or just one.

The regular 2 CV’s umbrella-handle dashboard shifter had to be ditched for a floor-mounted one that was coupled to both transmissions.  Not surprisingly, performance with only one of the engines was modest, with a top speed of 65 km/h (40 mph). But with both of the little 425 cc boxers  at work, the Sahara’s top speed was raised to a blistering 65 mph. And was unstoppable.

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I didn’t get a chance to shoot the rear engine, but I have this shot from the web in my files.

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The gas tank had to be relocated too, which explains why there are fillers in each front door. presumably there’s two tanks under the front seats. One for each engine?