(first posted 11/21/2011) One learns something new everyday, like the Citroen Bijou. Someone at Citroen’s factory in England had the brilliant idea to prettify the ugly duckling 2CV, and hired Peter Kirwin-Taylor, who previously designed the handsome Lotus Elite, to come up with a hardtop coupe body.And just how slow was it?
Since it was made out fiberglass, it was heavier than the 2CV’s steel body, hence also slower accelerating, if that was possible. The Motor magazine tested its top speed at 44.7 mph (it was still using the original 2CV 425cc 12hp motor). ) Zero to 40 mph came in at 41.7 seconds. Only 207 Bijous were built between 1959 and 1964, and given the fiberglass body’s rust-resistance, an unusually large percentage of them seem to still exist. I just couldn’t resist sharing that with you; it seemed rather important at the time.
And there was apparently a convertible version too. Looks better, especially from this angle.
So it’s slower than a regular 2CV? Kind of defeats the purpose of a sporty model. At least it looks good!
I think my riding mower is faster.
Attractive body, but as the previous poster noted, what’s the point if you’re building on a 2CV?
Awwwwwwwwww but come on guys, it’s a hardtop! 😛
Bingo. World’s slowest hardtop?
There probably aren’t too many options to increase the power either are there? OH but wait it’s FWD isn’t it? Impala SS/Pontiac GXP/Buick Lacrosse Super 5.3V8 transplant FTW!
There are. Even the little Citroen twin can be coaxed to probably 40 or 50 hp. The next step would be the Citroen flat four from the GS. After that, it gets interesting. Purists might not be thrilled with your suggestion, and it might be just a tad front-heavy. How about a Subaru WRX?STI engine-transmission? Would fit better, and 300 hp is easy.
BMW Motorcycle engines are a popular swap into 2CVs for racing one would fit in this.
Slow??? Who cares, indeed? It’s a hardtop! I’m all over this like a cheap suit.
BTW, did, or how far did that rear glass roll down?
I’m 99% certain it didn’t. Heresy! So is it still a hardtop?
“So is it still a hardtop?”
Nope. I compare it to the 1970’s Dusters and Darts: Pop-open windows, even with no B pillar does NOT qualify it as a hardtop – in the sense of a Pillarless hardtop which infers that the back windows roll down.
In my book, no. But in general, it’s a good-looking car just the same, so I give them a pass on this, but I’ve seen fewer European cars more beautiful than that Panhard coupe you featured some months ago with the beautiful lady next to it.
I love this stuff, as it is an education in itself, for I never knew cars like this existed! Thank you for “CC”!
LAST-MINUTE EDIT: If one could remove those rear windows – then you’d be on to something! Why no weather seal between the side glass?
“Why no weather seal between the side glass?”
To make it look more like a hardtop? Or because it was cheaper. With a top speed of 44.7 mph, sealing against the wind wasn’t much of an issue, I guess. Actually, you’ll see the same approach on quite a few Brit cars. It’s a bit hard to see on this one, but they did the same thing.
Also, some coachwork hardtops (I believe the one I saw was a Bugatti) from the 1920s and 1930s used this style (fixed rear windows with no seal), simply because at the time the modern “hardtop” hadn’t been invented yet (there weren’t even any convertibles on the market with roll down rear windows). I agree that these more modern examples were probably done for cost reasons, though.
paul, looks like your image got photo-bombed by a ’57 Mercury ….
Regarding the Sunbeam Talbot I was among some recently including a mint unrestored 50 model there was a seal between the rear window panes when they were built the one I checked out still had them
I still fail to see how glass has anything to do with “hardtopness”. A true hardtop does not have a B-pillar. It could have lowering glass, fixed glass, or no glass at all. What else needs to be said?
This is no turkey, it’s a little jewel! How do you find these things? Charming!
– The car was originally designed to take the company’s 602 cc engine.
– It cost more than an Austin Mini, so nobody bought them.
– As of 2008, 140 are on the 2CVGB club register.
Massively more photos and info at Citroenet:
Here is the original concept art from that site. A cute town car for the little missus and the munchkins. Now she’s driving a Suburban.
Nice EV conversion fodder?
Indeed, that crossed my mind!
For example: http://www.evalbum.com/2703
Wow…44mph top speed, a car almost impossible to get a speeding ticket with.
Don’t forget the .7!
I can remember reading the Road Test and thinking how pretty it was, but I never actually saw one, even though I lived in London. It was really too crude inside to appeal to Brits , and in 1959 the Mini was already “cool”. The 2CV didn’t become “cool” until the hippy era. I remember leaning on a 2CV at the London Motor Show once, and I had to bend the panel straight again before anyone saw it. At least the Bijou was more rigid than the 2CV.
Yeah, that kinda floored me – a fiberglass body that heavier than the original steel one.
Why doesn’t the Smart car look like that?
Both the front and rear bumpers appear to be attached directly to the fiberglass body. Even a minor parking shunt can crack the fiberglass. I would have rather gotten the 2CV.
Never heard of these before, but I still prefer the standard 2CV.
The 2CV is also used as a donor vehicle for the Lomax and Burton kit cars. “Over 180 km/h top speed” for the best tuned examples, according to Burton’s website. Here’s one I got from Burton’s website:
Useless fact of the day: the windscreen on these is actually the rear screen from a Citroen DS Safari.
Not correct. Have a look at the shape of the returns; they don’t match the Bijou. Rumour addressed here.
I stand corrected. Every day’s a schoolday!
C’etait un canard…
According to the book “The Citroen 2CV and Derivatives” by James Taylor the Bijou uses the DS steering wheel and inside door handles. Also, to quote the book “It is even said that the Bijou’s front side windows were those of the DS’s rear doors.” It does not look that likely to me based on the shape of the Bijou window in the photos, but possibly if you switched sides.
I like the look of these. Never seen the convertible; that is delicious.
Did a quick search. I don’t think the convertible is factory, nor those rear lights it’s sporting. Nice job, whether coachbuilder-modified or homebaked.
Is it just me, or is there more than a hint of DS Decoptable in the rear end of the convertible?
And does anyone recognize where the tail lights came from? Its bugging me……
They remind me of BMW 2002 tail lights without any trim around them.
Wow.. talk about the frog turning into a (albeit slow) Prince! Did these still have mechanical brakes?
Citroen, being the master of hydraulics, had hydraulic brakes on the 2CV from the start, including inboard drums on the front to reduce unstrung weight.
sorry, typo “unsprung” not “unstrung”
A more literal version of the suction-cupped “Baby on Board” warning device.
A KG is heavier than a Beetle too. KG is slightly faster on level ground because of aero.
The 2CV is also the base for many other conversions, often evoking the pre-war 3 wheeler style.
This Lomax is probably the most common
Can this car be driven on a highway?
I find myself wondering how a BMW motorcycle engine transplant would work. The later Airheads are up around 1000CC and were successfully turbocharged.
For that matter Car magazine did a 2CV turbo in the 80s and got useful power and torque, although version 1 self-immolated when the hot turbo ignited the original cardboard heater duct. Version 2 had better heat shielding and worked very well.
What a lovely little car. Silk purse from a sow’s ear. Just give it a real engine, and a less spartan interior…sigh. Projects!
I served my time on Citroen many years ago and worked on a number of bijou’s. I and a friend set about replacing the chassis, engine- gearbox and the braking system on a Bijou. We obtained an old AMI6 and promptly lifted the fiber glass body off and placed it onto the AMI chassis. We replaced the Clutch,Brake and accelerator unit from the AMI into the Bijou, a bit of a challenge but we achieved it. following an MOT at one of our centers here in Belfast the car ran for many years, even getting a tow-bar fitted to pull a trailer. i have a couple of photos somewhere. What we would have loved to do was to fit the GS flat four engine onto the Bijou. At the time the AMI Super had been kitted out with the GS engine. Now that would have raised some eyebrows at the traffic lights as the Bijou scorched off!!! Loved reading the comments.
My mum drove a Ami Super .It would blow away MG Midgets at the traffic lights. Brought from a used car dealer out in the wilds of Leicestershire. for next to nothing because they were unloved ,when only 4 years old. Unlike the 602 the 1100 4cyl was a real shoe horn job. Dad had to remove front wheels and bend and extend a spark plug spanner to change the plugs.
The rear fenders bolted on a lip wich rusted away….
Mum hung up her driving gloves so we passed our friend..Ami on to an relative . After a year or so of reliable service to and throw from his work he was a wakened by a crashing . Yobs had rocked the car untill it fell on its side!. By by mon Ami!.
0 to 40 in 41.7 seconds? I guess there’s no point to inquiring as to the 0 to 60 time?
With a top speed of 44.7mph the answer would be infinity.
You’d have to drive off a cliff.
0-60-0 in less than 2 seconds. Eat me, Tesla.
You would have needed a Grandfather clock not a stop.watch.
Set your watch then go for a beer n burger then come back ….
The idea was a slick city car not a dragster but there was the Mini….
I was looking at a photo of the back seat from a review in Motor and I don’t see any window winder, so I don’t think the rear windows go down. As the owner of a standard 2CV I am actually surprised to find out that the front windows do wind down and don’t flip up. Pretty luxurious!
There is one Bijou in Ontario, but I have not seen it in many years.
I remember another 2CV coupe – the UMAP. I was born and spent my childhood not too far from where those cars were assembled . Same 425cc engine as the Bijou, and probably a similar level of performance. 50ish were made.
That is a great looking little car!
The Bijou may have been accepted as a slow coupe, but the problem was it was also an expensive slow coupe. I’m not sure if the price I have for one in 1959 includes British purchase tax or not, which was a substantial portion of any vehicle purchase. All the magazine prices that break down the tax portion of purchase price seem to vary in terms of percentage, so I don’t know if it varied by displacement and country of origin, or some other scheme.
The Bijou’s 1959 price was about the same as a 1961 Austin Seven Cooper’s including the purchase tax. The mini was about twice as fast and similarly accommodating. There were many far cheaper cars at the time which were somewhere between the Bijou and the mini Cooper in performance. If the price I found for the British fiberglass Citroen doesn’t include purchase tax, that would have made the Bijou more expensive than a 1959 MGA 1600.
The Renault 4 was cheaper, more accommodating, and had a top speed of 54 miles per hour. They were still in production in the ’80s. Maybe the US car market wasn’t so bad.
Remember when British car prices did not include seatbelts even when they were a legal requirement , right up into the late seventies.?.
Oh the dreaded Purchase and Car tax.