Compact, passenger-car based utility/passenger vans have become a significant segment of the European market. They do double duty by working as compact trucks/cargo vans, as well as hauling families in the passenger versions. The Renault Kangoo really helped explode the market segment a couple of decades ago, and a representative finally arrived in the U.S. as the Ford TC. And this is the grand daddy of them all: the Citroën 2CV “Fourgonnette”. It immediately filled an important niche when it arrived in 1951, two years after the 2CV sedan (CC here). And beginning in 1968, used ones became the hippie-mobile of choice, the European alternative to the VW bus. The cool thing to do back then was to buy one of these and then traverse North Africa in it.
There was just barely enough room in the back to crash there (and carry the essentials needed for such a journey, although the extra gas cans and spare tires usually rode in an overloaded roof carrier).
That Guy 1960 shot this one in Washington, far from home–but I suspect its world-wandering days are probably over.
“the European alternative to the VW bus”
It took me a second to get it the way you meant it, how the hippie bus has become an almost American icon, and Europeans preferred the Citroen over there, but not before I thought “Wait, where are VW’s from???”
The VW was the hippie bus out here but VWs die easily and regularly and at 2k a time engines most just abandonned them as an engine might only last 12 months. The 2CV is certainly no worse than a VW even if it was slower
I think the VW was the hippie bus everywhere. I think it even came with roach clip holders just like the new Beetles come with flower vases… 😉
There is a fella in a neighborhood in Charlotte that does a small but steady business of nothing but ancient VW stuff.
I don’t know this guy so the post is not an endorsement or advertisement, mainly for conversation. The reason why I found him was because he occupys the space behind a large quanset hut style building that is a radiator shop that I frequent. I periodically make a point to circle the block to see what is parked outside although I have never stopped to look or talk.
There is a Pinky’s Westside Grille in Charlotte that occupies the space of a converted VW dealership. After the dealership moved the Gorth brothers moved in and set up a similar vintage VW service for many years until closing in 2009. Then it became Pinky’s restaurant but still retains (by special permit) the VW Beetle that has been on the roof of the building for over 30 years.
Bryce is, as usual, correct, but there is a real masochistic need for VW bus owners to empty their pockets/max their plastic (if they have any) on a regular basis. It’s part of the whole schtick.
A seat of nails is good to remind you of what will inevitability happen very soon.
If one wants to talk about car-themed restarunts with a car as a sign, one mustn’t forget Studebaker’s of Sault Ste. Marie, MI (located in da yoopee).
Maybe it’s me, but CC’s coming out of the Great Northwest seem to be getting more and more, shall we say, eclectic.
Maybe it just seems that way since there have been an awful lot of Broughamy cars from the Midwest here lately. I’m trying hard to keep things from tilting too much that direction, but it sometimes feels like a loosing battle 🙂
Please, more eclectic. NO MORE ******* BROUGHAMS!!!!!!!!!
I can see this point but still, please let’s not discard them all. Asks this avid CC reader from Europe with a serious case of fondness for Broughamy behemoths with too much chrome and abysmal mileage (that’s what growing up in a world of Citroen Ami 6s does to your brain).
From a European perspective at least the Broughams* are all part of the eclecticism we all love CC for… but I have to +1 to Syke’s cry of no more – there’s been a deluge lately and they all start to blend together after a while so that even us interested overseas types begin to develop fatigue… bee-lining for articles like this
Variety is the spice of CC.
* Incidentially, that strange word is pronounced “broom” right? I’ve tried looking it up a few times to make sure I’m reading it right but I’m still unsure.
Brougham rhymes with foam or home. I knew a guy in the early 70s who pronounced it to rhyme with broom, but everyone laughed at him.
M-W dictionary begs to differ, Jim. It does list the other alternative. Is this a regionalism or just random?
And thefreedictionary.com gives the same pronunciation as jp, with the M-W version specifically called out as British.
I owned a 56 vw bus for too short a period to really talk about. But the one I had that filled this niche was an 81 Datsun pickup with an aluminum shell. It really became functional when I put the side “windoors” in it. It was so functional I had to put overloads on it and went through front brake pads like you wouldn’t believe. That and the 4 door impala wagon (I know – not small) were my favorite work/play vehicles.
There were plenty of 2CV cars but the van was a rare sight on UK roads during the 60s/70s compared to the VW bus.I should imagine it will go down well with the whole meal lentil sandwich crowd!
I snapped this two weeks ago in Naples, FL at the Italian show. According to the driver provided window talker it was a 1975 model making it a later car. I have only seen these at car shows in the US, never playing in traffic.
I cannot imagine that being used for anything other than commercial purposes.
There is a guy down here that a 2CV and a DS that he takes to local shows, I imagine he stays off the highways in the 2CV.
The 602cc 2CVs (pretty much all that are used as drivers) will roll along at 70-75 mph, about the same as a VW 1200 Beetle.
Thats flat out though, 75mph is crusing speed on a Miami highway, plus people passing you at 80-90, you can do it, but its scary. I have never had something with such little hp, the fear is that there is no reserve power when you need it.
I understand. Most of us are spoiledby powerful modern cars. But the millions that drove 40hp Beetles back when the speed limits were 75-80 managed. And older trucks were even more underpowered.
I assume the big semis down there all drive at 65, like they do most places. That’s what the right lane is for; slower vehicles.
I drove a 40hp Beetle around I-285 in Atlanta for six years. Stayed in the right lane 98% of the time, but other than the occasional jerk weaving and and out of traffic who would run right up on my bumper (which happens regardless what you drive), it wasn’t an issue.
I’ve been more nervous delivering hay with my old ’69 F-100 loaded with 40 bales in the bed and 150 on the rack – max speed about 25mph, on county highways that see a lot of semi traffic.
I drove my 40 hp ’63 VW flat out at 65 on I-5 every weekend to get my girlfriend. Kept up with Boston traffic too. That was a good education in how to keep the speed up and avoid getting in anyone’s way.
There was an ’80s 2CV Charleston used as an everyday-driver near me for a number of years. It possibly still is – I just haven’t been through that part of town for a while. I’ve seen the odd one on the open road over the last year too – Kiwi 2CV drivers are a fearless bunch!
I spotted the 2CV in the rather artsy Fremont neighborhood, home of the troll-eating-a-Volkswagen sculpture. You do see some unusual cars in that part of the town! This particular car apparently is owned by a dog lover, since the bumper sticker says “I Love Corgis.”
Hmmm …. I’d argue that the Transit Connect is less car-based than the 2CV van or even the Kangoo (preceded by the R4 van). It’s really just the successor to the English Ford Thames vans sold in the US in the ’50’s, and mostly turned into drag racers or customs. I don’t know what powerplant was used in the later 2CV’s that were imported to the US in the last 10-20 years, but I encountered one crossing the pass between San Jose and Santa Cruz California on Hwy 17 last year and it was holding the 50 mph speed limit on one of the steeper grades.
The TC sits on the C170 platform, also used by the Focus. The sheet metal is different, but that can be deceiving. It replaced the older Escort/Fiesta-based Courier. The Thames had a totally unique truck chassis.
Confusingly Ford UK used the “Thames” or “Thames Trader” brand for almost every commercial vehicle they produced (including several which *were* car-based models) until the introduction of the Mk1 Transit in the mid 60s.
Paul’s dead on as usual – the Connect is very much car based, as have been most small vans over here for decades.
In the mid-70s one could see quite a few 2CV fourgonettes making the crossing from Spain to Morocco, but more commodious were converted VW vans from Dutch Telcom whic were quite prevalent. On the day we went from Algeciras to Ceuta, there was even a couple driving a converted Fiat 127.
You probably saw one of these: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiat_Fiorino
I love the Deux-Chevaux, and especially this variant. I have vague memories as a small boy of riding in the back of my Dad’s Hillman Husky (the Minx-based Series), which appears to be of similar size (photo not of Dad’s Husky).
Of course, as I wrote in one of my first pieces for CC, my ’71 VW bus served a similar purpose to these – it got used as a truck, but also for the occasional camping trip with my then-young sons.
Nice lil Husky Ed I had a Commer Cob badged version many moons back rare as now
Many years ago I came across a gaggle of 2CVs at the cheese factory in West Marin. Can’t remember the last time I saw one on the road though. And with their current pricing it’s not really feasible to use one as a light work truck.
This one looks look a 1963-1967 model. The “50” number on the original license plates suggests the car comes from Normandy. You don’t find many of them in this condition anymore. Plus, it has the rare triple side windows. Standard Fourgonnettes were made either as panel vans or with only one small side window. I’m not sure triple side window were factory options, gotta check, but some dealers offered them. This is a very nice find really.
I’ve also been advised (by someone who saw the photos on Flickr) that the number plate would date the car to 1963. Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to talk to the owner of that Fourgonnette some time soon; I bet there’s a very good story behind how this 2CV made its way from Normandy to Seattle.
Here’s the 2CV Fourgonette I hitched a ride in from Kathmandu, Nepal, to Varanasi, India, in 1977. The owner was a tall Dutch fellow. The two of us were able to sleep in the back (although we would have slept better were it not for the mosquitoes). The owner had driven from the Netherlands to Nepal. I don’t know if he made it back. He added a skid plate, air horn and other protective devices.
Great car! Very practical, easy to maintain( air-cooled, gear-driven camshaft ), low fuel consumption ( 4.5 – 6 l/ 100km), great off-road! And they are in demand today, so much so that , for example, you can buy completely new galvanized chassis for around 800 euros, new engine (in different states of tune:) ), very specific system for LPG conversion, even components for 4×4 drive 🙂
Also, well-restored examples can fetch 5000-9000 euros, depending on the rarity of the model…so, if you can buy that one, do it!
By the way, Paul, I was supposed to write a story about my Yugo and Lancia Fulvia….haven’t forgotten it! Fulvia story will be done in a week and Yugo’s may take a little longer, as I have to dig up my old photos 🙂
Fun to see that the license plate is still the (probably) original french one !
I find it cool too. I’m taking a wild guess here, but I’m pretty sure these license plates have been on this car since day one or almost. The first number (“567”) is just a 3-digit instead of a 4-digit one. Plus, the “FZ” combination of letters in the middle isn’t even halfway through the alphabet. So these license plates are definitely old. Or very good imitations, but somehow the idea of ordering fake old license plates doesn’t fit in with the quest for authenticity I tend to associate with a car like this (hell, this one even sports the good old grille cover!).
I have a question. How do you change the tires? The rim does not have a hole in the middle. I worked in a couple tire dealerships and the machines we used require a hole in the middle so you can lock it down. Do the 2CV rims require special machinery?
Most of the tire shops around here use a tire-dismounting machine that clamps a rim from the bottom (three strong clamps), so there is no problem changing a tire.
However, balancing a rim with new tire does require a central hole, so for 2CV (and quite few more old Citroens, Renaults and Peugeots).
I reckon there has to be some kind of adapter with required central hole, that bolts to rim.
This was sold on BaT last November. It was still in the Seattle area. The windows are evidently a rather rare GlacAuto conversion.