Blank Canvas: 1955 Citroen 2CV

1955 Citroen 2CV

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The Citroen 2CV has long been a fascination of mine. Next door to my grandmother was a Lebanese family that owned a red one for many, many years. The car resided in the basement of the home in the winter, protecting its vintage body panels from the salt and road grime that plagued upstate New York in the winter. Then, like the arrival of the Easter Bunny, the car would return to its spot along the curb each spring, happily trucking about town. To say this 2CV for sale here on craigslist in California conjured up a few memories would be an understatement, and thanks to Barn Finds reader Paul G for sending it in.

1955 Citroen 2CV Interior

As far as vehicle histories go, the one belonging to the 2CV is nothing short of fascinating. Dreamed up as the TPV (Toute Petite Voiture or “tiny little car”), the 2CV was the brainchild of Citroën group’s Pierre-Jules Boulanger, who was tasked with designing a small, affordable car for the masses. The requirements for making one of the most dependable cars ever built explicitly reflected the vehicle’s target market. It had to have the ability to carry cargo, most likely farming byproducts; required a clever suspension that could traverse rough terrain while keeping said cargo intact; and to do it all with extreme fuel efficiency.

1955 Citroen 2CV Engine

The car featured for sale here is even more bare-bones than the original design, lacking its interior, headlights, tail lights, canvas roof and other untold other bits and pieces. Fortunately, the 2CV was one of the most popular vehicles ever sold in Europe and parts suppliers like FPS West exist stateside should you decide to restore this one. In fact, when it was first sold, the wait time for the vehicle was extensive and used models sold for a premium over new simply because you could get them sooner. WWII ravaged resources in France, making transportation options limited and the release of an extremely affordable runabout years later serendipitous for Citroën.

Citroen 2CV Project

While the seller is not exactly generous on the details, the beauty of a project like this lies in its simplicity. Although Citroën would go on to introduce different versions of the vehicle with the likes of the Sahara and Fourgonnette van, the 2CV remained the quirky, simple and utilitarian vehicle it was designed to be. I’ve long been a fan of the Sahara version, but I wouldn’t turn away a more complete 2CV project to rekindle those memories of summertime at my grandmother’s house. Do we have any readers that are fans of France’s Beetle? Let us know if you’d tackle the restoration of this original “tiny little car” in the comments below.

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  1. DolphinMember

    The seller has already moved the price down from $1800 in the description to $1600 in the title, so I guess he has revised his thinking about how much it’s worth in California. The thing is, I’ll bet this California Deux Chevaux would sell for much more in a heartbeat in……France!

    If I were the seller I would clean the carb and get it running, and also make sure the clutch and gearbox work so it can be driven at least short distances, like onto and off a car hauler and into and out of a container. Then I would list it on a French car website and also the French ebay site, making sure to first research shipping to an East coast port and include that info in the listing.

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    • Jeff LaveryAuthor

      Solid advice, Dolphin. I’ve found going the extra mile on figuring out shipping options for overseas customers is a huge advantage when selling on eBay.

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  2. Andrew Minney

    If the hubcaps are original it’s a2CV AZL luxury model. A pulsing 425cc motor and great fun to drive.
    I have had several! The speedo is on the a-pillar and the wipers go from the transmission. The faster you go etc etc. and adipose stick fuel measure. You stick it in the tank and the fuel shows on the stick.
    Even better with a trafficlutch. Stick it in gear foot of clutch and if rpm below 1000 won’t go. Kick the gas pedal and she goes. Once you know so easy to work on but parts may be expensive or hard to get in California or US.


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  3. jean Lecointe

    I own a 1957 2CV in France,
    Dolphin is quite right about the value ot a 2CV in Europe.
    Anay part is available through several suppliers at prices which have to be compared.
    The mechanic on these early 2CV is very simple and easy to repair, maintain or rebuild.
    Driving a 2CV is an extroardinary experience.
    The engine is so weak that you have to build a modest behaviour with the other users of the road and accept to be overtaken by trucks and any other ordinary cars.
    Despite the low power, a 2CV is driven with the right foot on the floor, Shfting gears all the time to keep the momentum as high as possible.
    I wish all the Barn Finds members a very happy 2015 year and may all of you have the opportunity to drive a CV.

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  4. rancho bella

    Indeed it belongs back home. I cannot believe it hasn’t rotted away.
    The cool factor out weighs the lack of power.

    Dang……a ’55…….who da thunk

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  5. MikeH

    These are wonderful little cars. The engineering is absolutely amazing. This is a rare, especially in the US, ripple bonnet [48-60] with the 425cc engine. Citroen made nearly 9 milIion 2CVs and variants. I have a ’56 in a beginning restoration. When the body was removed, the frame collapsed from rust. Not a big deal as I was planning to replace the frame anyway. Practically every part is reproduced so restoration is easy. It’s a good thing because there is lots wrong and missing on this car. I’m having a blast.

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  6. jim s

    when i go to car spotting sites for europe i still see these on the road. but i also see many just unused and rusting away. they do show up at Imports at Carlisle. great find

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  7. John A

    Shades of American Graffiti!

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  8. Christian

    This 2CV is not just a fantastic and rare find considering it’s in the USA but it’s a fantastic find worldwide as i appear to be a Belgian built one !!!
    Please consider rear trapezoidal window and boot/trunk.

    See for more information about Belgian 2CVs.

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    • Jeff LaveryAuthor

      Christian, thanks – this is an important point when considering this car as a buy. Appreciate the info.

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      • Christian

        You’re welcome Jeff. Have you bought it ? I’d like to know its whereabouts …

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  9. Rex Kahrs Rex KahrsMember

    I actually saw one of these on the Autobahn on the way up to Hamburg last year. I was doing a mere 115mph which felt like 150 as I blew by the guy. Until a Benz blew by me actually going 150. Both guys were insane.

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  10. socal Joe

    Rez; funny how anyone going slower or faster on the Autobahn is insane: it’s the same here in the U.S.

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  11. Frank BarrettMember

    The 2CVs to have are the ones with the “big-block” 602cc engines (28hp); the switch was made sometime in the 1970s, I think. My ’86 will do 75 mph (on flat roads!) at 5,000-ft altitude. You can buy decent ones for $10-15,000, so the cost of restoring this one is more justified by its rarity than by its driving capabilties.

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  12. cliffyc

    The original design brief called for,amongst others,the ability to be driven across a plowed field without breaking a basket of eggs…. . There is a company here in the UK in Bradford Yorkshire,that buys 2CV cars scrap for £300 and restores them to resell at up to £11,000. Tres bon!!

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