Dusty 1980 Citroen 2CV Charleston

How can you not admire the Citroën 2CV, a/k/a “Deux Chevaux” or “two horses”? Like the Volkswagen Beetle, it was a bare-bones pre-war design that somehow made it through the conflict to enjoy a long global life. They were both “people’s cars”. This is a very late model 2CV and a deluxe Charleston edition with snazzy two-tone black and red paint. It’s here on Facebook Marketplace, with a $14,000 price tag. The photos are “as found” in an upstate New York garage. The owner is in Germany, and the car needs to go. It reportedly would have no trouble running and driving with a charged battery and maybe some starter fluid. And from what can be seen, it looks remarkably good. Nothing appears to be missing. “With a few cosmetics, the car is a real keeper,” the seller states.

My guess is that this Citroën could be easily revived, and would shine up nicely. Everything you can see (not including the tiny engine) looks good, just dirty. The vendor tells Barn Finds that the car has been sitting for about five years, and was imported to the U.S. several years before that. It was registered and on the road in New York. “I had the car running last weekend, but the fuel is bad in it,” he said. Draining, cleaning, and maybe replacing the tank is job one.

The genesis of this car is fascinating. The initial idea, championed by Engineering and Design head Pierre-Jules Boulanger (later the company’s president) in 1936, was to give farmers something better than a horse and cart. Since farmers are frugal, he wanted 80 miles a gallon. And the car had to be able to cross a plowed field with a basket of eggs on the back seat. If any of the eggs broke, it was back to the drawing boards. By 1939, 250 pre-production cars had been built. And then war intervened.

During the war, Boulanger didn’t want his little car in German hands. The prototypes were either destroyed or hidden until peace arrived. The idea of using a single-cylinder engine proved impractical, but a 375-cc air-cooled two (with just nine horsepower) got the nod, coupled to a four-speed manual (fourth was an overdrive gear). The car was very basic, and little changed from the pre-war design (though it now had two headlights). When the 2CV Type A debuted in 1949, passengers sat in hammock seats. The car was an instant hit.

Improvements arrived slowly, including a bigger rear window in 1956 and a 28-horsepower 602-cc engine by 1968. There were commercial versions, and even the Sahara, an off-road entry with two engines.

There was a James Bond special edition (with fake bullet holes) commemorating the car’s appearance in For Your Eyes Only, and the two-tone Charleston near the end of the road. It’s one of the most desirable variants, featuring inboard disc brakes upfront. The full-length sunroof makes it effectively a convertible.

The 2CV was in production for 42 years, with the end coming in 1990. It was produced in several countries, not just France. The 2CV was only briefly available in the U.S., and it never enjoyed anywhere near the following the Beetle had. The car being sold is an ultimate iteration of the 2CV, but it’s still true to the original idea of basic transportation for the masses. If you’ve coveted owning one, this might be the car.

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Comments

  1. Steve Bush Member

    Looks like this could be a nice driver at a competitive price, judging by the prices of the other 2CVs for sale online. But unfortunately, once again, we have a seller who wants big bucks, but is apparently too lazy/stupid to move his car out of the garage, clean it up and take some good pics. Even worse, he won’t take the few minor steps apparently needed to get it running. SMDH.

    Like 3
    • Harry

      I see this a lot, not necessarily special interest cars such as this, but many on FB Marketplace and the like. Still in the garage, in the yard with weeds growing up around it, parked in an alley that you wouldn’t be comfortable walking down, shot from across the parking lot, you get the idea. People have no idea how to present what they have.

      Like 1
  2. Beyfon

    All the money for a non-running 2CV. Looks ok in the pictures, but you can never judge a 2CV without looking closely at the condition of the frame and floor.

    It’s missing trunk lid badges, has a non original grille and added chevrons to the hood so it is likely to have had a respray at some point. Also, I don’t think seat fabric is original, at least not for a Charleston. I seem to recall them having a single color grey velour upholstery.

    Like 2
    • Ed

      The seat fabric is in fact very original. As the first Charlestons were introduced, it was intended to be a limited edition. These all had this kind of fabric. Once the Charleston became a big hit, they indeed used the fabric you mentioned.

      Like 1
  3. Maestro1 Member

    Original, avant-garde, very French, wonderful cars, I agree with Beyfon however, some badging and other issues present, you need to be near a Citroen mechanic or know something about these cars yourself before purchase.

    Like 1
  4. Maestro1 Member

    And join the Owner’s Club, which will be no end of help.

  5. Dlegeai

    IT Could the original fabric assuming it is indeed an original Charleston . Agreed with all of you about the absurd . One never buys a 2CV without more details on the condition of the frame, floors etc….way overpriced in my opinion.

    Like 1
    • Dlegeai

      …absurd presentation…..sorry!

      Like 1
  6. GeorgeB Member

    This is the first car that was equiped from the factory with radial tires, back in 1948. The Michelin revolution was introduced on a bare-bones car. The first American car to get factory radials was Lincoln, I think in 1971.

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