Missing Peter Egan: 1978 Citroen 2CV Acadiane

Like many of our writers here at Barn Finds, I have Peter Egan to blame for part of my automotive obsession.  Egan, who recently retired from both Road and Track and Cycle World, was capable of spinning the most interesting editorials and articles about our love of automobiles.  Most memorable were his extended road trips in random old cars.  These ranged from a cross country trip in a Model A to an epic voyage across India and Nepal in a Hindustan Ambassador.  The unlikely steed for one of these road trips was a 1956 Citroen 2CV delivery van.  The story “Au Revoir Vitesse” describes a trip from Washington State to Wisconsin in this odd little vehicle.  The 1978 Citroen 2CV Acadiene we see here for sale on craigslist in Amelia Island, Florida for the princely sum of $6,000, is a later model reminder of that memorable adventure.  Discovered for us by the ever vigilant Rocco B., is there anyone out there that would like to make this oddball their long distance traveling companion?

The story revolved around the purchase of a 2CV by Egan’s friend and travel buddy Chris Beebe from his brother Russ in Washington state.  Russ and his wife used the little truckette to travel  to the tip of South America, but it fell into disuse in the years following the journey.  Once  Chris made the agreement to purchase the Citroen, the usual marathon repair and refurbishment session resulted in a vehicle ready again to take another (almost) cross continental trip back to Beebe’s home in Wisconsin.

Taking a while to get used to the vehicle’s French eccentricities, Egan and Beebe ended up meeting a number of people along the route who were intrigued and approving of the truckette.  Many folks thought that it was some sort of homemade vehicle.  Once explaining that it was a product of the French, everyone seemed to understand.  At any rate, the duo traveled through the Canadian Rockies and the upper part of the United States and eventually home with little trouble.  While lesser writers would make this tale as boring as a trip to the laundromat, Egan’s keen eye for detail, subtle humor, and his ever present self deprecating humor make the article a great read.  Egan’s talent was always being able to make the reader feel as if they were along for the ride.

Of course, the Citroen you see here is not a vehicle one sees often in the United States.  The 2CV was kinda like of France’s version of the Model T and the Volkswagen Beetle.  These were the cars that helped to put the French people behind the wheel.  With an eye towards simplicity, they were designed to deal with unpaved roads and the tough use that is required of basic transportation.  The engines were air cooled two cylinders with opposed pistons, and the suspension was designed to allow the wheels a lot of travel to compensate for obstacles.  While the four door versions were much more common, delivery vans (known as fourgonnettes)  were indispensable for businesses and farms.

Peering inside this dowdy Citroen allows us to better understand just how handy a vehicle like this could be to a small business.  In fact, the concept is similar to the Transit Connects that Ford has been selling for the past few years.  Combining their small size and relatively cavernous interiors with the fuel sipping two cylinder engine, and adding in the low cost of repairs for such a simple vehicle, you can see why over one million of these fourgonnettes were built out of the over three million 2CVs produced.

This unique 2CV commercial vehicle was marketed under the model name Acadiane, and was manufactured from 1977 to 1987.  According to the seller, it was purchased in France by a collector in Jupiter, Florida.  It was then sold to a Belian car collector in Fernandina Beach.  From there, the seller bought it and stored it in a friend’s former Oldsmobile dealership.  It seems that the dealership is being cleared out and the 2CV has to go.  It has just 27,990 miles on it, and it is said to run well.  The only obvious problems are that the interior needs a bit of attention, and outside storage near the Atlantic Ocean isn’t helping the bottom of the van body very much.

All and all, this would probably be a fun vehicle to tool around in.  With a little work, you too can head off for parts unknown in an unusual vehicle.  I think all of us enjoyed Peter Egan’s writing because he was doing what we all wanted to do in vehicles you could afford.  All of us have, or are in the process of acquiring, a vehicle we want to fix up and drive on a trip.  Reading about someone like us actually following through with the plan is still the next best thing.

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Comments

  1. CanuckCarGuy

    Neat little camionette, would make a cool rolling billboard/delivery van for a small business. It looks as though the positioning of the rear axle is wonky, as it appears further forward than would be expected… I’d also be concerned with what is under that blue paint.

    Like 1
    • Derek

      The axle will be fine as there’s only one place for it to go! The suspension arm(trailing, J-shaped) attaches to it (it bolts to the chassis somewhere around half-way along the window) and is pointing downwards at around 30 degrees; as the wheel rises, it also moves back a bit and fits the arch better.

  2. dirtyharry

    This happened to an Englishman in France who was totally blasted. A French policeman stops his car and asks if he has been drinking. With great difficulty, the Englishman admits that he has been drinking all day and that his daughter got married that morning.
    Quite upset, the policeman proceeds to alcohol-test (breath test) that verifies that he is indeed sloshed. He asks the Englishman if he knows why, under French Law, he is going to be arrested. The Englishman answers with a bit of humor, “No sir, I do not! But while you’re asking questions, do you realize that this is a British car and that my wife is the one driving . . . . . on the other side?”

    Like 19
  3. h5mind

    We’re living in Spain and see these cute little things tooling around from time to time. Since they were manufactured up to 1992, the entire model range is now legal for importation into the US (hint, hint). Rust is a concern because the steel is very thin.

  4. Dolphin Member

    Jeff, along with Bob Lutz and a now-retired newspaper automotive writer that I used to read, Peter Egan is one of my three favorite automotive writers.

    And you nailed why: he made us feel that we were along for the ride, or the garage grab-a-beer-and-gab session, or whatever else he was doing on a given day.

    When he retired I felt like I had lost a friend and automotive companion. At least I have most of his columns and road stories in a big file folder that I can re-read every so often, including the 2CV story that you mentioned.

    Like 6
    • bog

      Dolphin – my guess on the other is Jim Mateja…one time writer for the Chicago Tribune. Sadly, he passed away not that long ago. I miss Peter Egan’s writing too & always thought I’d run into him at Road America for as many times as I was there & he certainly was…. Not to be. Well, not yet.

  5. the one Member

    oh my, I believe they call this polished feces..

    Like 1
  6. Martin Horrocks

    Correct to say this is an Acadians, but that means it is based on a Dyane, not a 2CV. Essentially a later and posher 2CV, the two cars are not regarded as the same thing in EU. Dyanes are less valuable, but the experience is the same.

    Like 3
  7. Wayne

    Dolphin, I completely agree with your feelings. I too miss Egans meanderings. And I believe that Chris BeeBe is one of us Barn Finders. Chris are you still out there?

    Like 2
    • Chris Beebe

      Yupp, I am still, and still have the ol Truckette we drove across the country so many years ago. I still pal around with Pete and expect to for the duration. I also have a newer version , a ’75 ‘Hi-Top’, looking more like this one for sale, but not rusted. I enjoy the writings seen in this sort of format.

      • bog

        Chris – good to hear from you here. Though I’ve “only” read about you and sort-of become a friend via the osmotic writings of Peter Egan, it’s great to know you’re still around and doing fun automotive stuff. I sure do miss your buddy too, read his work for years…and always thought I’d run into one or both of you at Road America. Went three or four times a year for years and years…. Oh, well, maybe someday…

  8. MikeH

    With all that rust, you can bet the chassis is rusty as well. When you’re restoring a 2CV, it is best to replace the chassis if you see any rust at all. New chassis are available for the 2CV. I don’t know if the 2CV and the Dyane use the same chassis.

    Like 2
    • Derek

      Pretty much. Ami super is the odd one; different diameter spring cans. There may be van/car differences, though. Ken Hanna’s your man for a chassis.

      • Bobinott

        Interesting to hear Ken Hanna’s name cited here! He is indeed a well-recognized expert, and producer of high quality chassis for 2CVs, based in the UK. I have been in contact with Ken off and on since the 90s, before I owned a real 2CV. Now, on to this truckette. At that price, I would be digging pretty aggressively with a screwdriver. Many a good-looking 2CV winds up being a bucket of rust, held together with bad welding and shiny paint. The side panels clearly have begun to dissolve from the bottom up. If someone was happy to spray new paint on those, there likely is much else to find. And the paint has gone everywhere, including on the rubber mug flaps. Not a great sight. However, a good Acadiane if you find one is a great and funky vehicle, far more capable than its humble specs would lead you to expect.

  9. Wayne

    Chris Beebe, thanks for the reply and glad to still have you around here with the rest of us curmudgeons!

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