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Three Owners: 1981 Citroën 2CV6

Is it a motorized snail? A tin can on wheels? Neither – it is a car rooted in a pre-war project called the Toute Petite Voiture (“very small car”). The TPV was intended to pry farmers away from their horses into a more comfortable, useful conveyance. The brainchild of Pierre-Jules Boulanger, chief of engineering at Citroën, TPV prototypes hit the ground in 1937 with one headlight, a full-length roll-back canvas top, hammock seats, and lots of lightweight aluminum and magnesium parts. The car was approved for production in 1939, just about the moment WWII broke out. After the war’s end, only a fraction of the millions of cars that used to ply Europe’s roads survived – so demand for cheap transportation was acute. This was the deux chevaux’s moment. It entered production in 1949 and survived looking nearly as you see in the photo above until 1990. Here on eBay is a fine example of a 1981 Citroën 2CV6, with a starting bid of $16,150 and no takers yet. The car is immaculate, with just three caring owners in its history. It’s located in Lake Zurich, Illinois.

The prototype’s powerplant was a water-cooled two-cylinder; this was abandoned for an air-cooled 375 cc twin, mounted in front, paired with a four-speed manual. That fourth gear was a welcome uptick versus the three speeds mustered by the competition. As the tiny 2CV evolved, engine size was increased. By 1981, the flat-twin displaced 602 cc’s and the car received a centrifugal clutch. This version of the 2CV was called a special – along with countless other “specials” produced by the company, most of them involving cosmetics only. The more modern car also lost its charming corrugated hood in favor of less elaborate embossed sheet metal.  This example’s engine, carb, and gearbox were rebuilt about 1000 KM ago. The work included new pistons, rods, clutch, and synchros.

The interior is the epitome of spartan, with a messy binnacle inset haphazardly with a minimum of gauges, indicators, and switches. Everything is said to work, though – including the dome light and windshield washer! The seat springs were replaced. The top peels back and rolls up, and it’s new. So are the tires and those 15″ wheels were stripped and repainted.

The car retains its yellow-lensed lights, and even those mirrors have been rebuilt. The seller rates the paint a 7.5/10 – 10 being best. To my eye, this deux chevaux is as spiffy as any I have ever seen. Scanning ads for competing 2CVs reveals that our seller’s price is very reasonable, if on the low side. Of course, offloading a tiny convertible in the middle of winter might be challenging, but I’m still surprised this one hasn’t collected a bid yet.


  1. alphasud Member

    I think the 2CV is one of the most brilliant designs ever conceived. It was the people’s car of France. Superior suspension design over the Beetle. Soft and compliant and perfectly suited to the bad roads or no roads for that matter. Efficient little Hemi engine which was supposed to be indestructible and last a couple hundred thousand miles which surprised me that this one was rebuilt. Rust is the big enemy with this car but fortunately all the parts are available and reasonably priced. I wouldn’t mind finding one to fix up but my ultimate choice would be the Ami6 in berline form. Same mechanicals as the duck but takes weird and quirk to a new level.

    Like 16
    • z1rider

      You are correct that rust is the biggest enemy of these (and so many others). Thankfully frames, which are (unlike the originals) galvanized are available as replacements.

      Like 6
    • BimmerDude Member

      Something like this? My Castro Valley Saturday Farmer’s Market often has some unusual cars. The owner of this Citroen also has a DS, an SM a Zagato Alfa and a Lotus that he may show up with on any given Saturday. My skills to not include “rotate photo.”

      Like 8
      • alphasud Member

        Exactly like this!

        Like 0
  2. Driveinstile Driveinstile Member

    So help me….. If ANYONE suggests an LS swap!!!!
    Now that we got that out of the way. I dont know much about these. My earliest memory is the blue one on American Graffiti driven by Richard Dryfus. Id love to drive one of these things just out of curiosity. I always thought they were really neat.

    Like 13
    • Douglas Fournier Member

      Make mine an Ami 6 too. My 1972 DS. Safari wagon is too cool for. Words and needs a good Ami

      Like 0
  3. Nelson C

    I’ve always wanted a ride or to drive one of these. Years ago you may have gotten away with it before people got drunk on power and acceleration.

    Like 7
  4. Big C

    This thing cries out for a Kawasaki Ninja engine swap! The French always seemed to design anything that was remotely normal.

    Like 0
  5. Dave Schonhoffer

    Great cars, tough as nails as this James Bond chase scene clip will prove: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DB9-NU7iRkw

    Like 3
  6. Jack Quantrill

    That yellow one in “ For Your Eyes Only”, got a real workout!

    Like 8
  7. Roger Stevens

    OK. No proposition of an LS. But, as this car is a classic, what about a 348/409?

    Like 0
    • Derek

      Too big and heavy. What you want is an R1100 RS or RT BMW engine, the 4v oilhead one… and I know a man who does, or can supply the parts for, the conversions. Nothing irreversible happens, so it can go back to stock. All-alloy engine – and the same layout – so not much change in weight. The output goes from the factory 29bhp to somewhere around 90, I believe.

      Actually, there might be a bonnet hump for the alternator – there certainly is on the racers (in Belgium; there’s a class that allows R850 motors).

      Like 4
  8. Marshall Belcher

    Where is Wayne crini.?? This is his type of cars..

    Like 1
  9. Lew Chichester

    I drove one of these around California for a few years about fifty years ago, a 1957 with the 425cc engine, 12 hp, 50mpg, suicide front doors, and given the inherent design parameters, quite a lot of fun. Just don’t expect to go fast. The suspension was remarkable, and the vehicle could go just about anywhere. Broke down one time at Manchester Beach and I was able to unbolt the little engine, pick it up, place it on a picnic table, make the repair, put it back in the car and then drive away. Try that with your LS! I have always wanted to have another, a panel van preferably, and have just sat by and watched the prices climb ever higher and higher. Too bad, these are supposed to be affordable. Mine cost $300, and came with the hard bound engineered construction drawings to be able to machine any replacement part. I still like Citroen, they make some very interesting specimens.

    Like 10
  10. Frank Barrett Member

    Have enjoyed driving an ’86 2CV for 12 years. There’s no better car for putting around town or on country roads, but hills and headwinds are your enemy. You’ll learn “momentum driving.” It’s a friendly car, and you’ll hear good comments wherever you go. The engines are indestructible. Parts are easily available. And prices are rising. Bang for the buck is off the charts. This looks like a good one.

    Like 4
  11. Kenneth Carney

    I think you’re a little bit late here. Saw
    one at a traffic light near Old Town in
    Kissimmee in ’20 or ’21. Guess that’s
    what happens to these cars here in
    Florida as OEM parts and service are
    almost non existent. If the vehicle isn’t American, German, or Japanese,
    most mechanics won’t even touch
    ’em. The car I saw in Kissimmee had
    a 350 small block Chevy mated to a
    4-speed tranny. Would love to see one of these as an EV. Would be something really different.

    Like 0
  12. NW Iowa Kevin

    While on vacation in Ireland, England and Wales in 1976 and visiting relatives, my cousin let me drive her 2CV. Besides being a totally odd little outfit, the steering was on the wrong side. Thankfully not much traffic to deal with, I was happy to get away from it. These years later, I’d love to own one albeit with steering on the correct side. Great write-up as usual Michelle.

    Like 3
  13. angliagt angliagt Member

    Never thought I’d see the day when I’d have to finance a
    32 year old Renault.

    Like 5
  14. Steve Mehl

    This car is funny. I saw them in 1977 when I was living in France for professional training. When I saw these cars back then I thought they looked like something from the 1930’s. Hard to believe they still had that same outdated styling during the 1980’s.

    Like 1

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