The 2CV project





My first car - back in 1971 - was a Citroën 2CV, left hand drive, imported from Belgium. It was made 10 years or so earlier, and was one of the last with a 'corrugated' bonnet and a 425 cc engine. I'd fallen for the deux chevaux while on an International Voluntary Service workcamp in Rennes; of course it was the sort of car that student volunteers would have. Mine (which I named Maude) gave me all sorts of problems, over the 20 years I had it running, but the problems were always soluble, and were outweighed by the delight of swinging round bends with its floating suspension, rolling back the roof when the sun was shining, taking the seats out to make space for a big load - and the waves and hoots of recognition when passing another 2CV - a rare breed at that time in Britain. It served well as a family car, at least until there were three children (sitting in the middle of the back seat - on the tubular steel frame between the two mains seats - was no fun); but the youngest, Nicholas, loved it as much as I did, and before he could talk he was imitating the noise of the engine, complete with gear change.

Maude was abandoned when I could no longer obtain spare parts (or even tyres) for such an old model, and she gently decayed in our garden in Scotland. A few years ago I read about a small company in the Netherlands that supplies the parts for kit cars based on the 2CV. The thought of a sports car with the underpowered 2CV engine and gears was so appealing - to me and to Nick - that in 2012 we made a visit to Burton Cars, in Zutphen, to see for ourselves. To say we were impressed is an understatement. All we needed was a sound chassis and engine.


Back in Scotland, we were clearing out rubbish, including bits of Maude that I hadn't been able to bring myself to scrap earlier, and before taking these to be recycled, we made a mock-up of a sports car. A fitting end to a fun car.


I was then preoccupied with strawbale house building (and my job in Norway) but Nick explored the internet and in April found a Dyane for sale near Insch - just 30 miles from home. It had suffered minor damage after only 15,000 miles, and had been abandoned in a barn for 20 years or so; there was a good chance that the chassis and the engine would be usable. We paid 200 pounds for it, hired a trailer, replaced a couple of wheels that had flat tyres with Maude's old wheels, rolled it up onto the trailer and headed for home.


(Aesthetic comment; while the 2CV was essentially feminine, with curves in all the right places - a feature replicated in Burton's sporty bodies - the angular Dyane attempted to look modern by being angular, and ended up as one of the plainest cars of its time.)
We soon removed all the easily removable bits - doors, seats, wings - and managed to sell them (for not very much) to a Dyane fan (his wife's name is Diane, which probably accounts for the affection). We were defeated by the steering column, and the car stayed in this half-disassembled state until early October when we found time to tackle it again - thinking to remove the engine to work on it under cover. We disconnected cables, pipes and wires but the engine/gearbox mountings defeated us; getting the body off would make the bolts more accessible, so we removed the dozen or so screws that hold the body to the chassis and took a hacksaw to the steering column. Then we were able to yank the body clear of the chassis, which - as far as we could see seemed to be rust-free; but we will need a professional opinion. 
Some corrosion on the rear arm of the chassis: we took the chassis on our trailer to the local agricultural engineer, who were bemused by the project but agreed to repair it for us.

The front wheel arms

Nick has been busy taking the engine to bits, derusting and painting.

The gearbox

The engine, from the front, with cylinder heads detached

Cylinder head covers, manifold, etc.

Valves and rocker shafts. Cleaning the valves brought back happy memories of maintaining my old 2CV. I remembered the device I got my engineer friend Stewart to make to compress the valve spring, and we made a replica from a short length of copper pipe with a washer soldered to one end, a slot in the pipe accommodating the rocker arm; it fits on top of the valve retaining disk, so that a clamp applied across the cylinder head compresses the valve spring and releases the collet retaining the valve stem. The collet is in two pieces and if you are lucky it doesn't fall out onto the floor.