Citroen 2CVs

When my wife and I were married in 1989, we decided to honeymoon in Europe on a very modest budget. To get around, we had to hire the cheapest car we could find. That car turned out to be a Citroen 2CV. We had never laid eyes on one, but thought it would be a fun experience. At the time, Citroen had some kind of deal where they would hire you a brand new 2CV for a cheap rate, then when you returned it, they would sell it onto someone else as a second hand car and somehow avoid paying a heap of tax. This is probably a simplified version of the arrangement, but we didn’t really care, it was the best deal around and when we saw our little white 2CV for the first time in the showroom in Paris, we fell in love with it immediately.

That car really made our trip. We christened her ‘Fifi’, acquainted ourselves with her odd gearbox, rolled her canvas roof back in Parisian sunshine and sauntered across Europe as if we were in a Jacques Tati movie. When it rained, we plugged all Fifi’s holes with chewing gum. When we ran the battery down after leaving the lights on in Luino, we crank started her with the wheel brace (yes, you could still crank start a late eighties model!). And when we returned Fifi finally to Paris, we almost cried.

Fifi II

A decade later, we celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary in Hobart, Tasmania. Enroute by bus to a winery for lunch, we passed a little white 2CV sitting in a second hand car dealership. All through lunch, we talked about that little car and there were a lot of ‘what if’s’ and ‘why don’t we’s’. So when we returned, we got the bus driver to drop us off at the dealership. She was beautiful and apart from being a right hand drive English build, was pretty much identical to the original Fifi. Next day, we did the deal, paid too much and had her sent back to Melbourne, where she sits in our garage to this day.

A brother for Fifi II

Over the years, Fifi’s been serviced by Dave Gries, who is not only one of the best 2CV mechanics in the world, but a good mate who just might have been the inspiration behind one of the central characters in Love in a Duck (no prizes for guessing who). Through Griesy, I discovered there were other types of 2CVs including amazing van variants. I became quickly obsessed with having a brother for Fifi and began hunting around for a van. If you’re interested, the full story on how I found Pantoufle (an AK350 van) was printed in my Club’s magazine and appears as pdfs below. Dave helped me to restore Pantoufle in my garage at home – although I hasten to add that all I did  was pass spanners to him and clean things. He did such a good job that it has won a couple of Citroen Concours events. I’ve loaded up some pics of the van and Fifi and there’s also one in there of a magnificent 4WD Sahara (not mine unfortunately).