Sunday, 7 August 2011

Citroen cars

47. Citroen 2cv toy S30
Raid Afric 1973, made in Italy by Polistil.

We were on holiday in Venice thirty-four years ago when our six year old daughter fell in love with this 2cv in a toy shop window. She did the nose pressed to the glass routine whenever we passed the shop en route to a restaurant for our evening meal. On the final morning we succumbed and bought the longed-for object.

My brother had driven back to England from work in Algeria in a pale duck egg blue Deux Chevaux. When an Alsatian dog ran out into the road and hit his car, the dog escaped unharmed but the car was badly dented. When Dyane's were imported into England we bought one, our first new car. We knew from my brother's experience that the car would be tinny, but also that it would be great fun to own. It did not disappoint. We made a few alterations; the round ball on the gear stick, which had a tendency to fly off, was successfully replaced by a length of ribbed hosepipe.
It was a car designed for good weather. The roof could be pulled partially back with the flick of a wrist and completely rolled back with a little more effort. On warm weekends we flung our camping gear into the boot and headed to the coast. During the summer holidays we traveled through Europe. Our tent was very small, but we always sat out in style because all the seats in the Dyane were easy to remove.
In winter months there was a muff which could be attached to the front grill, giving the pious hope that some engine heat would warm the body of the car. We were inevitably chilled to the bone for the first fifteen minutes and had often arrived at our destination before the car had warmed up at all.
After a few years Peter defected and bought an estate car but I drove the Dyane for a total of seventeen years. I was spotted wherever I went. "Saw you at .. ' friends would say and other Citroen owners would hoot their horns or wave. I knew that it was time to move on when I was overtaken while driving up a hill by a piano, (on a trailer.) By the time I sold it the car had had two engines and a re-spray. The new owners were enthusiastic and looking forward to driving it at vintage car rallies!

48. African tin 2cv

Our elder daughter, the rightful owner of object no. 47, had learnt to drive on the Dyane. Many years later, after a visit to Africa, she brought me the present of this 2cv, made entirely from a used French insect spray can.
I am not remotely a 'car' person, but, you may have gathered, I really loved our Dyane! 


  1. I've owned a proper blue 2CV, and right in front of me on my desk is your sardine tin equivalent. Wonderful cars; we recently thought about buying another one, only to find that here in France they now cost about £7,000.

  2. Our brand new, bright red Dyane cost £970 sometime in the early '70's! I wish I still had it.

  3. There is always one vehicle that you form a bond with. For us it was our blue AMC Gremlin. Fantastic summer car, in winter, don't even think about it.

  4. I always thought it was funny that loads of learners who just passed their tests in the 70s had them as first cars. They were bloody difficult to drive!

  5. I didn't know what a Gremlin car was like, Dolores, and googled to find that it is listed under '50 worst cars of all time.' The description made me laugh out loud - it sounds pretty similar to our Dyane!

    The new drivers probably chose a Citroen, Tom, because they were the cheapest car on the market at the time. And they were a lot of fun to drive - you felt you were going fast even though you were not! Unless. of course, you had the wind behind you.