The cheapest James Bond classic is also the quirkiest. We look at how to buy a Deux Chevaux...
Having been initially launched in 1948, into the austerity of post-war Europe, the 2CV was overhauled in 1970. The new 435cc 2CV4 and 602cc 2CV6 had circular front indicators and bigger combination lamps at the rear. From 1972, luxuries such as three-point seatbelts were introduced and in 1974 rectangular headlamps were fitted. This year also marked reintroduction to the UK market, with right-hand drive 2CVs constructed in Belgium. Special editions included the SPOT, 007 and Charleston.
Power (bhp@rpm) 29bhp@5750rpm
Torque (lb ft@rpm) 29lb ft@3000rpm
Top speed 70mph
Gearbox 4-spd manual
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
BODYWORK & CHASSIS
1970s 2CVs resist corrosion better than later ones. It’s not unusual to find one on its original chassis, although a galvanised chassis is still a boon. Rot can creep in pretty much anywhere, so it’s good to know that almost every section of body is available to buy new. Replacing the windscreen section is tricky, while the same is true of the sweeps above the rear wings. Inspect around the fixed side window and above inner rear wings. Check the boot floor and the box below the rear seat. Front wings can be awkward as new ones don’t always fit well. Floors, sills and the pillars all need careful inspection. Check the chassis above and below – look for seams blowing out and thump the underside. If it rattles, that’s rot! Chassis are available from £595 but budget on £2000 for a specialist fitting. Expect to pay around £140 for a brand new roof.
All UK market cars were 602cc, with a twin-choke carburettor right at the end of production. It’s a tough engine but watch for oil leaks and blue exhaust smoke. Regular oil changes are essential (every 3000 miles). The gearbox is hardy, if noisy. There’s no synchro’ on first, while third can get crunchy with wear. A 2CV4 will have been imported and may well have been upgraded to 602cc.
Electrics are generally 12v and reliable. There’s very little to go wrong. Voltage regulators can fail, so keep your eye on the voltmeter. Square headlamp reflectors and RHD lenses are hard to find, so check condition.
Fluid for drum and disc brake cars is not compatible. Drum brake cars use DOT4, disc, LHM. Drums still stop the cars well if adjusted correctly and the handbrake is often very good. Worn kingpins can be a problem and MoT testers get fussy about play – there will always be a little. Wear strikes the track rod ends and steering rack, so budget £200 for overhaul. Suspension rods are attached to the arms by triangular ‘knife edges’, which need regular greasing.
Seats sag, cloth disintegrates but vinyl is hardy. Water ingress is likely, so lift rubber mats to check the floors.
The 2CV is huge fun but drum brake cars – or ‘drummers’ – are now quite rare. It took a while for sales to get going, although quite a few have since been imported. Classics don’t get much easier to work on, although they can feel strange to get your head around at first. The club is very supportive with its own parts scheme and a huge social scene. Neither of these models is as charming as early 2CVs or practical as later ones, but ‘drummers’ have a unique niche appeal.