The story of the Citroen 2CV dates back to the 1920s to a market research conducted by Michelin. At the time a lot of people in France were still living countryside and couldn’t afford a car. Michelin was keen to expand their tyre business and wanted to build an economy car. After Citroen’s bankrupt in 1934, Michelin took over the car company. Soon after this Citroen started to work on a new model that would be economical to manufacture, use and maintain. The development work on a TPV-project (Toute Petite Voiture = Very Small Car) started in 1936. The idea was to offer customers a car that would have four seats, top speed of 50 km/h, fuel consumption less than 5 litres per 100km and ability to travel across muddy unpaved roads. As this car was designed for farmers as well, it would have to able to deliver a basket of eggs over a ploughed field without breaking an egg. For oversized loads, the roof was open and covered with a car-wide canvas that could be rolled completely open.
The vehicle was homologated by the French government vehicle testing service in 1939 under the 2CV A name. However, the start of the World War II put the car on hold. Finally, in 1948 the Citroen 2CV was unveiled to the public at the Paris Motor Show, and the production started next year. The 2CV had a grey metallic body, no door locks and just one rear light. For the first couple of years grey was only colour of choice. The fuel level had to be checked with a dipstick, as speedometer and voltmeter were only gauges in the dashboard. Citroen 2CV had 375cc engine which produced just 9 horsepower. The car had a 4-speed manual gearbox and the power was delivered to the front wheels. The front-wheel drive made the car easier to handle in bad conditions. The suspension was almost comically soft and made the car roll from side to side. Acceleration took forever and the top speed was 65 km/h.
Small changes and upgrades were made almost yearly. In 1950 the headlight lens were changed from plastic to glass. Later that same year a door lock and an ignition lock appeared to the car. In 1954 a new AZ model was presented with a 425cc engine delivering 12 horsepower. The AZ model had two rear lights with one integrated brake light. In 1959 the cardboard sunscreen was replaced by a plastic one. Between 1959 and 1962 a removable radio, called Radioën, was offered as an option. The production of the 2CV A was discontinued in 1961. In 1962 a new integrated dashbord with fuel gauge, speedo and total distance counter was presented. Also the heating was modified and the windscreen wipers were electric. In 1963, a new 425cc engine producing 18 horsepower provided a top speed of 95 km/h. In 1964 the seatbelts were available as an option, and in 1968 orange indicators replaced red ones and the were two rear brake lights.
In 1970 the model lineup was renewed completely. The new models 2CV4 (435cc 24 hp) and 2CV6 (602cc 28,5 hp) replaced the old models. Also new were 12V electrics, modified heating and 2-point seatbelts as a standard feature. In addition the front square indicators were replaced by round ones. Safety and security improvements in 1972 included standard 3-point front seatbelts, optional rear seatbelts and new doorlocks. Also the sound deadening was improved and the door hinges were strengthened. The 2CV4 was discontinued in 1978. In 1979 the 2CV6 name was changed to 2CV6 Club. Also an oil pressure light appears in the dashboard and the 20 litre metallic fuel tank was replaced by a 25 litre plastic tank.
In 1980 a new two-tone model called Charleston was presented with red and black exterior. Next year, all cars were fitted with disc brakes. In 1987 the 2CV6 Club was discontinued and a fog light was added below rear bumber. After over 5 million cars produced, the last Citroen 2CV was built in 1990.