Initial design efforts began in 1935, progressing through several variations to prototype construction in 1938 and 1939. Then WWII got in the way. While Citroën managed a little more work on the project during the war, more serious efforts were put in after 1945 when the idea of a basic cheap, simple, and economical small car held more appeal to war-torn France. Changes were made to the pre-war design, including a new air-cooled engine design, and finally the 2CV was shown at the 1948 Paris Salon de l’Automobile. The motoring pundits panned it, but the car-hungry French public was happier, with the Citroën display stand at the show hosting some 1.3 million visitors while orders amounting to three years’ production were taken. Production began in small scale during 1949, then from 1950 numbers were ramped up and the 2CV was on its way to 41 years of production, with over five million pure 2CV saloons and vans built, plus millions more on several variations of the 2CV design theme, using the same mechanical elements – Ami, Dyane, Mehari, Acadiane and others.
Technical: Engine Design
The 2CV’s engine went through several stages of development once in production, but even before it reached production, ideas were carefully worked through to make the small engine both economically frugal and powerful enough to give adequate performance for its intended usage. It also had to be reliable enough to keep working hard (with minimal servicing) for a long life. The design engineers worked through several ideas, but with design input from the experienced ex-Fiat and Talbot designer Walter Becchia, what was finally chosen after the war was an air-cooled flat-twin engine of only 375cc. It used OHV, activated by long pushrods from a central camshaft.
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