Fast Forward

No, this is not a car. It is a lot more. It is a legend. It is a Citroēn 2CV.

Everything has been written on this mythic engineering feat. There is only one thing for me to add: I am driving one. My grandfather’s actually, who used to criss-cross the countryside around here. No wonder she knows the local roads better than I do…

To future 2CV owners:

1. Don’t even think of opening the bonnet. I am telling you it is scary.

Under a bonnet this size, Americans would probably pack a turbo-charged 5-litre V8 engine, with bits and pieces sticking out to show it is a turbo-charged V8 engine.

The French are more subtle. If, by misplaced curiosity – there would be no other reason because a 2CV never breaks down – you open the bonnet, your eyes will pop out in disbelief: there is hardly anything there.

You might think it is actually rear-engine driven, but as you start focussing, you will notice a tiny 435 cm3 flat-twin at the bottom.

Yes, a 0.4-litre engine. Motorbikes with this kind of engine size nowadays narrowly escape the scooter category.

2. If you wake up in the middle of a freezing night thinking that you forgot to add antifreeze in your engine cooling system, relax. It was just a bad dream. There is simply no cooling system. It is air-cooled. Just don’t ask me how this works.

3. If your battery goes flat, and your neighbour tells you he would so much love to help you if only he had a spare set of jumper cables, don’t cry. Every 2CV comes with a hand crank starter. You can lend it to your neighbour when his battery goes flat.

4. If the fingerprint door lock is faulty, you can always get in by rolling back the soft top. Remember you are a privileged owner of a convertible.

5. Can you join the Touareg Trail? Why not? Check with the organizers.

6. Last, but not least, the 2CV is said to run on basically anything – although wine or whisky may nevertheless require some carburetor tuning by your local mechanic. However, I have to confess it still mainly relies on leaded petrol.

What do you mean you are calling the scrapyard? Just take it easy. Remember Marguerite? Our friends from “4 roues sous 1 parapluie” (four wheels under an umbrella) have already engineered and certified a fully electric 2CV. Retrofitting is salvation.

However slow the 2CV might be, it will always remain ahead of its time.