Citroën Celebrates Two Iconic Anniversaries
By Kyle Lindsay
Friday, February 2, 2018 - 12:30
During the 2018 Rétromobile Classic Car Show, Citroën will be celebrating two iconic models: the 2CV, which debuted in 1948 and is turning 70, and the Méhari, launched in 1968 and turning 50 this year.
The two anniversaries will be marked with original works of art by Stéphane Gillot at the event which takes place from 7 – 11 February in Paris. The brand is also beginning preparations for its 100th birthday next year.
Citroën welcomes visitors to its display in hall 1 at the 2018 Rétromobile Classic Car Show.
The event is held at Paris Expo Porte de Versailles between Wednesday 7 February and Sunday 11 February, with a press evening on Tuesday 6 February at 7pm.
THE 2CV AT 70, A PART OF THE POPULAR IMAGINATION
The Citroën 2CV was unveiled at the 1948 Paris Motor Show before French President Vincent Auriol, stunning the crowd that had gathered to see it. While some laughed at its unique silhouette, others saw the qualities that had been missing from so many other models: simplicity, lightness, agility, comfort and versatility.
Even in the first few days of its launch, the 2CV gained a large volume of orders, which proved that the brand and its visionary designers were on to something. André Lefebvre, head of the Citroën design team, provided the 2CV with a wide range of technologies that were novel at the time, such as front wheel drive, a soft long travel suspension and an air cooled two cylinder engine.
With its great popularity, the Citroën 2CV became a marvel: a car for farmers, vicars, fathers and students. It had an exceptional 42 year run, with more than 5.1 million vehicles sold (including compact vans) by 1990. Today, the 2CV, affectionately called the ‘Deuche’ in French, remains an icon of automotive history, capturing the interest of collectors from around the world.
TPV, ancestor of the 2CV (1939)
The TPV (Toute Petite Voiture or Very Small Car) project, forerunner of the 2CV, was started in 1936. Its goal was to make cars into a popular commodity, something that would be useful in the agricultural sector and accessible to the working classes at a time when cars were still seen as luxury items.
To achieve this, simplicity, frugality, and ingenuity had to come together in the pursuit of a single goal, which was to transport four people and fifty kilos of potatoes or a small barrel at the top speed of 60 km/h (37 mph). The result was a vehicle that weighed 370kg when empty, and cost one third of the price of the 11CV. It even had just one headlamp, because the laws at the time didn’t require two.
In 1939, about 250 pre-production models were ready for the Paris Motor Show, which was unfortunately cancelled when war broke out. These vehicles were voluntarily destroyed or hidden.
Only four made it through to today, including the restored model on display at the Rétromobile Classic Car Show. The other three were found in 1994 in the inaccessible attic of a farm near Citroën’s Testing Centre in Ferté-Vidame.
THE MÉHARI AT 50, STILL A NON-CONFORMIST
In May 1968, just as an entire generation was taking to the streets of Paris in search of greater freedom, Citroën unveiled the Méhari, a leisure vehicle ahead of its time. This unusual cabriolet, built on a Dyane 6 base, was almost like an ‘unidentified driving object’ on the roads at that time. Therefore, it’s surprising appearance – fresh, uninhibited, and unpretentious – overturned traditional thinking about cabriolets.
Versatile, practical, and economical, the Citroën Méhari was the ideal choice for seaside adventures thanks to its ingenious ABS plastic body, which made it light (525kg), immune to corrosion, and able to be washed top to bottom with just a hose. Unusual, but also fun and optimistic with its considerable modularity and bright colouring, this little Citroën was an immediate success.
As a symbol of freedom and a simple, carefree life, the Citroën Méhari quickly became a social phenomenon. It also had a considerable film career (appearing notably in the popular Gendarme series starring Louis de Funès) and took to the road all around the world, such as in the Liège-Dakar-Liège rally in 1969 and the Paris-Kabul-Paris rally in 1970.
The Méhari remained in production for almost 20 years, through to 1987, selling 145,000 vehicles.
TWO ORIGINAL WORKS INSPIRED BY NOSTALGIA FOR THE 2CV AND MÉHARI
The 2CV and Méhari are often associated with an entire generation’s childhood memories; therefore the anniversaries of these two automotive icons are also being celebrated artistically. Each model has been magnified, piece by piece, in two monumental works of art by Stéphane Gillot. Mr Gillot is an artist and television director who had a passion for model building as a child. Today, he engages with the popular imagination surrounding nostalgic industrial objects from the past by cutting them up and making them into kits with the help of skilled metalworkers. When these objects are deconstructed and made into a flat kit, they look like they’re a new scale model. However, whereas traditional scale models are smaller than the real thing and made out of new pieces, Stéphane Gillot’s works are on a 1:1 scale and they use real parts that are full of history. Mr Gillot exhibited his work at the Madeleine Theatre in Paris last October, displaying 12 different products that had been broken up and arranged into flat kits including a VéloSoleX moped and a Bonzini football table.
At the Rétromobile Classic Car Show, Citroën is proud to display the artist’s vision of the iconic Méhari, as well as his latest creation using the 2CV. This magnified view of these two models connects viewers with their childhood.
TRAVEL THROUGH TIME WITH PLENTY OF OTHER MODELS
Alongside the two models celebrating their anniversaries, the brand is happy to show off its continuing creativity and vision with its newest model, New Citroën C3 Aircross Compact SUV. Other iconic brand models will also be on display, thanks to competitions held by Citroën collectors clubs.
All of the models on display at a glance:
|Citroën C4F Large||1931|
|Citroën Traction Avant 11AL Cabriolet||1935|
|Citroën Traction Avant 11BL Cabriolet||1938|
|Citroën 2CV Type A (TPV)||1939|
|Citroën 2CV Special Edition||1976|
|Citroën CX 2000 Super||1979|
|Citroën C3 Aircross||2018|
UNVEILING OF THE LOGO FOR THE BRAND’S 100TH ANNIVERSARY
Citroën collectors’ clubs are invited to the 2018 Rétromobile Classic Car Show to get involved with preparations for the brand’s 100th birthday, which will be celebrated throughout 2019. The brand is also using this occasion to unveil the logo for this significant milestone. This logo plays on the ‘Origins’ logo designed in 2016 as part of the creation of the Citroën Origins virtual museum that has since been used for all activities related to the brand’s history, and especially for merchandising.
This logo is a playful nod to history, using chevrons enclosed in an oval just as the brand did in its early days, starting in 1919. This pattern came from André Citroën’s first company, which manufactured herringbone gears that have a similar chevron pattern.
Similar to previous years, visitors will have the opportunity to talk with representatives from the collectors’ clubs, who will be on-site. There will also be a shop for purchasing brand merchandise.