Practical Classics (UK)
The final stage
Time to hit the NEC stage but will the 2CV be ready?
By the time you read this, we’ll have either finished rebuilding my car on stage at the NEC… or it’ll still be a pile of parts. At the time of writing, I’m really not certain. The sheer amount of work left to do was giving me some sleepless nights. Sure, an accident assessment was done and further probing took place afterwards but as you know, it’s only when the stripping down takes place that you discover there’s always more to be done. Either way, it was set to be one of the stars of the 2022 Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show, having survived a near-death experience at the hands of a speeding BMW this summer (PC, October 22).
The chaps behind ‘Operation Tupperware’ is a team of three, led by father and son team Barry and Peter Annells. They just happen to be the previous owners of the car they still refer to affectionately as Tupperware. Citroën specialists their whole lives, they were joined by a third member: me. As their largely unskilled sidekick, I was able to source all the parts, do some of the scrubbing and other simple jobs in preparing the car for its revival.
With the shell hoisted to one side for now (PC, December 22), the focus was on swapping all the good bits from the old chassis to the brand new one. The suspension is tough as old boots so suspension arms or axle bearings never need replacement. The 2CV’S rack and pinion steering system, pretty much unchanged from 1948 to 1990, is cunningly built into the front crossmember that supports the arms. I cleaned all the grease and muck from the bolts while Peter followed me around, unbolting everything. Part by part, we shifted items across to the replacement chassis and with a bit of a scrub and a lick of paint here and there, it all slotted into place.
Trigger’s Broom, I hear you say? Well, like the rest of the car, a 2CV chassis is a bit different. The identity of the car is defined not by the chassis it sits on, but by what’s written on the engine compartment bulkhead. It’s viewed almost as something disposable, in fact. As with most 2CVS out there, the one on my car wasn’t original. The first chassis having been replaced in 1990, the one you see here was fitted in the Noughties and is from a used
‘The 2CV design barely changed from 1948 to 1990’
Building a base
Charleston model. It had served its purpose for a couple of decades with the need for just a few patches here and there. Having recently sold my DS, the option to buy a new galvanized chassis had become a financial reality.
You can buy an original chassis built to manufacturer’s specifications, galvanized and stamped with chevrons at the Mehari Club Cassis plant in France. I couldn’t quite stretch to the £1800 for that, so instead plumped for the next best thing – the quality copy for £1200, also sold by Club Cassis and galvanized, so of reassuringly good quality. Crucially, it’s also of the same clever tubular aircraft style design as the original, with the built-in flex it was designed to have.
Seeing the fore-aft linked suspension laid bare and up close is always intriguing. You can imagine the chain-smoking French engineers, sheets of paper fresh from the drawing board flapping in their hands, amid animated discussion. Clever bunch, essentially creating an early form of anti-pitch self-levelling, with each of the four swinging arms stretching out and the wheelbase lengthening as the car leans through each bend. The secret is in the two horizontally mounted suspension cylinders, which we removed from either side of the chassis. These canisters each house two springs which are in turn connected to the swinging arm by tie rods. None of it had been apart in years, so it all took some persuasion with two cans of Bulldog BDX penetrating gloop. Mercifully none of it showed any sign of wear or age deterioration.
Final job of the day was the engine removal. The 602cc flat-twin lump is mounted low in the 2CV’S chassis and had gone underneath the bumper of the giant Porsche I was shunted into. The top of the fan cowling (and fan) had been crushed, but the engine was otherwise unharmed. The impact cracked the gearbox casing but I'd picked up a brand-new old stock gearbox for £60 at the Citroën Car Club rally in the summer. The engine and 'box rebuild, along with all the welding and bodywork action, will be covered next month when you’ll hopefully see pictures of the finished car, too.