To remove its wartime image, marketing gurus came up with the idea of making windscreen wipers various colours. Brochures depicted families having picnics on the removable seats and the fabric top that was originally installed to carry the likes of a painter’s ladder suddenly became a sunroof. To encourage free-spirited buyers, the Citroën Raid event was added to the calendar in 1970: customers were able to take part in long-distance adventure rallies – the first year 500 2CVs trundled to Afghanistan and back. For 1971 the run hit Iran but 1973’s Raid Afrique topped the charts, with 60 of the humble cars trekking Abidjan to Tunisia, through the unmapped and Ténéré section of the Sahara Desert.
2CV production ended in France 40 years later (although Portugal soldiered on for another two years under licence). On top of the home sales the Citroën excelled in Asia, South America and Africa. Production across the board came in at just over 2.4 million units.
Not surprisingly, with factories around the world and an American love affair with the Volkswagen Beetle, the German’s sales figures trump these French figures. Believe it or not, Beetle production ran through to 2003 and amassed a total number in the region of 25 million. Facelifts and changes were more significant than those of the 2CV though, and engines ranged from 1100cc to 1200, 1300, 1500 and on to 1600cc. The story of the Volksie has been told many times before so I won’t go into detail, but let’s just say that thanks to a solid product that met the initial brief and then evolved over time to suit the changing environment, and coupled with period-relevant marketing, the Beetle is the champion ‘People’s Car’.