At Retromobile 2018 Citroën will be celebrating the 2CV’s 70th anniversary, the Méhari’s 50th anniversary and is getting ready for its own 100th birthday.
During the 2018 Retromobile, which will take place in Paris February 7 to 11, 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. Citroën is making the most of this rare opportunity by showing off the 2CV’s ancestor, TPV (Toute Petite Voiture, or Very Small Car) project. They will be displaying one of the surviving prototypes that came out of 1939’s . These two anniversaries are also being marked with some original works of art: two large flat ‘kits’ of spare parts, just like those children use to make models. The only difference is the scale, since these are real 2CV and Méhari parts! The Brand is also beginning its preparations for another important anniversary: its own 100th birthday, which it will celebrate in 2019!
Citroën is happy to invite visitors to come see their display in Pavilion 1 at the 2018 Retromobile Classic Car Show held at Paris Expo Porte de Versailles.
THE 2CV AT 70, A PART OF THE POPULAR IMAGINATION
The Citroën 2CV was unveiled at 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 in it the qualities that had been missing from so many other models: simplicity, lightness, agility, comfort, versatility, etc.
2CV introduction at the 1948 Paris Motor Show.
The large volume of orders that came flooding in, even in those first days, proved that Citroën and its visionary designers were on to something. André Lefebvre, head of the Citroën design office, provided the 2CV with a whole host of technologies that were novel at the time: front-wheel drive, a soft long-travel suspension, an air-cooled two cylinder engine, etc.
With its great popularity, the 2CV became a real social phenomenon: a car for farmers and vicars, for 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, piquing 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 launched in 1936. Its goal was to make cars into a common 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: “transporting four people and fifty kilos of potatoes or a small barrel at the top speed of 60 km/h”. Result: the vehicle weighed 370 kg empty, and cost one third as much as the 11 CV. It even had only one headlamp, because the laws at the time didn’t require 2!
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 of the TPV sedan versions have 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
Just as an entire generation were taking to the streets of Paris in May 1968 in search of greater freedom, Citroën unveiled a leisure vehicle ahead of its time: the Méhari. This unusual cabriolet, built on a Dyane 6 base, was almost like an unidentified driving object on the roads at that time. And with good reason: its 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 (525 kg), 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 pop colouring, this little Citroën was an immediate popular 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 (Liège-Dakar-Liège rally in 1969, Paris-Kabul-Paris rally in 1970, etc.).
The Méhari remained in production for almost 20 years, up through 1987, selling 145,000 vehicles.
TWO ORIGINAL WORKS INSPIRED BY NOSTALGIA FOR THE 2CV AND MÉHARI!
Because the 2CV and Méhari are often associated with an entire generation’s childhood memories, 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 help from skilled metalworkers. When these objects are deconstructed and made into a flat kit, they look like they’re a new scale model, fresh out of the box, full of possibility and new life. 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 work in this vein at the Madeleine Theatre in Paris last October, displaying 12 different products that had been broken up and arranged into flat kits, from a VéloSoleX moped to a Bonzini table football table.
At Retromobile Citroën will display the artist’s vision of the iconic Méhari, as well as his latest creation using the 2CV. This exploded and magnified view of these two models connects viewers with their childhood, acting just like Proust’s Madeleine!
Stéphane Gillot Méhari model art.
Stéphane Gillot working on 2CV model art.
Exclusive photos of the creation of the artwork using the 2CV can be downloaded from Citroën’s press site. Other works by the artist can be found at www.1on1.fr and on his Facebook.
Travel through time with plenty of other models…
Alongside the two models celebrating their anniversaries, Citroën will be showing its current Citroën C3 Aircross compact SUV. Other iconic Citroën models will also be on display, in collaboration with the Brand and Citroën collectors clubs. They will include:
1931 C4F Large
1935 Traction Avant 11AL Cabriolet
1938 Traction Avant 11BL Cabriolet
1939 2CV Type A (TPV)
1976 2CV Special Edition
1979 CX 2000 Super
UNVEILING OF THE LOGO FOR THE BRAND’S 100TH ANNIVERSARY
Citroën is also using the 2018 Retromobile Classic Car Show to involve Citroën collectors’ clubs in the preparations for the Brand’s 100th birthday, which will be celebrated throughout 2019. The Brand is using this occasion to unveil the logo for this celebration. This logo plays off of 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 wink at 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…
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