When Citroën changed the engine of the 2CV prototype, the TPV (Toute Petite Voiture – “Very Small Car”) from water cooled to air-cooled for the 2CV’s introduction in 1947, the diminutive 2-cylinder power-plant and its larger bore derivatives would go on to live one of the longest lives of any air-cooled automobile engine save for Volkswagen’s 4-cylinder Beetle engine.
2CV at 1947 launch
There are other fascinating air-cooled engines that came and went over the years, with some notable ones are covered in this webpage by James Kraus titled: “End of an Era: The Last Air-Cooled Automobile Engines”.
At the end of James’ article he states that with the GS, Citroën closed the record books with the last mass-produced automobile introduced with a clean-sheet air-cooled engine design. The air-cooled era had to end primarily because lower emissions and increased power could be achieved with water-cooled power-plants.
The GS really was the air-cooled engine’s epitome. Its smoothness and willingness to rev all day long at its 6,200 rpm red line makes GS owners today marvel at the overhead valve 4-cylinder wonder.