On the 7th October 1948, Citroën unveiled their latest car at the Paris Motor Show; a four-door saloon with a fabric roof that was literally designed to carry four occupants and a basket of eggs across a ploughed field – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5oomIwgIDY . That vehicle was, of course, the Deux Chevaux or 2CV and when the final example left the factory in 1990, it really would be fair to say that it had redefined French motoring. The mighty Citroën may have been quite remarkably slow, it may have been one of the last cars to have a provision for a starting handle (!) – but it brought mobility to countless families With the sunroof fully opened, it was quite possible to see 2CVs carrying grandfather clocks although please do not feel obliged to do this when visiting the Château. Nor should you copy the driving techniques in this 1967 commercial  -https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njzeJXHv2EA

In the 1950s, Citroën’s sales policy for the 2CV, as laid down by its chairman Pierre Boulanger, was that ‘priority was given to ‘those who have to travel by car because of their work, and for whom ordinary cars are too expensive to buy’. The Deux Chevaux was often used by rural vets, midwives, doctors, farmers and priests; the Gendarme series of comedies also established that they were the ideal vehicle for nuns – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_hkI-3nhKo. You could even buy a 2CV with two engines; the truly amazing Sahara – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCmyF2FqFNM


Oddly enough, the Deux Chevaux was not a major aspect of everyday British life until as recently as the early 1970s. Between 1954 and 1959, Citroën’s assembly plant in Slough (which built RHD cars to circumvent heavy import duties) made a small number of 2CVs but your average Surbiton driver gave them an extremely wide berth. One imagines pipes falling out of the mouths of respectable solicitors and accountants at the very sight of the Citroen, and in 1948 one very rude motoring journalist claimed that it was ‘the work of a designer who has kissed the lash of austerity with almost masochistic fervour’. It would not be until 1973 that official sakes commenced, in the aftermath of the fuel crisis and by the 1980s a 2CV was the perfect car for all true non-conformists – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h658d6hWckw. Indeed, it was even worthy of 007: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SPJB61Yad8

By coincidence, we have recently acquired one of these fine vehicles; a 1988 2CV Special – “Special” meaning virtually no equipment whatsoever as it even lacks an ashtray. Once restoration is complete, it might be taken on a holiday to its homeland, and fortunately, the roads surrounding the château are fairly gentle. If there is any car less suited to the autoroute than a 2CV, I do not wish to hear about it…