Me & My Car: the Citroen 2CV — a classic that divides
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Kevin Beeby is a partner of Carrel Electrade LTD, which manufactures, imports and distributes electrical equipment. We talk to him about his charming vintage Citroen 2CV.
Driven: You’re driving a Citroen 2CV?
Kevin: Yes, I bought it on impulse online and sight unseen about four years ago. It was being sold with no registration, no VIN, no history and I put a bid and no one else bothered so I ended up owning it.
What work did it need?
It had been in the Southward Car Museum [on the Kapiti Coast] since 1968 and was well rusted out by the time I got it. I ended up completely restoring it. I had it rebuilt by Custom Metal shapers, stripped and repainted and it went through the whole VIN process.
The guys from the vintage car club helped me to authenticate the car, and with the inspection and compliance. That is why it took four years. David Jones from Auto France, a Citroen garage in South Auckland helped me, project-managing it and pointing me to the right people to get things done.
Why a 2CV?
They’re just different. But it puts a smile on your face as soon as you get into it. I bought a Light 15 a couple of years previously. I had Citroens in the 1970s and always thought I would like another Citroen. For some strange reason you don’t seem to own just one. I have five Citroens now and one is my daily driver, a Citroen C4 Picasso. I am the current president of the Auckland Citroen Club.
How often do you drive it?
I took it to the Caffeine & Classics monthly event at Smales Farm in Takapuna and I take to the club event each month.
Furthest you’ve driven in it?
I took it to the national rally in Cambridge in April and it was the 100th anniversary of Citroens. That was a couple of hundred kilometres. You could take for a longer trip but it is only a small car, 425cc engine, 12hp so it can’t keep up with modern traffic terribly well — 80 km/h top speed on a flat road with a slight following wind.
They have a reputation for being impossible to roll?
There is a huge amount of suspension travel, it would be difficult to roll it. After putting all that work into it, I wouldn’t want to roll it.
What do you keep in your 2CV?
A toolkit of spanners. It is still going through some teething problems and settling in. Little things go wrong, like the brakes seized. The brakes were binding so I had to wait until they cooled down and then I gave them an adjustment. Fortunately, these cars are easy to work on.
If you had to describe it as a person?
It is sort of the Tintin car, it is made in Belgium, so it ties up with that whole Herge thing.
Do people remark on it?
I’m always getting a comment or a wave — probably some frustration that I am going too slow. It draws smiles from people. Kids particularly like it, I think because of its strange looks, it has a comical look about it in comparison to modern vehicles.
And your other Citroens?
The 1952 Light 15, a 1980 GSA, and two modern cars: my wife drives a C3 and I drive the Picasso.
What was your first car?
A 1937 Chevrolet, that was in 1966-67. It was a 30-year-old car then but it was normal in those days to have something that old. Now they are a collector’s car. Same thing applies when I had my first Light 15.
Any vehicles you’ve regretted selling?
An MGTF I had when I was younger. I sold it thinking I would get another one but then time marches on and circumstances change and they became less affordable.
Any music in your 2CV?
Only if you whistle or hum it yourself.
Favourite racing car drivers?
I like the older ones like Tazio, Fangio and all those from the 1930s. The racing scene from then seemed more dramatic and adventurous than it does now.
How do you feel about electric and driverless cars?
Electric cars will come whether we want them or not but there is still a long way to go to achieve the range that is required for driving in New Zealand, even in city traffic. Probably hybrids are the best solution in the short- to medium-term. I am not so sure about driverless cars. I see them as an infringement on your independence, and I wonder whether that will be used to control people.
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