The people's car, 1936
The CV was first conceived in the 1920s when Michelin conducted a study to develop the perfect 'people's car', although design did not begin until 1936. In 1939 the CV, designed by Pierre-Jules Boulanger, was ready to meet the world, and was due to be unveiled in October that year but the launch was cancelled when war broke out in Europe. The car, also known as the 'Deux Chevaux' was finally presented in 1948 at the Paris Motor Show and was a firm favourite for 42 years until production ceased on the 27 July 1990.
A true original, 1950s
The Deux Chevaux was intended to be an affordable runaround for farmers, able to accommodate four people and to carry eggs without them breaking due to its unusual four-wheel independent suspension where the front and rear wheels were connected to the front and rear suspension on each side. It also featured the European-style "suicide doors" (with a hinge to the rear rather than the front) and flap-up windows, as roll up windows were deemed too expensive. In 1953, Autocar reviewed the Citroë*car, saying that it had "the extraordinary ingenuity of this design, which is undoubtedly the most original since the Model T Ford."
Film star, 1970s and 1980s
As the car's fame began to spread in the late 1960s, it earned itself the nickname the 'duck' from in Holland and Germany, and the 'goat' in Finland. The CV found further fame in the 1973 film American Graffiti, when Richard Dreyfuss drove the Deux Chevaux. In 1981 a special saloon model, the 007, was driven by Roger Moore in the Bond film, For Your Eyes Only. In one scene, James Bond and Melina Havelock (played by Carole Bouquet) make their escape in the CV model in what is considered to be one of the best cinematic car chases ever.
The long goodbye, 1990
After decades of dependability, production of the CV ceased 20 years ago in the Mangualde plant in Portugal, where it had been made since transferring over from the Levallois Plant in France in 1988. The Citroë*CV inspired a number of other models including the Dyane in 1967 and the Méhari. Although the car is world famous, only five million CV cars were ever sold. Outside of France the car was sold in Spain and North America in addition to a small number that were built in Slough during the 1950s, but production was discontinued due to poor sales as a result of import duties.
Still popular, 2000s
Despite its disappearance from the factory floor the little Citroë*remains popular today, celebrating its 60th birthday in 2008. In Paris, tourists can enjoy a trip around the city in a fleet of CVs which offer sightseeing trips to all the major landmarks. Top Gear has featured the CV on a number of occasions, most notably in 2004, when presenter Richard Hammond tested it, along with a Ford Mondeo, against a 747 jet engine.Reuse content