The Citroen 2CV is one of the most iconic vehicles of all time.
Although the team here at Garage Dreams tend to focus more on “modern classics”, we also have a soft spot for the all time greats (it also helps that there is a late model 2CV ‘Dolly’ edition in the family)
There is no denying that the Citroen 2CV is truly one of the most legendary vehicles ever produced. Over one million 2CVs were sold during the model’s epic production run from 1948 through to 1990.
This quirky, massively underpowered French car brought affordable motoring to many people across Europe and the rest of the world, and is skyrocketing in value as good examples become increasingly difficult to find.
It is considered by many to be a triumph of minimalist car design and production, and by others as a “way of life”.
Because of its platform chassis, a number of interesting 2CV variants were built including a pick up truck, and engine twin engine 4×4 variant.
But what does 2CV stand for?
There seem to be a few variations on the answer, depending on who you ask.
However, 2CV actually stands for “Deux Chevaux Vapeur” (in French).
In English, this literally translates as “Two Steam Horsepower”.
In 20th Century France, the ‘cheval fiscal’ (tax horsepower) was a measure used to determine the amount of tax that was due on a given vehicle at the time of registration. Long story short, the Citroen 2CV was rated as having two steam (or tax) horsepower.
The 2CV – based on its engine size and power output – was rated at two steam horsepower. Later in production (with the arrival of the larger 602 cc engine) it actually became a “3CV” vehicle but the 2CV name stuck.
Some people mistakenly believe that the name 2CV refers to the number of brake horsepower that the vehicle has. However, even the earliest model (with its 8.9BHP 375cc, flat-twin engine) had more than two horsepower. Later models of the 2CV sported up to 33hp!
As you can imagine, the 2CV – even in its more powerful forms – was never a quick car. However, anyone who has driven one will tell you they are enjoyable to drive in a unique way.
Due to the soft, long-travel suspension design and narrow tires, it is claimed to be impossible to roll a 2CV no matter how aggressively you corner. They also have a very comfortable ride (famously, the 2CV was meant to have been designed so a French farmer could carry a tray of eggs on the parcel shelf over a plowed field without any of the eggs breaking).
We are currently working on a buyer’s guide and model history for the 2CV – so stay tuned for that!
To conclude, what does 2CV stand for/mean?
For now, just remember that 2CV stands for “Deux Chevaux Vapeur” – two steam horsepower, equating to two tax horsepower.