Starting our NEW occassional series about some of the more exotic and down right weird 4x4 vehicles that have been produced over the years: THE CITROEN 2CV Sahara
CITROEN 2CV 4x4 SAHARA
By Peter Wibmer
The 2 CV 4x4 goes back to the invention of a certain Mr. Bonnafous from Savoy, who in 1954 is supposed to have constructed the "original" prototype 2 CV 4x4 twin engine with 2 x 375 ccm engines. The registration of the car by "Les Mines" took place in 1955 by issuing the license plates 625 K 73. This vehicle achieved more than 100,000 km after having been upgraded to 2 x 425cm without any problems. Due to the astonishing features of the vehicle, a Citroën dealer contacted Mr. Bonnafous, which led to studies on such a car by Citroën itself in 1957. The target-groups were buyers who wanted a "cheap and simple" off-road vehicle. Yet the twin engine concept was not new at all. Whether Mr. Bonnafous knew it or not, is unknown.
In March 1958 the first prototype left the PANHARD-factory, which belonged to Citroën at that time. There were no holes in the front-doors, no hood, which is characteristic of a 2 CV 4x4, and a bonnet made of corrugated sheet like the "normal" 2 CV's. Thermic problems with the rear-engine demanded a radical reconstruction for the second and third prototype. They showed for the first time the design we see today, thus having no fuel-filling holes in the doors and no backlights and signals in the rear-bonnet. The rearwings already had the cutout shape. The gears are operated by a common central shift lever, moving the shifter rods simultaneously, the rear rods being able to be lowered, so that they are out of action. The rear transmission is thereby out of action and the car may be used with only the front engine.
The definite production started in December 1960 and ended in 1971after 694 vehicles had been built. In 1971 the last SAHARA was manufactured from stored parts . Car no. 0001 allegedly exists in New Zealand and is owned by a retired Air New Zealand captain
Many fell for the ingenious construction and many car-testers of the time described the car enthusiastically (Fritz B. Busch in "Auto, Motor, Sport" issue 19/1961 and in "MOT" issue 6/1961 Stuttgart). But the price (about double the price of a standard 2 CV) kept many from buying. Thus, the "SAHARA" was a financial flop. Only the Spanish "Guardia civil" ordered some of them ( about 85). The Swiss PTT used some of the cars for difficult terrain. This may explain why there are so many Swiss-originated 2 CV 4x4 SAHARA's. Over and over again you can hear the story of the car dealer who wants to get rid of that crazy car in the backyard for almost nothing.
Chassis: Reinforced frame. Rear motormounting welded onto the chassis
Body: 2 CV - Berline. Spare wheel mounted on the non-corrugated bonnet. Ventilation slits in the backside. Rear "bonnet" with a hole for the cooling of the rear-engine. Electric wiper from the B 11 - series, later on the same covered wipermotors as mounted in the standard 2 CV's
Motors: 2 x 12 HP, later 13 and then 14 HP. Carburator: Solex 26 CBIN with alternative floater to guarantee fuel supply at any time and in any situation. Operation of the rear butterfly valve by means of a push & pull cable. 2 ignition keys (startermotors electrically featured), 2 dynamos/2 regulators, 1 battery 6V/36 Ah
Transmission: 2 x 4 forward /1 reverse. Operation via common shift lever. Hydraulic clutches via one clutch pedal, maincylinder slave-cylinder at the respective clutches. Power transmission via single clutch disk (no centrifugal clutch device) and double joints. The king crown wheel in the rear transmission is on the other side than in the front transmission in order to guarantee the propulsion into the same direction.
Tanks: Double-walled petrol tank under the front seat each. Right side - for the front engine, left side for the rear engine. Filling of the tanks through holes in the front doors. There are special petrol suction devices in the tanks in order to provide a constant gasoline supply to the carburettors even in heavy terrain. The floor has openings to empty the fueltanks easily.
- Using 1 Engine: 65 km/h maximum speed
- Using both Engines: 105 km/h maximum speed
- The 2 CV 4x4 shows its superiority when used off road. All the four wheels being powered and equally loaded, one of them always finding grip and pushing forward. The vehicle moves safely even on snow and ice