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2CV classic car meet gets show on the road

The 24th World Meeting of 2CV Friends, in Delemont in the Jura region, has brought 2CVs of all shapes to northwest Switzerland.

The 2CV was designed to get post-war rural France moving, on the worst of roads
The 2CV was designed to get post-war rural France moving, on the worst of roads - Copyright AFP GABRIEL MONNET
The 2CV was designed to get post-war rural France moving, on the worst of roads - Copyright AFP GABRIEL MONNET
Julie EZVAN

Around 5,000 Citroen 2CVs from across the globe are tootling into the Swiss countryside this week for a mass gathering celebrating the instantly recognisable French classic car.

The 24th World Meeting of 2CV Friends, in Delemont in the Jura region, has brought 2CVs of all shapes, sizes and colours to northwest Switzerland.

The 2CV — which stands for “deux chevaux”, meaning “two horsepower” — was launched in 1948 as French carmaker Citroen’s answer to Germany’s Volkswagen Beetle.

Considered an economical choice for consumers, more than five million 2CVs rolled off the production lines until 1990, when Citroen had to stop producing them due to emissions standards.

The six-day event in Delemont began on Tuesday and ends on Sunday.

2CVs from 30 countries are taking part, from neighbouring countries including France, Germany and Austria, elsewhere in Europe such as Greece and the Netherlands, and some from as far as Australia.

“I think the magic of the 2CV, it’s iconically French. It’s the perfect design. But it’s so simple, it’s so easy to maintain, it’s so easy to understand,” said Matt Damper, who came from Britain with his son.

“It’s almost adopted as a member of the family.

“It’s a way of life; it’s not just a car.”

– Zen vibe –

The event is taking place on a site covering 53 hectares, which includes 43 hectares of camping space.

Food trucks and concerts — spanning alphorns to classic rock, ska to bell-ringing — are laid on to keep the participants going, while spare parts stalls attract keen interest.

“Here come a lot of people because my parts are rare. It’s not many people in the world repairing complete parts. This is original Citroen parts but refurbished,” said Miran, 42, a mechanic from Slovenia.

“People like handmade, and personal contact.”

The 2CVs need to follow a one-way route through the neighbouring villages, with itineraries designed to help visitors discover the Jura region.

Drivers honk horns at one other in a nod of recognition towards fellow enthusiasts.

Laurent Habran, 47, a cultural centre director from Belgium, said the vibe was “pretty cool, pretty zen”.

“We come to have fun. Coming in a 2CV, you can’t be in a rush because it doesn’t go very fast anyhow,” he said.

The first World Meeting of 2CV Friends — a biennial event — was held in Finland in 1975.

It is being staged in Switzerland for the third time.

The event’s budget is 1.7 million Swiss francs ($2 million).

– ‘Umbrella on wheels’ –

“There are enthusiasts who have original vintage 2CVs, and there are 2CVs that have been totally transformed, so people also come to look for parts, but above all to meet up, for the atmosphere,” said pensioner Christian Corte.

The car, with its Bauhaus-inspired curves, designed by Italian Flaminio Bertoni, won generations of fans.

Initially designed to get rural France motoring, it was also seen at points as a student car or a motor for hippies.

The original specifications envisaged four wheels under an umbrella.

The spec also included instructions suggesting that a farmer’s wife should have no trouble driving it on “the worst roads” and that the suspension should ensure that a basketful of eggs riding on the backseat would survive intact.

Gabriel Lindstrom, 30, a real estate worker from Sweden, said: “You don’t see so many 2CVs on the road but when you see all of them in one place, it’s nice. It makes you happy.

“And it’s quite good to be a part of it, to support that movement.”

A 2CV made of wood, thought to be the only one of its kind, sold for 210,000 euros ($225,000) at auction in France last month, setting a new price record for the iconic vehicle.

AFP
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