We’ll go from last week’s extreme Crocodile to a rather more mundane Tin Snail, and a vehicle which is probably far more relevant to the everyday motorist while being far less colourful.
We’re looking at a Maisto produced Citroen 2CV, probably among the the most humble yet worthy vehicles to be made available in 1:18 scale.
This model represents the initial production guise of the French minimalist masterpiece, as offered from 1949 through to 1960. These are often referred to as “ripple bonnet” cars, their engine hoods being made in the same corrugated style as panels of the famous Citroen “H” vans. It was this shape which was to define the 2CV until production eventually concluded in 1990.
There was an earlier version; the long-running course of prototypes which ran from 1936 onwards were initially referred to as TPV (Toute Petite Voiture- Very Small Car) but the 2CV designation quickly established itself in parallel, the name acknowledging the vehicle tax bracket that the car fitted into (essentially two horsepower- based on the old theoretical measuring practice). Development was interrupted in 1939, the breakout of war foiled what could very nearly have been the official launch of the car which, at that point, had very a front end which was very strikingly curved in only one plane. In the ’40s the car was restyled by Italian Flaminio Bertoni and it was this form we see before us.
It was only available in one colour; this one. That was just the first of many necessary economies which would also include a fabric roof (which went as far as covering the rear luggage area) and pieces of designed-in simplicity everywhere else you looked.
This model captures the essence of the car very well indeed. The proportions and high-riding, spindly stance are well observed, and the paint is evenly applied all over. There are a good few flaws in the casting, though, which are most noticeable on the flat planes of the bodywork (doors etc). I think it looks great.
Open the two opening front “suicide” doors, (the rears are sealed, unfortunately) noting the neat little chrome door handles and you’re immediately impressed by a surprise aspect of this model, the seats being upholstered in actual woven, fabric material. Of course, this is both a good thing and a bad thing- it’s bad because you can bet your balls that the weave isn’t to scale, in fact the loose threads would probably be about quarter-inch gauge if you scaled them up by a factor of 18, but then again it’s good because of awesomeness.
The rest of the interior is pretty accurate. The dashboard contains one dial, an ammeter, and there’s a separate speedometer attached to the windscreen pillar. The push-pull gearstick juts out of the fascia, as does an umbrella-handle parking brake, and that really is about all.
A nice detail is that the windows are glazed and the front two are shown open, this being achieved- true to the 1:1- by the bottom half of each pane hinging through 180 degrees.
Under the hood is a fairly primitive rendition of what was a fairly primitive engine, a horizontally opposed 425cc flat-twin engine of 12hp, more than enough for movement forwards or backwards. I say primitive, but it did at least have overhead valves rather than the sidevalves which were the norm pre 1950’s. The engine was far less interesting than the car’s performance, though.
The car sits on leading and trailing arms, and the front and rear suspension was mechanically linked to achieve a self-levelling effect. Combined with extremely soft springing (which is true of the scale model as well as the 1:1) the ride was very smooth over rough surfaces, including the ploughed fields which were envisaged as being the car’s natural habitat.
Of course, the suspension was linked fore-aft, but not across the beam, so the car could achieve some frankly hilarious roll angles, yet would grip the road tenaciously despite tyres not a lot thicker than on a mountain bike.
It’s a great model of a great car, and I honestly expect a lot of you to already have one. If you don’t, you should. There are a great many 2CVs out there, this early model by Maisto as well as Solido and Minichamps versions of the later machines. Whichever you choose it would make a great talking point, especially if you display it adjacently to your Crocodile liveried Audi race car.
(All images copyright Chris Haining / Hooniverse 2015)