Restoring 2CVs & Bliss…

In the Sunday New York Times (NYT) , I read an interesting story about the Citroën 2CV.  Definitely unusual looking, it has been called the Volkswagen Beetle for France in the sense that it provided inexpensive transportation for tough economic times.

It’s name, deux chevaux, loosely translated means “two tax horsepower” per Wikipedia so take it with a grain of salt.  This economy car was in production from 1948 until 1990, and has quite a following in the world of car collectors.

The NYT story mentioned how “the mission of the 2CV’s lanky yet compliant suspension was to assure that it could be driven across a plowed farm field with a basket of eggs on the seat, not breaking a single one. Being easy on eggs meant it would be comfortable for humans, too.”

Citroen Mechanic, Noel Slade

The focus of the piece was the 2CV as a collector’s item.  Noel Slade, owner of Eurocar Imports, a Citroën specialist in Toms River, on the Jersey Shore refurbishes 2CVs, importing derelict hulks by the container load from France, Germany, Spain and Belgium. When they arrive in New Jersey, the cars are disassembled and sandblasted to remove corrosion. The rust-prone original frame is replaced with a new galvanized-steel unit.

“We’re not just doing paint jobs; we’re completely remanufacturing the whole car from the ground up,” Mr. Slade said.

Mr. Slade sells most of his remade cars for $20,000 to $25,000, depending on the paint configuration and optional equipment, which may include higher-grade interior trim and engine modifications.  His passion for 2CVs was inherited from his father who operated a Citroën repair shop in Essex, England.

When I saw that his business was in Toms River, the first thing that crossed my mind hurricane Sandy. Sure enough 2/3 of the way through the article, Mr. Slade talked about the severe damage to his shop: 40 2CVs were impacted (total loss or extremely damaged).  Plus he lost most of his tools and equipment.

He isn’t deterred though.  He has an extensive backlog of orders and is looking to sign a lease on a location 5 miles further inland, in Manchester, N.J.  The game plan is to be back up and running 100% in 4 weeks.

Good for him!

He is an example of someone living his bliss.  Mother nature can cause a diversion, but like Steinbeck’s turtle (“The Grapes of Wrath“) he’ll continue on.

More information about Eurocar Imports as well as an extensive photo gallery of their vintage Citroen car restorations and rebuilds are available here.


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