We’re finally at the end of our Jason Drives Citroën Centennial Mini-Series Extravaganza Blowout Super-Bash 3000, and we’re wrapping it up with a very special 2CV, which maybe is more of a 4CV, since it’s made of two 2CVs. It’s called a 1952 Citroën Cogolin 2CV Bicephale, and it exists because a French fireman was once very frustrated.
The story goes that long ago, in the village of Cogolin in Southeastern France, a fire chief by the name of Colonel Hourcastagné was on patrol in his Citroën Traction Avant, which, as you may know, has a front and rear.
This “having a front and rear” business soon proved to be a problem because while the Colonel was on patrol on a narrow mountain road, he soon found that the road was blocked, preventing him from being able to turn around and, you know, leave.
Instead, the Colonel was forced to reverse down the mountain road, at night, with a fellow firefighter walking ahead of the car, shining feeble flashlight so the Colonel could see. Remember, this was in an era before bright LED reverse lamps.
The Colonel was so put out by this even that he swore, likely in French, that never again would he be subjected to such dangerous indignities, and decided to do something about it.
That something was taking two 2CVs to a local body shop, where he had them cut in half and welded together, B-pillar to B-pillar, with an engine, steering wheel, and headlamps at each end so there would never be a need to have to turn around on a narrow mountain road ever again.
Now, the firefighters could drive up and down mountains with ease, pausing only to lock down the trailing side’s steering wheel with a simple pin-lock, and covering the headlights with little booties with red reflectors/lenses on them to turn the headlights into taillights. That’s it!
Driving the Cogolin (the one the Lane has—the one I’m driving here—is actually a replica, but made from real 1952 2CVs) is a strange experience. When the rear wheel is locked in place, it mostly drives like a normal, early 2CV, just with a bit longer wheelbase.
The interior is pretty much stock 2CV, but the seats, now back-to-back, are modified to be more upright, almost like the love child of a lawn chair and a church pew. Damn, that sounds hot, right? Mmmmm.
But, things get fun and bonkers if you get someone in the back operating the other wheel—when you do that you can get the thing to drive in circles or crab it sideways or just make it an almost uncontrollable, hilarious mess. It’s strangely fun.
I really like this thing because it’s such a very particular and specific solution to one very specific problem. In almost every other context, it’s absurd, but, on a dark mountain road with no where to turn and fires to fight, it’s exactly right.
And, of course, it’s a testament to the flexible, capable, humble machine known as the Citroën 2CV. Not so much a car as a general transportation toolbox, able to be used and re-used and adapted to almost any situation that involves moving people or stuff.
So, happy 100th birthday, Citroën. You big kook.