Two Tel Aviv Citroëns Sit Through Lockdown

The Dyane in the Old North.
The Dyane in the Old North.
Photo: Max Finkel / Jalopnik

Back before Israel and the United States went steady, the little speck at the eastern end of the Mediterranean had a different best friend: France. If you look close enough here, you’ll find some rides that reflect that era. Like these two.

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Welcome to Little Car in the Big City, where we highlight fascinating cars we found walking around a town that is known for being uh... more prickly..? than everything else, but where every car is fighting to stand out: New York, New York. Tel Aviv, Israel.

Here we’ve got what looks like a rather late Citroën 2Cv Special and a Citroën Dyane, the 2CV’s hatch-equipped complement and successor. And while they both date from a little bit after the end of Israel and Frances’ Mediterranean honeymoon, they certainly reflect a little bit of the Francophilia that has long loomed over Israeli culture.

The 2CV in Neve Tzedek.
The 2CV in Neve Tzedek.
Photo: Max Finkel / Jalopnik

Both of these cars represented a basic level of personal transportation in a developing country that was largely dependent on buses for transportation. With flat-two cylinder engines making the bare minimum necessary to keep the car moving in terms of horsepower, these cars weren’t going to be climbing any mountains or getting many speeding tickets, but they nonetheless offered a degree of freedom that you just can’t get when you have to look at a bus schedule.

Hopefully, the owner will find a stock grille to put back on here. This one almost looks Cuban.
Hopefully, the owner will find a stock grille to put back on here. This one almost looks Cuban.
Photo: Max Finkel / Jalopnik

Other similar cars were on the market too. Renault’s Dauphine and Hino’s Contessa were big rear-engined sellers here and even produced locally for a time. Later on, the more modern Renault 4 would achieve local fame as the standard transportation for military officers.

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Notice the full hatch panel and the six-digit plate. The Hebrew on the license plate marks the car as a collector item, exempt from some road tax but forbidden from use during rush hour.
Notice the full hatch panel and the six-digit plate. The Hebrew on the license plate marks the car as a collector item, exempt from some road tax but forbidden from use during rush hour.
Photo: Max Finkel / Jalopnik

Though it may be true that Tel Aviv tries to eat its cars alive, there are some that have the grit (and dedicated owners) to keep really interesting and lovable machines running here. In full disclosure, I took these photos before our lockdown went into full swing. These cars are located far outside the 100-meter radius around my apartment in more upscale locales.

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The Dyane’s owner is apparently a fan of the Maccabi Netanya soccer team, a 1980s powerhouse.
The Dyane’s owner is apparently a fan of the Maccabi Netanya soccer team, a 1980s powerhouse.
Photo: Max Finkel / Jalopnik

The Dyane, which is in a neighborhood called the Old North, appears well-loved and, judging by the stickers, spent some time in the city of Netanya before making it to Tel Aviv. The Old North is a cosmopolitan area that looks a lot more Western European than Florentin where I am these days. The Dyane fits right in here, and I can imagine that owning one like this would be a lot of fun here.

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The Dyane appears to have had more work done inside than out.
The Dyane appears to have had more work done inside than out.
Photo: Max Finkel / Jalopnik

The 2CV, which I found in Tel Aviv’s first neighborhood, Neve Tzedek, is done up, like many iconic Citroëns these days, as a piece of mobile advertisement. In this case, for an event space for weddings and bar mitzvahs in the like. It’s a time-tested formula perfected by HY van owners the world ‘round. My hope is that it’ll keep working for this Citroën owner once we all get back on the street and sharing events with one another when this period is behind us.

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Image for article titled Two Tel Aviv Citroëns Sit Through Lockdown
Photo: Max Finkel / Jalopnik

Interestingly, this car has a seven-digit non-classic plate. That suggests to me that the car is a more recent import from the continent and not a car originally sold here like the Dyane.

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Contrast the 2CV’s rear end with the Dyane’s. The 2CV’s ragtop extends farther back, leaving the car with a more traditional trunk.
Contrast the 2CV’s rear end with the Dyane’s. The 2CV’s ragtop extends farther back, leaving the car with a more traditional trunk.
Photo: Max Finkel / Jalopnik

Until then, these two Citroëns, which have already seen more than their fair share of tense moments through recessions and wars and intifadas, will wait it out. They’re just waiting for us to get back behind the wheel.

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Do you know more about Citroëns than I do? Let us know in the comments if you can date these two cars!

DISCUSSION

By
iatethepeach

Hi Max. While you’re in the neighborhood, there’s a magnificently toilet-plunger festooned Vespa PX with a matching enclosed sidecar not far from that Dyane, on the corner of Yehuda HaMakkabbi and Zirelson. I believe it warrants your investigation.

Someday, when life returns to normal, the Belgian bar just up the street is worthy of a field trip, too.