HELLO DOLLY! NP70439 (Pietermaritzburg, KZN), a diminutive Citroën 2CV that may not be everyone’s idea of a classic car but one nevertheless that oozes pedigree and charm. Image: Dave Fall
Coming just around the corner (March 18, 2015) is the name of the 2015 South African Car of the Year. The previous two winners have come from Porsche – and this year could be a hat-trick
Whatever, it’s an annual event that has been known to set the public’s tongues wagging in animated discussion (and maybe even the occasional swear word) as to how a panel of supposedly erudite car experts in their opinion (aka motoring reporters) can get it so wrong by voting for the wrong car entirely!
STILL TIME TO VOTE
Wheels24 has been running a voting both* for some months now that you (the reader and person who votes with his/her cheque book) can add your pennysworth, and this is what we’ve found thus far:
At the time of writing (and there’s still time for you to cast your vote) indicates the Audi entrant (A3 1.4-litre SE S Tronic) is the general public’s favourite (1735 votes); second is Mercedes’s C-Class C200 auto (1336 votes) and third BMW’s M4 Coupe (1294 votes).
One cannot discount the Porsche, with its Macan S Diesel this year, taking top honours once again (going for a hat-trick after wins in 2013 and 2014) and I have it on good authority that the Citroën C4 Picasso e-HDi 115 could be the rank outsider – so if you’re a betting man be sure to pay your bookie a visit!
STEEPED IN HISTORY
The Citroën 2CV (above) was spotted recently at my favourite watering hole found in the deep south of the Mother City (out Muizenberg way, if you must know) and it’s quite feasible that the trusty, NP-registered 2CV may well have carried two people and a pair of mountain bikes in the back ready to tackle the now sadly abridged version of the 2015 Argus Cycle Tour this weekend.
Citroën, now there’s a brand steeped in automotive history…
Started up by Andre Citroën in 1913, a gifted French engineer who specialised in the manufacture silent-turning cast-iron helical gear wheels (hence the front grille chevron logo denoting that seemingly impossible benchmark to this very day).
In the company’s heyday in 1929 Citroën was the second-largest automobile manufacturer in the world (Ford was the biggest). A financially troubled world around that time meant smaller, economical, cars for the general public - after all, people needed easy-to-fix and versatile - so the race was on to produce basic transport at the right price.
This was something at which Citroën and other French manufacturers were very good. In 1948 Citroën showcased the first 2CV at the Paris Salon (motor show).
Legend has it the rationale behind building the 2CV was a car for French farmers to travel over their ploughed fields, wife sitting alongside clutching a crate of eggs on her lap – and arriving back at the farmhouse with none broken.
Under the bonnet was an easy-to-repair, twin-cylinder, air-cooled engine and front-wheel drive – developing all of five kW. The 2CV proved comfortable, economical and seemingly everlasting.
A half-century later it was virtually the same car – it was so successful that the power train and shape were virtually unchanged – although the engine size had now increased to 425cc and even a heady 602cc version made available to sporty types!
Success came easily for the Citroën car company in the 1950’s, such as the pre-war designed, again front-wheel drive, ‘Maigret’ Light 15 range, and, of course the legendary DS models that continued to be made well into the 1970’s and has now been revived.
AMONG VERY BEST
Today the Citroën brand may well have been absorbed by the Peugeot Group but continued success in motorsport and rally events means it still ranks among the very best in the world.
*Regarding that Wheels24 voting booth mentioned above, the 11 finalists (in alphabetical order) that were evaluated just a few days ago (March 3/4, 2015) by the jury members of the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists, are:
• Audi A3 Sedan 1.4T SE S Tronic
• BMW M4 Coupe Auto
• Citroën C4 Picasso e-HDi 115 Intensive
• Honda Accord 3.5 V6 Exclusive
• Lexus ES 250 EX
• Mercedes Benz C-Class C200 auto
• Nissan Qashqai 1.6 dCi Acenta auto
• Porsche Macan S Diesel
• Renault Duster 1.5dCi Dynamique 4WD
• Subaru WRX Premium
• Toyota Corolla 1.4D-4D Prestige
So get your votes in now on the Wheels24 home page! (The winner will be revealed at a gala dinner in Gauteng on March 18, 2015.)