Competition Car Profile: Citroen 2CV (1948-1990)

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Fancy racing in packs with less than 50bhp to play with? Then a 2CV could be for you. Here's what goes into a tin snail - with added Tabasco.

2CV RACING PROVIDES some of the best sport this side of a night out with your mates at the karts. With less than 50bhp, and thanks to sensibly restrictive regulations, racing is extremely close and cheap, with the pre-booked fee of £1240 covering eight 25-minute races at four venues over the year, from Cadwell to Mallory – and there’s an annual 24-hour endurance at Snetterton every August too, with the top three crews (out of about 30) only eight laps apart after more than 730. Since car specs are well established, there’s plenty of expertise on (which details all the mods you’re allowed to do). There’s 2CV racing all over Europe and in Argentina, but we’ve concentrated on the English Championship.

Body and chassis
In 2CV racing lore, the original chassis is lighter, while the SLC replacement is stiffer. The body must remain standard, though bumpers must be removed and a front spoiler (available from the club) is mandatory. The roof must be filled in with sheet steel or aluminium and the side and rear windows can be replaced with 4mm Perspex sheet. Glassfibre bonnets and wings are optional, and it’s common to bolt the front wings and bonnet together to make a quickly-detachable one-piece front end because it’s quicker to replace in the event of engine problems. Obviously, a roll cage is mandatory, with side bars plus cross bars between the front and rear cage ‘feet’ – and the gear linkage usually needs extending because of the rear-set seating position. Minimum ground clearance is 40mm, including shock absorbers and exhaust.

To keep costs down, engines must remain standard late 602cc units. All competitors use the ‘club cam’ available from Kent Camshafts, and either the standard carburetor or an accepted replacement from Weber ‘because there aren’t any good standard ones any more,’ says Paul Robertson, whose Tower Garage won 2CV racing team championships in 1998 and 2000, and this year won the 24-hour race as TΪte Rouge Racing. There’s a minimum distance across the cylinder barrels, and likewise a minimum chamber volume, so you can’t use earlier 425cc or 435cc heads: ‘It’s designed to stop people with lots of money and engineering expertise getting an unfair advantage.’

Lumenition ignition is allowed, exhausts are free, and engines rev up to 7300rpm: ‘Not bad for a pushrod,’ says Robertson. ‘In practice, engine problems are usually down to driver error, either by buzzing the motor changing down, or running into the back of another car and smashing the fan.’ A scratch-built engine costs around £1500, says Robertson, and it should last for several seasons. Standard gearboxes ‘seem to last for ever’.

Lower and stiffer applies here too, ‘mainly to stop them wearing out the doorhandles’, according to Robertson. 2CV springs are under the floor, and racers usually go 200% stiffer then standard, which leads to the hilarious sight of 2CVs cornering almost without body roll. Stiffer dampers are allowed, either Avo or Quantum, though Robertson reckons Gazmatics are going to be the way to go. Bump stops can be removed and an Ami 8 front anti-roll bar is allowed.

The biggest difference, and a universal mod, is to ‘modify’ (er, bend) the front leading arms to add camber, but more importantly to get the castor after the extreme lowering back to an angle ‘that won’t break the steering’, then brace the arm to reduce the load on the kingpin and help prevent the arms breaking – which generally leads to the car rolling. All the details are on the Classic 2CV Racing Club website and, if you’re not confident about your welding abilities, there are several people in the club who can do the job.

Standard. A 2CV racer weighs less than 600kg, and the standard disc/drum set-up is more than adequate and therefore universal. Friction material is free, but in practice standard is best too. ‘Otherwise you start locking wheels, and start running into balance problems,’ says Robertson.

Wheels and tires
Standard 15in steel wheels; tires are control Toyos, up from 125 to 135 section (wow!), and cost about £30 each. One set should last for a whole 24-hour endurance race, and two sets should do the whole season of eight 25-minute races.

A whole car can be bought for between £2000 and £6000, depending on its race pedigree, and having got the car running, the annual 24-hour endurance race should cost only £1000 per driver, reckons Paul Robertson. What’s not to like?


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