Story and Photos by ITN European Reporter Herve’ Rebollo
Salut à toi American rider,
No motorcycle ride on French / European roads today. I just want to improve your motorcycle culture: let me talk to you about a French (European) legend: the CITROËN 2CV automotive… and the amazing tribute to this legendary car by the Italian workshop SOUTH GARAGE Milano, based on a TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE model.
The Citroën 2CV lit. “two steam horse(power)s“, meaning “two taxable horsepower”, is an air-cooled front-engine, front-wheel-drive, economy family car, introduced at the 1948 Paris Mondial de l’Automobile, and manufactured by Citroën for model years 1948–1990.
Both the design and the history of the 2CV mirror the Volkwagen Beetle in significant ways. Just like the Beetle, the 2CV became not only a million seller, but also one of the few cars in history to continue a single generation in production for over four decades.
More than forty years ago, in 1980, Citroën launched a special series of 8,000 units dubbed “CHARLESTON”. As noted in the press release issued at the time, “to satisfy the 2CV ‘purists’, the headlights are round, with a red housing.” With its chic and quirky style, the 2 CV 6 Charleston embodied the highest degree of finish and power ever seen on the 2 CV. The following year, in July 1981, the limited series was so successful that it became unlimited: now mass-produced at the Levallois plant (northern suburbs of Paris), the model was added to the Citroën catalogue.
This version differed from the limited edition with its chrome headlights and grey, diamond-pattern upholstery. The 2 CV remains an icon of automotive history and a favourite of numerous collectors around the world. The Charleston contributed to this success over the last 10 years of production. Today, for a drivable version in good condition, the 2 CV Charleston lists for about €14,500 in its original limited edition, and €10,500 for the catalogue version.
As part of the 70th anniversary of the 2CV, Citroën has built a special motorcycle inspired by the Charleston. The project, carried out at the initiative of the Italian subsidiary, and it is clear that the result does not lack pace. The work was carried out by the Italian company SOUTH GARAGE, which chose the TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE as its starting point. A motorcycle that, like the small Citroën, is equipped with a twin-cylinder engine.
The South Garage guys even made a video about the process (It’s all in Italian): South Garage Citroën 2CV, la special è pronta e si chiama Charleston – PUNTATA 4 – Bing video
South Garage’s little hands have grafted new body elements to the front and, at the rear, 2CV wings taken over as they are or almost as they are. They also added a chrome grille and moved the front headlight, here yellow, on the fork.
I really like this motorcycle, I think it a real success mixing classic style, good taste and originality. When the work is such that we can no longer recognize the original bike, we know that we are in the presence of a quality exercise. It would almost go so far as to think that this bike is a Citroën; but under the dress, she is an Englishwoman. A Bonneville of renewal, of the dawn of the twenty-first century. In fact, all you need for a successful tribute.