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Citroën 2CV Sahara. A Duck with 4WD

Citroën 2CV Sahara
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ER Classics Desktop 2022

There was one at the ICCCR a few years ago in Ellecom. Roy Bolks of Potomac Classics also had one. And in Tienen, when CQS has grown into several European branches, we saw our third Citroën 2CV Sahara. 694 Saharan ducks were created. So in percentage terms we've already seen quite a few.

De Citroën 2CV Sahara: A Duck for the desert

The late fifties Citroën's charming 2CV established itself as an extremely handy little car for the masses, a car that offered affordable transportation to farmers and city dwellers alike. The 'Deux Chevaux' was almost unstoppable over unpaved fields, muddy roads or cobbled streets. But there were still places that even an experienced 2CV driver feared. Tataaaaa !!: Open canvas for the Citroën 2CV 4 × 4 Sahara, the world's first twin-engine 4 × 4 vehicle; so only 694 were built and there are fewer than thirty survivors worldwide.


Read also: Citroën 2CV AZ. Driving a late old Duck

A 2CV with 4WD as a commercial vehicle

With the Citroën 2CV Sahara you could just drive, but it is designed and built to conquer the desert of the same name. An environment where failure and standing was not only not a good idea, but possibly the difference between life and death.

Read also: Citroën 2CV borrowed, a wonderful French cart

At the time, the civilized countries still had colonies and wings. And French mining and oil exploration companies had a strong presence in North Africa. The need for a lightweight and relatively inexpensive vehicle capable of traversing sand dunes or mountains was evident. The Citroën 2CV Sahara was designed and built for these clients, but has also proven popular with the Spanish Guardia Civil and the Israeli National Park Authority. Saharas were utility vehicles, not lifestyle cars.

Look for the differences

Although the Citroën 2CV Sahara resembling a regular 2CV, the differences between the two models were so great that very few components were shared. Almost all body panels for the Citroën 2CV Sahara were unique (making restoration particularly challenging). And even the chassis, although based on the platform used in the 2CV export, was reinforced (and fitted with front and rear guards) to deal with the rigors of off-roading. The drum brakes were mounted inboard to reduce the ingress of water and mud.

Also interesting to read:
- History of the Citroën 2CV. Part One. TPV, French and Belgians
- History of the 2CV. Part two: 1960-1974. Differentiation, growth and innovation
- History of the 2CV. Part 3. 1974-1990 (slot)

A drive miracle

The two engine layout is what the Citroën 2CV Sahara really stood out. Both the front and rear engines were based on the air-cooled 425 cc boxer twins used in the 2CV, but were fitted with larger carburettors for some extra power. Each engine delivered 13,5 hp (18 hp in later models) and was linked to its own separate four-speed manual gearbox. Connected by a single clutch pedal. The Sahara can be powered by either engine for maximum traction, or by the front or rear engine for lower fuel consumption.

All benefits

That option offered numerous benefits to the men who in their time explored the Sahara Desert. Should an engine fail, the Citroën 2CV Sahara always a second engine. When the gasoline (stored in double tanks under the driver and passenger seats) was running low, the driver could switch off one engine to get a longer range, leaving enough reserve to reach the next oasis. Thanks to the car's weight of just under 700 kilograms and the almost perfect weight distribution on each wheel, the Sahara proved to be a winner in the tossing through deep sand and had an impressive climbing ability.

Then: twice as expensive as a regular 2CV

First offered to the public in 1960 (although some sources say 1958), the Sahara Desert remained in production until 1966, and 693 units were built during this period. A last example was built in 1971, bringing total production to 694. The Saharas almost all went to companies and institutions. As is often the case with such workhorses or worker ducks, the Saharas were used until they ceased to function, after which they were scrapped or served as donors.

The price now

A dealer in top classics once said: "If you want to know what it costs, you cannot afford it".

Once cost one Citroën 2CV Sahara twice as much as a free-range duck. Meanwhile, in the Flemish Sahara it says informatively: `Price on request`. Unique driving has its price. We didn't ask about it. But we think that for such a unique 4WD, the buyer must bring more than a ton of euros before the adoption is possible.

By the way, an unknown number of Sahara replicas have been made, usually based on somewhat larger boxers than the originals suggested.

Citroën 2CV Sahara
The Sahara at CQS
Citroën 2CV Sahara
Citroën 2CV Sahara
Citroën 2CV Sahara
At the ICCCR in Ellecom
Citroën 2CV Sahara
At Potomac Classics

9 Comments

Give a reaction
  1. The brake drums, and in later versions, the disc brakes, are always placed 'inboard' on the drive shafts of the 2CV, so not specially designed for the Sahara. With the second engine in the back it goes without saying that also the inboard setup!

  2. Perhaps Dolf Peeters should check out the duck museum in Andijk, North Holland. I think there are 3 Sahara ducks inside !! Plus over 300 other copies, all with their own story.
    More info on eendenmuseum.nl.

  3. Do not even think that there was a 4WD version of a 'Canard'. Oops! But great! The power of simplicity that overcomes it. It couldn't be nicer.

  4. With the tank (s) under the front seat and the filler caps in the front doors, I think it is a good thing that there is no ashtray in the interior.
    Was one of the few cars that came up a sand dune of about 100m. I thought it was impressive when I read it.
    In a very old episode of, I thought, topgear won, a 4wd converted, Duck t from the Defender over a pretty tough course. I just sent that link to a Defender addict (which, by the way, shouldn't have anything at all about Ducks).

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