Every once in a while a customer comes to us with a request for something truly unusual and challenging. These special projects let us stretch our skills and imaginations, and are a delightful break from routine (if working on vintage French cars could be described as routine). On this page we share three projects that were particularly fun and rewarding.
If you have a Citroën-related creation in mind, contact us - let's talk about making your dream a reality.
The Cogolin, also known as the 2CV Bicéphale or Two-headed 2CV, is a faithful reproduction of a unique custom car that was built in France in the 1950s. The original was dreamed up by a local fire and rescue official in the town of Cogolin in the southeast corner of the country. One night he encountered an obstruction on a narrow mountain road. There was not enough room to turn his car around, and he had to back up for several kilometers.
Another official from the union of foresters took an interest in the problem, and the two men created an extraordinary solution: a 2CV that could be driven in either direction. They combined two 2CVs by discarding the rear half of each and welding together the front halves. The result was a car with two independent halves, each with its own engine and controls. The "rear" wheels could be locked in neutral position by passing a bolt through the steering column. For particularly difficult territory, the car could be driven in all-wheel-drive mode by using two drivers and putting the rear engine in reverse!
The Cogolin saw service from the late '50s until the early '70s, when it was retired. It was then neglected, but saved from a scrapyard by a local mechanic who had dreams of restoring it.
In 2005 car collector extraordinaire Jeff Lane, of the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, first heard the story of the 2CV Bicéphale de Cogolin. He decided he had to have a recreation of the car. He put the project in motion with the help of Citroën enthusiast and importer Erik de Widt and several other experts from across Europe. Jeff chose Dave Burnham Citroën to build the two-headed creature.
The remains of the original car were studied for information only, being too deteriorated to be otherwise useful. Two tattered 2CVs from the early '50s, with 12-horsepower engines and centrifugal clutches like the originals, were imported to the US. Rob Harlan here at our shop did most of the work, cutting the cars in half and welding the two "heads" together. Great care was taken to reproduce the original down to the smallest detail, so the cars were left completely stock.
The Cogolin made its debut at the 2007 Citroën Rendezvous in Saratoga Springs, NY. As one would expect, it is rather heavy for a 2CV, and its odd design results in compromises in steering and braking. But it is a show-stopper wherever it goes. It is now part of the collection at the Lane Motor Museum.
Citroën SM engine coffee table
One of our regular customers with a taste for exotic furnishings asked us to build this coffee table to his design. We started with a Citroën SM engine that had blown up. We disassembled the engine and removed all the internals to reduce weight, taking out the crankshaft, pistons, connecting rods, and camshafts.
Part of the design brief was to color-code various parts of the engine, so we consulted our customer on color choices and had the parts powder coated. We also built some custom headers for the exhaust.
For the finishing touches on the engine, we heat-taped the header pipes and remounted the carburetors, distributor, and other exterior components. Hooking up the ignition wires and fuel hoses helped make it look complete and functional.
To support the glass top we fabricated a metal frame, and mounted it and the engine on a one-inch plywood base. We sprayed the plywood with pickup truck bedliner material, and covered the bottom with felt to protect floors.
The finished product turned out to be both a unique style statement and a useful piece of furniture, so everyone was pleased.
Fashion Show Half-DS
We made this front half of a Citroën DS as a stage prop for Fashion Week 2007 in Bryant Park, New York City. Our starting point was a 1972 DS21 parts car. Dave recalled: “The project required that we first cut a DS in half, remove the entire mechanicals, interior, and anything else not needed. In a period of four weeks we cleaned the chassis so oil and grease wouldn't dirty up the final product, tinted the windows dark, polished all the stainless steel, filled any body imperfections with bondo, painted, it, and then made it look good enough for a lighted stage.”
We enclosed the back end of the car and installed a lighting harness with wires going to all four headlights so they could be controlled by stage hands during the show. Two 6" casters on the back made the car easy to push around.
By the time it was ready, the car had spent 61 hours in preparation to go to the body shop, 45 hours at the body shop, and then another 20 hours back with us for re-assembly - a total of 126 hours of labor.
The DS prop was slated to be on stage while the models for Izod Lacoste were showing their new line. However, Fashion Week was sponsored by Mercedes-Benz, and a controversy erupted over the presence of the French car on the stage. Fortunately this was resolved, and the DS was accepted as part of the backdrop.
That was not the final hurdle, however. We found out that the stage entrance doors were 6 feet wide: after all this trouble, was the car going to fit? The answer was yes - barely. It got through with 1/4 inch to spare, and the show went on!
Peter Duhon photo