Sleek and futuristic-looking, this 1972 Citroen D Special was previously owned by a Hollywood actor/director. The low-mileage French-built luxury machine was originally finished completely in the rose color of the top, but the body was resprayed in metallic silver.
Lovingly known as the `Lonesome Duck,' the Majors' 1980 Citroen 2CV was the equivalent of France's VW Bug, a low-cost automobile built for the masses. Few of them made it to the United States, but this one is popular in art car shows, where it is usually displayed with a large, inflated rubber ducky on its roof.
There's a lot of unusual engineering stuffed under the hood of the Citroen D Special, beginning with a 4-cylinder hemi-head engine and an intricate hydraulic system which controls the car's ride height, shock absorbers, brakes and power steering. A single pump controls the hydraulics, with the large green reservoir supplying high pressure fluid.
Pop the hood on the little 2CV and things get a little confusing to the American eye. We think there's an air cleaner and a heater box in there. Major said the tiny 2-cylinder air-cooled power plant will propel the mini car to 70 mph, but notes `my riding lawn mower's got a bigger engine.'
The front end of the 2CV is downright sporty-looking, with its bulging fenders and `bug-eye' headlights. But make no doubt about it, this was a car built to carry families on their everyday travels in Europe, not to conquer road courses.
The front seat of the D Special is one of the most comfortable seats this reporter has ever encountered in an automobile. Amazingly soft, yet supportive, the seat actually consists of two sections, which can be reclined; Major slept comfortably in the car two nights during its drive from Los Angeles to Wichita.
An unusual array of gauges occupies the D Special's instrument panel, with the `big red light' monitoring the multi-purpose hydraulic system. It alerts the driver to wait for the system to come up to pressure before setting off and Major says if it comes on while on the road, it's a warning to pull over immediately, as the car will quickly settle to its lowest, parking height.
It's hard to focus on just one thing inside the 2CV's driver's compartment; there's a fairly conventional, but floating 80 mph speedometer, a dash-mounted shifter and a fresh air vent below the windshield. The small control box in the lower left provides a `Quack, quack, quack' soundtrack for art car parade appearances.
The hydraulic suspension system allows for changing tires without a jack. Here, the car is being raised so that a jack stand can be placed under the rocker panel, prior to removing the rear fender. In fact, the car can be driven on three wheels, with one of the back wheels removed.