In the 1960s, Citroën 2CVs were widely used as France sought oil in the Sahara Desert. One inventive mechanic had a groundbreaking idea – to create a four-wheel-drive car with two engines. Imagine, a car that could go anywhere, was reliable, and very inexpensive to maintain.
Citroën embraced this visionary concept, resulting in the production of a limited number of 2CVs, aptly named the 5CV (2 + 2 for the French tax collector = 5). A total of 694 of these unique Saharas were crafted, serving the needs of those working in the Sahara desert and others seeking an inexpensive four-wheel-drive option.
Distinguishing itself from the typical 2CV, the Sahara underwent significant modifications. Its suspension was strengthened, and it rolled on larger tires. A protective sheet of metal covered the entire undercarriage, enhancing its durability in challenging terrains. Featuring a hydraulic clutch and relying on rods and cables for throttles and gearboxes, the Sahara boasted a distinctive feature – a small lever next to the gear shift that allowed drivers to use the front engine, the rear engine, or both engines simultaneously. The dashboard showcased two ignition keys, two starter buttons, and two chokes, highlighting the extraordinary complexity of this twin-engined vehicle.
The Sahara's introduction in 1958 marked a significant moment in automotive history, presenting a special two-engined 4x4 version of the iconic 2CV. With one 425cc flat-two engine driving the front wheels and another propelling the rear wheels, the Sahara's unique four-wheel-drive system allowed for optimal usability in diverse terrains. When both 425cc boxers were engaged, the Sahara surged to an impressive 65 mph, showcasing the versatility and power of this remarkable vehicle.
The Citroën 2CV Sahara remains a captivating and highly desirable piece of automotive history. Its innovative design, born out of the challenges of the Sahara and the quest for oil, continues to fascinate and inspire enthusiasts to this day.