Citroën 2CV

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The Citroën 2CV (as in ‘deux chevaux-vapeur’ which means ‘two steam horses’) was launched at the 1948 Paris motor show and stayed in production until 1990. With its canvas roll back roof it was often called ‘an umbrella on wheels’. Between 1948 and 1990, more than 3.8 million 2CV sedans were produced and in total, Citroën manufactured 9 million 2CVs and variants. The 2CV has been compared to the Model T Ford for its ingenuity and was once described as ‘the most intelligent application of minimalism ever to succeed as a car’. It has also been compared to the Volkswagen Beetle, both conceived in the 1930s, bringing affordable motoring to the masses in their respective countries. Both cars sold into the millions for more that four decades.

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Lambretta Li 125

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Before WWII, Ferdinando Innocenti owned a steel-tubing factory in Rome. After the war he didn’t. Standing in the rubble, wondering what to do next, watching the many American-made Cushman scooters buzzing around he thought, ‘I’ll make those’. He employed an aeronautical engineer called Corradino D’Ascanio who had been designing helicopters but wasn’t allowed to any more, and set him to task designing a simple, robust and affordable vehicle. It had to be easy to drive for both men and women, be able to carry a passenger and not get its driver’s clothes soiled. D’Ascanio hated motorcycles, so designed the motorcycle you design when you’re not designing a motorcycle. It was built on a stamped spar frame with a handlebar gear change and the engine mounted directly onto the rear wheel. The front shield kept the rider clean and dry and the pass-through leg area made it rideable for women wearing dresses or skirts. All seemed to be going well. However, D’Ascanio fell out with Innocenti who, rather than a stamped spar frame wanted to produce his frame from steel tubing (old dog, new tricks and all that). D’Ascanio stamped his foot and, slamming the door behind him, took his ideas to Enrico Piaggio who said ‘Si, molto bene!’ and started producing the spar-framed Vespa in 1946. Through the 1950s, Lambretta thrived, but by the end of the 60s, the humble scooter gave way to small, affordable cars. Innocenti was struggling and sold out to the British Leyland Motor Corporation. Yup, BLMC, and there’s no prize for guessing what happened next. So they don’t make ’em any more, but here’s your chance to own one, any colour you want so long as it’s orange.

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Fuji Rabbit motor scooter

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The first Fuji Rabbit appeared in 1946, six month before the world had heard of a Vespa or Lambretta. They were built by Fuji Heavy Industries (which feels like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut) from 1946 to 1968. Like the Italians, the Japanese were inspired by the scooters the American servicemen were cruising around on and saw the scooter as an answer to their post-war transportation woes. Fuji were an enterprising bunch, introducing electric starters, automatic transmissions and pneumatic suspension systems. The Rabbit scooters were even rumoured to crack 100kph. Possibly not something one would choose to do, but nice to know you could, I guess. Rabbit faced competition from Mitsubishi with their Silver Pigeon and Honda with Juno, but it was the growing economy of Japan that finally shot the last Rabbit dead. The demand for scooters decreased in favour of more comfortable four wheel vehicles and Fuji followed suit, launching the Subaru 360 in 1958. The last Fuji scooter rolled off the production line in June 1968. So if you fancy a wee Rabbit of your own, this one doesn’t poo or dig up the lawn.

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Mercedes Benz 300 SL

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Imagine having one of these parked out in the garage, next to the old man’s Champagne Toyota Camry sedan. But imagine if your son and his mate decided to give it a new coat of paint, out of the goodness of their hearts. That gun-metal grey lead-based roof paint they found in the back of the asbestos lined shed. But imagine if they couldn’t find the paint brushes so used sticks instead. Those sticks in the kitchen draw – if it’s good for Mum to paint chocolate onto cakes it’ll be good for painting cars. Reasonable enough to a five year old. Imagine if they were so thorough even the chrome got a coating. Imagine the gun-metal grey footprints on the concrete garage floor and grey fingerprints on everything within a metre radius of your precious 300SL and the old man’s Champagne Toyota Camry sedan. Imagine the wobbly you’d throw on sight of their handy work. Imagine them trying to wipe the paint off (bless them) with those dirty rags they found in a pile on the garage floor, under the lathe. Im-agine.  

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