Your article in the View Section about the Citroen 2CV renewed memories of observing them in France 25 years ago ("They're Going to Pieces for a Little French Car" by Paul Dean, May 24). From the picture, it seems that they have been modernized only slightly with more impressive-looking bumpers in place of the half-inch, thin-wall metal pipe that looked like electrical conduit tubing, and a slightly more rounded appearance.
Not apparent from the picture is whether they retain the very light, simple and effective hammock sling seats or the four-wheel independent torsion bar spring suspension. At its normal (read "slow") speeds, these two innovations really soaked up the bumps on rough French country roads.
I was told that the 2CV made it possible for the average Frenchman to graduate from bicycle to automobile after World War II because of its simplicity and do-it-yourself maintenance features. Also I learned that whenever there was a long line of cars going slowly up a grade, there was always a 2CV at the head of it--in lowest gear at full throttle.
Despite all this, its capabilities so fascinated a U.S. Navy captain friend of mine on duty in Paris that he brought one back to the U.S. to use as an off-road vehicle and as a self-propelled duck blind (with the cloth top slid back).
One correction is needed to your staff writer's coverage. The CV stands for cheveaux vapor , meaning steam horses. This is not a power rating in internal combustion engines. It is a displacement rating, derived from the fact that at some standard steam pressure, a certain cylinder displacement in a steam engine generates one horsepower. I understood that it was a unit used to determine license fees.