What the Volkswagen Beetle is to Germans, the Citroën 2CV is to the French: a car for the people. In some cases, it’s also the people’s boat.
We recently discovered a grainy YouTube video, posted in 2007, showing the crazy sport of Citroën 2CV Turbo Nautique racing, in which Citroën owners turned their 2CVs into Sea-troën 2SeaVs.
There isn’t a description with the video, but from what we could tell, a half dozen or so French Citroën owners mated the shell and engine of a 2CV with the hull of a boat, set up a series of buoys, and raced these Sea-troëns on a lake. And they can really scoot—reportedly up to 60 mph.
At the conclusion of the races, the videographer interviewed some of the drivers. Thanks to our French-speaking contributor Benjamin Hunting, we were able to discern what was said.
A gentleman named Vincent, the race’s winner, shares that he put a lot of mechanical time and effort into the boat to ensure that he would be triumphant. Vincent also says that some of the other boats weren’t at the top of their game, otherwise they would have been just as fast. He explains that it doesn’t take much to make a big difference in terms of speed, if a boat isn’t properly tuned or is having problems.
Vincent also says he spent a lot more time on the mechanicals than he did on the fuselage of the aluminum-hulled boat.
The last of three contestants interviewed talks about mechanical issues others are having and agrees that these engines are being pushed to the max—if you push them much further, failure is common. The gist of the exchange: Some people try way too hard in building these engines, ending up with unreliable rigs that are fast at the beginning of the day but don’t finish.
Merci for the insight, Monsieur Hunting. Unfortunately, the video didn’t explain how the sport originated and what might possess a Citroën owner to convert a 2CV to a boat.
Good news: We found someone who can. Dennis van Loenhout, a freelance journalist and photographer, attended a Citroën boating event in 2012 and wrote about it for Autoweek. He explained that the races began in 1984, organized as a contest for locals “to dream up a way of crossing the lake [near La-Breille-les-Pins, France] as fast as possible.” He says 42 ducks—Aquadeuchs—appeared at the starting line. Armed with that new search term, we found several other videos about these crazy Sea-troëns, including this one from 2015:
Oddly enough, two years before that first Aquadeuch race in 1984, French cigarette brand Gauloises partnered with Citroën to create five unique promotional vehicles. One of those Gauloises Citroëns was amphibious—although it didn’t look a thing like the home-built Aquadeuchs that followed.
We found even less information about the Schwimm-Ente—Swimming Duck—than we did the 2SeaVs, but the car was notable enough that a 1:43 diecast metal toy was created in its honor. Good luck finding one for purchase though (we tried). They’re either extremely rare or collectors don’t want to let them go—maybe both. As for the full-size Schwimm-Ente, we aren’t sure it still exists. (Tell us in the Community if you’ve seen one!)
Finally, we found this amazing Dutch inventor, who turned an old sailboat into a powerboat by installing a 28-horsepower Citroën 2CV6 engine and making several additional alterations. He named the vessel, which can travel up to 14 mph, Lelijk Eend Boot—or Ugly Duck Boat—which seems appropriate in more ways than one.
Your move, DeLorean hovercraft.