This quirky French economy car once moonlighted as a one-off “racing snail”
Citroën’s air-cooled, front-drive 2CV is not a car normally associated with racing, despite the best efforts of the 2CV Racing Club and its quarter-century of championships. In ’50s and ’60s Britain, the 2CV was a somewhat-sensible alternative to homegrown heroes like the Morris Minor, but in its homeland (and further afield) rebodying 2CVs for the sports car or racing enthusiast was not unknown.
Specialists including Dagonet, De Pontac, Mismaque, and Umap would rework the 2CV from a utilitarian car for the people into something better suited to the pursuit of speed. (Much later on, the likes of the Burton Car Company would turn the 2CV into a roadster.) Now one of these rare “racing snails” has come up for sale—and the estimated price may have you choking on your croissant.
At next month’s Aguttes sale at the Galerie des Damiers in Cassel, Northern France, a one-off Barchetta based on the 2CV will go under the hammer. Known as the Seidlitz Special, it was named after its then-owner, Carl Seidlitz, who, with Pete Woods, raced the car during the Sports Car Club of America’s 1957 and 1958 National Sports Car Championship. Its best position was an eighth place at the Riverside Preliminary on September, 21, 1957.
The two-seat Seidlitz Special used 2CV wheels and side-exit exhausts, and although red in period, it was later resprayed blue. However, beyond such obvious details the Barchetta is something of a mystery, as it remains unclear as to who built its alloy body, listed as “American made.” The technical specifications are similarly unclear. It’s said to be based on the chassis of a 1957 2CV, while a 500-cc twin carbureted engine is paired to a five-speed gearbox. Contemporary 2CVs used either a 375- or 425-cc air-cooled flat-twin, and the Seidlitz Special also used a combination of 2CV or Panhard Dyna Z/Junior suspension. Interestingly, the Racing Sports Cars database lists the Seidlitz as having a 425-cc (“AZ”) engine and a red body, remnants of which can still be seen on its panels.
U.S.-made Stewart Warner gauges are fitted in the cockpit, suggesting it could have been converted from a car already in the United States. According to the Citroën Club of North America, small numbers of 2CVs were imported between 1955 until the late ’60s; sales resumed with remanufactured 1967- and 1970-chassied cars from Target Group USA in 1988.
After a long period of inactivity in a private collection, the one-off 2CV Barchetta race car resurfaced on Craigslist and Facebook last year in the United States, having been lost to the world for nearly 40 years. A best bid of more than $35,000 secured it.
Now the race car is estimated at between 60,000 and 80,000 Euros (roughly $64,800 to 86,400). At that level, the Siedlitz Special, listed without paperwork, far outstrips the $45,900 value that the Hagerty Price Guide sets against a #1 (Concours) condition 2CV from 1954. At French auctions, however, 2CVs have pulled impressive numbers with Aguttes: a 1990 Charleston with 9 kilometers on the clock made 120,000 Euros under the hammer before fees, and an all-wheel drive, twin-engined Sahara managed 172,840 with Artcurial in 2016, during its Rétromobile sale, setting a record for the model.
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