Charleston Edition Harks Back to Citroën’s Past Glory

By Andy Bannister


A clue that Citroën hasn’t quite forgotten its late, lamented 2CV model is evident in the launch of the Charleston, a limited-production version of the company’s odd little Pluriel convertible.

Due to be sold across Europe in 2009, the Pluriel Charleston has a paint scheme and name which echoes the famous 2CV Charleston, a model introduced in 1980 which quite quickly became a cult vehicle with trendy buyers across the continent.

The timing, of course, is apt, with the 2CV celebrating its 60th anniversary at the moment. This extraordinary car, which looked dated even at its launch in 1948, somehow sold right through until 1990, winning the hearts of millions of motorists around the world. With its tiny air-cooled engine and almost total lack of interior equipment it was the no-frills car par excellence.

Whilst its bold two-tone colour scheme of black and bordeaux red echoes the original 2CV Charleston,  one thing the newcomer doesn’t share with its inspirer is the austere level of equipment. The latest model is at the top of the Pluriel range and  features premium touches throughout such as gloss-black fittings, leather upholstery and chrome trim.

Also supplied as standard are 15″ aluminium wheels which feature red embellisher centres – another nod to the 2CV.

The original Charleston was truly a landmark model for the era. Citroën’s marketing department, which for years had virtually ignored the 2CV and seemed embarrassed by its continued existence, suddenly woke up to the fun possibilities of the model.

They made the most of the outrageously old-fashioned design to create a car which truly harked back to a much earlier era, with a paint scheme similar to a 1930s automobile.

From 1982 Charlestons were also available in yellow-and-black and two-tone grey, although the red-and-black edition is still the most fondly remembered one, prized by collectors today.

Citroën chose well in selecting the Pluriel for this curious tribute. The little convertible, derived from the Chevy Aveo-sized C3 hatch, is easily the French company’s most quirky model nowadays.

It has its own decidedly original roof arrangement, with removable sections which in theory make the car transform into a variety of different combinations including a full-length sunroof saloon, a partial or full convertible or even a roadster pick-up.

The catch, of course, is that manipulating the various combinations gets steadily harder. Removing both roof side rails is necessary but you can’t take them with you separately, and without them you can’t put the roof up. In northern Europe, where convertibles sell in big numbers but the weather is decidedly changeable, that’s a major snag.

One glance at the sales figures shows Citroën will never be a big player with the Pluriel, unlike sister marque Peugeot, which specialises in electric roof convertibles which can be made snug at the touch of a button.

In the first six months of European sales this year, Citroën moved less than 4,000 Pluriels, while Peugeot shifted a huge 26,000 units of its similarly sized 207 coupe-convertible.

In years to come, however, the rarity of the Pluriel, especially with the added historical cachet of the Charleston name and its one-off looks, may well make this fun and characterful little Citroën a wise investment too.

 COPYRIGHT Autosavant – All Rights Reserved

Author: Andy Bannister

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1 Comment

  1. A 2CV6 inspired version of the C3 hatch with basic equipment and a really low price would be more appropriate to the times we live in

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