Paolo enjoys his Citroen 2CV
IT MAY have been a different colour but Paolo Esposito says driving a Citroen 2CV is just as much fun as he remembers.
The Italian-born Hervey Bay restaurateur admits his little beauty on wheels is more popular than his pizzas.
People who walk, ride or drive past Paolo’s Pizza Bar at Torquay stop and check out the two-toned blue convertible that was first designed in France in the late 1930s.
“A lot of French people stop because they think I’m French,” says Paolo.
“They don’t see a lot of these cars in Australia.”
Paolo has only had the car for two years but it is not the first time he has owned a 2CV.
He learnt to drive in a green one back in his childhood home of Naples, when he was just 18 years old.
Unfortunately, while out driving one day he hit a rubbish bin and flipped the car.
The damage was so significant that it ended their two-year affair.
“I was in love with that car,” reminisces Paolo.
So it was destiny, Paolo believes, when he found another version on the internet after moving to Hervey Bay in 2008.
The blue 2CV was living in Brisbane but adjusted well to life beside the sea and the increased admiration it receives.
“Kids always point to the car; it makes people really happy.”
As Paolo says this, a young man from the south of France, Benoit Gonzalez, is spotted taking photos of the 2CV from the other side of the Esplanade.
Benoit comes over to chat and have a closer look at the European cult car, which has a four-speed column-shift, right-side steering and “a touch of Naples” written on the number plate.
“It’s a family car; it’s the look of fun. It’s not boring, not serious,” says Paolo.
“I’m not a fussy man; I like a simple car.”
Paolo does not leave his car in the garage like some vintage car collectors, preferring to use it every day, with his kite board always on the back seat.
Also in the car with him is Ciro, his Italian lagotto romagnolo, otherwise known as a truffle dog. Ciro is Paolo’s constant companion and his comfort in the car shows he enjoys it just as much as his owner.
Driving the 2CV is a more relaxed ride in Hervey Bay than Paolo remembers in Naples, where, he says, the drivers are mad. There were no road rules when he was learning, he says , and everybody drove how they wanted.
He says even Italian drivers in Australia find it difficult to pay attention to the white lines on highways, although he is much more careful now.
The Citroen 2CV was launched in 1948, with a two-cylinder engine and looking similar to the Volkswagen Beetle
It had fully independent suspension interconnected by horizontal coil springs, so when the front wheels met a ridge the rear wheels would also rise. The 2CV was known as the peasant car and Paolo says its rocky suspension was designed so farmers could carry a basket of eggs across a field without any breaking
The 2CV was designed in France in the late 1930s and built from 1948 to 1988. From 1953 to 1960 it was also built in Britain and from 1988 to 1990 in Portugal
The last 2CV rolled off the production line on July 27, 1990. From 1948 to 1990 almost four million 2CVs came out of the Citroen factory. Its 42-year life places it in the top five of vehicle production numbers
The early versions of the 2CV had a 375cc motor that allowed the car to travel at a top speed of just 35mph (56km). The motor was later increased to 602cc, reaching 70mph (112km)