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Citroën 2CV Sahara 4x4: Two-Engine, Four-Wheel Drive

The exciting secret is in the boot.

We drove the Citro n 2CV Sahara for the first time for the April 1966 issue of Four Wheeler magazine. The machine was the first of its kind to employ two separate engines, one powering its own pair of driving wheels, making the Sahara 2CV a four-wheel-drive vehicle.

Citro n originally built its 2CV as a work vehicle capable of putting around the farm and field while still being useful on the cobbled streets. However, French workers in Northern Africa required a vehicle capable of covering longer distances and more treacherous terrain while still being affordable. Citro n's answer was to bolster the 2CV's capability with a somewhat sideways approach to four-wheel drive. In the front of the Volkswagen-esque sedan, the air-cooled, two-cylinder engine sent a proud 14 horses to the front wheels. The astonishing difference in the Citro n 2CV Sahara was in the boot, where another engine, identical to the one in the front, sat and powered the rear wheels. Drivers could elect to run either engine by itself or, should conditions require it, send power to both simultaneously. One shifter and clutch pedal were found in the cab of the Citro n 2CV Sahara along with a switch to disengage either engine, each of which had its own gearbox, ignition switch, and separate fuel tank.

We found that the independent, long-travel suspension allowed the Citro n 2CV Sahara to bounce over the rougher tracks, and the unique weight distribution between the front and rear engines gave a surprisingly comfortable ride. When driving on pavement, powering only one engine and subsequent pair of tires lent itself to increased fuel economy. Should the Citro n 2CV Sahara run into a mechanical failure in one engine while in the boondocks, there was hope that the remaining mill could power the machine back to safety. We were a little less fond of the seating arrangements, which resembled woven lawn chairs, and how the seats' fabric was all that separated our rears from the vehicle's dual fuel tanks.

Citro n went on to produce fewer than 700 of its 2CV Sahara, and it's rumored there are 30 remaining survivors around the world. Have you had experiences with twin-engine tech? Whether it's a freighter, a custom-built mud truck, or even the Citro n 4x4 mentioned here, let us know. Send a few lines to editor@fourwheeler.com and if you have one, include a high-res image of the machine, as well.