Importing 2CVs into USA

It is often asked by those in the USA how a 2CV can be imported there. Apart from early abortive Citroen investigative 2CV imports, the 2CV (and derivatives) were never officially imported to the USA, although later a few "grey" new imports were made, and naturally over the years a fair number of used (pre-owned) cars were imported in the normal way.

There are two points which must be made at the start. Because of the USA Federal Laws (National Safety Restrictions) regarding Type Approval, at present only those cars older than 25 years may be imported to the USA. As America drives on the right, and therefore their cars are Left Hand Drive (LHD) only LHD cars are suitable for import. This is the same as the majority of the world, with the exception of a few markets including the UK and Australia and others, which drive on the left, and whose cars are naturally RHD. It is technically possible (at a cost) to convert from RHD to LHD.

Practically those countries which have the greatest numbers of 2CVs in LHD form are France, Holland and Germany and these are probably a good source of cars for import.

Buyers should look for a current roadworthiness certificate (whose title varies) of the country of origin. Note that disc brakes were introduced on 2CVs in 1981, and pre - 1977 cars will invariably be fitted with drum brakes, which are longer to service, but quite efficient. A few pre - 1977 cars will have been modified to disc brakes.

Therefore a good choice for a 2CV for import into the USA is a 1970 to 1977 model, LHD with the 602cc. engine. Although the earlier 375cc and 425 cc cars are still suitable for everyday use, they are more suitable for occasional enthusiast use. The 375 cc cars will not maintain the 55 mph pace. LHD cars have kph speedos, but UK standard mph speedos can be fitted.

Is the 2CV suitable for US conditions? The answer is an emphatic yes. The wide climatic variation on the North American continent creates no problems. Those States with very high temperatures equate with countries to which the 2CV was routinely exported in the past, the air cooled configuration being well suited. Those States with long winter snowfall, ice, and very low temperatures are equally no problem. The 2CV is used in many Northern European countries with similar conditions. The 2CV is exceptionally good on snow. A common fitment is 135 x 15 Mud and Snow tyres, a spare set of wheels so fitted being a good idea. In continuous use in sub-zero temperatures it is wise to fit a Heavy Duty (390 cca) battery. Also chains and studded tyres can be used.

The 602cc 2CV will easily cruise at the common US 55 mph limit.The ride quality will be found similar to the high end domestic autos (i.e. Caddys and Lincolns) due to soft suspension. It is well suited to long or very long distance Interstate and freeway travel. The 2CV will be found to be exceptionally cheap to operate, especially in terms of gas mileage. This will be true also in relation to the more common foreign compact imports (e.g. VWs). Routine mechanical and service parts are held at outlets in the USA, but any including those rarely needed parts can be sourced cheaply by mail order to the USA especially from the UK and France. Note that 2CVs prior to 1975 will run normally on leaded 4 star (95 octane RM) gas, as recommended, although there are strong indications they will run satisfactorilly on Unleaded. If only Unleaded is available locally it is possible also to (fairly cheaply) swap the heads for Unleaded heads.

Those who live in the wilder US areas will find the off-road capabilities of the 2CV will approach those of the domestic US Four Wheel Drive truck except for load capacity and speed over rough terrain. Unlike the latter however the 2CV can be manually lifted by two persons back onto firm ground due to the very light weight (around 1200 lb.). For sustained use over rough country terrain the ride height should be set to maximum height. Therefore overall the 2CV is well suited to full every day use in US conditions.

Information on US Federal Import Rules

(From NHTSA Rules Jan 2003) - The following provides information concerning the importation of a passenger car, truck, trailer, motorcycle, moped, bus, or MPV built to comply with the standards of a country other than the U.S. or Canada. Importers of motor vehicles must file form HS-7 (available at ports of entry) at the time a vehicle is imported to declare whether the vehicle complies with DOT requirements. As a general rule, a motor vehicle less than 25 years old (i.e. post 1977) must comply with all applicable Federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSS) to be imported permanently to the US.

For detailed information regarding US vehicle regulations visit NHTSA Regulations

Information concerning duty or other US Customs matters can be obtained from the Classification and Value Division, U.S. Customs Service, Washington, DC 20229, (202)927-0300 For detailed customs rules visit also: US Customs
The following are a few links which will access sites which will give more information in depth on US import of 2CVs:

2CV spare parts in USA
Revolution Motors Ltd

See also on this site for UK Parts suppliers exporting to the US:
UK National 2CV Parts Suppliers
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