On Sunday, the 2CV broke down. This was a bit disconcerting as despite clocking up over 100,000 miles together, my little 2CV rarely fails to complete a journey. In fact, it was the very first time that it has needed recovery – aside from when it got smacked up the backside by an errant Mondeo, which doesn’t count as it wasn’t the 2CV’s fault.
The last time I called for assistance was in 2003 in fact. I was returning to Birmingham after visiting my new girlfriend (now my wife) and the alternator bolt snapped. A few weeks later, it did it again but I just took the alternator off and drove to my girlfriend’s house, promising to buy a new alternator this time and being very glad that 2CV’s possess so little electrickery.
This time, the fan pulley failed and broke into two pieces. The bit with the fan on it broke free from the middle bit, so I had much-reduced engine cooling and no alternator output. It had been making a noise for some time during our 200 mile journey, probably due to the fact that we’d covered over 100 miles absolutely flat-out. In 2CV terms, that’s about 70mph. Therefore I was aware that failure was imminent. Lacking tools and spares, I decided to push on. If there’s a sudden failure of cooling, a 2CV engine often develops a severe pinking habit, warning that you need to stop before damage occurs. There was no pinking but there was suddenly a smell of burning – later thought to probably be a bonfire! I got out and the fan was wobbling around a lot. I swiftly turned the engine off and when I removed the fan grille, the fan came apart completely. Frustratingly, we were 10 miles from home!
I did consider whether she might make it anyway – kit cars based on 2CVs often have no fan – but they also do away with the front bodywork and cowling, so air-flow is much improved. I didn’t want to chance it so called a good friend to tow us back. Fixing the problem will be simple. I just need to fit my spare fan. Well, ok. I first need to find my spare fan…