My First Car: Sweet and sour memories of lemon yellow 2CV

Ian McLauchlin’s first car was a yellow Citroen 2CV called ‘lemon phys’ because of its colour and re

Ian McLauchlin’s first car was a yellow Citroen 2CV called ‘lemon phys’ because of its colour and registration. - Credit: supplied

Ian McLauchlin recalls some quirks of his Citroen 2CV and relives a humorous case of mistaken identity.

In the late 1970s, I was the proud owner of a yellow Citroen 2CV. It went like the clappers... downhill with a boot full of bricks!

Its registration number was PHY 927S and it became known as 'lemon phys'. It was easily recognisable because there weren't many around. Not that colour anyway.

It had a few idiosyncracies.

One of my favourites was that the roof was a rubberised fabric affair which was stretched to close by a tubular steel frame. When it was open, the frame hinged back and you could fasten the frame open. If you unclipped the roof fabric you could roll it all the way back and, lo, wind in the hair motoring (that's when I had some hair). But don't forget to fasten the frame. I did several times. Result? Go over a bump and the frame fell down behind you and hit the back of your head.

When you came to service it, you could unbolt both wings, take them off and step inside the engine compartment. If necessary you could hide there from the Missus!

When you locked the door, the handle spun round.

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And all the seats could easily unclip and you could take them out for a comfortable and civilised picnic. If the ground was damp, it was an easy matter to dig the legs out, brush off the muck and put them back in the car. I must admit though that I never did try to test the designer's criterion of being able to drive across a ploughed field with a tray full of eggs and not break any. My one big regret in life.

There were many more idiosyncracies but not regrets.

One summer we went to Bristol Old Vic to watch a play At the time there was lots of street parking within easy walking distance. I checked doors were locked and handles spun, and went to theatre.

Afterwards, I emerged into a warm summer evening, not a care in the world, and ready to greet lemon phys, stroke her, tell her what she'd missed and show her the programme. I walked down the street and there she was. Unmistakeable. Lemon yellow and ready to take us home. But wait a minute. I didn't leave that door handle pointing up... I started to get slightly anxious. Oh no, the bumper's dented and there's a scratch all the way down one side. A glorious evening started to curdle and turn sour. I wonder if the bumper'll pull out. I got down, grabbed it and tugged hard. It moved a bit. Then I heard a shout.



'Come down here and look at this.'

And there, three cars down was another lemon yellow Citroen 2CV. With door handles horizontal, bumpers intact and no scratches. Reasonably well polished too. It's mine!

Quick get in. Must get away before the owner of the other comes along, sees me trying to straighten his bumper and thinks I did it.

Some time later, the police came to our door and asked where I was one night recently. A 2CV had been seen near a crime scene and they were interviewing all local owners. I told them where but later realised I'd got the nights mixed up and that wasn't where I was but they didn't return. They clearly thought I was a lost cause, as is anyone who drives a 2CV, and was too stupid to remember where they'd been recently. The stupidity, or innocence, was confirmed when I told them I had a friend who lived in the same village who also drove a Citroen 2CV!

Tell us about your first car and the adventures and scrapes you had. I doesn't matter how long ago it was, just email your motoring memories with a picture of the car to or post it to Andy Russell, motoring editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE.