Friday, 15 July 2011


The Citroën 2CV has never been an obvious choice as a base for a sports car. It may be small and light, but it's designed for rural, utilitarian pursuits such as carrying egg-crates across ploughed fields, rather than demonstrating any particularly tight dynamic prowess.
However, that didn't stop Camille Martin - Mayor of the tiny village of Bernon in the fifties - attempting to develop a 2CV-based coupe with a little flair. The UMAP 500 SM (UMAP standing for Usine Moderne d'Applications Plastique) had a glassfibre body that was so different from the wedgy tin snail, you could really only guess at its origins from the narrow three-stud wheels.
Until you drove it. Then you'd find that it was the same wallowy, softly-sprung chassis beloved by farmers across France; powered by the same 499cc twin, its 20bhp would never provide sufficient performance to raise eyebrows, even with a kerb-weight of just 526kg.

Debuting at the 1957 Paris Motor Show, Martin's hopes were high for his unusual little project, but the lack of power or refinement meant that he just couldn't compete with the Italians; in the end, fewer than 100 were built. But for a short while in the late 1950s, the Mayor of Bernon was the king of the rural roads, casually puttering about in a stylish coupe of his own creation. And that's not a bad legacy to leave behind.

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