Citroën and the Italian coachbuilder Caselani have announced that one of the quirkiest small vans this side of the early-nineties Nissan S-Cargo will shortly go on sale.
The Berlingo 2CV Fourgonette is an imaginative stylistic reworking which sees Citroën’s modern-day Berlingo used as the base for a design inspired by the 1954 Citroën 2CV Fourgonette, the van variant of the iconic French people’s car with a corrugated sheet body.
Not a carbon copy…
“The design specifications did not involve simply copying the forms of the old van in the strictest sense,” said Caselani designer David Obendorfer.
“Instead, they involved going back in time and bringing its unique charm to 21st-century vehicle. As a distant descendant, Berlingo was completely designed as a tribute to the Citroën 2CV of the 1950s. It was an exciting challenge because the original van had completely different proportions. It had very short front overhang, nice long bonnet and visually stand-alone load compartment, very different features from those of Berlingo. So I focused more on an overall evocative aspect of the original vehicle rather than straining the individual design elements to make them look like the 2CV Fourgonnette.”
The front panel, grille, wings and bonnet of the Berlingo have been replaced with fibreglass alternatives reminiscent of the shape of the old 2CV (right down to the bug-eyed headlights). The curving grille is adorned with the big Citroën double-chevron of the original. While the wings also feature a series of small grooves in homage to the vents which existed on the original Fourgonette to let heat escape from the engine bay.
Whereas the corrugated panels of the old Fourgonette were to give the rear section some structural rigidity, on Caselani’s design, they’re purely decorative and fit on top of the existing side, back door and roof panels as a second skin. At the rear, the tail lights are circular like the old van, though quite a lot bigger for safety reasons. The window aperture in the fibreglass rear door skin is rounded at the top and bottom in the same fashion as that of the old Fourgonette.
Some of the styling is surprisingly detailed, with not just those grooves echoing the original engine bay vents but further homage paid in the form of the chrome strip running down the centre of the bonnet. A tiny chrome accent on each headlight is similar to the handle used on the old 2CV for changing the bulbs and chrome hubcaps which are the same as those originally found on some old 2CVs.
Still a Berlingo
Beyond the body, the Caselani Fourgonette is still an up-to-date Citroën Berlingo with not a frantic flat-twin under the sculpted bonnet but likely a choice of a 1.5-litre diesel engine, a 1.2 petrol or indeed an electric motor which can deliver a range of up to 275km. Loading capacity remains at a maximum of one tonne with a volume of 4.4m³.
The retro touches strictly apply to the outside, with Caselani’s Fourgonette retaining its modern interior with technology such as a colour head-up display, hands-free access and start, overload indicator and rearward-facing cameras, as well as active safety braking, towing stability control, Grip Control with Hill Assist Descent and a blind angle monitoring system.
The Berlingo 2CV Fourgonette joins two more retro-styled Citroën tributes in Caselani’s line-up: one based around the modern Citroën Relay and styled in homage to that perennial favourite of mobile coffee and food vendors, the H-van, and the other based on Citroën’s current Dispatch with a design modelled on the old Citroën HG. Unlike the HG, though, there’s no sign of Caselani turning its attention to the passenger version of the Berlingo.
Orders for Caselani’s Berlingo 2CV Fourgonette open from October 1st 2022.