In 1976, a professor at a French design school named Camondo thought it would be a good exercise for his students to personalize a mass-marketed consumer good whose appearance was toned down to appeal to a wide target audience. After discussing several options, the class chose to focus on the Citroën 2CV.
The 2CV fit the bill perfectly. Not only was it built to appeal to a wide array of drivers, it was designed to be as affordable as possible so it was a no-frills car by most means of measurement. Metallic paint, chrome trim, alloy wheels and all kinds of other aesthetic accessories that were becoming increasingly common in the 1970s were foreign to 2CV buyers.
Surprisngly, Citroën’s public relations department got word of the project and chose to sponsor it by giving the students 2CV blueprints to work from. Over the following months, the class designed over 60 motifs for the 2CV ranging from conservative designs to wild, multi-colored creations that fit in perfectly with the era.
Halfway through the project, Citroën boosted the students’ motivation by announcing it would pick its favorite design and put it on a regular-production car. When it came time to pick a winner, company execs chose one penned by Claire Pagniez that made the 2CV look like a shoe. It was christened “basket,” a term derived from the word basketball that means “sneaker” in French.
Citroën kept its promise and transferred Pagniez’s design to a production car. The customized 2CV was displayed in Paris but it appears that it did not draw a favorable reaction from the public and Citroën stopped short of turning it into a limited-edition model. Two examples were built – one for the right foot, one for the left foot – and they were occasionally used for ad campaigns over the following years.
Both cars were based on the 2CV 6, meaning that they were powered by an air-cooled 602cc flat-twin engine. Linked to a four-speed manual transmission, the mill made 29 horsepower and 28 lb-ft. of torque. It propelled the car from zero to 62 mph (100 km/h) in about 33 seconds and on to a top speed of roughly 71 mph (115 km/h).
Citroën’s Spanish arm got wind of the project and dusted off the design in 1982 when it launched the 2CV Marcatelo, a limited edition of 300 cars designed to celebrate the 1982 Soccer World Cup. Pagniez’s basic idea was carried over to the Marcatelo but it featured several modifications including orange graphics and a simpler design.