The Car Made of Wood

Michel Robillard is a retired wood worker from central France. He’s been a carpenter since he was 14. Robillard began making miniature wooden replicas of world-famous autos in the 1990s and has since won countless awards for his work. But his dream was to make a wooden car at scale that was drivable. He finally began work on his lifelong dream in his workshop near Loches in central France in 2011. Six years later, he completed the craziest project of his lifetime.

He carved a replica of the famous 1953 Citroën 2CV, which was the French response to the German VW Beetle. The Citroën 2CV is one of the most iconic vehicles in French auto history. Introduced in 1948, it was in production for 40 years before it was discontinued in 1988. Over 3.8 million units of this iconic vehicle were sold before it left the production line completely. Thanks to Michel Robillard, the iconic classic will live on forever as a piece of art.

His work of art required several wood species: pear tree wood for the frame, apple tree wood for the hood, walnut for the wings and steering wheel, birch for the doors and trunk, and elm for the dashboard. It’s built on a Citroën Dyane 6 chassis from 1966, since that model is sturdy enough to support the increased weight of the wood as it’s around 250kg heavier than the non-wood model. The wooden version is equipped with an original engine from Citroën’s later 3CV model, giving it the extra power needed to propel the heavier wooden structure. The car’s frame is protected from the heat of the engine with a layer of insulation. The engine, the vehicle’s metal frame, wheels and headlights are the only parts the Frenchman didn’t craft himself. They’re originals from the actual Citroën 2CV. The hubcaps are made of wood, as are the bench seats which have comfortable pillow cushions. This car is ready for the road and Robillard is ready for that challenge too. “The goal was always to drive it on the road, because it would be a ‘first’ in France, I think that today, I achieved that goal. But my dream would be to drive this car at the foot of the Eiffel Tower,” Robillard is noted as saying.

Robillard’s worked many long hours to construct this remarkable Citroën 2CV. More than fifteen development models sit on the shelves of his workshop. He hopes one day the finished product may be featured in a commercial or in a feature film. But not a remake of Griard Oury’s “Le Corniaud” where a Citroën 2CV meets its end by crashing into crates in a town square.

The wooden Citroën 2CV caught the attention of prospective buyers. But Robillard isn’t selling. He hoped his creation would “remain after I’m gone,” and go on display in an art gallery someday. His wish became reality in August 2017.

Citroën decided to pay tribute to this incredible creation by entering it into the brand’s digital Hall of Fame, the Citroën Origins platform. The wooden 2CV created by Michel Robillard officially joined all the legendary vehicles of the brand, such as the Traction, the DS or the Mehari, in the virtual museum. With this gesture, Citroën looks to the future but doesn’t forget its past heritage and legacy.

 

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