André Lefèbvre was the engineer in charge of the TPV (Très Petite Voiture "Very Small Car") project. By 1939, the TPV was deemed ready and several prototypes had been built. Those prototypes made use of aluminium and magnesium parts and had water-cooled engines. The seats were hammocks suspended from the roof by wires.
Until 1994, when three TPVs were discovered in a barn, it was believed that only two prototypes had survived. As of 2003, five TPVs are known. For long it was believed that the project was so well hidden that the all the prototypes were lost at the end of the war (in fact it seems that none of the hidden TPVs was lost after the War, but in the 1950s an internal memo ordered them to be scrapped. The surviving TPVs were, in fact, hidden from the top management by some workers who were sensitive to their historical value). After the war, internal reports at Citroën showed that producing the TPV would not be economically viable, given the rising cost of aluminium in the post-war economy. A decision was made to replace most of the aluminium parts with steel parts. Other changes were made, the most notable being an air-cooled engine, new seats and a restyling of the body by the Italian Flaminio Bertoni.
It took three years for Citroën to rework the TPV and the car was nicknamed "Toujours Pas Vue" (Still Not Seen) by the press. Belgian built Citroën 2CV AZ-Luxe Citroën was finally unveiled at the Paris Salon in 1948. The car on display was nearly identical to the 2CV type A that would be sold next year, but lacked an electric starter, the addition of which was decided the day before the opening of the Salon of Paris. The car was enormously criticised. In spite of that, it had a great impact on low-income population. It was laughed at by journalists, probably because Citroën had launched the car without any press advertising.
The car was qualified as a "Spartan car" or a "sardine can" by many, other journalists called it "an umbrella on wheels". Boris Vian described the car tongue-in-cheek as an "aberration roulante" (rolling aberration) charging the slowness of this low-class car for causing Paris' traffic jams. History has confirmed that the car was charming in a lot of people's views, and a revolution in consumer transportation, at least on the French market.
In 1981, a bright yellow 2CV was driven by James Bond in the film For Your Eyes Only, including an elaborate set piece car chase through a Spanish olive farm. Bond uses the unique abilities of the modestly powered 2CV to escape his pursuers in Peugeot 504 sedans. The car in the film was fitted with the flat-4 engine from a Citroën GS for slightly more power. One of the many limited production series of 2CV in the 1980s was a series of "2CV James Bond" vehicles fitted with the standard flat-2 engine, painted in yellow with '007' on the front doors and fake bullet holes.
The 1980s special edition models - (007,Beachcomber, Bamboo), some of which became full models - (the Dolly and the Art-Deco style Charleston) all made a virtue of the individual anachronistic styling. The changes between the special editions and the basic 'Spécial' model was only a different speedometer, paint, seat fabric, internal door handles, and interior light. Many of the 'special edition' interior trim items were carryovers from the 1970s 'Club' models. This probably gained former VW customers as the only other 'retro alternative' style of vehicle, the Volkswagen Beetle was withdrawn from the European market in 1978.
The 2CV was produced for 42 years, the model finally succumbing to customer demands for speed and safety, areas in which this ancient design had fallen significantly behind modern cars.
In 1988, production ceased in France but was continued in Portugal. The last 2CV rolled off the Portuguese production line on July 27, 1990. In all, a total of 3,872,583 2CV sedans were produced. Including the commercial versions of the 2CV, Dyane, Méhari, FAF, & Ami variants, the 2CV's underpinnings spawned over nine million cars.
Source: Wikipedia Citroen 2CV Article