STUTTGART - Citroen will build a modern, low-cost version of the legendary 2CV to match Volkswagen's New Beetle and Rover's new Mini.
The revered ugly duckling went out of production in 1992, 44 years after it was introduced to a mixture of ridicule and acclaim.
'We'll do it in an entirely different way,' said Olivier Van Ruymbeke, deputy director of Citroen's international division.
Van Ruymbeke said a modern 2CV will be an image-booster for Citroen. He did not give details. Company insiders say the new 2CV, codenamed C1, is scheduled for introduction in 2000.
They say it will be offered in two- and four-door versions and share the same front-wheel-drive platform as the Peugeot 206 coming this year.
It will feature retro-styling with a rounded roofline and wide-track stance inspired by the original 2CV.
The 2CV (which stands for deux chevaux, or 'two horses') was conceived in the 1930s as an affordable car for the masses. It was put into production after World War II.
Pierre-Jules Boulanger championed the 2CV after taking control of Citroen from Andre Citroen.
Boulanger insisted that it be able to carry two people and 50kg of potatoes over the roughest terrain. Other requirements were that the car convey a basket of eggs across a plowed field without any of them breaking, cover 100km on 3 liters of gasoline and travel at 60kph.
Boulanger described the prototype design as 'a deck chair under an umbrella.'
The war delayed his ambitions until 1948, when the 2CV - powered by a tiny twin-cylinder, air-cooled engine - was launched in Paris.
The car was an immediate hit. Demand for the four-door ugly duckling with a canvas roof soared far ahead of the company's ability to build the car.
More than 30 different versions were built in a total output of 7 million cars before the 2CV reached the end of the road in 1992.
Mike Kable contributed