Paris — It took carpenter Michel Robillard more than 5,000 hours over five years to build a wooden copy of a vintage Citroen 2CV. On Sunday, he sold it for a whopping $224,440.
The 2CV was first produced by the French carmaker in 1948. It is now revered as a classic European vehicle, and while production of the popular four-seater ended in 1990, it remains a favorite with collectors far and wide.
For his labor of love, cabinetmaker Robillard, 74, used wood from fruit trees to build the one-of-a-kind car. The main body is made from apple and pear, the front and back are in walnut and the base for the doors and trunk is made of cherry wood.
Robillard's wooden car actually works. It's capable of hitting 50 miles per hour with its gas engine borrowed from another Citroen model. As a collector's item and unregistered vehicle, however, it's banned from public thoroughfares and can only be driven on private roads.
It was the first time a functioning wooden car came up for auction — rarity that likely helped drive up the price. It had a presale estimated value of between $160,000 and $214,000, but the bidding soon drove on by that figure, breaking the previous record for a 2CV sale of $184,000 — and that one was a normal, metal car.
"So much more than a car, it's a work of art," announced the auctioneer when Robillard's 2CV went under the gavel.
The buyer, Jean-Paul Favand, runs a museum of curios and fairground objects, and he collects 2CVs.
The 2CV's name originally comes from the French word for horsepower. It was a "deux chevaux," as it had two "tax horsepower," a reference to a system of taxation previously used to assess vehicles registered in France.
While his dream has now become a reality and his 2CV has gone to a new home, Robillard said he wasn't about to relax into retirement. He already has a new project in the works: Building a wooden DS21 Cabriolet coupé Chapron in just 27 months.
He wants it finished in time to mark the 70th anniversary of the legendary Citroen DS in 2025.
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