Emile Leray's Citroenocycle

Thursday, May 24, 2012
Click any image to enlarge
Emile Leray was driving in the Sahara Desert when his Citroen 2CV broke down. He had, through a rather sketchy sounding series of circumstances, left the road to circle a military post when he hit a rock and broke his car.

Stranded in the middle of nowhere, with only 10 days worth of water, he decided to take his Citroen apart and build a motorcycle from the parts. To complicate things he only had simple tools to accomplish his task. But build it he did, kind of like a real life Flight of the Phoenix.

As Oddity Central reports in their article Real-Life MacGyver Builds Working Motorcycle Out of Car That Broke Down in the Desert:
After carefully considering all the mechanical barriers he would have to surmount, Emile starts work on his DIY motorcycle, the next morning. He starts dismantling his Citroen, by removing the body, which he then uses as shelter against the sandstorms. Working under the scorching sun in a shirt with short sleeves, he makes his own sleeves out of a pair of socks, and keeps tinkering on his Mad Max-style creation. He fits the wheel arm upside down on a smaller chassis, adding the engine and gearbox in the middle. The French adventurer does all this knowing he needs to reserve some space for the battery, gas tank and his luggage, and without neglecting the arrangement of the steering system. But it’s the 2CV transmission that’s truly surprising – a drum drives the rear wheel by friction, and the laws of physics force Emile to drive it only in reverse.

It seems almost impossible for someone to build a motorcycle in the middle of the desert, with just a few basic tools, and no drills, blowtorches or welding equipment. But Emile Leray created his two-wheeler only by screwing the parts together. To make the needed holes, he bent the pieces of metal to a 90 degree angle and weakened the thinner areas using a hacksaw or a round file, puncturing them with the hammer and punch.

The adventurer began work on his unique project thinking he would complete it in three days time, but he only succeeded after twelve days of hard work. With only 1/2 liter of water left, he managed to ride his motorcycle (called Desert Camel) out of the desert. On his way to civilization, Leray was actually pulled over by the Gendermerie, for driving an illegal vehicle. Now that’s what I call a real-life story fit for a movie.


chuck said...

Amazing. The man is either a mechanical genius or a world class con artist.

KurtP said...

I read about this somewhere else.
And naturally being French...he HAD to take a pic of himself in his ..THONG

ambisinistral said...

I saw that picture too. I deserve thanks for not reposting it. The horror! The horror!

OMMAG said...

My bullshit detectors are in full alarm mode..........this story has too many holes and unnecessary justifications of illogical decisions.

I say thoe whole thing is a con job.

ambisinistral said...

It seems pretty fishy. looking around a bit more i discovered this story is actually supposedly from 1993, although there doesn't seem to be much of a paper trail about it prior to a Reddit post a couple of days ago.

Anonymous said...

He's also reportedly made a boat out of a 2CV in the depths of Africa. Did anyone mention his online boutique?
Je sens le poisson.