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Citroën Mehari

Citroën Mehari (France, 1967-1988)

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Model history


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Model history

The little, two-door all-roader blended purposeful looks with extreme minimalism. It was meant to be utilitarian but let owners decide what that meant. The Mehari was as comfortable hauling a few hay bales as it was carrying surfboards to the beach. The name comes from a type of camel common to North Africa.

Roland de la Poype, a World War 2 fighter ace who entered the plastics industry after the war, designed the body. The Mehari was made from ABS plastic and dyed various colors. It made the Mehari light and very cheap to build.

The Mehari came with a plastic cover with plastic windows that gave it limited all weather drivability, the car could be completely opened if the driver wished, even the windshield folded out of the way.

Under the odd skin, the Mehari was a fairly standard Citroën 2CV. It used a 602cc flat twin engine with 32hp. The plastic body kept weight down to 570kg (1250lb).

A four-wheel drive version launched in 1979. It moved the spare wheel to the hood and added larger bumpers and flared wheel arches to fit larger tires. They also received a four-speed manual transmission with a three-speed transfer case, four-wheel independent suspension and rear disc brakes. It meant that the cars could make it about 40 degree slopes. From 79 to 83, Citroën built about 1,300 of them.

Given the camel inspiration for Mehari's name, it should be no surprise that they became quite popular in sandy regions. They were used as safety vehicles and emergency ambulances during several major rallies in the 70s and in the 1980 Paris-Dakar rally. The police and army in these regions also commonly used them.

Citroën built 144,953 Meharis from 1968 to 1987. The Mehari was only available in the US for 1970, and it managed to sell about 200 of them.
 



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André Citroën had already been involved in the automotive industry for many years, where he produced gears. While the First World War was taking place, André Citroën was producing munitions and armaments for France. Once the conflict was over, Citroën was left with an "unworthy" factory, given that he no longer needed to produce those equipments. He then turned his factory into ...  more

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