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Citroën Looks Back on Funky Mehari After 45 Years

Built them for nearly 20 years

 
 
Slideshow
The four-wheel drive version has the spare tire moved to the hood and got larger wheel arches and larger tires

CitroënCitroënCitroënFrance, 1919 > present94 models
5546 photos
11 videos
was not afraid to embrace weird designs in its past. The classic DSDSCitroën DSFrance, 1955 > 197630 versions
215 photos
still looks like no other car ever made, but even for Citroën the MehariMehariCitroën MehariFrance, 1967 > present14 photos
was weird. On May 16, Citroën is remembering the 45th anniversary of the beginning of Mehari production. To celebrate, Citroën held a drive around Paris in Meharis on May 16. 

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 2CV2CVCitroën 2CVFrance, 1948 > 19907 versions
26 photos
2 videos
. 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. 

Encyclopedia
CitroënCitroën
Mehari Gen.1Mehari Gen.1
MehariMehari
Engine
Flat 2
Displacement
37 cu in
Top Speed
75 mph
Transmission
4, Manual
Maximum power
29 hp @ 5750 rpm
Type
Light delivery vehicle
Fuel
Petrol
Fuel consumption (combined)
--
price
--
annual ownership cost
$ 781

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