50 Years Citroën Méhari

Summer, sun, beach – whoever is driving a Méhari, feels almost like on vacation. A pure mean of transportation with unparalleled design. Everything was practical for a life at the water, sand and wind. The Méhari got its name in memory of the famous North African riders who crossed the desert on racing dromedaries.

The body made of plastic with the corrugated iron appearance does not come from the Citroën factory, but was built from 1968 to 1987 at the French company SEAB. The chassis and technology of the Citroën Dyane 6 served as the basis for the Méhari. The 602 cc two-cylinder four-stroke engine with approx. 28.5 hp acts under the bonnet. Enough power to move the only 555 kg Méhari with a lot of fun and to bring it to a top speed of 100 km / h. There are hardly any limits to the temperament of the Méhari. What the buggy was for the VW fans and the moke for the mini-friends was the Méhari for the Citroën lovers – a fun mobile. The equipment of the Méhari is reduced to the bare minimum, the seats are washable. If necessary, the floor panel could be cleaned with a broom. The dashboard is minimalistic. But this sustainable reduction and the unrestrained temperament makes the Méhari so sympathetic.
When the Méhari is in motion, the relationship to the Dyane can not be overseen. The high-backed rear with independent suspension on longitudinal arms and horizontal coil springs with additional inertia vibration and hydraulic dampers respects all driving characteristics of the 2CV and the Dyane. Thus, the Méhari surprises with a remarkable ride comfort, even when it comes to gravel roads.

In Germany, very few Méhari models were registred. Due to the fire hazard of the plastic body, the German authorities prohibited the approval. This changed a few years later, as the approximation of European regulations gives way to the Citroën plastic SUV in Germany until the official production cessation in December 1987, a total of 144,953 copies were sold. Most popular colors were Vert Montana and Orange Kirghiz. In southern France and Corsica, the modest fun car with endurance can still be seen in everydays traffic on the streets.
50 years ago, on 16 May 1968, Citroën surprised with the presentation of the Méhari – a vehicle that was far ahead of its time. The Citroën Méhari was more than a recreational car: it was a symbol and phenomenon of automotive history. May 1968: An important phase of French history marked by rebellion, but also by freedom, ingenuity and carefreeness – values what the Citroën Méhari embodies.

The Citroën Méhari was presented – then still under the name “Dyane 6 Méhari” – on 16 May 1968 on a golf course in Deauville. The idea for the Citroën Méhari was born by industrialist Roland de La Popye, chairman of the board of the “Société d’Application des Brevets, S.E.A.B” specialized in plastics. New on the Citroën Méhari was the body of monochrome ABS plastic (acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene). This new lightweight material could take any shape and be dyed in any color. The second major feature of the Citroën Méhari was the hood, which could be removed up to the body belt, and the windscreen, which could be folded down on the hood. Thanks to its high chassis and plastic body, the Citroën Méhari made its way everywhere. With the advance in the 4 × 4 version, presented in 1979, the Méhari was even much more agile. Slopes of up to 60 percent could be mastered with this SUV – the vehicle thus offered freedoms that remained unmatched until today.

The Citroën Méhari fascinates. He can look back on a great career in the cinema (for example his appearance in “The Gendarme of Saint-Tropez”) and on the biggest rallyes of the world (Raid Liege – Dakar – Liege in 1969, Raid Paris – Kabul – Paris in 1970, Raid Paris – Persepolis – Paris in 1971, medical support vehicle of the Dakar Rally in 1980 …).
The Citroën Méhari also became a loyal companion of the French army and the “Gendarmerie nationale” – it was light and could pass any road.

In its 19-year history, the Citroën Méhari was available only in 1983 in two special series: as Citroën Méhari Plage in Spain and Citroën Méhari Azur in France, Italy and Portugal – a white-blue series (doors, grille, hood, surrounded headlight). Other, inspired by the same philosophy models were the vehicles Citroën Baby Brousse, Pony, Dalat or even the Citroën FAF. Between 1968 and 1987, almost 150,000 copies of the Citroën Méhari were produced. Until today it is a phenomenon in the automobile history.