Citroën Méhari

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For the méhari camel, see dromedary.
Citroën Méhari
Méhari - Flickr - besopha.jpg
Overview
Manufacturer Citroën
Production 1968—1988
Assembly
Designer Roland de La Poype
Body and chassis
Class Off-road compact SUV (J)
Body style 2-door cabriolet SUV
Layout Front engine, front-wheel drive / four-wheel drive
Platform Citroën 2CV platform
Related
Powertrain
Engine 602 cc flat-2
Dimensions
Wheelbase 2,400 mm (94.5 in)
Length 3,520 mm (138.6 in)
Width 1,530 mm (60.2 in)
Height 1,640 mm (64.6 in)
Curb weight 570 kg (1,256.6 lb)
Chronology
Successor Citroën E-Méhari

The Citroën Méhari was an off-road compact SUV produced by the French car maker Citroën, a variant of the Citroën 2CV. 144,953 Méharis were built between the car's French launch in May 1968[1] and 1988 when production ceased.[2] A méhari is a type of fast-running dromedary camel, which can be used for racing or transport. A méhariste was a French Armée d'Afrique and Army of the Levant cavalryman that used these camels.

The Méhari was based on the Citroën Dyane 6, and had a body made of ABS plastic with a soft top. It also employed the 602 cc flat twin petrol engine shared with the 2CV6 and Citroën Ami. This is similar to the way the mechanical parts of the 1960 Mini became the 1964 Mini Moke.

Méhari Interior

A four-wheel drive version of the Méhari was produced from 1980 to 1983 and had excellent off-road qualities, due to the lightness of the vehicle.

The standard Méhari weighs just 535 kg (1,179 lb) and has the interconnected fully independent long-travel 2CV suspension used by all of the Citroën 'A-Series' vehicles.

History[edit]

Origin[edit]

The Méhari was designed by French World War II fighter ace Count Roland de la Poype, who headed the French company SEAP - Société d'Etudes et d'Applications des Plastiques. This company was already a supplier to Citroën, and SEAP developed a working concept of the car before presenting it to its client.[3]

Post-production[edit]

The Méhari ended production in 1988 with no replacement. This left a gap in the market, that others have tried to address.

The Teihol company, which had been building the recently defunct Renault Rodeo, created the Tangara using 2CV mechanicals, with bolt on pre-dyed GRP panels. It also created a Citroën AX-based model, but the company ceased operations in 1990.[4]

Due to its mechanical simplicity the Méhari can be restored to ‘as new’ condition – all parts including the chassis are easily available, creating a thriving restoration market.[5]

Variants[edit]

Méhari 4x4[edit]

In 1979, Citroën launched the Méhari 4x4 with drive to all four wheels. Unlike the Citroën 2CV Sahara 4x4, this car had only one engine, rather than one engine per axle.

The body is distinguished by its spare wheel mounted on the specially designed bonnet, its additional bumpers, front and rear, its flared wheel arches (for 1982), big optional tyres (for 1982) and its tail lights similar to the Citroën Acadiane van.[6] The 4x4 version has a gearbox with four normal speeds and a three-speed transfer gearbox for crossing slopes up to 60%. At the time, the Méhari 4x4 was one of the few 4x4s with four-wheel independent suspension. The car had all wheel disc brakes.[7]

Méhari 4x4 production stopped in 1983. With only about 1,300 vehicles produced, the 4x4 is now highly sought after and transmission parts are virtually unobtainable.

Limited editions[edit]

Two limited edition versions of the Méhari were sold: The first was the white and blue Méhari Azur (Blue), of which only 700 were sold, and the all yellow Méhari Plage (Beach), produced for the Spanish and Portuguese market.

Sale[edit]

United States[edit]

US Model

The Méhari was sold in the United States in 1969 and 1970, where the vehicle was classified as a truck. As trucks had far more lenient National Highway Traffic Safety Administration safety standards than passenger cars in the US, the Méhari did not have seat belts. The Méhari did have limited sales success. Budget Rent-A-Car bought a number of them and offered them as rentals in Hawaii. Hearst Castle, in San Simeon, California, used them as groundskeeper cars.[8]

Distinctions for the US-model included:

  • Altered front panel with larger 7" sealed-beam headlamps
  • Lateral side marker lights
  • Special boot lid with room for US registration plate and a lamp (Lucas) either side of it.
  • Straight rear bumper.
  • Two-speed wiper motor.
  • Reversing lights.
  • Hexagonal yellow "cats eyes" on front and rear sides.

South America[edit]

Méhari Ranger, Uruguay

The Méhari sold in Argentina had a fibreglass body rather than ABS. The car was produced in Uruguay from 1971 to 1979. After Citroën left Argentina following the collapse of the economy in the late 1970s, the production of the Méhari, renamed the "Méhari Ranger" with flared wheel arches and big tires, continued for some time.

Military[edit]

The French Army purchased 7,064 Méharis - some of which were modified to have 24 V electric power.[3] In addition, the Citroën Méhari was also in service with the Irish Defence Forces, which bought a total of 12 vehicles in the late 1970s; Most were sold at auction about 1985, but one is retained at the DFTC in the Curragh Camp, County Kildare, Ireland.

Production[edit]

Colours[edit]

The car's colour was integrated into the ABS plastic material in production, and as a utilitarian vehicle, the options chart was quite limited. Only Vert Montana remained in the catalogue for all the 18 years of production. Except for the limited edition Azur, the official names of colours all refer to desert regions.

Ultraviolet rays from the sun impact the colorfastness of ABS plastic, so unrestored cars have a faded appearance.[8] New bodies for restorations are only supplied in white colour, and now require painting on top of a specialist primer.

Colour Years
Rouge Hopi 1968-1975 DS-15-05 CITROEN MEHARI 1972.jpg
Vert Montana 1968-1987 Mehari 1977.JPG
Beige Kalahari 1968-1977
Orange Kirghiz 1969-1987 Citroën Méhari offen.jpg
Vert Tibesti 1976-1979 ModelMehari.jpg
Beige Hoggar 1978-1987 Mehari1.jpg
Jaune Atacama 1980-1987 Citroen Mehari Portugal.jpg
Azur 1983-1987

Sales figures[edit]

Year 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 Total
Méhari 837 12,624 11,246 10,175 11,742 12,567 13,910 8,920 9,569 9,645 8,467 8,995 8,351 4,833 4,137 3,349 2,654 1,882 669 381 144,953[9]

In popular culture[edit]

In the autumn-winter 1973-1974 Paris was terrorized when 63 Citroën Méhari were burned by an arsonist.[10]

The Méhari has made several film and television appearances: In the 1971 film The Omega Man, Charlton Heston drives a green Méhari and in 2004's The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Bill Murray also drives one.

In Hawaii, Brian Keith drives a Méhari in The Brian Keith Show, which ran from 1972 to 1974.

In 1973's Aloha from Hawaii Via Satellite TV Special with Elvis Presley, a yellow Méhari can be seen prominently (at the 18 minute mark) during the Early Morning Rain song.

A beach-themed update arriving for the 2013 videogame Grand Theft Auto V brought the addition of the Canis Kalahari, an off-road vehicle based on the Citroen Mehari.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Méhari". L'Auto-Journal: Le Salon de l'auto 1974. Numero Special: Page 89. September 1974. 
  2. ^ Cars & parts - Volume 13 1969 - Page 23 "If you were a Franchised Méhari dealer in 1969, you could have cashed in on a €1 billion market. Méhari by Citroën is the newest entry into the booming recreational/utility market. A market that had retail sales of €1 billion in 1969."
  3. ^ a b Par Nicolas MeunierVoir tous ses articles (22 May 2013). "Citroën Méhari : les 45 ans de la voiture en plastique". Challenges. Retrieved 5 September 2015. 
  4. ^ "Teilhol Tangara". Retrieved 5 September 2015. 
  5. ^ "2CV MEHARI CLUB CASSIS - Vente et Achat des pièces 2CV et Méhari". Retrieved 5 September 2015. 
  6. ^ "Citroën Méhari page 1". Retrieved 5 September 2015. 
  7. ^ "Citroën Méhari page 5". Retrieved 5 September 2015. 
  8. ^ a b "Guide to Citroens in North America". Retrieved 5 September 2015. 
  9. ^ "Production numbers from Citroenet". Citroën statistics. Citroenet.org. Retrieved 6 December 2012. 
  10. ^ "EN IMAGES. La Méhari fête ses 45 ans". leparisien.fr. 16 May 2013. Retrieved 5 September 2015. 

External links[edit]