He Citroën Mehari It was a revolutionary model. He was born 55 years ago in the midst of the French student protest movement with the idea of offering what many were looking for in a vehicle: the feeling of freedom and that it was prepared for adventure.
This versatility, combined with its resistance and low maintenance cost, have made it one of the models more emblematic from the French brand.
That’s why in Europe produced for almost 20 years (between 1968 and 1987), building 144,953 units of which 1,213 belonged to the 4×4 version. The Mehari was produced, for the most part, in the Citroën plant in Forest, Belgium, but also in seven other plants in France, Spain and Portugal.
His fame jumped into the pond and came to our countrywhere it began to be produced between 1971 and 1979 in shared production with the Uruguayan companies Dasur, who made the bodywork, and Nordex, responsible for the final assembly.
In total they were 3,997 unitsa smaller amount considering you can still see copies circulating on the street.
The versatile car
According to the dictionary, “Mehari” is a domestic dromedary of large size, characterized by its resistance and its aptitude for running.
The car fulfilled all these characteristics and could be adapted to all kinds of needs. It could become a cargo vehicle, a touring vehicle, a convertible and an adventurer. With a “hose” it was ready and it didn’t matter if it got wet inside.
El Méhari has recreated the best of hand made strollersbut with the difference of having the prestige, support and guarantee of the French brand.
Highly modular, part of its floor can be transformed into a backrest, thus making it possible to add two seats in the backrest and carry up to 4 passengers. You could also add or remove doors and even disprove your windshield entirely.
Its bodywork, designed by Roland Paulze d’Ivoy de la Poype, consisted of only 11 pieces easily repairable and made of ABS plastic (acrylic butadiene styrene), a stainless and economical material capable of taking any shape and colour.
Although it has been in production for nearly 20 years, the Mehari it only had three different versions, including two limited editions. In 1979, Citroën introduced a new variant with the 4×4 version, offering a style that is almost unmatched even today. While in 1983 the special versions Méhari Playa (Plage), characterized by its eye-catching yellow colour, and Méhari Azur, white and blue, were launched.
Even so, the model was used as a medical aid vehicle for the 1980 Paris-Dakar Rally; He has also performed duties within the French military, customs and airports and has also acted in films such as ‘El Gendarme de Saint Tropez’.
Also in Argentina
Its popularity brought it to this corner of the map, where it was produced almost for a decade.
Unlike its French counterpart, the Argentine Méhari was not developed on the Dyane 6, sold here only imported from France, but on the Citroën 3CV platform, a model from which it inherited the mechanics.
Both models had 602 cm3 twin-cylinder engine, although the Argentine vehicle had 31.5 horsepower instead of the 28 hp provided by the European. Obviously the braking system was drum and not disc.
The gearbox was manual with 4 synchronized speeds, with the classic angled selector coming out of the front panel. The suspensions were also from the 3CV: four independent wheels controlled by a coil spring and hydraulic shock absorber.
For its part, to lower the cost of production, the bodywork was not made in ABS plastic but in glass fiber reinforced plastic (GRP); which is why during its first years it was offered only in red, adding a second option in blue only in 1977.
At the end of the same year, Citroën launched the Mehari IInoted for having wider tires and orange bodywork, which is why it became known as a “clockwork orange”.
However, a year later the French automaker closed the shutters of its factory due to the crisis the country was experiencing. Even so, a brand auto parts maker (EMECA) managed to assemble a few units during the 1980s.
Ben Stock is a journalist working for News Rebeat, where he covers the automobile section. With a passion for cars and the industry, Ben brings insightful and in-depth reporting to his readers.