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The Citroën Méhari is a lightweight utilitarian and recreational vehicle manufactured and marketed by Citroën over 18 years in a single generation in two-wheel (1968-1988) and four-wheel drive (1980-1983) variations — noted for its doorless ABS plastic bodywork and foldable, stowable, fabric convertible top.

Citroën Méhari
Méhari - Flickr - besopha.jpg
Overview
ManufacturerCitroën
Production1968—1988
Assembly
Yugoslavia: Slovenia- Smrtnik factory
DesignerRoland de La Poype
Body and chassis
ClassOff-road compact SUV (J)
Body style2-door utility roadster
LayoutFront engine, front-wheel drive / four-wheel drive
PlatformCitroën 2CV platform
Related
Powertrain
Engine602 cc flat-2
Dimensions
Wheelbase2,400 mm (94.5 in)
Length3,520 mm (138.6 in)
Width1,530 mm (60.2 in)
Height1,640 mm (64.6 in)
Curb weight570 kg (1,256.6 lb)
Chronology
SuccessorCitroën C-Crosser
Citroën E-Méhari

The Méhari weighed approximately 535 kg (1,179 lb), featured the fully independent suspension shared with Citroën 'A-Series' vehicles[citation needed], shared its chassis with the Dyane 6 and the 602 cc (36.7 cu in) flat twin petrol engine shared with the 2CV6 and Ami.

Named after the fast-running dromedary camel,[citation needed] Citroën manufactured 144,953 Méharis between the car's French launch in May 1968[1] and end of production in 1988.[2]

Méhari interior

HistoryEdit

OriginEdit

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-productionEdit

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

The Teilhol 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. 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]

VariantsEdit

Méhari 4x4Edit

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 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.

Limited editionsEdit

Two limited edition versions of the Méhari were sold: the first was the white and blue Méhari Azur (Blue), of which 700 were sold, and the all-yellow Méhari Plage (Beach), produced for the Spanish and Portuguese market, of which only 500 were sold.

SaleEdit

United StatesEdit

 
US model

Citroen marketed the Méhari in the United States for model years 1969-970, 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. Budget Rent-A-Car offered them as rentals in Hawaii. Hearst Castle, in San Simeon, California, used them as groundskeeper cars.[8]

Revisions for the US marker 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 AmericaEdit

 
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.

MilitaryEdit

The French Army purchased 7,064 Méharis - some of which were modified to have 24 V electric power.[3] 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.

ProductionEdit

ColoursEdit

The car's colour was integrated into the ABS plastic during production, with limited color choices. One color, Vert Montana, remained a choice throughout production. Except for the limited edition Azur, the official names of colours all refer to desert regions.

As ultraviolet sunlight degrades the colorfastness of ABS plastic, unrestored cars may have faded.[8] New bodies for restorations are available in various original colours.

Colour Years
Rouge Hopi 1968-1975  
Vert Montana 1968-1987  
Beige Kalahari 1968-1977
Orange Kirghiz 1969-1987  
Vert Tibesti 1976-1979  
Beige Hoggar 1978-1987  
Jaune Atacama 1980-1987  
Azur 1983-1987  

Sales figuresEdit

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]

Paris arson incidentEdit

  • In 1973-1974, 63 Citroën Méhari were burned by an arsonist in Paris.[10]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Méhari". L'Auto-Journal: Le Salon de l'auto 1974. Numero Special: Page 89. September 1974.
  2. ^ Cars & parts - Volume 13 1969, p.23.
  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 linksEdit