Midlife celebrations for Citroën’s original UTE
French auto-maker Citroën is celebrating the 45th anniversary of one of its most loved models, the Méhari. The public first laid eyes on the Méhari (originally called the Diane 6 Méhari) on May 16, 1968, in Deauville, France.
To celebrate the occasion, a special area at Citroën’s C42 showroom on the Champs-Élysées, in Paris, has been dedicated to key moments from the Méhari’s history.
The vehicle was designed to satisfy the need for a utility and pleasure vehicle. Living up to its name – which comes from a word used in North Africa and the Sahara for dromedary camels, whose speed and endurance makes them ideal for the tough conditions in the area, enabling them to transport people and goods – the Méhari was equally at home moving some hay around the farm or carrying a surf board down to the beach.
The Méhari, created by Roland de La Poype (a French fighter ace during the Second World War and a successful industrialist in the post-war period), has accompanied some memorable moments in automotive history.
It built a rich heritage and high pedigree in the form of the models that took part in the Liége-Dakar-Liége rally in 1969, the Paris-Kabul-Paris rally in 1970 and the Paris-Persepolis-Paris rally in 1971. The Méhari was even used by the French army as its lightweight design made it easy to parachute drop the car behind enemy lines.
The vehicle carried over many working parts from the famous 2CV, while featuring more contemporary materials. The innovative lightweight body, moulded in Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) was extremely malleable and could be vividly coloured. The other key characteristic of the Méhariwas was that it could be fully opened above the waistline, including the windscreen, which folded down onto the bonnet.
Almost 150 000 examples were produced between 1968 and 1987. There was even a 4WD version launched in 1979. Just two special editions were released – the Méhari Beach (in Spain) and the Méhari Azur (in France, Italy and Portugal). The Méhari Azur was produced in white with blue doors, grille, canvas roof and headlamp surrounds, plus white and blue striped seats.