1985 Citroën Mehari: Party on Wheels

mehari

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a good candidate to own a Jeep. I’ve got nothing against them, personally, but I just don’t quite have the bravado to use one to its full potential. And it’s not an elitist thing, at all – I just have way too much appreciation for the weird and quirky to ever do a Jeep justice when pulling up to the fire pit on the beach. Now, a Citroen Mehari on the other hand, would plaster a goofy grin on my face 24/7. This 1985 example is here on eBay with a price-tag of $12,900 (thanks to Barn Finds reader Robert R. for spotting this) and you’ll need a boat to get it home, as it’s in the Netherlands. I know a Citroen of all things doesn’t scream Americana and is far from patriotic, but when I consider the Mehari, all I can think of is a design team that understood the universally-appreciated sentiment of a beach buggy: it’s slow, but beach traffic always is; the roof and windows disappear to let in that salty, humid air; the colors are bright, something much-needed after a long New England winter; and you can just hop out of the thing to get to the water faster – no doors needed. It may not be a Jeep, but if your taste in people carriers errs on the side of eccentric, a Mehari may be just what you need.

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Comments

  1. ron

    rather have a moke. but i own a classic mini…….

  2. DENIS

    imports :-(

  3. RayT Member

    Don’t know what happened to them (or why they were there!), but 25 years ago there were a handful of Meharis owned by residents of Jerome, AZ. All that sun-baked fiberglass….

    If I have it right, the Mehari was a 2CV pan with a “plastic” (glass-fiber) body bolted to it. Citroen made lots of them though they, like 2CVs, never really caught on in the U.S. Have never seen on so decked out, though; upholstery, top and paint are not OEM.

    • Lionel

      The only thing incorrect on this one is the steering wheel, the colors, upholstery and all are OEM or restored to OEM standards. This version of the Mehari is called the Azur.

  4. Andrew Minney

    Fun, fun fun, in Europe anyway.
    Had one years ago. Bought it cheap in France, fixed it up while there and drove it back to London area (from Nancy, France).
    Sold it within in days making enough to clear a serious profit AFTER paying for my fares, buying and fixing the car. THAT’s why I remember it so fondly!
    Andrew.
    England

  5. Ken Nelson

    Meharis came out around ’68, was first car to use vac-formed ABS – a thermoplastic called I think Cycolac from Marbon Chemical – as I remember. NO glassfiber involved anywhere on car, they used the ABS, a very common plastic, as it was easy to thermoform – small rowboats were made from single sheets, and I think also a 3/4 scale Cord was built using bodypanels of Cycolac. Tooling dirt cheap compared to injection or even fiberglass, and much faster cycle than FG. The ABS gave a big cost advantage – color was clear thru the extruded sheet, so saved big bucks vs paint shop. HOWEVER – no UV inhibitors in the material, and paint gives excellent UV protection, so guess what? Sun turned stuff brittle, faded the color, bodypanels crumbled/cracked/fell off. To add nother major mistake, Citroen used aluminum poprivets to attach panels to steel tube bodypanel support frame – rivets vanished thru corrosion, bodypanels fell off. Wonder of wonders – somehow the French missed or ignored those two material problems. Painting is what ALL plastic bodypanels use now, even fiberglass – Corvette, anything – Smartcars, VWs with GE thermoplastic fenders, anything on the exterior.
    Our biggest problem when we introduced the Chrysler LH series of cars done under Bob Lutz’ and Tom Gales leadership in 1990 with their first ever thermoplastic front fenders was paint match, as they had to go thru the Ecoat bake ovens for primer cure – on the body in white – at 350-400 F for 30 mins – and that heat shrank the fenders 2 mm in length, and the extra shrinkage sucked the base resin down over the very short (1 mm) chopped glass we added to reduce thermal expansion and gave them a tiny amount of orangepeel which reduced the gloss and it showed thru the topcoat and slightly mismatched the steel door & hood. But – the fenders are still live today – 25 yrs later if the car is alive. And ding-free.
    Unfortunately, when Chrysler pulled out of their near-bankruptcy (2nd time around) about ’91, sales were so high steel fenders became cheaper and faster to produce at the 100K volume level, and we made the steel guys smarter – they finally learned how to form a deadly sharp tip on the fenders which plastic did easily, and they couldn’t back then. So Dupont lost the business.

    • RayT Member

      Interesting information, Ken. I had always thought Mehari bodies were fiberglass.

      The “8/10 Cord” built by Glenn Pray used — at least in the beginning — a thermoplastic developed by U.S. Royal, called “Royalite.” It would take someone more expert than I to know the differences between the materials.

      I remember seeing the LH-cars at introduction time, and will give Chrysler people much credit for the finish of the plastic panels. A lot of companies hadn’t even gotten plastic bumper skins right at that time.

  6. jos

    Citron brought only 200 Meharis to the US, in 1970. They weren’t very popular, lacked seatbelts, had short chains instead of doors, didn’t feel very safe at all. The US versions were slightly different, mainly the front, bigger headlights and differently shaped hood and grille. I have one, it still feels unsafe on any main road, but perfect for putting around town and the beach. Because it is so light weight it is surprisingly capable going uphill and off road, especially when compared to the original 2CV. Basically feels as if you’re driving a clown car, makes everyone smile.

  7. MikeH

    These crazy cars are VERY collectible in Europe. They are a 2CV chassis and all, I think, have the 602cc engine. The engine, the chassis and all body panels are reproduced. It just depends on how much you want to spend.

  8. Richard Lewis

    I have seen one of these climb a hill that no jeep could attempt. Remember the 2CV was a completely offroadable car. These with their reduced weight are even more so.

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