This Citroen Mehari Might Be Just What You Need for the Summer Holidays

Produced between 1968 and 1987, the Citroën Mehari was a compact open car designed to be used mainly in the countryside, but it was also bought to be used as a military vehicle or as a cheap means of urban transport. It was one of the first ABS plastic-bodied cars in the world and it quickly became popular in France thanks to its unique design and utility.
1970 Citroen Mehari 22 photos
Photo: Bring a Trailer
1970 Citroen Mehari1970 Citroen Mehari1970 Citroen Mehari1970 Citroen Mehari1970 Citroen Mehari1970 Citroen Mehari1970 Citroen Mehari1970 Citroen Mehari1970 Citroen Mehari1970 Citroen Mehari1970 Citroen Mehari1970 Citroen Mehari1970 Citroen Mehari1970 Citroen Mehari1970 Citroen Mehari1970 Citroen Mehari1970 Citroen Mehari1970 Citroen Mehari1970 Citroen Mehari1970 Citroen Mehari1970 Citroen Mehari
Designed by French World War II fighter pilot Count Roland de la Poype, the Mehari took inspiration from the WWII-era Willys Jeep and the Mini Moke. During the almost 20-year production span, more than 140,000 units were sold, and a part of them were also exported to different countries around the world. It was even imported into the United States between 1969 and 1970.

Indeed, the Mehari reminisces of the British Mini Moke, but it addresses the latter’s shortcomings by ditching the rust-prone steel body shell and increasing ground clearance.

Count Roland de la Poype’s aim was to create a versatile and lightweight vehicle that would also be budget-friendly, so he used the Citroen Dyane 6 chassis, 2CV mechanical components, and opted for an ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) plastic body rather than using fiberglass. The material was quite an innovation back in the 1970s and made the car not only lightweight but also corrosion-proof and low-maintenance.

1970 Citroen Mehari
Photo: Bring a Trailer
The Mehari was designed with a minimalist open body, optional doors, a foldable windshield, and a convertible soft-top roof. All of these features made the Mehari a very versatile vehicle and added to its functionality and off-road capabilities, which led to its wide adoption as a leisure vehicle in beach communities and as a utility vehicle in rural areas.

Its waterproof and rust-proof body made it ideal for use at the seaside despite the salt water environments. Period ads for the lightweight, multi-functional vehicle often show it being driven up and down the coast in a relaxed manner, and it was indeed quite popular as a holiday car in the south of France and other Mediterranean destinations.

It came equipped with an air-cooled, 602cc flat-twin engine that powered the front wheels.

1970 Citroen Mehari
Photo: Bring a Trailer
A more capable four-wheel-drive Citroen Mehari 4×4 was introduced by the French car manufacturer in 1970. This version boasted improved off-road capabilities and greatly appealed to the French Army and other organizations that were looking for a rugged yet zippy vehicle for various tasks. The French military, for instance, used it for patrolling, reconnaissance, and transportation of troops and equipment.

However, the all-wheel-drive variant was a real black pearl because, although it was produced for about four years, only 1,200 units were made.

The 1970 Citroen Mehari unit you see here is a US-specification variant that has recently benefitted from a few improvements and refurbishing. It is a rare example, as only 214 US-spec cars were sold in 1970, and it’s hard to find one in presentable condition.

1970 Citroen Mehari
Photo: Bring a Trailer
It features said ABS plastic body panels attached to a tubular steel supporting framework and flaunts the very simple open cabin with a two-spoke steering wheel, two bucket seats up front, and a removable rear bench trimmed in white vinyl. The vehicle’s cargo area can be extended with the help of the rear seatback that can easily be removed from the molded-in side supports.

Unlike the original models, it has a fixed windshield frame. Other distinguishable features include a revised tailgate panel, 7” sealed-beam headlights, and exterior taillights and reflectors.

This Mehari unit is powered by a 602cc flat-twin engine mated with a four-speed manual transaxle and rides on period-correct gray-finished 15” wheels with polished center caps wrapped in 135-series Firestone F-560 tires. Four-wheel drum brakes with inboard-mounted units up front take care of braking duties.

The hood and rear panel were replaced as part of the recent restoration work, and other cracks on the vehicle’s body were repaired. Then, tan bedliner material was applied to all the outside surfaces. The engine is also said to have been rebuilt in 2019, and inside the cabin, the seats received a new white vinyl upholstery. Front lap belts, rubber floor mats, and a full-size spare tire wrapped in the same material as the seats are also part of the package. A heater and a fire extinguisher have also been mounted in the right-front footwell.

1970 Citroen Mehari
Photo: Bring a Trailer
The windshield frame and the interior of the engine compartment are the only parts finished in black, while a white edge protection material was added to the hood.

This particular 1970 Citroen Mehari is up for sale out of San Diego, California, with 88,000 miles (141,622 km) shown on the five-digit odometer. Spare parts, a car cover, original manufacturer’s literature, and personalized black California license plates that read “Meharee” are offered with the vehicle. If you live in a warm-weather state, have a penchant for vintage cars, and are on the lookout for the quintessential beach buggy, this might be the ideal vehicle for you.
If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram X (Twitter)
About the author: Ancuta Iosub
Ancuta Iosub profile photo

After spending a few years as a copy editor, Ancuta decided to put down the eraser and pick up the writer's pencil. Her favorites subjects are unusual car designs, travel trailers and everything related to the great outdoors.
Full profile


Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories