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.
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.
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.
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.
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.