Classified ad of the week: Citroen Méhari
It’s the corrugated beach cruiser’s birthday. You should buy one.
Posted: 14 May 2013
There's a problem with convertibles - if you drive them with the roof down, people tend to object to your every swaggering molecule. Which is shame, because topless motoring is actually quite nice. As well an olfactory summary of everything that's great in this world, it lends the experience an aspect of uncellinged freedom.
So, what to do? Buy something old, unpretentious, and a little bit confusing. Like a Citroen Mehari. It's 45 this year, based on the acutely modest 2CV, and ribbed for your pleasure.
It's got a great back-story, too. The Méhari (a word used in North Africa for dromedary camels) was created by Roland de La Poype, who was a French fighter ace during World War II and a successful industrialist post-war. He came up with the idea of a car with the versatility and economy of the 2CV, but built with jazzier materials.
The body was made from moulded ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) for extra lightness, and it could be coloured in all manner of vivid hues. Also, you can actually fold down everything above the waistline. Not just the body - the windscreen drops too.
Almost 150,000 examples were built between 1968 and 1987. And they found themselves in all sorts of situations - a handful of models took part in the Liége-Dakar-Liège rally in 1969, the Paris-Kabul-Paris rally in 1970, the Paris-Persepolis-Paris rally in 1971 and provided medical assistance in the 1980 Paris-Dakar. The Méhari was also used by the French army, as its lightweight design made it easy to parachute drop the car behind enemy lines.
This one's not got much in the way of military or motorsport provenance, but good lord it's shiny. It's undergone a full restoration, and despite having 73,000kms on the clock (45,000 miles), the vendor assures us it's a strong engine.
So, what price to pay for hate-free convertible motoring? £12,000.