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Funky Citroen off-roader is 45

2013-05-21 13:42

QUIRKY FRENCH CLASSIC: Citroën's Méhari was used by beachlovers, farmers and the French military during its 19 year life cycle.

Citroen is marking the 45th anniversary of one of its weirder models - the Mehari. To celebrate, a special area at Citroen’s 2013 C42 showcase on the Champs-Elysees in Paris has been dedicated to key moments in the Mehari’s history.

The Diane 6 Mehari, as it was originally known, was unveiled on May 16 1968 in the post resort of Deauville, France.

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It was unpretentious and designed for both “utility and pleasure” and as such was equally at home transporting bales of hay down on the farm or surfboards along the French Riviera.

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The Mehariwas created by Second World War French fighter ace and industrialist Roland de La Poype. It built on the versatility and economy of the 2CV and added contemporary materials.

The cars' name came from a word used in North Africa and the Sahara for dromedary, the single-humped camels whose speed and endurance makes them ideal for the tough conditions there.

The light moulded-plastic body was extremely malleable and could be vividly coloured. It could also be opened above the waistline, including the windscreen, which folded on to the bonnet.

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Nearly 150 000 were produced between 1968 and 1987. Citroen even produced a 4x4 version in 1979 which could take on inclines of up to 60°. Two special editions were built, the Mehari Beach (in Spain) and the Mehari Azur (in France, Italy and Portugal).

The white Mehari Azur had blue doors and grille, canvas roof and striped seats.

Mehari units took part in the 1969 Liége-Dakar-Liège rally, the 1970 Paris-Kabul-Paris rally, the 1971 Paris-Persepolis-Paris rally and provided medical assistance in the 1980 Paris-Dakar.

The Mehari was used by the French army as its lightness made it easy to parachute to trouble spots.
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