Unabashed Gearhead Gnarlyness


The Citroën Mehari

A variant of the famed 2CV, the plastic-bodied Mehari is a wonderful example of the kind of aesthetic that results from a design point of view which is more concerned with materials, end use scenarios, manufacturing processes, and — above all — cost, rather than with the vagaries of style.  It’s the same type of point of view that gave us such classics as the original Jeep, Land Rover, and  Mini.  When done in a more conscious mode, it’s really hard to do this kind of design. 

The new Mini does a good job of it, but modern Jeeps just don’t have it.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see  a modern Mehari?  Maybe it will happen.

I’m very emotional about the Mehari.  For me, it’s evocative of the summer I spent as a boy staying with family in Spain.  My uncle Valentin Sama took me on a whirlwind tour of Southern Spain (in the summer, in a SEAT Panda, with three other people and our luggage and two dogs, and of course, no A/C.  We were hot) which included a few days relaxing in Agua Amarga.  Your quintessential fishing village with no phones, lots of beach dogs, and more than a few Meharis. 

I spent hours in Agua Amarga looking at an orange Mehari and a red 2CV.  Those two made for an aesthetic feast from Mars for this suburban Colorado boy.  I’m still figuring out how to get back there.

photo credit: Jacques Froissant, Creative Commons license, via Flickr

5 thoughts on “Unabashed Gearhead Gnarlyness

  1. Thanks for remembering. Those were great days. I would love to have that very same brave little car, as a collector car now. With more than 60.000 miles on his overreved engine, it broke his crankshaft one night with my family on board, and it drove us back 20 miles, safe home… with a broken crankshaft!
    By the way: I believe Meharis were made on ABS resin, and the color (the dye?) was “in” the mass of the resin, so you did not have to worry about paint.

  2. Yes, the Mehari was indeed made of ABS!
    As usual for the (old) Citroen company, way ahead of its time.
    Perhaps Smart can come out with a Mehari? Or Saturn?

  3. Very interesting to read about the Mehari, if you want to enjoy something similar not in Spain but in Bali go to this website http://www.balichakratours.com You will see the best maintained VW Kuebelwagen – Gery Nutz the owner makes lokal tours off the beaten track in these monsters.
    Best regards
    Hans Pirker

  4. Nothing beats the Mehari. And the best color is orange.
    There are only a couple of them in Germany, as they were not allowed to be sold there. The plastic body apparently wasn’t fireproof.

  5. Wow, this is really amazing! Are you really Valentin Sama’s nephew? I do admire this man a lot. What is it like having him in your own family? 😉 And what are you doing that far from Spain? 🙂
    I wish I could meet him again any time, as I have great memories with him as a teacher…
    PD: I really like the Metacool thoughts of the day. Great idea!

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