Let me get one thing straight first. I know NOTHING about cars. I drive automatic because I learned to drive at the age of 15 in an old pick-up truck in Texas and as far as I can remember there was no clutch. And I was / am totally fine with that. However, I DO know what makes my eyes twinkle here in Provence…good wines and old cars with flair and character. And since Provence has 300 days of sunshine, it is THE place to drive beauties like 2CV’s and Mehari’s made by the French automaker Citroën…why not write a little story about them 🙂
In French called “deux chevaux” – lit. “two steam horses” is a front-engine, front wheel drive, air-cooled economy car, introduced at the 1948 Paris ‘Mondial de l’Automobile’, and manufactured by Citroën for model years 1948–1990.
The 2CV was conceived to help motorize the large number of farmers still using horses and carts in 1930s France, the 2CV is noted for its minimalist combination of innovative engineering and utilitarian, straightforward metal bodywork, initially corrugated for added strength without added weight.
Reasons to buy a 2CV
- low purchase cost
- simplicity of overall maintenance
- an easily serviced air-cooled engine
- low fuel consumption and an extremely long travel suspension offering a soft ride
- light off-road capability
Umbrella on wheels
Often called “an umbrella on wheels”, the bodywork featured a distinctive and prominent full-width canvas roll-back sunroof, which accommodated oversized loads and until 1955 reached almost to the car’s rear bumper, covering its trunk.
“A car like no other”
“The most intelligent application of minimalism ever to succeed as a car”
“A car of remorseless rationality”
Manufactured in France between 1948 and 1989 (and its final two years in Portugal 1989–1990), over 3.8 million 2CVs were produced, along with over 1.2 million small 2CV-based delivery vans known as Fourgonnettes. Citroën ultimately offered a number of mechanically identical variants including the Ami (over 1.8 million); the Dyane (over 1.4 million); the Acadiane (over 250,000); and the Mehari (over 140,000). In total, Citroën manufactured over 8.8 million “A Series” cars, as 2CV variants are known.
The Citroën Méhari is a light utility car and off-roader, a variant of the 2CV.
144,953 Méharis were built between the car’s French launch in May 1968 and 1988 when production ceased. A méhari is a type of fast-running dromedary camel, which can be used for racing or transport. A méhariste was a French ‘Armée d’Afrique’ and ‘Army of the Levant’ cavalryman that used these camels.
The Méhari was based on the Dyane 6, and has a body made of plastic with a soft-top. The standard Méhari weighs just 535 kg and has the interconnected fully independent long-travel 2CV suspension used by all of the Citroën ‘A-Series’ vehicles.
A four-wheel drive version of the Méhari was produced from 1980 to 1983 and had excellent off-road qualities, due to the lightness of the vehicle.
Mehari 4×4 production stopped in 1983. With only about 1,300 vehicles produced, the 4×4 is now highly sought after and transmission parts are virtually unobtainable.
Ending in beauty
For my Dutch readers…
While reading the article, I don’t know whether you have noticed but it is written in the past tense. This is of course because we are talking about older cars but this does not mean that they are not available anymore. A Dutch friend of ours has been importing / repairing / servicing / selling Citroëns for as long as he can remember (and he is quite grey now 🙂 ) so if you do have any interest in buying or ordering a beautiful Citroën, whether old or new, we can advise you to stop by FOKKER Citroën Specialist in Amersfoort. They also has a very active facebook page. If you click here, you can follow the daily stories in and around the garage.