The Citroën Méhari turns 50, half a century after its market launch and two years after the launch of the Citroën E-Mehari, the extraordinary convertible still stands for automotive courage in the French style. On the occasion of the round birthday, Citroën commissioned the renowned designer Jean-Charles de Castelbajac to design an exclusive E-Mehari „Art Car“.
In May 1968 the Citroën Méhari celebrated its world premiere. At the same time, visionary designer Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, who himself was part of the 1968 movement in Paris, designed his first fashion collection. Now the partnership symbolizes the creative revolution that has always driven Citroën and Jean-Charles de Castelbajac.
With the „Art Car“, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac brings the French way of life of the new Citroën E-Mehari to the fore in a very special way. The work of art radiating optimism and pop culture is a sign of boundless creativity.
May 1968: A myth arises
While a whole generation demanded more freedom on the streets of Paris, Citroën surprised on 11 May 1968 in Deauville, France, with the presentation of the Méhari – a vehicle with high recreational value that was far ahead of its time.
The simple yet versatile convertible, which was built on the platform of the Citroën Dyane 6, convinced by its colorful, unpretentious appearance. The lightweight body developed by Roland de la Poype consisted of solid-colored ABS plastic (525 kilograms) and was not prone to rust. In addition, it could be cleaned inside and outside with a simple jet of water. The Citroën Méhari became the ideal companion for excursions to the sea.
The Citroën Méhari felt at home everywhere with its versatile features – among other things, the hood above the bodywork belt could be completely opened and the windscreen was foldable. In addition, the large ground clearance provided unique application possibilities. In 1979, an all-wheel-drive version was launched which was able to cope with gradients of up to 60 percent.
In addition, the Citroën Méhari can look back on a great career in well-known cinema films (for example in „The Gendarme of Saint-Tropez“ with the famous actor Louis de Funès) as well as in important rallies (Liège-Dakar-Liège 1969, Paris-Kabul-Paris 1970, Paris-Dakar 1980).
During the 19-year production period (until 1987), around 145,000 copies of the Citroën Méhari were produced. The Citroën Méhari was therefore an immediate success and has become a phenomenon in automotive history over the years.
December 2015: The story continues
At the end of 2015, Citroën presented the E-Mehari, an all-electric, four-seater convertible with a colourful design reminiscent of the legendary Citroën Méhari of 1968. Fashionable, free, unorthodox and also a little cheeky – these are just some of the adjectives that describe the new model of the Citroën brand. The Citroën E-Mehari is a colourful car that embodies the spirit of Citroën in the best possible way. The Citroën E-Mehari is an „it-car“ that seduces those who stand out from the crowd, are full of energy, set trends and protect the environment.
The Citroën E-Mehari adopts the stylistic features of the brand. It reflects Citroën’s positioning to develop different, innovative vehicles that stand for French creativity. The latest LMP® (lithium metal polymer) battery technology of the French Bolloré Group is manufactured in Quimper, France. The Citroën E-Mehari is produced in the PSA factory in Rennes, Brittany. The Citroën E-Mehari was therefore the first electric vehicle to be awarded the „Origine France Guarantee“.
The limited special edition „Styled by Courrèges“ of the new Citroën E-Mehari, which was presented last late summer, is equipped with a hardtop, side windows and a rear window that can be opened. The new Citroën E-Mehari thus becomes a family-friendly city car for year-round use. The high-quality interior has been completely redesigned in accordance with typical trademarks. The new dashboard with body-colour decor and new seats give the vehicle a more modern look. Entry into the rear is made easier thanks to the easy-entry system.
Safety is also a top priority in the new Citroën E-Mehari: four front and front side airbags, ABS and electronic stability control are standard equipment. The tire pressure control system, the automatically switching on dipped beam and the seat belt warning system for driver and front passenger seats also ensure a relaxed driving experience. Thanks to the central locking system, the vehicle is more theft-proof. One of the special features of the new Citroën E-Mehari is an acoustic warning signal for pedestrians, which is activated at high speed.
(German) Prices start at 25,270 Euros for the softtop version and 26,470 Euros for the hardtop version.
1968 Méhari… 2018: E-mehari
For Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, the Méhari is „THE vehicle icon of its generation“. The Citroën Méhari is more than just a myth, it has revolutionised the vehicle world. He wants to emphasize this character even more in his „Art Car“ by playing with colors, roles and words.
The work of art by Jean-Charles de Castelbajac alludes to two revolutions: The student movement in May 1968 reflected the longing for a different future, carelessness and freedom of expression. At the same time, an „automotive revolution“ began with the presentation of the Citroën Méhari. The unique vehicle aroused the desire for a new attitude to life, which was lived out during excursions into nature. The word „freedom“ can therefore be seen as a link between the Citroën Méhari and the 1968 generation. Jean-Charles de Castelbajac now designed an „Art Car“ as a graphic manifesto – based on the posters of May 1968.
The colourful design and hand-engraved elements of the „Art Car“ stand for freedom. The symbols should lead travellers to their destinations, which are sometimes utopian, but usually stand for hope, plans and the desire to change the world.
The fashion designer’s chromatic work conveys an appealing message: red stands for revolution and passion, yellow embodies charisma, the desire to conquer, friendship and brotherhood. Blue reminds of electricity, azure blue skies and a positive environment.
For Arnaud Belloni, Director of Marketing and Communication Citroën, this is a natural and natural encounter: „The Citroën Méhari is an icon and the car par excellence that challenges conventions. Presented in May 1968, 50 years later he embodies French pop culture. To celebrate his birthday, we have entrusted his worthy successor, the purely electrically powered Citroën E-Mehari, to the creativity of Jean-Charles de Castelbajac. The encounter between two creative, revolutionary houses has resulted in a kind of car full of freshness and joie de vivre.“
(Translation by AMicale)