The original convertible from Citroën Méhari, with the body made entirely of plastic, it was a car destined for the most varied uses: from fun, to the transport of tools, passing through use on any type of terrain. The French produced around 150,000 units, many of which are still in circulation and kept as relics.
In 1947 the Seab (Société d’études et d’applications des brevets), founded by the French entrepreneur Roland de la Poype, dealt with innovative materials, in particular plastic and colored resins in the mass. The fleet of SEAB vehicles included AZU and AK vans, those made by Citroën on the mechanical basis of the 2CV and AMI6. One day one of these had a rather gruesome accident. The driver of the vehicle got out though substantially intactdespite the fact that the body of the van was seriously damaged. The mechanics, on the other hand, were not affected. De la Poype did not have the van repaired: his intent was to create a plastic body to be applied to Citroën mechanics, creating a totally new commercial vehicle.
Several drawings and some prototypes were made, also with the help of the designer Jean-Louis Barrault, who had already collaborated in the creation of the first successful product of the Seab, the Berlingot disposable sample container, dedicated to L’Oréal. In the end, theABS: an easily thermoformable, flexible material that can be colored in the mass. The result was a small plastic off-road vehicle, resting on the frame of the AZU twin-cylinder. Seab was already on Citroën’s supplier list, for which it produced the door panels, dashboards and other plastic parts, all well-made objects but often late with the agreed times. For this reason, when De la Poype said “you will supply us with the chassis and we will build and assemble the bodies”, he was replied: “absolutely not: we will build it and you will worry about the molding of the parts”.
After the ocher prototype, Seab produced about twenty examples in bright colors: yellow, red, blue, green and even a unlikely silver. All these colors were used for the official presentation of the car in May of 1968 on the golf courses of Deauville. Production immediately started with two versions: two and four-seater (the latter with a folding bench that could be aligned with the loading surface and became a pick-up with a single maneuver).
The name Méhari is borrowed from that of a race of racing dromedaries, particularly robust and resistant. As the 2CV was defined “tin snail”, the Méhari was nicely called “plastic snail”; despite this, he has had a life full of satisfaction. From 1968 to 1987, the Méhari were prepared for the most diverse customers: from the French army to the ambulance version of the Paris-Dakar in 1980 – always at ease on the dunes without the danger of silting up.