But the sunshine can do odd things to your judgement. And hence, fresh back from holiday in France, I’m now sitting at my computer looking at adverts for Citroen Meharis. Deluding myself something that looks so effortlessly cool cruising the streets of La Rochelle in the sunshine would have exactly the same allure parked by the canal in Hebden Bridge. Actually, if there is anywhere in the UK you could get away with driving a Mehari without anyone thinking it tragic Hebden Bridge is the place. But I have a nasty feeling a Mehari is very much one of those cars that works in context. But might look a bit wrong out of it.
No matter, a man can dream. And there was plenty of inspiration in the town in which I was staying. Meharis were kind of one of those things I was vaguely aware of up to this point. But I kept seeing this faded green one parked up on my way to the Super U. And it was love.
It’s hardly a looker in the conventional sense. And even by the standards of French automotive functionalism, it’s brutally basic, the interior looking something like one of those tub-like plastic sledges. With four wheels and a steering wheel. I’d imagine the crash protection is along similar lines as well. Not that you’d attempt going round corners too fast, given that ponderous long-travel suspension. And the very real possibility you’d simply fall out of it. With – at best – around 30bhp there’d be little danger of generating cornering forces that could make that happen, even with a Caterham-like kerb-weight of around half a tonne.
Given I saw quite a few knocking about I reckoned they couldn’t be that rare, estimates putting production at around 150,000 over a 20-year run that ended in 1988. Plenty of bargains to be had a short budget flight away then? Er, no. Because it turns out the hipster cool that’s seen every H Van in the known universe converted into some sort of mobile coffee shop extends to the Mehari. And they’re REALLY expensive.