Of the 1213 cars built, this is No. 3. It first came on the road in Paris, where it was deployed for the press introduction. After this, Citroën made it available to Medecin sans Frontières, for a documentary about their work in Africa. The oldest Mehari 4×4 on the road.
Citroën introduced the Mehari 4×4 in ’79. Unlike the 2cv 4×4 Sahara, it didn’t have 2 engines, but just one at the front, with a special gearbox with selectable 4×4 and reduction. The axle to the rear transfer case ran through the chassis.
They were available in a 2 or 4 person version and with a few options; a special tow bar, the spare wheel on the hood and 14″ wheels instead of the usual 15″. Both were equipped with all-terrain tires. The sills were raised for more ground clearance. Wild animals were repelled with thick bumpers.
No. 3 can be seen in press photos in “La Citroën Mehari de mon père” and in the Citroën booklet “Ici commence l’Aventure” it is prominently shining brotherly in the desert near Hombori in Mali. Alain Jaspard shot “Laurence Medecin de Brousse” around Casamance in Senegal, the trip ended in Dakar. You can watch the video via this link. Later, more Mehari 4x4s made a journey to the same final destination, when deployed during the first Paris-Dakar rally.
The car came back to France, after which it went to Citroën’s regular scrap yard Beke in ’88. This company processed all demo cars and other models that Citroën wanted to get rid of. Many GS Birotors, among others, met their end here. This 4×4 was saved and used on the property until it was purchased by an enthusiast in ’98.
He kept the 4×4 in his shed, looked for some missing parts and offered the car at auction a few years ago. We ended up with the car through a tip from a friend, but the desired price was a bit too high for a car with a beautiful story, but without a registration. Later we were able to do business and, after a lot of effort and patience, obtain a Carte Grise.
In the meantime, we had done as little as possible to the car to keep it as original as possible for a collector. It still has its original tires and license plates from Paris. We did, however, make it at drivable. The specific gearbox was therefore overhauled. We would like to do the rest of the work for you, but only after you have decided exactly how you want it.
The car has a number of details, for example in the chassis, that differ from the later 4x4s. That, and its documented history, make it a unique car. As a collector’s item or as a utility vehicle. Perhaps for your trip to Dakar?