Citroen's useful and amusing plastic-bodied, 2CV-engined Mehari (Camel) became an even more useful vehicle when it was endowed with four-wheel-drive in 1979. The ageless air-cooled twin-cylinder baxermator (602 cc, 29 bhp/21.62 kW) was attached to a gearbox with drive-shaft to the rear wheels, and hey presto, the 4WD Mehari was created.
The Méhari was invented by Roland of Poype, and was based on the Dyane. It was manufactured by SEAB with Bezons with a body in ABS (acrylon-butadiene-stirene).
Citroen minimised production costs by utilising a reinforced Ami Super estate floorpan, and suspension from the same model. The rear axle had disc brakes mounted inboard, and was protected by a tubular cage. The layout resulted in good ground clearrance (9.44 in/24 cm unladen, 8.26 in/21 cm laden) in keeping with the type of car it was.
Instrumentation was very complete, a rev-counter being included which was a safeguard feature for the time the car is in four wheel drive. There were four main controls:
Gear lever (four speeds, identical ratios to norrmal Mehari);
Reduction gear (reduction ratio of 2.6 on first three gears);
Selector for two or four-wheel drive;
Rear differential lock (mechanical) for maximum drive efficiency.
The Mehari 4 x 4 was distinguished by its bonnet-mounted spare wheel and front bumper grilles. It weighed 1576 Ib (715 kg) empty, and thanks to its low weight and centre of gravity it would cope with arduous work.
Its loaded climbing capacity reached 95 per cent (i.e. hill gradients of nearly 45 per cent). Citroen managed to offset the lack of power by adopting ultra-Iow gearing, which permitted it to travel easily, albeit slowly, where other 4x4s need brute force.