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Sunday, December 23, 2012

1968 Citroen Mehari

One of the most fun things I did as part of my apprenticeship was to island hop the French Caribbean Islands repairing Citroen's that belonged to the resorts and the government. Among the DS19, DS21's and some 2CV sedans and delivery trucks was the French version of the dune buggy the Mehari. The Mehari is a type of fast running Dromedary camel. The Citroen Mehari may be faster on some terrains than the camel, in the Sahara the camel may have a slight advantage. Built on the of the 2CV platform, the steel body was replaced by a very toy like flexible polyester body. The soft long travel of the 2CV suspension, served well to absorb bumps, ruts and rocks that were the off road expectations for the cars use. These cars were replacing WW II surrey topped Jeeps and some Minimokes that went into service in the Islands. Built from 1968 to 1998 the basic vehicle did not change at all. Part of my job for Citroen was to go down to the Docks and unpack the cars from their 4 high stack get them running and drive them back to the Distributor where we would finish putting them together. It also meant driving them with windshield folded and no doors or seat belts through Miami. My whole 4 years of apprenticeship presented a different scope of what I was expected to do. In 1968 armed with a drivers license I was given responsibility by all my teachers to operate on my own in Guadeloupe (including surrounding islands), Martinique, Saint Martin, and Saint-Barthélemy, A tough job for a 16 year old to balance hormonal needs with the responsibility of operating a business. It was great experience flying, and sometimes sailing from island to island staying at resorts and staying out of trouble.

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