Fun-focused beach cars used to be a common sight across southern Europe. On paper, the concept was relatively simple. Automakers like Fiat simply took a mundane economy car, chopped off the roof, and added a canvas top, while others — notably Citroën and later Renault — went through the hassle of designing a model-specific body.
Popular beach cars like the Citroën Méhari, the Mini Moke, and the Renault Rodeo all vanished without a true successor in the 1980s and the early 1990s, but at least one of those nameplates seems all but set to make a comeback. Paris-based Citroën has surprisingly beat MINI to the punch, and it has announced that it will give us an accurate preview of what a modern-day beach car could look like at next month’s Frankfurt Motor Show.
According to Citroën, the concept will take the form of a “fresh and invigorating version of the C4 Cactus crossover that revisits the spirit of the legendary Méhari.” That’s not a lot to go on, but the statement seemingly hints that the yet-unnamed concept won’t feature a full-on retro-inspired design because it will be billed as an offshoot of the funky crossover, not as a standalone model.
Power will come from either a three- or a four-cylinder gasoline-burning engine pulled directly out of the Citroën parts bin, and the original Méhari’s famously light plastic body panels will most likely be replaced by sheet metal for cost and safety reasons. Whether it will retain the regular-production Cactus’ four-door setup or feature only two doors like the highly collectible 1968 model is anyone’s guess at this point.
Similarly, what the future holds for the funky concept largely depends on how showgoers, Citroënaholics, and prospective owners react to it. However, Citroën is progressively getting its wonderfully unique strand of weirdness back, and company CEO Linda Jackson recently hinted that she’s open to the idea of bringing back the Méhari.
“Maybe there is a place [in the lineup] for the Méhari. It’s something we are considering,” revealed the executive in an interview with trade journal Automotive News.
We’ll bring you full details and live images of Citroën’s next concept straight from the show floor in Frankfurt starting on September 15.
Citroën has toyed around with the idea of a modern-day beach car on two separate occasions in recent memory. In 2003, the company launched an open-top version of the C3 city car dubbed C3 Pluriel that featured an innovative (albeit bulky) removable roof. Over 100,000 examples of the Pluriel were sold across Europe until it was given the ax in 2010.
The C3 Pluriel’s successor was previewed by a futuristic concept dubbed Lacoste (pictured) that was shown at the 2010 Paris Motor Show. Ultimately, the company couldn’t justify developing such a low-volume model because it was in dire financial straits so the Lacoste remained a concept and the C3 Pluriel was never replaced.