The French, for all they have contributed to Western civilization, remain an enigma for a variety of reasons, not limited to their public toilets, their habit of greeting each other with kisses on both cheeks and their penchant for driving like maniacs.
Among things that have set the French apart from the rest of Western Europe is their approach to building cars. As my dad has said more than once, the French design cars as though they’d never seen one before.
He was speaking specifically of Citroën, which has been manufacturing vehicles for nearly a century.
While living in California in the early 1980s, I spied the occasional late ‘60s and early ‘70s Citroën DS about, which, in an area that not only had its share of modern sports cars but also a sizeable number of classic American cars, stood out like a great Gallic mutation. (One supposes they were driven by aging hippies who had tired of their Volkswagen vans and wanted to move on something more pretentious.)
In the intervening years it appears the company began to pay attention to other more stylish automakers and actually managed to churn out a variety of decent-looking cars.
However, in a nod to its perplexing past, Citroën will soon release the E-Mehari, an open-top electric runabout that reinforces the company’s willingness to throw caution, and taste, to the winds.
While the BBC’s car reviewer gushes over the new model, the E-Mehari is balky, ugly and looks to be something more akin to what a group of children, given access to plastic molding equipment, would fashion given the opportunity.
It has a top speed of 68 miles per hour and a cruising range of 125 miles.
It’s obvious that the PR folks at Citroën had their work cut out for them in trying to make chicken salad out this mess of chicken feathers.