Citroën Méhari involved in mafia murder set for display in Padua

The car in which Italian investigative journalist Giancarlo Siani was assassinated by the Camorra mafia will be displayed as part of the Méhari's 50th anniversary

A Citroën Méhari that holds an important part in the history of Italian criminal justice will be put on display by the French manufacturer at next week's Auto e Moto d'Epoca Padova show in northeastern Italy, featured as part of a stand celebrating the Méhari model's 50th anniversary.

Bedecked in lime green paint, the first in a pair of Méharis on display next week belonged to Giancarlo Siani, an investigative reporter based in the Italian city of Naples. Using a Méhari as his personal form of transportation, Siani was investigating violent crime blighting Naples, led by warring clans of the Camorra organised crime family.

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Siani's Méhari came to symbolise values of honesty and strong principles against a dark period in Neapolitan history. He was assassinated whilst aboard the Méhari outside his home, by the very same criminal organisation he had been investigating.

A model sometimes considered to hold a nonconformist reputation, a barebones convertible pitched against more esteemed rivals, 'NA K14314' has since toured Italy as a symbol of the anti-mafia movement, also making a visit to the European Parliament in Brussels at the behest of then-EU President Martin Schulz.

NA K14314, a book by author Paolo Miggiano detailing the history of Siani's iconic Citroën Méhari, is also being released at Salone di Padova to coincide with the 50th anniversary exhibition, along with a second book centered around the Méhari model's production run.

Though not quite as iconic outright as the 2CV – which is celebrating its remarkable 70th anniversary this year – the Méhari holds a similarly utilitarian reputation.

Named after the camels of North Africa for its endurance and versatility of lugging heavy loads, it was the perfect nameplate for a car designed to be an affordable means to carry people one moment, then act as a rugged pickup truck the next.

Designed by Roland de la Poype, a French industrialist specialising in plastics, the Méhari was a natural extension of Citroën's ongoing relationship with de la Poype, whose company was already supplying them with components. Devising a concept car that utilised an entirely plastic body, it weighed in at a mere 525kg, yet could still haul both people and cargo with relative ease.

Adored for its frugality, easy to clean nature and durability, the Méhari went on a 20 year production run between 1968 and '88. It didn’t take long for buyers to realise that the Méhari's lack of mass made it an ideal off-roader, so come 1979 Citroën introduced a 4x4 variant to give it even more capability. Even the French Army bought over 7000 examples of the diminutive off-roader, with just shy of 150,000 made in total.

Today, Citroën produce an intriguing modern-day variant called the E-Méhari. While it doesn’t offer the same rugged outlook as the original, this all-electric car is still perfect for taking people to the beach or rinsing off with a hose.

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