Five of the Best… Dockside Runarounds

Rinspeed BamBoo

Generations of yachting folk have come to rely on the compact utility vehicle, reasoning that the kind of hard-wearing scrub-down practicality that you need at sea works equally well on land. When you’ve arrived in port and your destination is a little further afield, it also helps to have the right kind of wheels at hand. Function and design win out over luxury, every time.

Citroën E-Mehari

For decades, the island populations around the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts put their faith in Citroën's legendary Méhari (named after a kind of camel). Based on the trusty 2CV, this open-sided, corrugated plastic-bodied mini Jeep was the chic choice for rattling around dusty inland roads and far-flung beaches. There's still a good market for old Méharis, but even in an age of increasingly complexity, the following vehicles show there's still a place for automotive design that’s truly back to basics.

Production of the classic Méhari ended in 1988, but it took nearly thirty years for Citroën to make a replacement. As its name suggests, the E-Méhari is an all-electric four-seat convertible with toughened up styling. A new limited edition, created in collaboration with Parisian fashion house Courrèges, upped the elegance, with a new hard top and a creamy leather interior. The E-Méhari retains the original’s scrub-clean, hose-down interior, with hard-wearing plastic bodywork and a 200km range.

Moke America

The original Mini Moke predates even the Méhari, the brainchild of Mini designer Alec Issigonis. Intended as a stripped-down military and civilian utility vehicle, the Moke was developed in the late 50s but couldn't cut the mustard on the parade ground. Instead it became an ultra-lightweight utility car, swiftly garnering a cult following. Today, several companies exist to keep the Moke flame alive. Moke America's version includes electric drive and a bolstered scale and height, making their Moke more suitable to modern needs without compromising its innate style.

Nosmoke electric utility card

Nosmoke are also in the electrification game. Their Moke reproduction is rather more faithful (apart from the absence of an engine) and is built in France for distribution around the sunny, sandy coastline of Spain and the Mediterranean islands. A range of candy bright colours adds a beach-friendly finish.

Rinspeed BamBoo

Frank Rinderknecht's Rinspeed creates off-the-wall concepts and the diminutive BamBoo was no exception. The Swiss specialist's take on an electric fun vehicle came festooned with screens and detachable speakers, and colour and trim overseen by the late American pop artist James Rizzi. Electrically powered, with a removeable roof, the BamBoo was billed as a connected car for pleasure, not business.

Volkswagen Buggy Up!

Back in 2011 Volkswagen promoted its new Up! City car with a number of off-the-wall concepts. The Buggy Up! was the most appealing, harking back to the original beach buggies of the 60s and 70s, many of which used the iconic VW Beetle as a starting point. The door-less two-seater was joined by the VW Up! Azzurra, which took design cues from yacht design with its leather, chrome and wood interior, and rear seats that folded into a 'deck'.
Jonathan Bell
Jonathan Bell
Jonathan Bell writes about cars, architecture, boats and technology. He is also editor-at-large at Wallpaper* magazine and editor of the official Aston Martin Magazine.