Short history of La Dalat
Designed by the French director of Citroën Saigon between 1970 and 1975, La Dalat was first manufactured in the workshops of CARIC (Chantiers et Ateliers Réunis d’Indochine). It was inspired by the “Baby Brousse” car which was built in 1963 in Ivory Coast and it also brought to mind the Mehari which appeared in 1968.
Following the success of the 2 CV imported vans, La Dalat was officially presented in Vietnam in November 1969. Despite the difference in design and shape, we can surely call La Dalat the Vietnamese cousin of the French 2CV.
It was then produced by SAEO (Société Automobile d’Extrême-Orient), the Vietnamese subsidiary of Citroën which became in 1970 “Xe Hoi Citroën Cong Ty”). The important parts such as the engine, the steering wheel, the brakes and the suspension were imported from France from 2CV spare parts while the rest was made locally. This was the first car ever assembled and produced in Vietnam.
There were several types of La Dalat with 4 seats or 2 seats with space to carry goods. The model was a great success targeting the mid class clients: convenient, economical and easy to customise as most of the parts were made in Vietnam. The production continued until the fall of Saigon in 1975.
The 5,000 La Dalat cars produced in Vietnam were used as ambulances, taxi-buses, police cars and family cars. Today you can still see La Dalat on the streets of Saigon, mostly driven by foreign residents.