Why the Mountain Argus Hovers in the Mist

Getting a handle on Peugeot’s 1007.

2004-2009 Peugeot 1007

“Peugeot plants seeds for the future,” wrote Car magazine in November 2002. The accompanying CAD image they used shared its colour with today’s hard copy. The CAD model in Car’s article posed as a concept car and bore the name Sesame. The vehicle appeared on sale two years later bearing a striking resemblance to the thing billed as a concept car. What Peugeot did was to more or less send out fairly resolved CAD models and hope the press would print some free publicity. The images in Car magazine have that fragile look of a semi-finished CAD model (mostly due to the absence of the fussy radii on panel gaps, evidence of material thickness and things like wheel-arch liners).

Much like the Opel Signum from around the same time, this sliding-door-on-a-small car concept is one of those ideas that didn’t catch on.  Ford borrowed the idea for the 2012 B-Max, a Fiesta-derived vehicle which also lasted just 5 years. I tried to think of other small cars with sliding doors and couldn’t. Am I forgetting one? It seems like a nice idea but nobody seems to go for it in practice, not at this scale.

As ever, the pre-launch publicity was kind. The sliding doors were “an obvious solution, but brilliantly executed – the slide rails blend into the overall funkiness of the shape thanks to some neat silver colour coding of the roof bars, door handles and wing mirrors.

At the time the only thing I noticed about the car was how the handles of the doors seemed so alarmingly un-integrated into the door surface. I still think they are much cruder than they need have been. I think Peugeot wanted to do a good design deed and make a vehicle with some Inclusive Design credentials. The car is well-suited for people of reduced mobility. However, they didn’t take the critical step of avoiding that objective.

The crude door-handles probably are ergonomically good. But alas they have the engineered-look of assistive technology. People with any kind of a capability loss hate one thing as much the general trickiness of getting things done – that’s being patronised. I like the fun-look of the car as a whole but I can’t get past the laziness of those door handles.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

41 thoughts on “Why the Mountain Argus Hovers in the Mist”

  1. Good morning, Richard. The door handles of the 1007 have always bothered me as well, but I think the whole thing is incoherent.

    There are plenty of small cars with sliding rear doors, but they’re not sold here. Here’s a Toyota Roomy I spotted on my holiday in Japan last year. Honda has the N Box of which I sadly don’t have a photo.

    Sliding front doors are more rare. Toyota had the Porte, shown in the image below. There are the Kaiser Darrin, BMW Z1 (although that slides vertically) and Peugeot J7 van.

    1. You need to show the Porte’s other side, with conventional doors. In Japan, a RHD market, the sliding door is only on the kerb side for the passenger. LHD versions haven’t been made so it remains JDM only. I’ve started to see a few here in NZ, where the Porte seems to make more sense than the 1007 because, well, it’s a Toyota, so complex things like powered sliding doors will likely be more reliable. The first gen ’04-’12 OP10 model has one door on the right hand side, the following and last ’12-’20 XP140 had two doors, one front, one rear on the right.

    1. That’s much prettier than the Peugeot. It’s a VW from the wheel covers, but I don’t recognise it otherwise. What was it called, Dave?

    2. It’s the VW Typ 147/EA149 ‘Fridolin’.
      It was developed for the German Post (by far VW’s largest customer). Westfalia built around 6,000 of them from 1965 to 1974. Some were sold to Swiss Post and have additional rear windows.
      The Fridolin is a parts bin special based on a Karmann Ghia chassis, Beetle mechanicals and bodywork from Typ 3 and Transporter as far as possible.
      Fridolins cost serious money nowadays as most of them have been used to destruction in Post service.

    3. Thanks for the information, Dave. Did VW not sell it more widely? It seems like it would have been the perfect complement to the Type 2 in their range, a smaller van for tradesmen or deliveries.

    4. The Fridolin never was part of VW’s official pubic sales program.
      Most of them went to German Post and a couple of hundred to Switzerland.
      The specification was very spartan with a passenger seat that was folded down in the footwell during normal use and could be used as a kind of ‘jump seat’.
      Therefore I’m not sure it would have had significant sales success

      foldable seat:

      Load carrying capacity was enormous.
      The Fridolin was replaced by special ‘Post Golf’ vehicles of which VW made around 5,000 per year for German Post.
      5,000 Golfs per year and a fleet of 15,000 VW Typ 2 was a very sound business case.

  2. My sister-in-law drove one of these for a while, a Citroën Nemo Multispace:

    It was enormous inside but was, of course, just a van with windows and drove like one. Very practical, but unrefined.

  3. Sliding doors may have a lot going for them especially in urban use, but I think that the concept suffers from the same problem that Velcro closing systems for shoes do. Velcro is quicker than tying your traditional shoelaces, and also less likely to loosen over time. But since shoes with Velcro instead of traditional laces tend to be used by (and are thus associated with) small children, the elderly and infirm they have a negative stigma hovering around them.

    1. It also suffers, as Richard implies, from looking too much like something designed for those with mobility problems. If I recall correctly, the doors were also slow in operation, not something you want if it’s raining heavily and you’re trying to get in (or out).

    2. When the 1007 was new, a Peugeot dealer in my city put a stand in a busy street to show the car and offer test drives. I remember the opening/closing of the doors was painfully slow although the deal-breaker for me was the ridiculous styling.
      But now I´m seeing a 1007 youtube video and the doors aren´t so slow! Probably I´m getting old and less impatient…
      Did the doors have a manual override? I wouldn´t trust something so basic to electronics, like the door handles that pop out in Range Rovers.

    3. The sliding doors – any sliding door, be it an automatic gate, elevator door or supermarket entrance – need to be somewhat slow for safety reasons. Children can decide to hop in or out in the last second and the momentum of the object mustn’t cause any injury by knocking the user over (on top of the anti-crush and anti-trap features, of course). That also implies that the Peugeot 1007 is not the ideal getaway vehicle or a car to quickly retreat to when being chased.
      What could have also been a part of the budget overrun is that by 2005 EURONCAP also required side-impact testing and probably a lot of engineering hours went into solving the issue of how not to smash the passengers with the heavy doors themselves.

  4. The 1007 had door handles that were triggered by car wash brushes, leading to open doors and wet trousers.
    The manual then held the advice to lock the doors before entering a cat wash.
    The car also was exceptionally heavy for such a small vehicle because of the heavy sliding mechanism that also made it top heavy.

    1. I remember a car magazine (Car and Driver?) suffered the same problem with a long term test Nissan 350 Z: enter a car wash, suddenly see the dome light turns on, inmediately after get a shower in the left arm and leg.
      They got used to lock the doors before using a car wash.

    2. To be fair, whoever uses an automated car wash on their car deserves to have their trousers wet.

    3. Then don’t ask people from Spies Hecker or Herberts who always recommend an automated car wash over a manual one because it’s much more gentle to the paint material.

    4. Hard to believe how dirty badly maintained spinning brushes are worse than a simple pressure wash. These things are factories for swirl marks

    5. An automated car wash uses around 200 to 300 litres of water per car and as long as you make sure that the car immediately in front of you isn’t caked in mud the brushes produce fewer swirl marks than a manual wash with one or two buckets of water. Swirl marks from a car wash also have the same depth and direction which makes them much less abrasive and less visible than the irregular swirl marks from a hand wash. At least that is what people told me whose professional occupation is to make paint for cars.

    6. Years ago I started to learn a bit about detailing and I polished my father´s Mondeo mkI with a rotary polisher. After a weekend of hard work the Mondi paint was spotless. Just a week later he took the car to an automated car wash, the body got completely covered in swirl marks and almost made me cry.
      Of course the brushes probably were very dirty, but automated car wash owners don´t take care about that, simply because people don´t worry about swirl marks .

      I always wash my car by hand with a wool wash mitt, although the drought we´re suffering is making me use those “waterless” wash detailing products (after a good rinse with a high pressure water hose).

  5. I remember reading at the time that Peugeot asked potential customers what they wanted, and when they produced it their “customers” decided they didn’t want it after all. Somebody local owned one, years ago ( she had a semi-invalid mother ) and that is the only one I ever saw.
    I remember there was some issue with the doors – was it that if you were driving with the door open, it was impossible to close ?

    1. The issue with the doors was that they would open in a car wash because the brushes triggered the opening mechanism in the door handles.

    2. John makes a fair point: who uses an automated car wash when there are tens of thousands of Kurds and Albanians out there who are ready and waiting to scrub your car by hand? For just a fiver (cash).

  6. One of these drove past my house a day or two ago, so they’re still around.

    I agree that the door handles really should have been better – indeed, the concept is a lot more attractive than the production version, but that’s often the case. One would really need a ‘cool’ design to compensate for the doors; I suspect that its higher price was a barrier at the time, too.

    Re the sliding doors, I know that Ford did an enormous amount of work assessing how people use small cars and the vehicle they designed should have appealed to the market. It didn’t and that’s often true of ergonomically correct objects – they look odd.

    Here’s a review of the 1007 by YouTube classic vehicle channel, HubNut.

    1. Charles, not sure what the situation in your neck of the woods is, but over here in the Netherlands Peugeot sold just short of 3,000 1007’s. Over 90% of these are still in use, which is a bit of surprise to me. I do see them around, but only occasionally.

    2. Freerk – that’s interesting. I looked up how many are left (approximately) on UK roads and it’s 2,700. I don’t know how many they sold in the UK (I’d guess a few thousand a year, so 20k in total?) but worldwide sales over 7 years were around 120,000, so they sold around 15,000 per year.

      There are 12 for sale on AutoTrader in the UK and they generally cost between £2k and £3k. I have a sneaking regard for them.


    3. Charles, I just looked and here we have 76 for sale. Prices starting at just under € 1k for a high mileage example with a blown head gasket up to € 5,250 for the most expensive one. Most 1007’s are between € 2k and € 3.5k here.

    4. mobile.de has more than hundred of them. Most of them have an astonishing number of miles/kilometres for such a small car.
      Not that I would buy such a driving aid….

    5. I have the UK figures now – they planned to sell 17,000 per year, but they sold 8,000 in total and the model was dropped after a few years, in 2008.

      The survival rate after 15 to 20 years is therefore around 33%, which I think is pretty good, although I guess many of them will have been bought by older people, who don’t go far and who look after them. I noticed one of the cars on AutoTrader had only covered 24k miles.

  7. The fault in the door mechanism is very strange, as the 1007 is not the only car with a sliding door and vertical door handles.
    It is a fault that has crept into the production process, because obviously some practical tests were omitted during the development phase. Alternatively, this defect was discovered during the development phase and a cheap solution was chosen by fitting the door handles with an (ugly) grip plate.
    The modest performance and high centre of gravity was not a criterion for buyers, but the high price was a factor.

    If I remember correctly, a whole model family was planned on the 1007 platform during the development phase. 4-seater, 6-seater – and above all cargo versions in different wheelbases.
    Since the latter in particular was not realised, for whatever reason, the development costs were stuck on the 2-seater, which led to a much too high sales price.

    1. The fault is very simple. To open the door manually you simply push the whole handle backwards.
      If you don’t, the car wash will do.

  8. The Toyota Spade, of which I saw a good few in Hong Kong, has sliding rear doors. It works an awful lot better than the Peugeot. People seem to like them too.

  9. The answer to the door handle question, from Autocar (July 2004), is:

    “Dominating the side profile are huge and rather ugly door handles – a solution to the packaging problem of fitting window-winder mechanisms and side-impact bracing into such a slim door. With no room to hide the handle, it had to be placed on the exterior skin and surrounded by a guard to protect pedestrians.”

    1. “into such a slim door”. This parameter didn´t emerge from nowhere. If a rational design process leads to a bad result something in the rational process is at fault and needs to be re-examined. Someone up at Peugeot HQ skimped on making an executive decision: “there´s no way we are sending out a car with those ugly handles… can we please change this?”

  10. Peugeot did offer the 1007 as a car for the urban older people and as a shopping car for women.
    But older people and women do not want a car specially made for them. They want an impractical Mini or a SUV for more lifestyle and adventures in their boring life.

  11. One thing that’s obvious this car is not for the likes of those who participate here purely on door handle function and overall shape,
    Sad really !

  12. I had assumed that this poorly integrated mess was designed in Sochaux, however Wikipedia credits Pininfarina. The door handle is only the most obvious example of its artlessness.

    In a side elevation view, would others agree that the half-hearted attempt to integrate the track seems to evoke a “bow and arrow” theme until one sees the rear three quarter perspective? Why did they leave this loose end dangling? Fail.

    The anodyne, slightly banal proposal pictured below is said to be from Heuliez.

    It seems like there must have been an in-house proposal from Gérard Welter’s team, but I can’t find it.

    1. Hi gooddog. From the rear three-quarter angle, the 1007 looks like a Renault Avantime that shrunk in the wash:

    2. Daniel, that is an interesting comparison, however I feel that one of those is art, ebullient in its eccentricity, while the other lacks self-confidence. If only the 1007 were less apologetic about its utility. Either they could have done better to integrate the door track, or leaned harder into its industrial functionality in a manner similar to the original Fiat Panda. In that case the handle would not seem so clumsy.

  13. I think part of the problem with the 1007 is that it’s part of that early 2000s era in which Peugeot generally underwhelmed. They have been on a roll for the past few years now, showing much more confidence in styling, execution, etc., so that if they tried it now I think the result would be much better.

    1. Confidence, yes.

      I think this is quite good, they have my attention.

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