To the Batcave! – Peugeot 406 Toscana

Searching for your inner hero? This 1996 Peugeot concept had the key.

Peugeot 406 Toscana. Image: toplowridersites

The same year the Pininfarina bodied 406 Coupe was first shown, Peugeot also displayed this, the Toscana concept. What the Sochaux-based motor company’s intentions were remains unclear, but whatever the intent, it cannot have been all that serious. With a bespoke body marrying key styling elements of the 406 saloon – nose treatment, rear lamps, body swage line – to a distinctly sci-fi canopy section, the Toscana was as frivolous a concept could be while still loosely based on a production model. If anything, it puts one in mind of some of GM’s Motorama concepts from the 1950’s – or indeed Adam West’s Batmobile. Continue reading “To the Batcave! – Peugeot 406 Toscana”

Depth Charge – 1997 Pininfarina Nautilus

Hailed by Pininfarina as a celebration, Nautilus marked the final act in an unravelling relationship dating back to 1951.

Image: cavallivapore.it

The same year as 406 Coupe’s began leaving Pininfarina’s San Giorgio Canavese facility, the carrozzeria displayed Nautilus at Geneva; a concept for a full-size four-door luxury saloon, said by the coachbuilder to be “an exciting stylistic exploration of the high class sporty saloon, created as a tribute to our partnership with Peugeot.” But behind the scenes, this already souring relationship was entering its death throes. With Murat Günak appointed as Peugeot styling director in 1994, one of his first acts was to enlarge the styling team to bolster both numbers and influence; the aim being to further eclipse the Italian coachbuilder and favour the in-house team. Continue reading “Depth Charge – 1997 Pininfarina Nautilus”

Postcard From Schleswig 4

This is a vignette more than a postcard. I did see these two in Schleswig, on the way west.

Facelift, original.

We stopped in a supermarket and I thought to stock up on provisions: some JJ Darboven coffee and German-market Aperol which is 15% rather than 11%. In the carpark I noticed an early series 1 Peugeot 406 and a Series 2.

Continue reading “Postcard From Schleswig 4”

Lion of Beauty – 1997 Peugeot 406 Coupé

A Suave Swansong. The 406 Coupé embodied values which had seen a Franco-Italian marriage survive and prosper for a generation. Sadly, it wasn’t to last.

Image: theautoz.com

At some unspecified point during the 1990’s something quite seismic took hold within Automobiles Peugeot. A profound cultural shift which saw a gradual jettisoning of not only the marque’s highly regarded engineering principles but also its reputation for dignified styling. Their long-standing association with carrozzeria Pininfarina was unravelling. PSA President, Jacques Calvet, believed to have been irked by the attention Patrick le Quément’s Billancourt studios were receiving, pressed Peugeot Style Centre chief, Gérard Welter for more visual excitement; a move which saw Welter poach rising star Murat Günak from Mercedes-Benz in 1994. Continue reading “Lion of Beauty – 1997 Peugeot 406 Coupé”

The Great Compression

Opel’s slow walk into the history books, to join Panhard and Saab, has begun. It occurred just as I came to understand what Opel was about.

2017 Opel Insignia Sports Tourer: source
2017 Opel Insignia Grand Sport: source

You can read the technical details here. The important and ominous part is this: “Tavares told his board that PSA would redevelop the core Opel lineup with its own technologies to achieve rapid savings, according to people with knowledge of the matter” (from AN Europe).

While I was reviewing the last generation Opel Astra, I noted that the description of the mechanicals differed little from its peers. So, you might say, where is the great loss? Even if you don’t care for Opel, its absorption into the PSA combine will reduce meaningful competition among the most important classes of cars.

Continue reading “The Great Compression”

Torpedo from the East, Incoming

PSA may purchase Opel. This story has been bubbling for a while and it has bubbled some more, like the sinister upwellings on the surface of a lava pool.

2017 Opel Insignia GS: Opel.de
2017 Opel Insignia GS: Opel.de

The Guardian has reported that PSA would expect rapid savings were they to buy Opel. “Carlos Tavares, the chief executive of PSA, which owns Peugeot, Citroën and DS, said on Thursday morning that adding GM’s German Opel and British Vauxhall brands would attract new customers and generate substantial cost savings. An outline agreement is expected to be announced as soon as next week, before the Geneva motor show starts on 6 March”, wrote the formerly Mancunian paper.

This is bad news for car buyers as Opel models will be subsumed into PSA’s model structure. There is not much tangible difference  Continue reading “Torpedo from the East, Incoming”

Cars That Could Have Been Citroëns – 2011 Peugeot Hx1

It might look like a stretched Peugeot 308 to you, but this was the finest PSA concept in years.

2011 Peugeot Hx1. Image: zastavki
2011 Peugeot Hx1. Image: zastavki

I’m somewhat amazed I’ve made it so far with this series. I’d expected hoards of irate Citroënistes burning effigies of me for having the nerve to make these (admittedly loose) connections, so either I’m on the right track or I should spend more time looking skywards for falling anvils.

Continue reading “Cars That Could Have Been Citroëns – 2011 Peugeot Hx1”

Re-Appraisal

Note to oneself: be careful of press photographs.

2017 Peugeot 3008: source
2017 Peugeot 3008: source

Admittedly, night had fallen and the surrounding city-centre lights could have been confusing. And the vehicle wore dark paint. These might not be ideal studio conditions. Yet, my experience of the new Peugeot 3008 provided grounds to remember never to Continue reading “Re-Appraisal”

Theme : Compromise – The Crucial Balance

As Mr Editor Kearne said in his introduction to this month’s theme, compromise is inevitable in the motor industry. The trick is knowing where to apply it and where to not.

Coherent : Peugeot 403
Coherent and Cohesive : Peugeot 403

Ask any industry accountant and they will tell you that making cars and making money aren’t natural bedfellows. Margins are often small, the customer base fickle and, with relatively long development and production runs, like an oil tanker, once committed you don’t change direction easily. Of course there are exceptions, companies who through a combination of prudence, intelligence, excellence or maybe just fashion, are able to make a healthy profit, year after year, and even swallow up a few of the lacklustre performers in one or more of the above categories whilst they do. Continue reading “Theme : Compromise – The Crucial Balance”

Connect the Dots

In a spirit of festive jollity, Driven to Write challenges readers to connect the three cars shown in the presentation below.

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What is it and how are these three vehicles connected? Think of it as a kind of degrees of Kevin Bacon. The prize is a year’s free subscription to Driven to Write and access to behind-the-scenes events such as our editorial meetings. Continue reading “Connect the Dots”

What is Today’s 309?

The Peugeot 309 is, I feel, a European equivalent of the kind of anonymous car  GM and Ford made in the 1970’s and 1980’s. What is there like it today?

1983-1993 Peugeot 309 GL Profil
1985-1993 Peugeot 309 GL Profil

What makes the 309 such an oddity is that it should have been a Talbot but had to use Peugeot components and ended as a Peugeot anyway. Its development team had roots in the Rootes group and Simca: British and French. The stylists in Coventry and engineers at the former Simca centre at Poissy were forced to Continue reading “What is Today’s 309?”

1975 Peugeot 604 Road Test

The only way to really know a car is take a test drive. Having long admired the 1975 Peugeot 604, I finally tracked one down and fired it up. What did I find?

1975 Peugeot 604: on sale here.
1975 Peugeot 604: on sale here.

[Republished with kind permission of Curbside Classic]

Before I get to my discoveries, let’s take a quick look at the background to the 604’s development. [A longer discussion can be found here]. The French know the period from 1945 to 1975 as “les trentes glorieuses” or “the glorious thirty”. The rising economic tide seemed to lift all boats: the average French worker’s salary rose 170% during that time. Customers could afford more. At precisely the end of this period, the beginning a protracted malaise, Peugeot launched their interpretation of the large, luxury car: the V6-powered, rear-drive 604. Many know the car as “the French Mercedes”, being as it is a clear response to Benz’s W-114 of 1968. Peugeot wanted to offer increasingly affluent customers a domestic product other than the beautiful but unorthodox Citroen DS which, in 1975, had reached two decades in production. Things didn’t work out for Peugeot and today most know the 604 only for being a bit of a glorious failure, despite the car receiving glowing reviews for its ability to Continue reading “1975 Peugeot 604 Road Test”

Ashtrays: 1975 Peugeot 604

A lot has been written about the car but nothing has been said about its ashtrays.

1975 Peugeot 604 dashboard
1975 Peugeot 604 dashboard: where is the ashtray?

It is with profound pleasure that DTW presents the ashtrays of the legendary 1975 Peugeot 604. What we find is that the car lives up to its reputation of all-around excellence coupled with a few idiosyncracies. We’ll be presenting a full review of the car later on this month. In the meantime let’s not focus on the ride, handling or strange driving position. What if you want to  Continue reading “Ashtrays: 1975 Peugeot 604”

Not For Sale Around Here: 2012 Peugeot 301

The interior materials and colours give away the intended market. Surely this exterior would appeal to a fair few buyers?

2012 Peugeot 301
2012 Peugeot 301

What are those interior materials like? Pale, hard plastics on the door casings and velour upholstery. Nothing about the shapes scared me. With more appropriate trim I don’t see why this couldn’t find customers. Continue reading “Not For Sale Around Here: 2012 Peugeot 301”

Life After Crossovers – PSA Dares to Dream

Everyone’s crazy about crossovers these days. Well okay, maybe not everyone…

Peugeot CEO, Maxime Picat. Image:lepoint.fr
Peugeot CEO, Maxime Picat. Image:lepoint.fr

With the motor industry rapidly coalescing towards crossovers and SUV’s, it’s tempting to view this not so much as a trend but more a new ascendancy. Furthermore, it’s also increasingly difficult to envisage it being a fleeting one. So for those amongst us who don’t relish a world filled with the confounded things, even a lone voice of dissent from within the automotive mainstream sounds a thrillingly heretical note. Continue reading “Life After Crossovers – PSA Dares to Dream”

Peugeot Goes Brougham- 1998 Peugeot 306 Eden Park

My research reveals this wasn’t a special edition but a standard trim line that appeared for a few seasons around about the time of the more famous Roland Garros cars. I’m open to correction on that.

1998 Peugeot 306 Eden Park. Those screw heads are a nice touch.
1998 Peugeot 306 Eden Park. Those screw heads are a nice touch.

Who or what is Eden Park? They make sport-themed fashion and the name is a reference to a rugby stadium in New Zealand. These cars came in three or five door guise. This one is a five door, seen on a gloomy day a few weeks back. You have to hand it to Peugeot for their creativity or desperation: the Peugeot 306 is the car that I see with the most special editions/limited series badging, beating Ford, Opel and the rest by a wide margin. Wikipedia lists Equinoxe, Symbio and Cashmere; I am sure I have seen others. Continue reading “Peugeot Goes Brougham- 1998 Peugeot 306 Eden Park”

Coming Back to America? PSA Looks West : 2

Part two: Can PSA really make it in America? Driven to Write continues its investigation.

Image:citroenvie
Image:citroenvie

It is a truth widely acknowledged in crisis management that there are five key steps to corporate recovery. First: change the senior management. Second: rapidly identify and scope the nature of the problem. Third: take action to arrest losses by cutting the cost base. Four: Stabilise the business and five: return to growth. Up to now, PSA’s Carlos Tavares has stuck rigidly to this playbook, ruthlessly extracting cost from the business, yielding financial results that have had the industry’s top analysts patting his head in approval. Not only in regards to profit, but with financial metrics reputedly the envy of its rivals, PSA’s turnaround looks impressive. But stabilising the business is only stage four of the turnaround gameplan, finding growth in a stagnating market is a horse of an entirely different stripe. Continue reading “Coming Back to America? PSA Looks West : 2”

Coming Back to America? PSA Looks West : 1

Part one: Recent reports suggest PSA are considering a return to the US market. Are they out of their minds?

Peugeot had modest US success with the 505 model. Image:productioncars
Peugeot had modest US success with the 505 model. Image:productioncars

If it isn’t chiseled in stone somewhere, it probably should be. Because if you want to make a success of the auto business, you really do need a viable (and profitable) presence in the United States – it’s simply too big, too diverse and too lucrative a market to ignore. Conversely, it’s also amongst the toughest to break into. Casualties are inevitable, even for the more successful entrants; an unintended acceleration issue here, a diesel scandal there, but you only have to track the fortunes of the auto-absentees to understand the price of retrenchment. Continue reading “Coming Back to America? PSA Looks West : 1”

Theme of Last Month: Special- 1995 Peugeot 106 Roland Garros

These are likeable special editions, something of a fixture in Peugeot’s catalogue in the 1990s: the Roland Garros series.

1995 (?) Peugeot 106 Roland Garros edition
1995 (?) Peugeot 106 Roland Garros edition

The 205 and 306 also appeared in this livery. After two decades it remains fresh unlike many colourways of the same time. The 106 Wikipedia entry is schtumm on the topic (the English one) of these cars.

Evidently the RG edition functioned as a stable trim variant more than a limited edition. Have they done anything like this since? It’s not really very European to “brougham” a car in the American style, is it?

Theme: Special – 1991 Peugeot 205 Colour Line

The year was 1991 and the Peugeot 205 neared the end of production. Time for a special edition. 

1991 Peugeot Color Line
1991 Peugeot Color Line

This is the value end of the special edition spectrum: non-standard upholstery and some stickers. Mechanically, it’s a base model 205 trying to look attractive. Continue reading “Theme: Special – 1991 Peugeot 205 Colour Line”

Bangernomics And Recognition For The Peugeot 406

Autocar and James Ruppert are celebrating 25 years of the bangernomics concept. And the 406 gets some publicity.

1999 Peugeot 406
1999 Peugeot 406: bilmodel.dk

For those who don’t know, bangernomics is Ruppert’s term for a car buying philosophy where the aim is to find a really cheap car with a long MOT. I first came across the concept in the early ’90s when reading Car magazine. At that time Ruppert had a column on used cars. He also ran a series called the Crap Car Cup that required the contestants to get the best, cheapest car possible and run it and race it. I used this bangernomics philosophy when time came for me to Continue reading “Bangernomics And Recognition For The Peugeot 406”

A Concept for Sunday – 1985 Peugeot Griffe 4

Earlier in the week we discussed the phenomenon of glazed C-pillars – a design feature popular during the mid-to late 1980’s. Here’s another example of the breed.

Image via carstyling.ru
Image: carstyling.ru

Pininfarina’s 1985 Griffe 4 concept was created to honour the carrozzeira’s 30-year association with Peugeot, which began with the 403 model. What’s interesting here is not only its use of the glazed C-pillar treatment, (if indeed they can be described as pillars at all), but the fact that it resembles a rather prettier Subaru XT. Continue reading “A Concept for Sunday – 1985 Peugeot Griffe 4”

Cars I can´t write about 2: Porsche

Some cars defy one’s capacity to describe or discuss them except in the most general terms. Here´s another, a Porsche of some type.

2014 Porsche collage

There was a 1970s example of one of these things parked on the road today. They are very rare around my district. I chose to look at a Vectra parked one space ahead of it. I’ve always admired the 2002 model’s headlamp design. When I was in Germany at Easter I saw a rare high-spect 2002 saloon in green metallic that made me catch my breath. The Porsche, on the other hand, doesn’t say anything. I can imagine a comfortable life trickling around in a Vectra, not being very bothered by much and enjoying the Opel´s robust easy-going nature. Continue reading “Cars I can´t write about 2: Porsche”

Something Rotten In Denmark: 1986 Peugeot 505

Sold in large numbers and once part of the corporate car-park, the 505 is now a rarity. But here is one example that almost looks attractive. But looks deceive. 

1986 Peugeot 505

PSA launched the 505 in 1979 with the purpose of providing a product in their middle ranks to replace the venerable 504. What the ´05 succeeded in doing was killing off interest in the 604 which had been on sale and doing quite well since 1976. The 505 was very slightly smaller and about 30% cheaper than the 604 and  lot easier on the eye; the main differences between the two cars were that the newcomer lacked the messy dashboard and thirsty V6. The 505 range offered all the engines the 604 could and should have had. What Peugeot forgot to do was to Continue reading “Something Rotten In Denmark: 1986 Peugeot 505”

The Three Brothers – Part Deux

panhard24b2I’ve just spent a few days and 2,500 km driving around Eastern France. In that time, I saw two Citroën CXs, a Renault Dauphine, a Renault 12, a Simca 1100 and a Peugeot 504. And I also saw an Onze Legere Traction, but that was UK registered. Those staple cliches for the location director setting an episode of a popular UK TV series in France, the DS and the 2CV, were nowhere to be seen, save for a battered Snail sitting on the roof of a scrapyard. Of course a French person visiting the UK would notice the dearth of Morris Minors and Rover 2000s but, somehow, the homogeneity of the modern French industry is so much more depressing. Even a Peugeot 406 and a Renault 21 were almost cheering sights, being pretty Gallic compared with today’s eurocars.

Continue reading “The Three Brothers – Part Deux”