France is an automotive paradox: Some French products are the height of fashion and technology, some are deeply eccentric answers to pragmatic questions, some are very rational and normal, some verge on the absurd. Almost all have a weird little spark of "La Marseillaise" to them. What's the quintessential French car?

I'm going to discreetly sidestep the most obvious candidates and put in a vote for the last Peugeot that Americans had a chance to own new: the 405. It was in many ways definitively French: stylish, perfectly comfortable, reasonably economical, enjoyable to drive if not a canyon charger, and occasionally troublesome. It's also got Eurosnob desirability in spades, even for those of us on less than a vintage-Bordeaux budget — provided one can be found.


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Photo Credit: Jano2106