Due to attrition, French cars in the U.S. are becoming as rare as poule dents, Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe Peugeot 405 Mi16 could make sightings in someone's neighborhood a lot more common, but only if its price proves uncommonly good.
Something else that's rare is a day when one of our candidates claims a Nice Price win, but that's just what happened to yesterday's veddy English 1974 MGB-GT. Its arrest me red paint seemingly arresting a full 78% of you. And that was even in light of ominous proclamations about rusty sills.
Today's car comes from across the Channel, and is a totally different animal from that little Brit. Perhaps unfairly, the French have been derided for what is perceived as cowardice in the face of overwhelming force. They are flippantly referred to as surrender monkeys, and some jokingly claim that the country's two top industries are the manufacture of white flags and welcome mats. But come on, none of that's true, and the French Resistance has the graves to prove it.
The French auto industry is may have finally surrendered here in the U.S., but it too didn't go down without a fight. Renault tried assimilation, buying up AMC-Jeep and affecting a Wisconsin accent. Peugeot, on the other hand, stayed home but sent over emissaries to compete in some of the industry's most competitive classes. In the end, neither maker found the success they were so desperately seeking and each retreated back to the Continent, licking their wounds and salving their bruised egos with wine and stinky cheeses.
And like ET's forgetful friends, they left some soldiers behind. One of those is today's candidate, a dog's dink red 1991 Peugeot 405 Mi16. Offered in both Berline and Break the 405 was a fully modern replacement for the antiquated 504, a car so old it's mentioned in the Dead Sea Scrolls- something about breaking down on the way to a bris. Both the bent-trunked 504 and the 405 featured Pininfarina styling, and the later car has a strong family resemblance to other members of the late ‘80s Peugeot family.
This one is the four door, and is the top of the line in the U.S., Mi16. That's noted by its trunk lid where both a discreet badge and less discreet spoiler announce that this Pug is très rapide. The 16 refers to the number of valves atop the 1,998-cc four cylinder, fuel injected engine, a feature that at the time was notable for its rarity. Contemporary specs pegged the Mi16 at about 150-bhp, and with less than 2,800-lbs to drag around, performance should prove lively.
The seller of this red over black edition claims that significant investment has been made in ensuring it runs - not so much to justify the asking price, but perhaps to reassure that it is not a ticking time bomb of French fail. Despite the new parts and claims that it has been tuned to a top, there's still plenty to do on this Pug. The paint is doing its crazy dance on all horizontal surfaces, and the driver's seat looks like a grouper fish intent on eating someone's genitals. The seller says the window switches work ‘sometimes' while the sunroof has gone beyond inconsistent action to complete inaction, but at least has stopped closed. There's some other issues, including a clock that's described as funky looking, but there's nothing here that's really that bad, or which couldn't be fixed in a couple of weekends - well, maybe that cracked windshield will take a little longer. With 108K on its funky clock, it looks like about what you would expect from a 20-year old car, and the seller has at least not to paint an inaccurate picture of the car's condition.
The 405 won the European COTY award in 1988, and enjoyed a career racing Dakar and Pike's Peak as Peugeot's gravel kicker of record. It also appeared in a series of TV ads featuring the dirge takes my breath away and slo-mo explosions, so it's got that going for it. Sure you could buy a similar size and age Accord for lots less, but where would the fun or Franciness be in that? Here you're getting a beautiful Pininfarina body wrapped around a well-sorted chassis and a French tickler of an engine - all ready to go.
Rarity means these cars aren't clogging the classifieds and that's an additional attraction - you're not likely to see another one around any time soon. Of course that also means they're not just giving them away and the seller in this instance is looking to get $3,700 for his pretty Pug. Do you think he ought to get it? Or, do you want to let him have it just for asking that much?
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