Junkyard Find: 1989 Peugeot 405 S

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1989 peugeot 405 s

Peugeot gave up on the North American market after the 1991 model year, thanks to poor sales of their new 405. I haven’t seen one of these cars on the street for at least 15 years, and junkyard sightings have been correspondingly rare. When I spotted this car at a Northern California self-serve yard a couple months back, it took me a moment to figure out what it was.

Nearly 200,000 miles on the clock, which is comparable to what I see on (non-Mitsubishi) Japanese cars of the same era.

When the company that built your car retreats from your continent, keeping it on the street becomes quite a challenge. This one made it to age 24.

The only Peugeot I’ve ever owned was a 504 that came with a bunch of Linda Ronstadt 8-tracks. I liked that car, in spite of its frequent breakdowns (yes, I know, the 504 is supposedly bulletproof everywhere else in the world).

We have a few Peugeot 405 Mi16s racing in the 24 Hours of LeMons (they’re quite affordable, i.e. less than scrap value in most cases). They’re somewhat quick, but they tend to be pretty blow-uppy. Here’s one depositing a connecting rod in the windshield of a following car.

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  • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on Jul 14, 2013

    It was a good handling car. It was prized for good handling and was better as a car than any Honda or Toyota by the order of magnitude. As a used car it sucks therefore it is not a good car for America where people care only about reliability and nothing else. It cannot last 192K miles though, it is simply impossible - it would be nothing but a miracle. My guess is odometer shows 192K km and I can imagine what kind of effort it took to maintain it up to these 192K kms. Russian cars also can last 192K kms but you have to replace every part over time (some Russians buy two Ladas to merge them into the one eventually).

    • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Jul 22, 2013

      Considering it says US MODEL right under the engine, no way did they put the odometer in KM's. Even the French aren't that daft.

  • Casm Casm on Oct 17, 2013

    Sadly late to the party on this one, having only just run across the post in a tangental Google search. Amusingly, this piece was published one day after I purchased another 405 Mi16 (this time a 1991; previous one was a 1989 model) to use as a daily driver after seven years without one. I may be biased, but they really are a fantastic car. Take care of them properly and they're far from a nightmare, but get one that's been monkeyed with and you can be in for quite a bit of agony. The first one I ever drove was a non-turbo diesel. Slow, but was still a great car to drive - handled well, had great steering and brakes, was *very* comfortable, and routinely managed something in the region of 45mpg (Imperial) at a constant 70-80mph. On moving to the US, my first car was a 1989 405DL. Base model - power nothing (apart from the steering), cloth seats, and the 4-speed auto. The A/C worked surprisingly well, but I eventually decided that the button that activated it actually stood for 'acceleration control', because activating it was more than the combination of the 110bhp and autobox could were really up to. Still, was an excellent highway cruiser (once you got it up to speed), and was sadly totalled in a hit-and-run. Had Peugeot known how to approach the US market properly, this car could potentially have saved their bacon. Bringing in the 205 and 605 would also have helped, but in the end it didn't matter. A comeback would be nice, but it's hard to see how their products would offer anything in this day and age that an established marque already doesn't.

  • Jeff S Time for Elan to buy them out. There was a rumor that Elon was buying GM with even a video but when I googled it I could not verify it.
  • Wjtinfwb One of Nissan's best, from their last days as a scrappy, Mazda type builder of fun cars. Too bad those days are gone.
  • Wjtinfwb Didn't care for the E60 when introduced, compared to the previous generation. But up against some of BMW's latest offerings (new 7), it's a breath of fresh air. This car with a conventional 6-speed manual would be another 10-15k at least as it looks very well kept.
  • SPPPP Very nice shape, but I just never warmed to the E60 car like I did the earlier generations of the 5-series, or the contemporary 3-series.
  • Mike Beranek They're building a brand-new "vending machine" in Schaumburg, right on my way home from work. Maybe after they go belly up, I could buy it, build out living space on the top floor, and use the rest to display my awesome car collection (ha!)