Crapwagon Outtake: 1989 Peugeot 405 Mi16

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn
crapwagon outtake 1989 peugeot 405 mi16

Like every morning, I woke up yesterday, showered, and thumbed through my saved searches on eBay. When I saw a hit on my “Peugeot” search, I had a feeling it would be another crusty old bicycle, destined to become a fixie for some hipster that imports Gitanes.

Not this time.

I quickly clicked “Add To Watch List” and shuffled the kids to the bus stop, hoping the Pug that looked awesome on my tiny phone would turn out as nice once I got to a 24-inch LCD.

They say never meet your heroes. They should also say to never buy a car from within the eBay app. To be fair, the seller of this 1989 Peugeot 405 Mi16 does disclose that there are plenty of issues: it doesn’t run and might have a broken timing belt, which means bent valves and possibly scored pistons on this interference engine. There are scrapes and dents in the sheetmetal, and cracks on the bumpers. Oh, and rust.

I have to balance my Francophile enthusiasm with my serious lack of money and storage space. I see some fanatics restore old Porsches and Mustangs, retaining little beyond the VIN plate and replacing everything else. In comparison, this can’t be that daunting of a project, especially when there are marque specialists like Peugeot Holm here in the States. They’re still making the 405 in Iran, so parts can’t be that hard to come by with the right combination of patience and money.

Unlike many of my other automotive muses, a 405 Mi16 could be a reasonable daily driver, hauling the kids to their various activities when I don’t feel like using the minivan. Still, $1,200 might be too much when there is likely another $4,000 bill to make this heap right.

It doesn’t mean I’ll stop dreaming.

Chris Tonn is a broke classic car enthusiast that writes about old cars, since he can’t afford to buy them. Commiserate with him on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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  • David C. Holzman David C. Holzman on Jan 27, 2016

    My family of origin got a 404 wagon in Paris in August 1965 (4 on the tree). We were there for a year, and we drove that car all over Europe the following summer. It was the first car I drove legally, four years later. Compared to American cars of that era, it was nimble, had responsive steering, and a really excellent suspension, that took Massachusetts potholed roads with aplomb. It wasn't fast. After I got my license I took it on the highway one time and floored it for several minutes, getting it up to 85. (Paul Niedermeyer, who owned a handful of them, informs me that sometime after that, Peugeot boosted the power in 404s. My parents sold that car in the summer of 1970, because they were afraid to drive it across the country for another sabbatical. I didn't think about it much for nearly 40 years until I dreamed one night that it had mysteriously reappeared along with several other family of origin cars. Now I miss it.

  • Davew833 Davew833 on Jan 28, 2016

    Which came first, the Nissan P10 Primera/Infiniti G20, or the Peugeot 405? They look like near- twins. You can probably get a running first- generation G20 for less than a grand and they're almost as rare these days, especially for a decent one. I think the P10 styling is slightly more refined and organic, but I love the seats in the 405. I worked for Infiniti when the G20 came out and always thought the interiors were cheap looking. Great handling cars though, and of course the SR20DE engine was and is excellent.

    • Julkinen Julkinen on Jan 29, 2016

      The Peugeot preceded the Primera/G20 by a few years, as it was introduced in 1987. It's quite certain Nissan benchmarked it for development, and the jump from Bluebird/Auster/Stanza to Primera was noteworthy.

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