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.

  • MaintenanceCosts We hear endlessly from the usual suspects about the scenarios where EVs don't work as well as gas cars. We never hear the opposite side of the coin. From an EV owner (since 2019) who has a second EV reserved, here are a few points the "I road trip 1000 miles every day" crowd won't tell you about:[list][*]When you have a convenient charging situation, EV fueling is more convenient than a gas car. There is no stopping at gas stations and you start every day with a full tank.[/*][*]Where there are no-idling rules (school pickup/dropoff, lines for ferries or services, city loading, whatever else) you can keep warm or cool to your heart's content in your EV.[/*][*]In the cold, EVs will give you heat from the second you turn them on.[/*][*]EVs don't care one bit if you use them for tons of very short trips. Their mechanicals don't need to boil off condensation. (Just tonight, I used my EV to drive six blocks, because it was 31 degrees and raining, and walking would have been unpleasant.)[/*][*]EVs don't stink and don't make you breathe carcinogens on cold start.[/*][*]EV maintenance is much less frequent and much cheaper, eliminating almost all items having to do with engine, transmission, or brakes in a gas car. In most EVs the maintenance schedule consists of battery coolant changes and tire maintenance.[/*][*]You can accelerate fast in EVs without noisily attracting the attention of the cops and every passerby on the street.[/*][/list]
  • MaintenanceCosts Still can't get a RAV4 Prime for love or money. Availability of normal hybrid RAV4s and Highlanders is only slightly better. At least around here I think Toyota could sell twice the number of vehicles that they are actually bringing in at the moment.
  • Tree Trunk Been in the market for a new Highlander Hybrid, it is sold out with order time of 6 months plus. Probably would have bit the bullet if it was not for the dealers the refuse to take an order but instead want to sell from allotment whether it fits or not and at thousands over MRSP.
  • AKHusky The expense argument is nonsense. My mach e was $42k after tax credit. Basically the same as similarly equipped edge. And it completely ignores that the best selling vehicles are Rams, F150s, and Silverados, all more expensive that a bolt, MAch e or ID4. As an owner, I'd say they are still in second car territory for most places in the country.
  • Johnster I live in a red state and I see quite a few EVs being purchased by conservative, upper-class Republicans (many of them Trump-supporters). I suspect that it is a way for them to flaunt their wealth and that, over time, the preference for EVs will trickle down to less well-off Republicans.
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