Rare Rides: A 1991 Peugeot 405 Mi16, the Last-ever New Peugeot in America

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides a 1991 peugeot 405 mi16 the last ever new peugeot in america

The Rare Rides series will always have space for unique French cars. It’s featured several Renault vehicles and a couple of Citroëns to date, but only one Peugeot, to my recollection. That one, a 106 GTI, was an import to Canada by an enthusiastic second-hand buyer. Today we feature a second Peugeot: one actually sold by a dealer, brand new, in America.

It’s the hottest 405 sold in the U.S. — the excellently named Mi16.

Introduced for the 1987 model year, the 405 was a consolidation effort on the part of Peugeot. The large (for Europe) family sedan was a replacement for the aged (and smaller) 305 sedan, and the aged (and larger) 505 sedan. Upon the 405’s introduction Peugeot continued production of its predecessors for a few years. The old sedans wore their sheet metal in a much heavier and more serious way than the slick, Pininfarina-designed 405.

With much confidence in its new family car, Peugeot released 10 different variations. There was a front-drive version, an all-wheel drive version (Mi16x4), and in 1988 an estate was added to the lineup.

North America was more limited in its 405 selection, as one might expect of niche French car offerings on the continent. Available from the latter part of 1988, the base DL and mid-level S trims were complimented by the range-topping Mi16. The lower two trims were also available in a now-hen’s-teeth Sportswagen.

The 405 found immediate success in Europe, especially in the home French market. North America was a completely different story. By the late 1980s, Peugeot’s North American sales were dwindling as the 505 model aged into oblivion. The 405 was sort of a last-ditch effort to turn the brand’s fortunes around, after the company decided not to import the sporty 205 hatchback.

In 1990 Peugeot managed 4,261 sales in North America, followed by a drop to 2,240 between January and July of 1991. Shuttering a business opened in 1958, Peugeot ended its North American operations entirely and headed back home.

Today’s Rare Ride in gorgeous emerald is a 405 Mi16. Powered by a 1.9-liter inline-four producing 160 horsepower, horses travel to the front wheels via the five-speed manual transmission. With a high 203,000 miles, the owner offers a full binder of service paperwork as a testament to their faithful care of this rare Peugeot.

Said seller is presently asking $7,500 (a lot), but it’d be tough to find another in this condition.

[Images: seller]

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4 of 22 comments
  • ThomasSchiffer ThomasSchiffer on Jul 26, 2018

    In Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt (countries which I have visited) these and other older Peugeots (usually the 504 and 505) are still common sights and used as taxis. The bodies are bent and falling apart and some have rust issues but the drivetrains are durable and reliable. Reliability also means that a particular car is easy to service and easy to repair/maintain. And in these case of these ‘Third World’ nations it also means that their local garages can come up with quick and cheap fixes and create replacement parts for issues which may pop up.

    • See 1 previous
    • ThomasSchiffer ThomasSchiffer on Jul 27, 2018

      @tonyola Good and valid points. However, I think if some complex but rather useless feature in a Peugeot in Africa have failed, the drivers would not be in a hurry to get them fixed. What matters to them is that the vehicle starts and drives from A to B and back. Interestingly, though, two of the legendary Mercedes W123 taxis I rode in in Egypt had automatic transmissions.

  • WildcatMatt WildcatMatt on Aug 10, 2018

    The interior looks ridiculously like a Volvo 850. I'm fascinated, but not at that price.

  • Denis Jeep have other cars?!?
  • Darren Mertz In 2000, after reading the glowing reviews from c/d in 1998, I decided that was the car for me (yep, it took me 2 years to make up my mind). I found a 1999 with 24k on the clock at a local Volvo dealership. I think the salesman was more impressed with it than I was. It was everything I had hoped for. Comfortable, stylish, roomy, refined, efficient, flexible, ... I can't think of more superlatives right now but there are likely more. I had that car until just last year at this time. A red light runner t-boned me and my partner who was in the passenger seat. The cops estimate the other driver hit us at about 50 mph - on a city street. My partner wasn't visibly injured (when the seat air bag went off it shoved him out of the way of the intruding car) but his hip was rather tweaked. My car, though, was gone. I cried like a baby when they towed it away. I ruminated for months trying to decide how to replace it. Luckily, we had my 1998 SAAB 9000 as a spare car to use. I decided early on that there would be no new car considered. I loathe touch screens. I'm also not a fan of climate control. Months went by. I decided to keep looking for another B5 Passat. As the author wrote, the B5.5 just looked 'over done'. October this past year I found my Cinderella slipper - an early 2001. Same silver color. Same black leather interior. Same 1.8T engine. Same 5 speed manual transmission. I was happier than a pig in sh!t. But a little sad also. I had replaced my baby. But life goes on. I drive it every day to work which takes me over some rather twisty freeway ramps. I love the light snarel as I charge up some steep hills on my way home. So, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Passat guy.
  • Paul Mezhir As awful as the styling was on these cars, they were beautifully assembled and extremely well finished for the day. The doors closed solidly, the ride was extremely quiet and the absence of squeaks and rattles was commendable. As for styling? Everything's beautiful in it's own way.....except for the VI coupe....it's proportions were just odd: the passenger compartment and wheelbase seemed to be way too short, especially compared to the VI sedan. Even the short-lived Town Coupe had much better proportions. None of the fox-body Lincolns could compare to the beautiful proportions of the Mark V.....it was the epitome of long, low, sleek and elegant. The proportions were just about perfect from every angle.
  • ToolGuy Silhouetting yourself on a ridge like that is an excellent way to get yourself shot ( Skylining)."Don't you know there's a special military operation on?"
  • ToolGuy When Farley says “like the Millennium Falcon” he means "fully updatable" and "constantly improving" -- it's right there in the Car and Driver article (and makes perfect sense).