In my musings, it is only right and proper that I include a few of the cars which I have owned that haven’t exactly been the most glorious moments of my driving career. There is a neat grouping of these, which will explain the title of this piece, as they are the Peugeots which have played a part in my life.
What is wrong with Peugeots, do I hear you ask?
Well, allow me to answer; nothing, if you are referring to the multifarious pre-war types, or post-war, the 203, 304, 403, 404, 106 Rallye, 205 GTi and, of course, that magnificent pre-people carrier people carrier, the 504 estate.
However, reverse that last model’s numbers and you arrive at one of the most miserable pieces of transport placed on Earth, since god stuck some legs on a runtish horse and called it a donkey. Okay, okay, yes there are ‘good’ versions out there, no doubt, whether it’s the diesel estates, so beloved of country folk, capable of equivalent mileages of that to the moon and most of the way back. Or perhaps the 405 Mi16; Peugeot fans (do they exist?) will know better than me and I’m not about to waste any of the life I have remaining finding out. I didn’t have any of those types. I had a basic 405, petrol-powered estate.
This car was the most soul-destroying drive of my life. Long journeys saw me exit from behind the steering in monochrome, the joy sucked from me, as surely as a dementor draining Potterian pluck at a Hogwarts picnic.
Its lack of performance, stodgy pensioner-pleasing handling and styling seemingly designed to make me look like a failed human being made me feel that way. My ownership of the deathly dull machine was thankfully brief. It was replaced by an equally stodgy, but somehow more bearable Volvo 940 Diesel Estate, with a top-end tapping noise that I never did bother to investigate. I piled sixty thousand miles on the thing in a little over a year before it expired, thus proving that ‘bangernomics’ often works.
My other Peugeots were smaller vehicles, altogether. The first was a base model 205 registration number F339LAR. Now this wasn’t a terrible car, just quite simply dull and smelling of the unrecyclable thermoplastic of which its interior mostly consisted. One thing that it did alert me to was that these cars were decently protected against rust and despite a tendency to thinness of skin, UV-attacked interiors tended to give up the ghost before the structure.
I ended up selling this car to one of my fellow band members, who must have also found it dull, as within a fortnight he’d wallpapered the interior with some rather fetching Anaglypta, the only such instance that I’ve experienced.
My (hopefully) final nineties and noughties Peugeot owning experience came in a brace of 206s, one petrol, one diesel.
The diesel version had a worn rear nearside trailing arm bearing, which made cornering interesting until I got around to replacing the whole of the rear assembly with one from a local scrapyard. The petrol 206 was an entirely unremarkable machine and I tended to shun it, favouring the Massey-Ferguson-like tones of the diesel.
Having the two similar cars did have one particular drawback and the dullness of the machines perhaps contributed to this. You see, it was possible to fill the diesel version with petrol and I achieved this on a number of occasions. Living as I then did some ten miles to the west of Shrewsbury, my error would not report until around 8.5 miles and then the performance would drop off rather dramatically.
On the first occasion I committed this epic fail, I figured that I’d probably done just about as much damage as I could and so I pressed on home. Happily, I reached my destination and so was able to drain the tank, the retrieved contents of which were successfully tried out in my decrepit lawnmower.
I managed the same error at least three more times and each time, after draining the tank and refuelling with the correct substance, the engine sprang back into life and with no apparent ill effects.
Both of these final Peugeots went the way of most of my time-expired cars in the twenty-teens, by being exchanged for beer, in a deal with my local pub landlord. The beer was of course ‘draught’ and not in Peugeot-like tin cans.
- Fuzz t