Monday, July 20, 2009

1989 Peugeot Mi16 - 2 for 1 Sale

I almost bought a Peugeot 405 Mi16 back in the early 1990s. Sutton Motors was a Renault / Peugeot dealer located in Sutton, MA. Honest, friendly, and truly fans of the cars they sold, Dave, the owner, and Paul, the parts manager, helped me keep my various Renaults and Peugeots on the road throughout most of the 1980s. They were good guys and Sutton Motors was a great dealership. Sadly, there are very few dealers / dealerships around like Sutton anymore.

By 1992 I had sold most of my Peugeots and Renaults (I think I still had a 505 wagon, which I used for hauling stuff), but still had a fondness for French cars. Driving by Sutton Motors one day, I saw a Peugeot 405 Mi16 on the lot. It was red and gorgeous. I stopped in and Dave threw me the keys. "Take it for a ride", he said. "We close at 5 tonight. Bring it back before then". Uh, OK.

I remember the car being fast, comfortable and handling very well. I also remember the interior being very cheaply made. That was a turn off for me. I didn't buy it. I bought a Saab 9000 instead. In retrospect, I wish I had bought the Peugeot. While the Saab was a nice car, with a nicer interior, it was kind of bland. The Peugeot had personality. I probably would have gotten used to the cheap plastic interior.

The 405 was the last Peugeot sold in the US. Introduced in Europe in 1988, it won the European Car of the Year Award that year. It found its way to the US in three forms of trim level; DL, S and Mi16. All had 1.9 liter 4 cylinder engines. What made the Mi16 engine different was the head, which was of the 16 valve, DOHC variety. Where the standard issue 1.9 put out 110 HP, the Mi16 engine put out 150.

Peugeot just never got it together in the US. They brought over some good cars. I owned several 505s. I liked them a lot. But Peugeot had very few dealers (150 or so at their peak, with the bulk of them being on the east and west coasts - some states had none) and lousy US marketing. They left the US after the 1991 model year.

Very few Mi16s made there way to the US. They are getting hard to find. Here's your chance to buy 2 for very little money. The red one jumped time and needs a valve job (at least). The gray one is a runner. 405s did rust, but if these cars spent their entire life in Texas, that might not be much of a problem. I've seen a few sun damaged interiors here in New England, so in this case, being from Texas may be a problem. Heat destroys cheap plastic interiors. The seller doesn't mention the interior's condition. Hell, at the price, even if you have to spend some time mixing and matching interior pieces, it's still a bargain.

The cars are available at a place called Revolution Motors in Austin, TX. You can click here to find their site and the ad for these cars. Looking at the site, I think it may be a place I'd like to visit. It sounds like it has the spirit of Sutton Motors. (They also have a 1987 Citroen CX Prestige Turbo 2 for sale, which, while more expensive, is worth checking out.)

A big "thanks" goes out to Just A Car Geek reader, Matthew, who turned me on to these cars and the Revolution Motors website. In his e-mail, Matthew mentioned once owning a Yugo with a Fiat 1500 engine in it. I've read about those swaps and they intrigue me. It also got me thinking... A 405 station wagon with all the Mi16 bits in it... Talk about the ultimate sleeper...

Car Lust is another really cool car blog. He did a post about the 405 Mi16 back in 2008. It includes some nice videos. You can find it here.

Click here to find a site dedicated to the Peugeot XU9J4 (Mi16) engine.

You can find info and specs for this car at Rallye-info.com.

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