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A Grand Monday: Peugeot 405

Published 21 November 2016

The European Car of the Year jury made some questionable decisions in the 1980s, with cars such as the distinctly ordinary Renault 9 and Fiat Tipo winning the right to wear the iconic lollipops in their brochures and back windows.

But there was one car that trounced the opposition in its year of launch, and to this day holds the highest majority of any European Car of the Year (ECOTY) winner, and for a very good reason.

Introduced in 1987, the Peugeot 405 stormed to victory as ECOTY 1988 with the highest number of votes ever recorded in the competition. And it’s easy to see why – sleek Pininfarina lines, excellent build quality, fine handling, a diverse range that offered everything from ultra-efficient diesels to performance models and a choice of sleek saloon or super-practical estate body styles made it the complete package. It would be a further five years before the Ford Mondeo even came close to matching it as the world’s best family car, by which point the 405 had completely reset the bar.

An incredible ad campaign, set to a soundtrack of Berlin’s Take My Breath Away as a 405 Mi16 sped across a burning cornfield, added a further level of aspiration. The late Eighties and earlier Nineties were a purple patch for Peugeot to which the brand has never quite managed a return, not least because the cars were as well screwed together as they were appreciated.

Peugeot 405 (3)

This 1990 Peugeot 405 proves the point. A high spec GTX saloon, it has covered a six-figure mileage, but has the appearance of a car that has covered a mere fraction of that.

Supplied new by Dennis Cooper Cars of Leamington Spa, it still sports its original dealer sticker and comes with a chunk of service history.

Typically for a 405, the galvanised body is rot free, but unlike many this one retains a good shine, with only a few small imperfections on the paint. Being a GTX, it also comes with four electric windows and a power sunroof, central locking, a Clarion radio cassette and a remote alarm. Power steering, alloys and tinted windows complete the definition of iconic Eighties plushness.

It comes with a new battery and exhaust, while the current owner has replaced the steering wheel and gearknob with new items to bring the cabin right up to mint condition – it looks lovely.

With a new 12-month MoT, the only thing that might detract from the car’s appeal is its automatic gearbox. Its pseudo-sportiness may not deliver the most engaging drive as a result, but having owned an auto 405 before, the author can confirm they’re actually really quite pleasant. At £895, this needs snapping up quickly.

Peugeot 405 (2)

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