My family has driven Peugeots for as long as I can remember, so it was only natural that my first car was to be my father's 1985 Peugeot 505 SR, which I bought in May 1999, after it had already served Dad for 12 faultless years. Prior to it joining the Benier family, it was an executive's car at Jaguar-Rover Australia. Whilst with us, the car saw over 100,000 kilometres of the Australian countryside towing a Jayco Campervan.
I drove the Blue Beast for nearly 2 years, including 5 months doing pizza deliveries and countless trips between RAAF Base Wagga and my home in Melbourne, just over 500 kilometres away.
In late 2000, the sale of Leaded fuel was abolished in Australia, preference now being given to the use of Lead Replacement Petrol (LRP). Despite retuning the car to try to compensate for the lower octane fuel (around 91 as opposed to 97), performance and fuel consumption was degraded substantially. The car having covered now over 350,000 kilometres, I decided that it was time for something a little more modern, economical and unleaded.
I had been looking around at various Peugeot 405's, including basic models, the luxurious 405 SRi, and the sporty 405 Mi16. After being disappointed by the prices on some of the examples I had seen, I went to view a red 1990 model 405 Mi16 at a tiny little yard about 1/2 hours from home. The price was very cheap, so I was not expecting anything spectacular. But when I arrived, I found a car that was in excellent condition, inside and out, had done only 130,000 kilometres and had everything I was looking for. I took it for a drive and fell in love with it - precise, responsive handling, smooth ride and amazing power output for a 1.9 litre engine. It's only downfall was that it seemed that the synchro from 1st to 2nd gear were basically non-existent.
Nonetheless, I decided that the cost of this car plus the cost of a gearbox overhaul was still far less than the usual price for a car of this standard, so I bought it on the spot and collected it the weekend after.
I added a Sony XPLOD CD player and cruise control and drove the car for 3 months as it was. Then I took the car in to get the gearbox fixed, and thought I may as well have the clutch replaced while the gearbox was out. The car now drives like new, it is perfect.
Eventually my love of Peugeot and of restoring old things had to meet. I had always dreamed of restoring a 203 so when I saw an ad in the paper for a pair of old 203s, I had to ring and enquire. Later that day I was in a field of old cars, of all sorts. The 203s were a disappointment, there was not much left of them. But a 403 that had been registered until May 2000 caught my eye, and so I put a battery in it, pumped up the tyres and took it for a drive. Everything worked! When I asked how much he wanted for it, I nearly fell over backward! How could I pass up such a bargain?
I plan to restore this car in stages, the interior first, then the mechanicals, then finally the exterior. The interior is nearly finished. I am not looking for the original prestentation, moreover a different look. The roof is black crushed velvet, as are the door trims and the flooring. Black sheepskin seats add to the black theme, which is broken only by the white dashboard and window surrounds. Chrome makes a big appearance as well.
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