Alexander Corne 1998 PEUGEOT 406 COUPÉ SV

SAYING NO TO GERMAN CARS, HE GOT A FRENCH CAR FROM ITALY!

WORDS ? PHOTOS MARK HIGGINS

Im a sucker for 6-cylinders and a sexy two-door body. The Peugeot 406 Coupé was said by many to be one of the most beautiful cars in the world when it was unveiled in 1996.

I drove a few when they were new, and while the looks appealed, the combination of the engine and auto gearbox never a winner, especially for an enthusiastic driver. Did I mention this one cost the first owner 84-large?

Fast forward 21 years and with the kids grown and in their own wheels, a large, cheap, four-seater coupé was on my mind.

Rejecting German options due to cost (being constrained by a budget scarcely larger than a good night out), I saw this Diablo Red auto for sale online. Let’s just say it was $7000 cheaper than another car of the same colour and spec, but with markedly more km on the clock. As this is car number six in the fleet it isn’t going to get too many more km added annually, and on the credit side the seller promised the engine had just had new belts, seals and an exhaust, that had cost him significantly more than the price he was asking.

The colour is a very appealing metallic red and it goes brilliantly with the four tan leather buckets. The deeply-sculpted rear seats are divided by an armrest and a flip-up cubby, and the rear side windows flip-open, hinged at the hidden B-pillar. The front seats use a combination of latch and electric motor to slowly grind themselves (noisily) out of the way, and there’s a glass sunroof which tilts and slides, albeit somewhat hesitantly. On the way home from collecting the car I stopped at a car wash as a pre-emptive strike before presenting the new wheels to the Minister for Home Affairs.

Having fed her a convoluted story/justification for the purchase, noting its Italian heritage (120,000 examples designed and built by Pininfarina, making it the Carrozzeria’s most voluminous work ever), and its close connection to Ferrari over many decades, she declared herself underwhelmed with its physical presence on the doorstep. You just can’t win.