French Classic: 1990 Peugeot 405 Mi16

As a manufacturer, Peugeot has had an interesting history. Although they have long been known for producing fairly sedate and bullet-proof small to mid-sized cars, every now and then they will unveil a car that is something quite special that will have a major impact on the market. There are many people who will claim that the 205 GTi was the definitive hot hatch, thanks to its sprightly performance and superb handling. Similarly, while the garden variety 405 was a competent, if a largely uninspiring vehicle, the Mi16 was a car that surprised many due to its impressive levels of performance, comfort, and handling. Barn Finder Roger spotted this 1990 Mi16 for us, so thank you so much for that Roger. It is located in Great Falls, Virginia, and is listed for sale here on Craigslist. The owner is asking $8,600 for this surprising little French classic.

For the uninitiated, the Mi16 looks like just another average mid-sized 4-door sedan. The styling clues such as the deeper front spoiler, the rear spoiler, the side skirts, and the alloy wheels are all fairly subtle, but they mark this 405 as something a bit more potent than average. This one appears to be in really nice condition. The owner says that it has covered 105,000 miles, and it looks like it has been well cared for during those miles. The Vallelunga Red paint has a nice shine to it, while the panel gaps appear to be nice and consistent. The additional pieces of the body kit have also held up well, and the overall presentation of the car is quite impressive.

The Mi16’s party piece was hiding discretely under the hood. The standard 1.9-liter 405 was capable of producing 109hp, and this gave the car pretty reasonable performance. The Mi16 was also endowed with a 1.9-liter engine, but this all-alloy beauty enjoyed far better breathing through the addition of a cylinder head that featured DOHC and 16-valves. The performance improvements were staggering, and it saw the horsepower suddenly jump to 160. It sent this to the road through the front wheels via a 5-speed manual transmission. This shaved 2 seconds off the ¼ mile time and increased the 405’s top speed by more than 20mph. The entire 405 range enjoyed great handling, thanks to a very stiff body, and suspension with very long travel. With upgrades to springs and shocks, the Mi16 cornered and handled impressively well, and inspired plenty of confidence. The owner says that this particular car has been imported from Europe, which means that the engine does produce marginally more power than the US version. He also says that it has been well maintained, and the overall appearance of the engine bay seems to attest to this.

The interior of the Peugeot has held up quite well, although there are some signs of discoloring to a few of the plastic trim items. The leather-bound wheel is also starting to show its age, and while it is certainly serviceable, it would take more than a conditioner to return it to its best. The seat trim is another area that has held up surprisingly well, The side bolsters can be prone to wear, but these ones seem to be quite good. The comfort of those seats is one of the interior highlights in an Mi16, while power windows, power mirrors, and air conditioning also help.

The Peugeot 405 is a great car, mainly due to its fantastic ride comfort and great handling. The Mi16 possesses these same attributes, but with the added benefit of surprising performance if the driver is willing to give it a bit of a poke with a stick. They are an enormously enjoyable car to drive in a spirited fashion but are equally as comfortable being driven sedately. Their sporting nature has meant that many have been driven into the ground over the 29-years since this one rolled off the production line, which makes it difficult to now find a well-preserved example. That’s what this one appears to be, and I’m pretty sure that somewhere out there someone is going to be very keen to get their hands on this one.

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Comments

  1. Mark-A

    Seems like a good deal especially when U consider that they are extremely rare in Europe never mind the US! Was on of my wanted cars shortly after passing my driving licence, just b aware of LIFT OFF OVERSTEER as it’s a Peugeot trait

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  2. M vickery

    Pretty good cars at the time. Peugeot was let down by a poor dealer network, and by selling the same cars with little change for years and years. I remember looking at a dealer in Georgia that was nothing but one of those storage sheds you put in your back yard in a vacant lot. It didn’t inspire confidence about getting the car serviced.

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  3. CJinSD

    There was always a Peugeot dealer in the college town I grew up in. As a result, there were usually a couple of Peugeots sitting in people’s driveways that had stopped running but still weren’t paid off so they could be disposed of. In the mid-’90s I met a young woman who was driving a 405. I hadn’t seen one since Peugeot pulled out of the US market, so I asked her how she liked it. This was one of the dumber questions about cars that I have ever asked. Her face turned sour and she told me her tales of horror until I made up an excuse to leave. You know it is bad when someone has a car that makes them nostalgic for the Saab 900 they had before it.

  4. Will Owen Member

    We drove one of these, offered by the Nashville dealer at a bargain discount. I knew that Peugeot was pulling out, but figured there were enough good mechanics in town to keep a good car alive … but I was leery of the 16-valve DOHC engine’s complications, and there were no 8-valve models available. I got my comeuppance a year or so later, when it became clear that the “simpler” cars were failing right and left, while the Mi16s were turning out to be extremely reliable!

  5. local_sheriff

    Haven’t seen any Mi16 in years, but during my teens in Europe they used to be the weapon of choice for highway patrol units. The visual differences between a standard 405 compared to an Mi16 are extremely subtle making them great for undercover duty. Once one spotted a solid color 405 with dual antennas and auxhilary lights on the bumper one could be sure it was an unmarked cruiser!
    Wouldn’t really be a performer by today standards, but back then most people drove wimpy 4cyl cars with only half the output of an Mi16

  6. RITON

    Peugeot also made a turbo 16 valve version, AWD : the 405 T16.
    220 bhp and 240 bhp with the overboost for a short moment.

    The AWD wasn’t as reliable as it should have been. But the other models were reliable cars. Especially the 2nd version (remodeled interior, much nicer and subtle exterior modifications).

  7. Louis Q. Chen

    This model looks exceptional! I’m not sure where one could get replacement part for short of having someone living in France to supply the needed part. Not only that Peugeot-part of the PSA group now owned by one of those communist Chinese automotive groups which I’m not to sure getting any OEM parts? I’d buy this one provided I can find another one for parts.

    • Hector

      There are still some parts available in US online auto parts (RockAuto, etc) and plenty of them in european online auto part stores (Oscaro.com) and eBay.

  8. Bakyrdhero Member

    I like these. Reminds me of an Infiniti G30 before it even existed

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