Obscure Q-Ship: 1991 Peugeot 405 Mi16

Jeff LaveryBy Jeff Lavery

Obscure cars are enjoyable for knowing you likely won’t see yourself coming or going, but they can prove challenging to maintain long-term. This 1991 Peugeot 405 Mi16 is a truly loved example, with significant service records and a well-preserved body showing no major damage or rust. But you’ll have to wager if the work that’s been done will offset the need for immediate hunting for NLA parts. Find the Peugeot here on eBay¬†with a $4,500 Buy-It-Now.

The Mi16 is the hot ticket, with a lusty DOHC 16-valve motor spitting out 160 b.h.p. with a 7,200 RPM redline that loved to be kissed. Paired with a manual transmission, these were legitimate driver’s cars, augmented by a stiff chassis and fully independent suspension. It’s no accident you see these cars make appearances in films with major chase scenes set in Europe. This example looks great with its oxblood leather interior and matching carpets, and the dashboard and leather-wrapped steering wheel are uncracked / untorn.

The chassis is pleasingly dry on this car, because despite its current location in Canada, it came from Texas where it had been since new. Rust is sometimes an enemy on these vehicles, especially since so many seemed to be stuck on either coasts where weather can be a factor. The Mi16 models are near impossible to find today, which does mean you’re not going to trot down to the local pick-and-pull to find a spare door handle trim ring after you snap it off when hunting down a rattle.

The good news is, however, that the engine was replaced with a lower mileage unit by a local Peugeot specialist, so the next owner will have a few more miles of motoring joy left in the chassis. Also worth noting is that the Mi16-specific wheels and body kit (underbody aero and rear spoiler) are all still attached, so this is likely one of the most original examples left. If you’re a fan of driver’s cars, this is absolutely worth checking out, while being realistic about the prospect of hard-to-find parts.

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  1. RayT Member

    I love these! I was able to do a couple of road trips in these when they were new, and they were wonderful: great chassis, comfortable ride, seats and interior, and an engine that loved to be wound up tight (that 7K redline didn’t mean that’s where it ran out of go)! The only car I can remember getting so much fun from back then was an Alfa 33 four-cam that I was loaned for a while. Of course when they’re not yours, you don’t worry about revving the living daylights out of them.

    Of course the Pugs I drove were brand-new, and even then I felt a little uneasy about the quality of the materials. Though the French love their molded plastics and colorful fabrics, they haven’t always made them durable….

    My then-girlfriend had a Jetta GLi and liked the Pug better. But cooler heads prevailed and she didn’t trade.

    Jeff, I need to point out that the car likely wasn’t “in Texas since new.” The ad doesn’t say so, and the instrument cluster has all metric calibrations, as you’d find in Canada.

    But if I thought I could find parts — at least the essentials for engine, brakes, etc. — as easily as I could for my Renaults (and that was a miserable chore in later years), I might be tempted.

  2. Paul

    Hard to find these as engines often found their way into Gti’s … nice find!

  3. Rob

    I had a 1989 405s, although it didn’t have the power the Mi16 had, it was an awesome car to drive. It was such a rare car that it would turn heads wherever we went.

  4. XMA0891

    I thought I read somewhere that Peugeot was strongly considering re-entering the US market… If you took the leap to buy one (Peugeot was pretty-much an automotive after-thought by 1991) These were indeed well-engineered, rewarding cars to drive.

  5. John H from CT

    The reason that Peugeot left the USA is that they were clueless. I had a marvellous 604 that was far more lithe and responsive than the MBs of the time. However parts were exhobitant. I found out why. Peugeot France would sell parts to their subsidiary Peogeot USA for full price, then Peugeot USA would mark those up by 100% and sell to the dealers.

    It didn’t help that these cars were not the most reliable, even though they were great to drive when they were well maintained. Once I figured out what they were doing, I bought parts directly from overseas whenever I could.

    But my fondest memory is that I lost the 604 in a messy divorce. About 6 mos later the ex totalled it, and ended up driving a Dodge Omni. Karma…

  6. Howard A Member

    This does look like a really nice car. ( my old man called them “POO-joes, instead of pooJEAU) I remember he had a 403 with a sunroof.It was the 1st time I stuck my head out a car roof. Probably a great car,,,until parts.”Hello Autoplace, how can I help you”? You know the rest of the story.


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