1993 Peugeot 405 Hunter Estate 1.9 turbo diesel from UK and Ireland
The best real-world car, ever?
Handbrake cables snapped, and car rolled off my drive and through a brick wall! That was fun... all front body panels (bonnet, both wings, bumper, headlights, indicators, grill) beyond repair, so replaced with secondhand parts which were painted where applicable. Then I bought a donor car which I swapped the panels with, so now it looks like new again...
Waterpump began leaking (and making an awful noise) soon after purchase. Disappointing given the previous owner had not replaced it, as a matter of course, 2,000 miles previously when they had skimmed the cylinder head, replaced the gasket and the cambelt! Radiator also replaced as a precaution as it was 10 years old, according to the date stamp on the top.
Auxiliary belt tensioner is currently noisy at idle, but I have a new one ready to fit.
Driver's seat split along a horizontal stitching seam - they all do that. Replaced with a "new" one from a donor car.
Headlining - sagging at the front when I bought it (stapled up), now sagging at the back. Looks like water is leaking in somewhere (roof rails or around window seals?), so will be removed for investigation.
Perhaps I am mad, but I would like to back up my headline statement with facts.
You can buy a mint example 405 turbodiesel estate for well under £1,000, and usually under £500 - I paid £375 for mine, a 2 owner car with all service history from day 1.
- It is one of the best-looking estates of it's time - designed by Pininfarina, no less;
- It handles and rides better than most midsize front-wheel drive cars, even now (it's more fun to drive than the 2007 Saab 9-3 I had as a company car previously);
- The seats are supremely comfortable for an average sized adult, and it has decent head and legroom all round;
- They are very well-equipped - this one has a/c, ABS, electric windows all round, electric heated mirrors, remote central locking and even an electronic oil level indicator (woo!);
- The upper bodywork just does not rust (and the underside, provided you look after it, is rust-resistant too);
- The rear loadspace is voluminous, indeed larger than the 406 estate that succeeded it;
- They tow beautifully, and most have built-in roof rails for further carrying capacity;
- And, of course, with the 1.9TD engine, they are good for hundreds of thousands of miles (provided they are properly serviced), fantastically economical (I regularly get 54MPG out of mine) and, as the final bonus, can run on vegetable oil.
OK, so I am biased, owning two of these Hunters (I have a 128k mile car for "spares", although it's too good to scrap!) and a 405 saloon as well - a 1994 GLDT which also has a review on this site. But, for someone who wants to spend the minimum on their car in terms of outlay and running costs, and doesn't mind getting dirty once in a while I think a 405 is hard to beat.
Finding a good one is the hard part, because many seem to suffer with head gasket failure. If the coolant is changed every 2 years this should not happen, so finding one with evidence of that - plus radiator replacement every 10 years or 100k miles - will lessen the risk substantially.
I do a full service (oil, air and fuel filters) every 5k miles, which is probably overkill, but given the parts (all Mann filters too) cost me £20, plus decent oil, I consider it money well spent. I've done over 25k miles in my three 405s in the last 12 months and have never "failed to proceed".
Buy one and beat the credit crunch!
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 11th August, 2008