Automotive History: 1934 Peugeot 601 Éclipse – The World’s First Retractable Hardtop

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The little Peugeot 202 reminded me of some shots I took at the Paris Auto Show a couple of years ago of the Peugeot 601 Éclipse, the world’s first retractable hardtop. The 601 was Peugeot’s largest and most expensive car at the time, with a 2148cc six. Designer Georges Paulin came up with the idea, and coach builder Pourtout built it. Here’s a shot of it in action:

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The top was electrically powered, and dropped into the opened “trunk”, setting  a precedent that is still being used today, albeit with a folded roof section. From looking at the car I shot, I assumed it was a two-seater. But this pictures shows four aboard, although I suspect the rear seat might have been a bit cozy.

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Needless to say, the “trunk” was rather lengthy in order to stow the roof. That also set a precedent: seems like all retractable hardtops still suffer from bulging butt syndrome.