Imagine, if you will, that your rich uncle Pierre passed away and left you his beautiful villa in Antibes, between Cannes and Nice in the south of France. You will be vacationing there every chance you get, but you are still the same cheap bastard that you’ve always been and insist on driving a car “with character.” And, you only have 990 Euros in your pocket.
If so, you’ll do as I did and notice the used cars parked at the local Carrefour HyperMarche (that’s a supermarket about three times the size of the average Costco). Parked near each other were our two contenders. First up, the Peugeot 205. No, not a beloved GTI, just a regular plain-Marie red 205GL 4-door, the same as driven by every cabbie in Marrakech, Morocco when I was there on my honeymoon many years ago. Anyway, our subject car looks quite pert just sitting there; millions of these were built and they are still a very common sight all over France. This one is a 1991 model, with 131,000 km’s on the clock and an asking price of 990 Euros (about US$1300)
The paint is faded in areas (most of the hood and roof) but still looks very shiny in other places. It does not appear to have been in any major accidents but then again, parking in France is not a civil affair and usually results in some degree of panel damage. The sleepwalking lion looks proud to adorn the front of this car
The rear view for some reason is my favorite view, something about the shape of the taillights and the filler panel between, it just looks right.
The interior is in excellent condition, except for the gearshift knob. I have no idea how it is possible to break one of these but someone managed it. The car is fairly poverty-spec, with no rear wiper and manual everything but it does have a passenger side mirror and apparently the “CT” is OK, whatever that means on the for sale sign.
Still, it has rub strips and a full set of hubcaps, so perhaps not as poverty-spec as I thought for a 1991. All in all, you wouldn’t be ashamed to bomb around the area in this. Well, at least until some rich guy pulls up next to you in a McLaren or Bentley, as happened to us several times…
Now, perhaps you’d like something less flashy than our red contender, so let me show you our other choice: a 1995 Renault Super 5 “Saga” edition with only 89,000 kms on the clock, for the same money. The Super 5 was the successor to the original 5, the car we received as the “LeCar.” I am happy to report that the Super apparently received the missing 4th lug nut on every wheel. And this one has steelies as well, no plastic hupcap to cover the minimalist beauty!
Personally, I really believe that the styling is an excellent evolution of the LeCar and makes it look quite modern. I have no idea what the Saga special edition signifies, but doubt it has anything to do with the image of Che Guevara on the front fender.
France used to be the country of the white supermini, every cheap car seemed to be painted white (as I understand it, white was a no-charge color while every other hue was an upcharge). Nowadays you see every color, but this white one can let you believe you’re Pascal the farmer taking some chickens to town while puffing on a yellow Gauloises.
This car has had a few knocks around it’s gray skirts, but like the 205, seems in very good condition overall.
The interior, again, is very clean but also very spartan. I’m sure there are no soft-touch plastics anywhere.
As opposed to the 205, this one does have the rear wiper and along being four years newer, has quite a few less kilometers on it as well. The price is the same, though, demonstrating just how popular the 205 really was back in the day and still is at present. However, just looking at how beautifully integrated the rear corners are on the 5, the whole rear end just works visually; it is so smooth and cleverly designed. Not having our five-mph safety bumpers really helps clean it up as well, I suppose. As much as I like the 205’s rear, I think I may like this even more.
So what do you think, which of these two beauties gets your 990 Euros?
(Full Disclosure: I do not have a rich uncle Pierre, I paid full fare to France, even more for our villa, and was charged an obscene amount for food and drink during my entire stay.)