UK’s rarest cars: 1992 Peugeot 405 GTX, one of only 41 left on British roads

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It is almost impossible to believe the 405 is now 34 years old. While some of its rivals now appear as dated as a Duran Duran CD, the Peugeot’s looks seem almost timeless. Even more remarkably, it remains in production.

The successor to the well respected 305 made its bow in July 1987. The new 405 shared a floorpan with the Citroën BX, while a significant attraction was the beautifully proportioned Pininfarina-designed bodywork. Within a few months of launch, the factory at Sochaux near the Swiss border could not meet customer demand. The 405 was also declared Car of the Year 1988, gaining the most votes in the award’s history.

Peugeot made the UK-market versions in the former Rootes Group factory in Ryton, to the south-east of Coventry, with sales commencing on 21 January 1988. The brochure made unsubtle references to “a new generation of professional motorists”, and a remarkably naff but renowned TV advertisement promised the 405 would take your breath away. 

Marketing hyperbole aside, by early 1988 the Ryton plant was working two shifts for the first time in 10 years. PSA Peugeot-Citroen’s previous British medium-sized saloon was the 1980 to 1986 Talbot Solara, a car that seemed to enjoy being as uninspired as an edition of The Young Doctors. By contrast, the 405 looked downright elegant from the entry-level 1.6-litre GE or the flagship, fuel-injected 1.9-litre GTX. The latter cost £11,845 and boasted electric windows and sunroof, plus remote control central locking.

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