Peugeot is dead (in the U S of A). Long live Peugeot?

by Mad Mike Halley

Editor's Comments: In 1992, world renowned rallyist "Mad" Mike Halley wrote a series of articles for the Gazette under the general heading of "Synaptic Flatulence." This article deals with two "Orphan Cars", Puegot and (until recently) FIAT . Mike rallied in Puegots, Sharon McBride, Walt Bower and Gary Brown raced the French machines, whereas a cast of thousands drove FIATs. 

As you have no doubt heard, Peugeot has followed Fiat’s lead and left the USA to her beloved Toyotas and Chevys. Don’t know about you, but I find it interesting that the American car buying public can be so far out of sync with the rest of the world.

Two of the largest, most respected car builders on the globe have packed up their US tents in order to concentrate on selling cars where they’re better understood. I don’t blame them a bit. All they’ve gotten for their interest in America is years of grief. 

The question that’s begging to be asked is; Why can’t the second oldest car builder in the world (Peugeot) and one of the largest auto conglomerates in the world (FIAT) be successful here?


 Mad Mike in the woods, somewhere in America.

How about customer dissatisfaction? Any number of complaints have been leveled at these cars by their stateside purchasers. Unique styling, misunderstood ergonomics, body lean while cornering, and what may be labeled by many an ignorant auto owner as problematic maintenance, are but a few.

But maintenance! Heaven freaking forbid should anyone in this country have to take care of preventative, annual maintenance once before a car is discarded! And they didn’t either - in droves!

I wish I had a buck for every Fiat cam belt that broke in the US after logging triple its projected, and amply f ore- warned, life expectancy. Or $5.00 for each Peugeot diesel that died for lack of an essential oil change at the pre scribe mileage interval. Well hell, I’d be rich!

How dare those natty Europeans send cars here that require an owner show a lick of sense, or planning. I mean, what do they think we are, car— smart or something?

It would appear not.

and Mike Hally celebrate their 27th anniversary. August, 2013.Peugeot and Fiat dealers, however, must shoulder a good deal of the blame for the disappearance of their kind on US soil. I feel certain you could have counted the number of fair, informed and helpful Peugeot and Fiat dealers in the country on the digits of two hands - even during their heyday.

Horror stories concerning uncaring, greedy dealers abound. At times it appeared that all a dealer like these wanted to do was sell a car and hope to never see it again. And if it ever did come back, they made damned certain it profited the dealership, regardless of the consequences to the owner.

Don’t know why I’m bitching, actually. For those of us that like Peugeot and Fiats (and can work on them and/or find parts for them), their demise on these shores will assure us of a plentiful, short term supply of the cars at a reasonable initial cost.

gravel nov 90

Mad Mike exits a gravel pit in his Puegot.  Photo from November, 1990 Gasket Gazette.

I have to admit that I could be perfectly happy owning nothing but Peugeots and Fiats IF I had access to their entire new model line each year, and IF they held their dealers as accountable as do the Japanese companies. Don’t guess I need to fret about that, though.

I can just see one of the classified ads from a few years from now; “NEW 1991 Puegot 405. NO owners, no warranty - no kidding. Make an offer,

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