President's Report - November 2003
Peugeot had three new models on display at the recent Sydney Motor Show - 307CC, 307 Touring wagon, and the 206GTI 180. Sue and I drove up in the 405 (now recovered from a blown head gasket) and spent a weekend with my brother Rob and his partner Kate. The lads went to the motor show, while the girls went shopping. Having just bought a new house with a very small garage, Rob is looking to downsize from his (uninspiring) Subaru Liberty. After surveying the pocket-rocket offerings of all marques, the 206GTI 180 is the front-runner. I loved the 307CC, but will probably never have the money to own one ($39,990 for the 2 litre manual). Similarly, the 307 wagon is a very stylish package that should be a good seller ($31,690 for the diesel), but not to me in the foreseeable future.
Meanwhile, back in Canberra, the club AGM turned out to be a rollicking affair. As expected, John Nicholas kept us smiling with his witty banter, as he oversaw the election of office-bearers for the next year. Not much change to the line-up, with the major change being the elevation of Jane Turbayne to Vice President. Jane replaces Richard Morgan, who did not seek re-election because he is spending much of his time in Sydney these days. My thanks to Richard for his past support, and I'm sure we will continue to see him occasionally at club events.
At the conclusion of the AGM, Jane Turbayne and Rick Phillips ran a Peugeot trivia quiz that was enjoyed by all. Questions ranged from the sublime "What was the name of the second car that Peugeot produced?" (Type 2), to the ridiculous "What is the greatest car ever made?" (choices were 504, 504, or 504 - as if we didn't know, Jane). In the end everyone won prizes, but the winning team of Peter Rees, John Bower, Ian Brock and myself took home the French wine.
At our next club meeting, we will have Neil Craven along to talk to us about biodiesel, including a demonstration of how it's done - first get your used vegie oil from the local fish and chip shop, then...sorry, you'll just have to come along to find out the rest!
Our final club activity of the year will be a BBQ dinner at 6pm on Saturday the 6th of December. Refer to the latest edition of the club magazine (ROAR) for details.
Keep on Pugging,
The editor has just spent 10 days in New Zealand taking in the delights of the Bay of Islands, Auckland and Rotorua. It all went without a hitch, even allowing for the hired new Toyota Corolla. The experience serves to remind that the maker has come a long way from my first brush with a Toyota, a 1963 Corona, many years ago. That was enough to put me in the Peugeot camp forever. After swapping seats from the 1999 306 in Canberra, the Corolla, while being a trouble-free conveyance, just did not measure up. There's more understeer and the rear end does not feel as secure. But the biggest beef is with the suspension and seats. Six hours in a Peugeot seat and you get out fresh as a daisy. Not so a Toyota seat. They may be well put together and OK for short hauls but try remaining comfortable after several hours. It's just not a car I could become wedded to.
There's a thriving second-hand market with cast-off Japanese vehicles. Consequently there are many models that are not seen on Australian roads. From what I heard about the poor condition of these vehicles when they arrive, that is a definite plus for Australia. But what about Peugeots you ask? Like Australia, the marque is making its presence felt but there are more models on the roads than we see here. Among those spied were a 106, several 205 4-doors and cabriolets, 2 and 4-door 309s, and several 605s. There are also many 306s, 206s, 307s, 405s and 406s on the roads as well as the odd 607 sedan and 307 and 206 wagons.
Of the older Pugs, 504s seem to have gone the way of the Moa (or the Middle East perhaps), while a few 505 Familiales are in evidence. In Rotorua, there is certainly one lovely old white 404. And if ever Peugeot needed free advertising, they need only cast a glance in the direction of Auckland Boys' Grammar which uses the same rampant lion as its logo.
Finally, being in New Zealand during the Peugeot-sponsored Rugby World Cup was quite an experience. When the All Blacks choked against Australia the reaction among New Zealanders was intense. There was instant mass depression, and people talked for the next two days about how they were "gutted" by what one paper headed "The end of the world". The French may have been able to relate to some of that after Les Bleus bowed out to England a day later, coming as it did after Peugeot's defence of its twin World Rally Championship titles crumbled. But I suspect the French wouldn't tie their knickers in such a knot. Nor would the editor. Other knots maybe, but not over a game of rugby!