It may have happened over three years ago, but I still would like to request a moment of silence for my dearly departed Peugeot 104. After two years and over 30,000 kms of flawless service, my 104 was retired to that big wrecking yard in the sky after a nasty little road accident.
I hadn't been in France long when a local car caught my attention. I drove by it almost daily, and was always curious about this strange miniature hatchback. My curiosity got the best of me in the end, and I stopped to see the make and model. It was a 1987 Peugeot 104 Style Z, the 3-door coupe version, and I was in love. A quick peek online led me to one for sale in Paris, and after a first visit and test drive I returned with 600 euros cash in hand and drove it home.
Most of my coworkers thought that I was nuts, and wondered why someone 188 cm (6'2") tall would want such a tiny car. I explained that having grown up with large cars in Canada, I was more amused and intrigued by some of the tiny models that existed in Europe. The tough little 104 ran like a top, with the characteristic muted growl from the X-type Peugeut 1.0L engine. The only issue was starting in damp weather, but that was easily solved with a replacement distributor cap.
The 104 was a willing partner for all sorts of roadtrips, including a rather imposing 1000km, 10 hour trip from Paris to the Pyrenees mountains for a ski holiday, and back again a week later. Three adults and their luggage and assorted odds and ends equated to one cramped trip, but it was a rather memorable journey.
And then came that fateful Sunday; it was a typical lazy afternoon drive with no destination in particular planned. Where the 104 did end up, however, was embedded into the side of a small van that did not pay attention to a stop sign and crossed the road at exactly the wrong moment. Luckily neither myself nor the other driver were hurt. The side of his van was nicely caved in, but he was able to drive off. The poor Peugeot, however, wasn't.
The accident had ruptured the radiator, and the coolant had leaked out. Even if it hadn't, the front right wheel had been shoved back, and the car wouldn't roll. It had to be yanked onto the back of a flatbed tow truck and carted unceremoniously back to town. I was a bit insulted that the tow-truck driver wasn't more compassionate ("Well she's a write-off for sure, an old piece of junk like that!"), and that he didn't radio ahead for a police escort, or at the very least a trumpet solo as she was pushed off at the garage, but I bit my tongue. Not everyone can appreciate such a fine automobile.
If I recall correctly, the insurance adjuster quoted around 4,000 euros to repair it, which clearly wasn't going to happen. I ended up getting 750 euros, which was more than I had originally paid, so I guess I could consider myself lucky. When I look back at these pictures, though, I can't help but miss my first French car. It's a bit late, but I'd like that 104 gun salute now, please...
NB: one fond memory of the 104 was when the exhaust pipe broke; mostly people would consider that a bad thing, but not me...