a road trip to celebrate the legacy



It took the guts to install the lion's den in the full "small Siberian". Miles of thorny forests bordered by translucent lakes and rivers replace the calcined herb savannah. It is 208 years ago that Peugeot delighted the countries of this French Far East, considered the coldest in France, and Sochaux is the cradle.

Departure of this adventure at the wheel of the new Peugeot 508.
Departure of this adventure at the wheel of the new Peugeot 508.

The air is fresh in the early morning of September. For a building that does not pay for me, there is a discrete "sheet metal mechanism". Here we are in the restoration workshop, where four staff members are officiating. Here all lionesses of the museum are retrieved, and for the last three years only those of private individuals. Bernard, 40 years old at the counter in the Peugeot house, is a windmill when it comes to calling up the old jewelery he had the honor to re-type. His greatest pride: once again the full base of a 203 VTI signed by the great coach builder Emile Darl & # 39; mat. He retired next year and still has the sparkling eyes of a playful child who discovers, learns, digs up his system. Today he has to rehabilitate the ankles of a hood from the beginning of the twentieth century; a few weeks ago he had to use his imagination to recreate the monogram of the grille of a 203 RA from the fifties, which produced only ten copies. Its mission is to preserve Peugeot's heritage. And it is thanks to him that our road trip at the wheel of these relics from the past is made possible.

504 sedan, coupe and convertible.
504 sedan, coupe and convertible.

There we expect three 504: a sedan from 1974, a convertible from 1977 and a coupé from 1983. Outside there are also three 508 available. A real privilege, rare, for the twelve French journalists who were invited, all happy to test these six cars over 300 km. In 1969 it was called the 504 car of the year and had unprecedented commercial success. Fifty years later his heir hopes for the same fate. The passage of the steering wheel from one to the other threatens to be gratin …

Peugeot 504 and 508: a road trip to celebrate the legacy

According to the order, I have to be patient to lead the ancestors, these old ladies who must be treated with care and delicacy according to the advice of our host. For the time being the asphalt Franche-Comtois is swallowed by the 508: a BlueHDI 180, a PureTech 180 and a PureTech 225. The kilometers and landscapesparade: impeccable roadholding, spectacular dashboard. It is a barrel that floats smoothly.

100,000 county millstones look at us ..
100,000 county millstones look at us ..

Stop at Fort Saint Antoine, a military fort from 1870 converted into a cellar to county: 100,000 millstones are stored in this underground cathedral of 5,000 m! Peugeot is attached to the regional heritage and this 700-year-old cheese is the symbol. The temperature reaches a small 6 ° C; the atmosphere smells like ammonia.

Peugeot 504 and 508: a road trip to celebrate the legacy

It is in this natural cave that Claude Querry inspects these fragrant treasures daily. He is a caseologist, a barbaric word for a specialist in refining. He sniffs, caresses, rubs, taps these 35-pound giants " listen to their symphony "This cheese lover then determines their destination with the help of hieroglyphics engraved on every millstone that only he and his five other acolytes know.

Here the famous Peugeot salt and pepper mills are made.
Here the famous Peugeot salt and pepper mills are made.

The region is not very busy; it is nonetheless rich in an impressive heritage related to culinary. And Peugeot Saveurs intends to contribute to this production. 2018 marks the renewal of their strategy, especially with e-commerce. Launched only two months ago, the site will gradually put about 500 references online, such as ceramic dishes, knives, corkscrews, glasses, carafes and of course the famous salt and pepper mills, manufactured for almost 150 years! Everything is millimeter-shaped in the shiny factory. The machines brush ruthlessly while 200 hands are activated in 3×8 with gestures, too, accurate and repeated. From the noisy revolving studio, the fragrant paint shop, the labyrinthine metalworking shop and the assembly box of the silencer components, about three million mills come out. Men are on wood and metal, when women are in quality control and assembly … " because more meticulous and delicate ", Will clarify our guide.

Peugeot 504 and 508: a road trip to celebrate the legacy

From the delicacy … the advice to drive the 504, formulated on our arrival by our host, resonates. It is time to take possession of the coupé, a V6 injection of 135 horses, a version that was passed under the pen of the legendary Italian coachman Pininfarina. The engine is lit and it is the explosion of joy: a spinning melody that is transported to a forgotten place elsewhere. The heavy door creaks and resounds with this sharp and penetrating metal sound that goes back to childhood. The joystick to move the chair offers resistance, including the pedals. Unable to handle an emergency stop! The steering wheel flashes more than 100 km / h. Passages without a right mirror give cold sweat. We are looking for the 5th … that does not exist! The turn signal lever is located on the right and the left handle contains both the windshield wipers and the low beam lights. The defeat is total and yet the emotion is immense. I can feel some vague primitive sensations with my sweet 205 Junior, my first car with 4 speeds, without cigarette lighter and without power steering. Simple rise of moving memories? Or the pleasure of driving would ultimately be difficult to put down the motorized machine?

Peugeot 504 and 508: a road trip to celebrate the legacy

The 504 sedan from 93 horses confirms the impression, with cherry on the cabin, comfortable velvet chairs. If it did not turn a bit too much, we could think in a cozy lounge … somehow a bit noisy! The clock replaces the lap counter (absent) and you only have to rely on your ear to change gear. As far as the cabriolet of 104 horses is concerned, it has 5 speeds! A blessing when it was necessary to take the highway, press 150 km / h (indicate that there was a difference of 20 km / h on the display!) But that the pressure of the hood stands out under the force of the wind …

The 508 plunges us into a padded cocoon; the 504 takes us to an exterior that catches all attention. I had gone from a ship with an arsenal of driving aids to a "chariot" that had muscle arms and legs; a vehicle in which we forget the road to another who constantly reminds us that we are driving. Escape exists in both, but it is radically different.

Peugeot 504 and 508: a road trip to celebrate the legacy

Strange feeling that this chip jumped past / present continued when we entered the Museum of Adventure Peugeot. Automobiles, bicycles, saw blades, coffee grinders, sewing machines, washing machines, …: this treasure room brings together all types of products from the industrial sage of the Lion. Among the vehicles: a 301C that won the international record of 24 hours – Class F with 2,650 km covered in one day; a 202H commercial limousine from 1948, motorcycles from 1902, a Light City Vehicle (VLV) designed during the Second World War because of the rationing of petrol; a cut 203 produced fewer than a thousand copies; a 504 stainless steel sedan; the Asphalt concept with its carbon jacket without door; the Hoggar with two HDI diesel engines that develop 360 hp …

Peugeot 504 and 508: a road trip to celebrate the legacy
Peugeot 504 and 508: a road trip to celebrate the legacy

But the excitement is at the top when we enter the reserve, a place that is open to journalists only for two years and the public only during the Heritage Days. It's like I'm at Ikea, but the vehicles on the four-story boards replace the boxes. In this cathedral of about 400 dusty wonders, we find the armored car of Mitterrand, neighbor of the 406 of Taxi 1 or the famous 206 hammered by an Indian in a pub of 2002. The car's of the early twentieth century rubbing the shoulders with Totally crazy concept cars like the shimmering Moonster with its all-aluminum dress or the 20Cup, a medium-sized motorcycle and a trailer with carbon fiber.

The Archive, the place of conservation of the entire history of Peugeot
The Archive, the place of conservation of the entire history of Peugeot

The next door hides the archives. Nine enthusiasts work in this former tool building, which has retained its industrial style with metal beams and floor markings. The atmosphere is controlled: air conditioning to catch an Eskimo and dozens of nitrogen bottles ready to be triggered in case of fire …

Peugeot 504 and 508: a road trip to celebrate the legacy

And for good reason we need the three million info-photos & -dia's, the 30,000 videos, 20,000 posters and especially the tons of paper archives that " aligned, equal to a line of eight kilometers long! Guillaume, our passionate young guide with history and car, proudly declares. Sixty-six aisles of archives hold plans, posters, drawings of styles, photographs of the production of before 1945. And in a corner, on a discrete table throne the grimoire, which begins with this sentence In the name of God, Amen "A formula written by the Peugeot brothers in 1810, which recorded forever the long and hectic adventure of the lion …


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