Bonhams offers rare opportunity to own a revolutionary art deco Peugeot
Russ Smith’s market headliners
‘Getting the body right will mean finding someone who understands these cars and that won’t be cheap’
To be offered as a project at Bonhams’ Chantilly sale in France on June 30, this 1936 Peugeot 402 Eclipse E4 Coupé Cabriolet is one of just three known two-seater survivors. As well as its art deco lines, the model is notable for being the first car with an electrically operated metal roof, now a quite common sight on cars like the Mercedes-Benz SLK. On the Peugeot it stays in one piece and disappears beneath the long bootlid. Said to have been off the road since 1960, the car is claimed to be complete, the engine has been tested and the roof electrics are working. There’s a video included with the car that shows it in the same condition following an aborted restoration in 1975. It would appear to have been well stored in the intervening years.
These cars are practically unknown in the UK and information about them is understandably sparse. To find out more, we approached Ian Kirkwood, chairman of Club Peugeot UK, who has a collection of Peugeots dating back to 1925, for his take on it. ‘If everything is there, this is an extremely desirable car, but it will take a lot of investment. It’s not something for the faint-hearted or short-walleted. What is odd about it is the front end – the headlamps should be mounted behind the bars of a wider grille. This one was apparently modified by a coachbuilder back in the late Forties, probably to improve the light from the lamps. Because it is part of the car’s history and provenance it may be best not to change that, though it will affect the value.
‘On that score, the car’s estimate of £86,000 to £130,000 looks fair to me. Getting the body right will mean finding someone who understands these cars and that won’t be cheap, but at least the mechanics are straightforward and the 2.0-litre sidevalve engine was shared right across the 402 range.
‘If properly restored, I would expect it to then be worth somewhere from £400,000 to £600,000. The last one of these I saw sold was some years ago and it made €475,000.’