Street-Spotted: Peugeot 405 DL Sedan

1991 peugeot 405 dl
Street-Spotted: Peugeot 405 DLAutoweek

There are still a few places in the country where you can spot a Peugeot 505 on the street if you squint hard enough, but finding a 405 is a few orders of magnitude more challenging. That's because Peugeot... didn't sell many of these over a rather short period of time, while attempting to migrate 505 sedan and wagon owners to the smaller and newer 405.

In fact, when the 405 arrived in 1989 the automaker only offered the sedan stateside for that model year. But the next year, Peugeot only offered the 405 station wagon, eventually selling about a thousand of them in the US.

The sedan saw slightly better sales, but overall they weren't enough to keep the dealers busy selling them, even while selling other brands at the same time, with Peugeot having given up quite a bit of market share by the late 1980s.


This 1991 405 DL has just emerged from more than a few years of slumber, showing 36,000 miles on the clock, and perhaps unsurprisingly it belonged to an old lady who had driven it very infrequently and had kept it garaged.

To give you an idea of how different an era this was, the dealership that sold these cars new at the time also dealt in Renault, AMC, and Jeep models in the 1980s, and had just adopted the Eagle brand after Chrysler's purchase of the remains of AMC, just as the 405 was arriving on the market.

It eventually ended its tenure at that location in the 2000s as a Chrysler and Jeep dealer, before moving to a larger showroom elsewhere.

1991 peugeot 405 dl
Not that many 405s are left in running condition, especially station wagons.Autoweek

It seems even by the late 1990s most 405s had faded from the roads. But there were still a few left here and there, with this particular dealership being merely 25 minutes away from yet another big Peugeot dealer in Connecticut.

About a decade and a half ago there were still a number of Peugeots in the area being driven by their elderly owners, including a couple of 405s that resided on a street next to the former dealership that sold this example new, not far from a Renault Medallion station wagon.

Peugeot dealers were not as plentiful as Dunkin Donuts locations in the northeast, but a state the size of Connecticut, being two hours east to west, still had over a dozen dealers at its peak.

By the early 1990s, of course, Peugeot's dealership network was not what it once was, and 1991 was the last model year for the 405 and the brand stateside, even though dealers still had many in stock by the time 1992 rolled around on the calendar.

The French automaker certainly had models it could have offered stateside, including the vastly popular 205 hatch and the small 305, in addition to the 605 large sedan that arrived in 1989.

But it also didn't want to spend money trying to market them stateside. The net result: The remaining dealership network sold a few thousand 405s in total over the course of about four years, taking leftovers into account, before closing up shop.

Peugeot itself maintained an office in the US in New Jersey through the late 2000s, ostensibly to help remaining owners find parts, but by that time it had a pretty small footprint, with a few new cars on manufacturer plates being just about the only reminder.

What exactly doomed 405 sales and Peugeot's operations in the US?

The 405 kept enough distance, price-wise, from the BMW 3-Series and the Mercedes-Benz W201, but the consensus at the time of Peugeot's departure was that the brand as a whole actually lost the battle to Japanese automakers.

Indeed, it's difficult to imagine shopping for a sedan of this size and shape in the early 1990s, and driving away in something that wasn't a Honda, Toyota, or Nissan.

It didn't matter how good the suspension was in the 405 or how sleek the Pininfarina styling was to behold: The 405 was seen as a pricey offering during a time when Japanese automakers had really begun to dominate several popular segments. (And quite a few are still on the roads today, at least in the states spared the crunchiest salt seasonings).

Out of the remaining 405s in the US, which number in the dozens, quite a few are of the performance Mi16 flavor, and they can trade hands for some mildly serious money among marque enthusiasts. As such, this base DL trim sedan powered by a 1.9-liter inline-four with 110 hp is perhaps not far from it.

Could Peugeot have saved itself with a larger variety of models in the US in the early 1990s, or had the market moved on by that point? Let us know what you think in the comments below.