Peugeot 402 Eclipse: The cat with the hot tin roof

Peugeot 402 Eclipse in the driving report
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The Second French Revolution

The French Revolution took place in 2001 for the second time. P eugeot presented the 206 CC for the first time, a compact convertible for the price of a VW Golf with an electrically retractable steel roof. From then on there was freedom, equality and fraternity: a new convertible came on the market, then almost always with a retractable steel roof - from the small Nissan Micra to the current three-seater convertible from BMW.

What only a few automobile connoisseurs know: Peugeot was not the inventor of the convertible coupé, but from 1934 to 1939 it built various models as 'Coupé Transformable', as coupés with electrically folding hardtops. And here, on a promenade on Lake Geneva, stands the most famous of them - without an electric roof drive, but with four fully-fledged seats: the Peugeot 402 L Cabriolet Métallique Décapotable, type number E 4 Y from 1937.

The ground rocket from Socheaux

The roof of the Peugeot 402 closed. But the stately 5.2-meter coupé, with its extremely long rear end and short hardtop roof, already suggests that this is a vehicle with some kind of body trick. If necessary, the Peugeot packs its own steel roof in the luggage compartment, in which there is also space for two tailor-made suitcases, the spare wheel and on-board tools - and turns into a convertible.

The Peugeot 402 was considered ultra-modern at the time and received the nickname 'Fuseau Sochaux' - the ground rocket from the Peugeot Sochaux plant. Pretty, Art Déco-style body details also enhanced the Peugeot 402 series: chrome trim on the rear wheel covers or the massive metal lion head as a hood ornament, which also serves to unlock the hinged radiator grille, so that it can be mounted on the two in the front area Six-volt batteries.

Driving behavior as with the Renault 4

The stick shift lever of the three-speed gearbox, which protrudes from the cockpit sheet metal, is immediately reminiscent of the Renault 4 of the first generation . And the almost 30 years older Peugeot 402, whose two-liter four-cylinder engine delivers a powerful 55 hp, drives almost exactly the samecan easily cope with the around 1.4 tons.

During the Peugeot 402 tour through the 'La Côte' wine region above Lake Geneva, vehicle owner Christoph Grohe, who is the exclusive classic in Buchillon near Morges, reports Purchase offers, on the history of the development of convertible roof tops. It began in the USA, where in 1922 Benjamin B. Ellerbeck presented a modified Hudson in Salt Lake City, which could put its roof backwards on the trunk lid.

The interior of the Peugeot 402, which is completely in sand colors, is reminiscent the martial-looking instrument panel first to a command vehicle of General Field Marshal (GFM) Erwin Rommel. But the lavishly upholstered leather benches with careful piping and pretty cords on the folding armrests, the graphically elaborately designed 'Jaeger' instrument panel, the shiny metallic window cranks and handbrake levers as well as the glass cover of the interior lighting with a star motif add value to the factual, modern cockpit in Art Déco -Style on.

One of two unrestored specimens

Interestingly, Peugeot never officially called its retractable roof cars 'Eclipse', 'Peugeot owner Grohe ends his excursion. And adds: “Of the around 600 402 L with a folding roof that were produced, only 27 survived. Two of them are unrestored - we are currently on the move in one of them. It comes from first hand, has a real 27,000 kilometers on the clock and even has the original luggage set “. Only the black rear bumper is not authentic.

Ten years later, the French designer and engineer Georges Paulin picked up on this idea again and refined it by completely disappearing his electrically operated folding roof under the trunk lid attached to the rear. He implemented the design idea he called “Eclipse” in 1933 on a Hotchkiss. The coachbuilder Pourtout created an Eclipse convertible based on the Lancia Belna before the Peugeot models.


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