How Peugeot pioneered the folding hard-top

Peugeot 308CC

Peugeot 308CC

How many cars with folding hardtops has Peugeot built?

Well, there’s the 206 which blew the coupe-cabriolet market wide open; followed by the 307 CC and 207 CC. Now there’s the Peugeot 308 CC.

So that makes four then? Surprisingly, no – Peugeot built its first folding hard-top 75 years ago.

Peugeot has been widely credited with bringing cars with folding hardtops to within the grasp of hundreds of thousands of car buyers, but Peugeot’s history actually goes right back to 1934.

It all started with the Peugeot 301. Designer Georges Paulin was said to be inspired by the hassle another driver was having putting up the roof on their car, and wanted to make it far simpler – and power operated. He built it using a Peugeot 301 chassis, patented it, took it to Peugeot, and the rest is history.

That car became the Peugeot 401 Éclipse, which evolved into the stunning 402 Éclipse Décapotable. Just 481 are thought to have been built, and fewer than 30 still exist – making it far rarer than the 369,600-strong production run of the 206 CC.

The stunning 601 Éclipse replaced that model, and was part of a line-up which included saloons, limos, roadsters and coupes. But even by the huge engine/small power output standards of the day, the 60bhp developed by the 2.1-litre straight six was considered weak.

After the 601, for reasons unclear, Peugeot canned the folding hardtop concept, only to bring it back in 2000 in the shape of the Peugeot 206.

Stuart Milne

Read our review of the Peuoget 308 CC

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1 Comment

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One response to “How Peugeot pioneered the folding hard-top

  1. patricia

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