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Vice-President’s April Ramble

Brent and family are away enjoying a trip to Europe, so I have agreed to ramble in his place. In addition to having been a member of the Peugeot Club for about 25 years, I have been a member of Auckland Vintage Car Club since 2008, my 1970 404 Saloon being eligible. That gives me the opportunity to enjoy two quite different motoring clubs. So my ramble will traverse recent activities with both.
The Tricolour Trophy grass gymkhana was held in February, a fun event, well attended by Citroen but poorly attended by Peugeot. Why? Grass gymkhanas always were popular in the past; giving sometimes two generations within a family the chance to show their driving skills in a safe, wide open space.
With the Vintage Car Club mid-week tours group in February we visited Lionel Rogers’ unique vintage and modern car collection. We saw and admired 3 Bugattis, a Maserati, 3 Ferraris, a Model A tourer and a Hummer! His “newest” Bugatti is a replica G.P. car; the body & chassis built here in New Zealand, the engine built in the UK by the foremost Bugatti engine maker on the planet. There was a big turnout of club members who enjoyed the Rogers’ warm hospitality. The men much admired his workshop where Lionel has taught himself to use machine tools to build components for restoration.
In March we enjoyed the Interclub weekend with Wellington. A long trip, but very worthwhile; good organisation by PCC Wellington, good events, and we retained the Interclub Cup. We were delighted to welcome Bob and Sue Soper, new members with a beautiful 1995 405 SRI, who competed with enthusiasm in all the events.
Later in March I attended the Hampton Downs race meeting which was called a “French Celebration”. This was organised by the Waitemata VCC, the highlight being the Roycroft Trophy. While the racing was good, especially Formula Junior class and vintage sports cars, the only French racer was Terry Roycroft’s Bugatti Type 35 (Jaguar). I took my 404, Donald Webster took his lovely 172 BC [see following] and Citroen had 2 or 3 2CVs and a Light 15 Traction Avant, so for a French flavour it was disappointing. A friend and I enjoyed the vintage motorbikes demonstrating their abilities e.g. Manx Nortons, Vincents and Triumphs. A Velocette traffic police bike circulated the track behind the racing bikes! Very cool!

In late March, we were invited by the Auckland Art Gallery to display a selection of our vintage Peugeot models for the Alliance Francais French Language weekend. The invitation came from Kim O’Loughlin, a Peugeot driver himself, originally from Victoria Australia. We showed our 404 and Brent’s 505 on the Saturday, and on Sunday the Grant’s 203 and Jim Bailey’s 404. This invitation has made us realise we need to update our database of members’ models currently owned.
At the beginning of April we watched a TV show of Top Gear when Jeremy and James poured scorn on 3 recent models of the Peugeot marque. They singled out 1007, 307 CC, and 407 saloon, and compared them with famous predecessors – 504 Ti, 505, 205 and 405 ranges. I can only agree that Peugeot lost the plot, dropped their standards, and allowed mediocrity to rule when other big marques e.g. Volkswagen Audi group, Toyota, Hyundai and Ford were raising their game strongly. It was a good parody with a serious message, one which “new” CEO Carlos Tavares (ex Renault) has taken on board and will probably wield an axe over a range that may be too big. He has turned the company from a big loss maker into a modest profit maker in a short time. New models like the 508 and 308 have seen a huge improvement.
On the home front, I recently noticed a smell of petrol from under the bonnet of my 306 Cabriolet (it is a 1998 model, so is 16 1/2 years old). I traced a leak to the high pressure side of the fuel delivery system, near the fuel rail. (Injection systems have an inlet HP side and a LP return to the tank side).
A quote for a fuel system kit from the Peugeot dealer was over $400 ex- France, so I bought new injection hose from Repco and brass fittings from an engineering shop and replaced the top sections of hose, and the plastic connector with a brass connector. That has solved the problem. CONCLUSION: If you smell petrol from the engine bay, check rubber (nitrile) hoses. Modern petrol with very corrosive solvents is hard on flexible hoses, and over time can rot them. If in doubt -replace them!
Don Howarth

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