Apparently the new television advert for the Peugeot 207 CC debuts on UK television tonight – and of course, it’s already on YouTube.
Personally, I’d swap the modern convenience of an electric roof for a car as beautiful as the 1930s Peugeot 401 Éclipse – which is undoubtedly the star of the new advert, and the model on which a retractable metal roof became popular.
The stylish original cabriolet was a collaboration between Parisian densist and part-time aerodynamic design expert Georges Paulin, the Peugeot concessionaire Darl’Mat and the Marcel Pourtout body construction firm.
Carrosserie Pourtout custom designed some of the most beautiful car bodies of the era for Bugatti, Voisin, Ballot, Minerva, Delage, Hispano- Suiza, Delahaye, Delaunay-Belleville, Talbot-Lago, Peugeot and Buick models belonging to the world’s rich and famous.
According to The New York Times (free registration), Paulin sold the retractable hardtop design and patent to Peugeot in 1935. Raymond Milo, a Los Angeles dealer in collectible European cars and Éclipse owner is cited saying about 470 were built, and about 30 survive:
“The Éclipse was a milestone design and perhaps the most attractive example of Art Deco design applied to automobile coachwork,”
Paulin, a Jew, died in the Holocaust – and it wasn’t until the 206CC launch in 2001 that Peugeot reintroduced the retractable hardtop. Today, there are many such models, including my own baby, a Mercedes SLK.
And if I fancied trading the Merc in for a 1930s Peugeot Éclipse (if I could find one), it would set me back around $250,000.