AutoFrom Type 156 to 5008, a century of presidential...

From Type 156 to 5008, a century of presidential Peugeots

Object of representation, communication, protection… the vehicle of the President of the French Republic is much more than a car. For more than half a century with Valéry Giscard d’Estaing’s Peugeot 604 and until Emmanuel Macron ‘s 5008, Peugeot has been one of the main suppliers to the Elysee. Small review of the cars that made history in the 5th Republic…

First of all, we have the most recent story, which has really only just begun. Macron, re-elected president, arrived in a Peugeot 5008 at the ceremony on July 14, 2017. Macron used that vehicle throughout the 5 years of his first term, which made it probably the most filmed and photographed car in history. this last five years. But, despite this, it is an unknown vehicle . For obvious security reasons, the Presidency of the Republic imposes secrecy on its characteristics.

All we know about this 5008 is that, like all Peugeot 5008s, it was built at the Rennes plant and subsequently entrusted to Centigon, a specialized Breton company, which armored the vehicle . The only information communicated concerns the arrangement of the rear seats (two seats instead of 3 with a specific center console), the installation of emergency headlights on the grille and the addition of the insignia of the Presidency of the Republic on the bodywork. . Everything else is ‘top secret’.

The ‘prehistory’ of Peugeot and of the French Republic begins in the 1920s. Elected President of the Republic -the third- on September 23, 1920, Alexandre Millerand traveled in a Peugeot Type 156 from 1921. First car manufactured At Sochaux, the Type 156 was the top of the brand’s range at the time with an impressive 5,954cc inline 6-cylinder engine developing… 25hp.

More than half a century later, the French chose a lover of driving and Peugeot cars. Valéry Giscard d’Estaing took Peugeot to the Elysée from 1975, the year in which the brand’s new flagship, the 604, was launched. The new head of state also imposed another innovation with an air of modernity: the president’s cars would no longer be black to adopt a ‘moss green’ colour.

The Elysee ordered four units of the Peugeot 604 during the seven-year period. Three of them were standard units in the top-of-the-range SL version equipped with the 136-horsepower 2.6-liter V6 engine that the president personally drove on numerous occasions. The fourth unit was a PEUGEOT 604 Presidential Limousine reserved for ceremonies and parades. Built in collaboration with the coachbuilder Heuliez, it had a 62 cm longer wheelbase that increased the space in the rear seats, luxuriously finished. It also had a black vinyl covered roof. The Elysee never approved the project for the 604 ‘landaulet’ (convertible rear seats) proposed by coachbuilder Chapron. The only unit built in 1979 was delivered to the President of Niger.

In 1991, the Elysée acquired a 605 that was lengthened and armored by the Breton company Labbé (which would become Centigon, the firm that produced the presidential 5008). This model, equipped with the 170 hp V6 engine, was equipped with high-strength steel armor and windows made of a bullet-resistant glass and polycarbonate composite. The result on the scale: 2,500 kg, that is, 1,000 kg more than the standard 605 V6. This limousine essentially served heads of state visiting France such as Mikhail Gorbachev, Hosni Moubarak or Pope John Paul II. During the 12 years he spent at the Elysée, Jacques Chirac regularly used the Peugeot 607s that were added to the fleet of the Presidency of the Republic. But the Peugeot that undoubtedly left the greatest mark among the French of the time was the red 205 SR from 1984 that the president’s wife drove on the roads of Corrèze…

The 607 Paladine was, without a doubt, the most spectacular and the most short-lived of the presidential cars of the 5th Republic. In 2007, Nicolas Sarkozy ‘s team was looking for a car that embodied renewal and modernity during the parade down the Champs-Élysées that the new president was to stage on the day of his inauguration. Then someone remembered the Peugeot 607 Paladine concept car presented at the 2000 Geneva Motor Show. Made for Peugeot by coachbuilder Heuliez, this spectacular 607 is a limousine over 5 meters long transformed into a landaulet with a retractable steel and glass roof that discover the rear seats. The cabin was lavishly treated by specialist Hermès with gorgeous blue and cream leather, a bar, two fantastic electrically adjustable passenger seats and a rear-facing bench seat for a passenger.

Following the request of Sarkozy’s team, the 607 Paladine momentarily left the Peugeot Museum and on May 16, 2007, all of France and the entire world had the opportunity to discover on the Champs-Elysées a car that it kept, despite the numerous modifications made , the elegance of the 607 series. The installation of the retractable roof mechanism imposed a severe cut in the capacity of the fuel tank which was limited to only 6 litres. What was not a problem for a concept became an insurmountable inconvenience for regular use of the vehicle, taking into account the consumption of its V6 engine, which is why, once the parade was over, the 607 Paladine would not be used again. .

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