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  1. #1
    Tadpole casm's Avatar
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    Default California Frogs

    It was suggested in this thread that some words on what it's like to be a Pug owner in California might go over well, so here they are

    One important thing to understand is that it hasn't been possible to buy a new French car in the the US since 1992, which is when Peugeot pulled out of the market. Renault left in 1988, and Citroen went in 1974. Unfortunately, partly because of this and partly because of the generally-poor reputation the French marques had gained here, you really don't see all that many Frgomobiles on the road on a regular basis - but they are out there.

    Probably the most common is the Peugeot 505 (of which I'll see two or three a week), with the odd 504 popping up every once in a while. Renault Alliances and Encores (the US-built R9 and R11, respectively) used to be fairly common, but after Chrysler bought AMC they more or less killed the parts supply so those cars are now something of a rarity. Citroens are pretty much collector cars here these days.

    Getting parts usually isn't that bad unless you've got a Renault - given the spottiness of their build quality when they were here, they never really picked up that much of a following so are the least-desirable of the Frogs. Specialists can provide pretty much anything Citroen-related you may need via mail order, and Peugeot 504/505/405 owners can get most basic replacement parts at the chain parts stores - obtaining a new alternator for my 405 recently was just a case of going to the local Kragen and ordering it, then waiting for it to be overnighted in. When I still had my 1977 R5, you couldn't get one: not only weren't they available to order, but there was virtually nowhere that wanted to undertake rebuilding it when they found out what it was for. This is why you always have a backup car...

    It probably sounds like things are pretty dire here for anyone with a Frog car, but once you get used to how to live with it, it's really not a problem (sort of like driving a Citroen, really ) Being in Los Angeles helps due to the car culture here: we've got enthusiasts all over the place, so even if it means playing telephone tag for a bit you've always got someone reasonably local who can help out. There are also events such as The Best of France And Italy and various classic road rallyes which are great for meeting folks with the same dementia. Er, passion

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  2. #2
    1000+ Posts edgedweller's Avatar
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    Terrific casm, just what I had in mind.

    No wonder there's no great cry from the US for parts or info if they all shut up shop by '92. Fools missiing out on such great cars. Is their much happening in the "hot hatch" arena? The Japs and The Germans are into it, the Italians, we share the Brit /Euro line with Ford Laser. now Focus, do you guys make anything beside the charming little Chrysler Neon, which we get, or is it all Civics and Pulsars?

    Hey how culture is your car culture?

    We have a guy on here called Brett Le Grand from Florida with 2 405 mi 16, you may be able to help each other out (doubtful at opposite ends of the country, but moral support maybe).

    Keep typing casm, we need the diversity.

    later

    ed ge

  3. #3
    Fellow Frogger! Pate's Avatar
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    Good to hear that there are Peugeot fans all over the globe.

    In Finland we have had Peugeots since the beginning of the 1900.
    We can go to local dealer and buy almost any model factory has to offer BUT we have the biggest car tax in the world so our cars are most expensive cars in the world. So things are not quite well here either...

    Basic model 206 1,1-litre costs 13,500euros here.

    But it's good that Peugeot got everything right, back in 1988, with 405 model so I am very happy with it.

    I have lived in Vacouver BC in Canada (year 2002) and I counted during my stay about 20 different 505 and 405 there.

    Basic model 206 1,1-litre costs 13,500euros here. (Approx 21,300 AUS dollars and 16,500 US dollars).

    I wonder how much cheapest car costs in US nowadays or cheapest 206 in Australia?
    Last edited by Pate; 3rd October 2005 at 03:56 PM.

  4. #4
    1000+ Posts HONG KONG PUGGY's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by casm
    It was suggested in this thread that some words on what it's like to be a Pug owner in California might go over well, so here they are

    One important thing to understand is that it hasn't been possible to buy a new French car in the the US since 1992, which is when Peugeot pulled out of the market. Renault left in 1988, and Citroen went in 1974. Unfortunately, partly because of this and partly because of the generally-poor reputation the French marques had gained here, you really don't see all that many Frgomobiles on the road on a regular basis - but they are out there.

    Probably the most common is the Peugeot 505 (of which I'll see two or three a week), with the odd 504 popping up every once in a while. Renault Alliances and Encores (the US-built R9 and R11, respectively) used to be fairly common, but after Chrysler bought AMC they more or less killed the parts supply so those cars are now something of a rarity. Citroens are pretty much collector cars here these days.

    Getting parts usually isn't that bad unless you've got a Renault - given the spottiness of their build quality when they were here, they never really picked up that much of a following so are the least-desirable of the Frogs. Specialists can provide pretty much anything Citroen-related you may need via mail order, and Peugeot 504/505/405 owners can get most basic replacement parts at the chain parts stores - obtaining a new alternator for my 405 recently was just a case of going to the local Kragen and ordering it, then waiting for it to be overnighted in. When I still had my 1977 R5, you couldn't get one: not only weren't they available to order, but there was virtually nowhere that wanted to undertake rebuilding it when they found out what it was for. This is why you always have a backup car...

    It probably sounds like things are pretty dire here for anyone with a Frog car, but once you get used to how to live with it, it's really not a problem (sort of like driving a Citroen, really ) Being in Los Angeles helps due to the car culture here: we've got enthusiasts all over the place, so even if it means playing telephone tag for a bit you've always got someone reasonably local who can help out. There are also events such as The Best of France And Italy and various classic road rallyes which are great for meeting folks with the same dementia. Er, passion
    Hi Casm
    If only you had posted this a couple of weeks ago. My family and I have just returned from 16 days in your lovely section of the globe. 6 days Ahaheim, 2 days Vegas(& Hoover Dam), 3 days Kingman Az.(Grand Canyon) then back to Anaheim for 3 days and flew out last Monday at 11pm LAX time. We could have hooked up and had a beer and a good chat as I had a rent-a-car for 10 days too.
    I saw only 1 french car in the whole time we were there, and it was actually a Renault Megane sedan.(dark silver) Euro cars that were popular were Mercs, BMW and VW sedans and so many beetles I thought a tin of bug spray would help
    I could have smuggled you a few parts in if I had known.
    Oh well, we swore we'd go back one day, just Sue and I so you never know.

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  5. #5
    sans witticism SLC206's Avatar
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    casm,

    Welcome to

    I've spotted a few (and I mean a few) Pugs and Cits in my various trips to the USA.

    Last time in LA it was a solitary 505 wagon, a garish yellow 2CV, and wonder of wonders, a shiny SM. Aficionados will be happy to learn that the SM was indeed shooting down the freeway at a fair clip - on the back of an flat-top truck.
    Regards,

    Simon

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  6. #6
    Tadpole casm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by edgedweller
    Terrific casm, just what I had in mind.
    Cheers, thanks

    No wonder there's no great cry from the US for parts or info if they all shut up shop by '92. Fools missiing out on such great cars.
    Part of the reason for this is twofold: American attitudes towards vehicle maintenance, and the French attitude towards doing business in America. When the owner's manual says things like, 'add oil every 600 to 1000 miles as required and change every 3000 miles', it means exactly that - not 'running the sump two quarts low is perfectly acceptable'.

    As for the French way of doing business here - well, they made a number of stupid mistakes:

    Renault: I mentioned that the R9 and R11 were built here for a time as the Alliance and Encore, respectively. OK, neither one was a particularly exciting car when new (turbos aside), but they dumbed them down for the US market - slower steering, softer suspension, 'Americanised' interiors. This killed the one market niche they could've carved for themselves against the Japanese and Germans: nippy, responsive, fun-to-drive econoboxes with character.

    Build quality on these cars was horrible, worse than from the factory in Hungary which was then still a communist bloc country. The people screwing them together were accustomed to building big Yank Iron AMCs, not little French hatchbacks. And Renault were notoriously iffy about standing behind their products. The later Medallion (R21, French-built) and Premier (US-built, R25-based but not a direct copy) were both good cars on paper and drove much better than the other models, but once things started to go wrong with them Renault just fell flat in addressing the problem, both in terms of the owners' expectations as well as corrections they could've made in assembly to eliminate the issues. Chrysler bought out AMC/Renault in 1988, and that was pretty much the end of the only French cars built in the US. There's a good history of Renault in the US here, with brochure and flyer scans here.

    Peugeot actually had a chance at staying in the US market, but by the end put no effort into it. Suffering from similar build quality and customer service issues as Renault, the model range for years had been one car: the 505 (they didn't sell enough 604s for them to be statistically-significant), either in wagon or saloon form. In 1989 they brought out the 405 and the motoring press loved it, hoping that this would at last be a good Peugeot. After selling about 10000 of them here, they finally pulled the plug in 1992.

    What's dumb is that the 205 was initially designed specifically to be sold in the US market: a proper emissions control system (as opposed to the riot of power-sapping vacuum tubes, air pumps, and recirculating valves grafted onto the engine of many a European car of the time), provisions for safety items like side-impact beams and crumple zones, and careful development to make sure it could compete against the Civics and Golfs that were popular here at the time. What killed it was the oil glut of 1984: seeing gas prices go to around 60-70c/gallon, Peugeot decided that there was no market for it here and tried to move the entire brand's image upmarket, competing against Mercedes and BMW. As much as I've loved my Pugs, they are *not* in that league. Had they gone against VW, Volvo, and Saab (as well as having a full model range and listening to their customers' complaints), they'd probably still be here today.

    Citroen: surprisingly, Citroens had a pretty good reputation here. They were durable, well-made vehicles that were considered to be more maintenance-intensive than the native competition, but so dynamically superior to the homegrown stuff that it was worth it - cars by engineers for people who appreciated good engineering. Unfortunately, they never achieved major sales success - while the cars were excellent, they came from Planet Citroen and most people just couldn't handle the idea of living with something as left-field as a DS no matter how good it might be. In light of dwindling sales, Peugeot pulled the plug on their US operation after buying them out in 1974 and we've missed out on some really great cars since as a result.

    Interestingly, there was a company (CX Automotive) that was bringing in CXs (and, later, a few XMs) in the 80s and 90s and converting them to meet US specs. Unfortunately, the costs involved in doing this at such low volumes meant that the cars were prohibitively expensive by the time they reached the market, and only a couple or three hundred were sold in total. Really a shame.

    Is their much happening in the "hot hatch" arena? The Japs and The Germans are into it, the Italians, we share the Brit /Euro line with Ford Laser. now Focus, do you guys make anything beside the charming little Chrysler Neon, which we get, or is it all Civics and Pulsars?
    It's mostly Jap stuff, with the Golf being about the closest you'll get to a proper hot hatch here. Subaru WRXs (good cars, poor interiors IMHO) are popular, lots of them around. We get the Focus here in various forms from warm to really rather warm, but they don't really seem to be catching on though I do see them around from time to time.

    Hey how culture is your car culture?
    Go ahead, pick a *hard* question next time

    It really depends on what aspect of the car culture you're talking about - American stuff up through the '60s / '70s is always popular, and there's still a strong performance / hotrodding market for them. We've got some of the best off-roading in the world here, so there's also a huge 4x4 culture; everything from people like me (stock Jeep Cherokee used for weekends out in the desert, up in the mountains, etc.) to people with road-queen massively-lifted poser pickups that never touch dirt through to serious moonbuggies that climb over rocks the size of small houses.

    Older British stuff like Jaguars, MGs, and Morgans are still perennial favourites, and there're smaller communities for people into French & Italian stuff - Alfa-Romeo Spiders are still a relatively common sight, as well as some Fiat 124 Spiders. Air-cooled VWs are fairly popular as well: one shop an hour or so south of me does nothing but a roaring trade in VW Things, and you can't send a Beetle to the scrapyard without it being completely stripped in a matter of hours.

    One of the biggest problems we have are cars that are mechanically-strong being scrapped because the owners don't take the time to locate support for them, or learn how to work on them. I nearly cried one day in the scrapyard when I ran across a timewarp of an R16 with only 40000 miles on the clock, a straight body with original paint in great condition, and a perfect interior - one row over from a Rover P6 in the same condition, just with more miles on it. Both are great cars, but the problem is that once they go into the yard, they can't be brought back out except in pieces - when they go in, the registration is transmitted to the Department of Motor Vehicles as being scrapped, so you'll never be able to reregister it. Most self-service junkyards have an area where they put the nicer stuff up for sale rather than putting it for salvage, but the people running the place probably thought that nobody would want these cars. Most of the classic car community want older Yank Iron, not 'funny little European cars that you probably can't get parts for anyway'.

    So, hopefully that answered some of your questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Pate
    I wonder how much cheapest car costs in US nowadays or cheapest 206 in Australia?
    I'm going to guess that the cheapest car on the US market right now is probably Korean - and, checking the websites, it looks as though the Kia Rio starts in poverty-spec at $10735, with the Hyundai Accent in a similar state of equipment at $9999. However, the winner appears to be the Chevrolet Aveo at $9455 - not really surprising when you consider that GM decided to use the Chevrolet name globally for Daewoos sold outside of Korea.

    Quote Originally Posted by HONG KONG PUGGY
    If only you had posted this a couple of weeks ago. My family and I have just returned from 16 days in your lovely section of the globe. 6 days Ahaheim, 2 days Vegas(& Hoover Dam), 3 days Kingman Az.(Grand Canyon) then back to Anaheim for 3 days and flew out last Monday at 11pm LAX time. We could have hooked up and had a beer and a good chat as I had a rent-a-car for 10 days too.
    Ah, the Disneyland Circuit Know it well. Used to actually live about 5 miles from the place. Too bad we missed each other; I'm always happy to meet up with folks from out of the country.

    I saw only 1 french car in the whole time we were there, and it was actually a Renault Megane sedan.(dark silver)
    Most likely, it was on Mexican plates as Renaults (and Pugs) are still sold there currently. Unfortunately, it's not possible to hop over the border, buy one there, and register it in California.

    Euro cars that were popular were Mercs, BMW and VW sedans and so many beetles I thought a tin of bug spray would help
    Yep, this is about right. Lots of Volvos around, too.

    Oh well, we swore we'd go back one day, just Sue and I so you never know.
    Cheers, let me know if you're making it back and we'll have to get a beer - I'll gladly show you where the good stuff is

    Quote Originally Posted by SLC206
    Last time in LA it was a solitary 505 wagon, a garish yellow 2CV, and wonder of wonders, a shiny SM. Aficionados will be happy to learn that the SM was indeed shooting down the freeway at a fair clip - on the back of an flat-top truck.
    Sounds about right for the state of French cars here Oh, you may want to investigate the SM Tow Truck that our local SM guy has - the photos on that link aren't the greatest, but if you follow the links from there you'll get some good stuff.

    Alright, time for me to get moving... God, this ended up being rather longer than I'd anticipated
    1989 405 Mi16, US-spec - 174000 miles and still going strong!

  7. #7
    1000+ Posts edgedweller's Avatar
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    And it was mightily appreciated casm.

    Without any authority, I appoint you North American Correspondent for Aussiefrogs.

    Great Stuff mate.


    ed ge

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    I presume all those thousands of 403's imported after 1958 have disappeared without trace? I even have a Road and Track test of a Californian 203 from 1958 ($1795 available from John L Green, Hill St. Los Angeles). The 403 was a bargain at $2175. The climate in California should favour the preservation of old cars, but I suppose the culture doesn't.

  9. #9
    1000+ Posts HONG KONG PUGGY's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Russell Hall
    I presume all those thousands of 403's imported after 1958 have disappeared without trace? I even have a Road and Track test of a Californian 203 from 1958 ($1795 available from John L Green, Hill St. Los Angeles). The 403 was a bargain at $2175. The climate in California should favour the preservation of old cars, but I suppose the culture doesn't.
    I'd agree Russell, only after seeing what small amount of the country we did.
    There were alot more of the classic cars out in Nevada and Arizona than California too. We have a friend in Kingman Az. on route 66 and whilst there I saw heaps of old Chevs, Hryslers and Fords. The most notable was 2 door Chrysler(similar to our late 60's early 70's Valiants).
    Casm, it'd be great to catch up if we ever get back there. Volvos, yes I did see the occasional one. The most noteable thing about the older Euro cars, even the mercs was the way they had to use round headlights instead of the large reectangular type used here or in Europe. I saw an older Merc 300se with 4 round lights.... niteresting to say the least.
    Keep the US reports coming.
    I second Ed's nomination of Casm for US correspondent.
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  10. #10
    Tadpole casm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by edgedweller
    And it was mightily appreciated casm.
    More than happy to oblige. Good Lord, did I really drop off the face of the planet for three weeks? Sorry, folks - new job, got a bit wrapped-up taking care of that.

    Without any authority, I appoint you North American Correspondent for Aussiefrogs.

    Great Stuff mate.
    And with no authority to accept, I'll accept Cheers!

    Incidentally, this weekend is our annual French and Italian show - we usually get somewhere in the neighbourhood of 200 or so cars, a fairly straight split between frog & pasta. Always good fun, and it looks as though this year I'm driving friends' SM instead of the 405. Photos will be up (for last year as well, I hope) fairly soon, so keep an eye out.

    Also, for anyone who can make it out to this part of the world: I'll be more than happy to chauffeur you and yours to our regular Thursday night meeting of like-minded insane people with oddball cars. We're the people who think that driving something like, oh, say, a Mehari or Triumph Spitfire makes perfect sense.
    Last edited by casm; 3rd November 2005 at 03:18 AM.
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    1000+ Posts kermit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by casm
    Incidentally, this weekend is our annual French and Italian show - we usually get somewhere in the neighbourhood of 200 or so cars,
    Some great photos you have there casm. Love the logo, and welcome to AF. I have an X1/9 parked next to the 406 Coupe in the garage. We haven't had Fiats sold down under since the '80s, but just like you have, their is a strong community of Fiat lovers Down Under.
    Cheers Simon
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    1000+ Posts HONG KONG PUGGY's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by casm
    More than happy to oblige. Good Lord, did I really drop off the face of the planet for three weeks? Sorry, folks - new job, got a bit wrapped-up taking care of that.



    And with no authority to accept, I'll accept Cheers!

    Incidentally, this weekend is our annual French and Italian show - we usually get somewhere in the neighbourhood of 200 or so cars, a fairly straight split between frog & pasta. Always good fun, and it looks as though this year I'm driving friends' SM instead of the 405. Photos will be up (for last year as well, I hope) fairly soon, so keep an eye out.
    That looks like ti'll be a great time casm. I did get an email form Jaques leting me know it'd be on. Where exactly is it held?
    I tried to talk MrsHKP into a trip back to So'cal for the weekend, seeing as the 5th is her birthday and all. I even tried to bribe her with a couple of more days at Disneyland but she wouldn't hear of it. What is a bloke supposed to do? May-be I should have said that for her birthday I'd get as far away as possible in 17hours
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    1000+ Posts U Turn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pate
    BUT we have the biggest car tax in the world so our cars are most expensive cars in the world. So things are not quite well here either...

    Basic model 206 1,1-litre costs 13,500euros here.
    Not even close to being the biggest tax in the world. Cars are far more expensive in Singapore and Malaysia for example. The same 206 in Singapore would cost $60,000 AUS or more.
    Take the long way home....

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    1000+ Posts edgedweller's Avatar
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    Terrific day you guys look like having, and killer graffic. Good to see your still about and corresponding. What and how's the new job?

    Looking forward to the photo's.

    ed ge

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    Quote Originally Posted by U Turn
    Not even close to being the biggest tax in the world. Cars are far more expensive in Singapore and Malaysia for example. The same 206 in Singapore would cost $60,000 AUS or more.

    Ok, not biggest car tax but among the biggest and if you compare that to average income (approx 2000eur/month - taxes, and we do have high income tax: approx 30%) in Finland that is a lot. Also our gasoline costs 1,4eur/litre, Big Mac with fries and coke costs 6,5eur...I am sure that people in Singapore have better ratio between their salary versus prices in general.

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    1000+ Posts U Turn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pate
    Ok, not biggest car tax but among the biggest and if you compare that to average income (approx 2000eur/month - taxes, and we do have high income tax: approx 30%) in Finland that is a lot. Also our gasoline costs 1,4eur/litre, Big Mac with fries and coke costs 6,5eur...I am sure that people in Singapore have better ratio between their salary versus prices in general.
    Yeah they do in some things. Their income tax is low, around 15% I think and food is very cheap there. You can get a nice meal for about AUD$5. Average income would be around $1000-1500/month before tax. But cars are extremely restrictive there, probably the most restrictive in the developed world. I think it's done to reduce the number of cars on the road and hence pollution.

    Tax in Australia can be as high as 47%. Now that wouldn't be so bad if we actually got something back in return, but it seems like most of it is squandered. Oh, and Australia has one of the highest, if not highest ratio of politicians in relation to population.
    Take the long way home....

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    Casm, I really have to say that this is one of the best car literature I“ve had. The links, pics, everything!, thanks. I live in Colombia and I would have to say that we were Renault country for many years, we“ve had a production plant for 50 years I believe and now they produce for Venezuela and Ecuador.

    Renaults were/are very popular because of that plant which lowered costs and gave the posibility to a lot of low/mid income Colombians to have a car back in the 60's and 70“s (because I really do believe we have the higuest taxes for cars: add 35% for custom tax and 16% for sales tax over the FOB price). The Renault 4's and 6's were extremely popular in the 70's and 80's. I learned to drive in a R 6 with a stickshift coming out from the middle of the dashboard!!, my parents had 4's, 6's, 9's, 12's and 18's (my teen car was my dad's ex Renault 18 GTX), when the Renault 21 was the only top of the line available in Colombia, he went for the Pugs, trying a 306XR which I inherited after he got himself a 306XSI.

    By then (early 90's) Renault Colombia was still selling 4's, 9's and 21's with nothing else to offer and a lot of imported offers coming in with good prices, distribution an service. Citroėn an Peugeot were coming back strong and they“ve always had a good image. So in my early 20's I saw lots of brand new 405's, 605's, 306's (late models like 504's, 604's are also popular but Peugeot was out for a while) and my dream car: the 205 1.9 GTi, launched in 94. Citroėn also flooded the market: AX 1.4, AX GTi, ZX Furio, ZX Volcane (2nd dreamcar back then), XM's, Xantias. So Renault was losing share after being leader for a long time, so they started to import models such as the Laguna and my beloved Clio RSi (which I got brand new in 96). I have to say that after the Clio, in Y2K in got myself a 95 205 1.9 GTi in sorrento green!!! I had to have it. As well as my current every day ride: 405 T16!

    Nowdays we don't have all the range models from Renault, Peugeot or Citroėn that you guys have, basically because some models are not very comercial, dealers only imported by special order. The hot models right now are the Megane sendan and hatchback only available with the 143 gasoline power plant (no turbos ), the 206 S16 (no 180 available ), the Clio 172 and 183 (currently not available). There are some other "hot" imports such as turbo VW GTi's, Audi A3's (lots of 1.6, few S3!), Impreza WRX's but they are very expensive because of the taxes. We don't have the 15Y law as you do, to import used cars is banned in our country but sometimes you can find used jewels such as my T16: I used to have a 2004 Clio (110, not 172) and I trade my keys for the keys of the T16 (my oldman almost killed me!!, now he loves my "old" pug).

    Nobody asked, sorry, but I got excited after reading Casm!
    Saludos desde Colombia!

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