Back on glory road

Peu­geot has re-run its great race, writes Karla Pin­cott

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige -

THINGS have changed a bit since Peu­geot made its name in the 1953 Redex Re­li­a­bil­ity Trial. The event was a land­mark for en­durance ral­lies in Aus­tralia and also for the French car­maker, whose lit­tle 203 model driven by Ken Tub­man won the 10,500km slog around the coun­try, a great deal of which in those days was tracks through re­mote ar­eas.

But bi­tu­men roads greeted the two stock-stan­dard Peu­geot 3008 com­pact SUVs that have just fin­ished a re­run of most of the 1953 trial in the Peu­geot Redex Trib­ute.

It’s part of the brand’s 200th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions, and acts as the scout an­nounce­ment for the fea­ture film Dust and Glory that is be­ing made about the trial.

Pow­ered by an 80kW/ 240Nm 1.6 litre tur­bod­iesel with a six-speed semi-au­to­matic trans­mis­sion, the cars drove from Syd­ney to Tam­worth, then to the Gold Coast, on to Bris­bane, then Bund­aberg, Rock­hamp­ton, Mackay, Townsville, Mount Isa, Ten­nant Creek, Alice Springs, Ade­laide, Mel­bourne, Al­bury and back to Syd­ney, missing only a side leg up to Dar­win.

Driv­ers in the 1953 trial in­cluded some who be­came house­hold names, such as Sir Jack Brab­ham and Jack ‘‘Gelig­nite’’ Mur­ray, but Tub­man’s win be­came leg­end and caused such a sales run that ev­ery Peu­geot in Aus­tralia sold within a week of the fin­ish.

Peu­geot Aus­tralia gen­eral man­ager Ken Thomas says: ‘‘It wasn’t slick mar­ket­ing, it was about the abil­ity to demon­strate the cars could cope with pretty rugged con­di­tions back then.

‘‘Aus­tralian roads out­side Syd­ney and Mel­bourne were pretty or­di­nary in 1953. They were just goat tracks.’’

Thomas ad­mits re­cent Peu­geots, be­set by qual­ity prob­lems, might not have lived up to the rep­u­ta­tion of the 1953 leg­ends. But he says the past two years have seen high stan­dards re­turn.

‘‘There was an era where the qual­ity wasn’t up to our stan­dard and we had to deal with that,’’ he says.

‘‘I think Peu­geot them­selves got a bit of a fright when they were ex­pe­ri­enc­ing is­sues not only in Aus­tralia but in the UK par­tic­u­larly with elec­tron­ics.

‘‘We weren’t alone. Mercedes was suf­fer­ing and so were other brands. But in the past two years, it’s been out­stand­ing.’’

Thomas says the 3008 model is an out­stand­ing ex­am­ple of a well-built car and had no prob­lem with the 8500km, 15-day trek.

‘‘We are ap­proach­ing this in a way to prove the 3008 is not an ur­ban show pony — that it can em­u­late what its fore­bears did in the 203,’’ he says.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.