It was extremely unusual for car manufacturers to exhibit “concept” or show cars in the 1930s, so the appearance of this astonishing looking Peugeot four-door sedan at the 1936 Paris Salon caused a stir.
It was presented as a vision of the family sedan of the near-future—1940 was the target—a risky strategy since it implied that the year-old sedan from which it was derived might soon be obsolete.
The 402 sedan itself was a sleek-looking car, with gracefully curved fenders, and headlamps concealed behind a waterfall style radiator grille. But it wasn’t very aerodynamic. The “theoretical model” had wind-cheating science applied to it by Jean Andreau, an eminent consultant from the Conservatoire Nationale des Arts et Metiers.
The large tailfin was an obvious benefit, but the barrel profile of the sides, lack of running boards, rear-wheel fairings, and the stunningly curvaceous windshield were all integral to the design. The streamlined shape meant that the car’s top speed, at 87mph (140kph), was 16mph (26kph) more than a standard 402 with identical engine.
The car became the first of six research prototypes for future Peugeots. The one shown here, codenamed N4X and the sole survivor, features a simply stunning panoramic windshield merging into the door glass, which would have given unparalleled visibility to the driver. But events overtook Peugeot’s plans: the entire project was abandoned as the dark clouds of World War II gathered.
“Reduction in vertical lift is important in achieving equilibrium at high speeds, by stabilizing the vehicle through shifting the center of lateral thrust rearward.”
From a peugeot press release, 1936
Video model car Peugeot 402 Andreau “1940”
Specification model car Peugeot 402 Andreau “1940”
YEAR REVEALED: 1936
PLACE OF ORIGIN: Paris, France
HISTORICAL STATUS: prototype
ENGINE: four-cylinder, 121ci (1,991cc)
MAXIMUM POWER: 55bhp
LAYOUT: front-mounted engine driving the rear wheels
BODYWORK: four-door five-seater sedan
TOP SPEED: 87mph (140kph)
NUMBER BUILT: six