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It’s not often you get the chance to buy a car named for a fighter pilot, inventor and war hero – but here you do. Offered via the Autoweb.co.uk classifieds by our friends at Sandbeck Garage, Wetherby, this little Peugeot was among a series of special editions built by the French car maker, bearing the name of Monsieur Garros.
The link between motor and man, however, was a sporting one. A tennis centre Garros used while he was a student in Paris was named after him and that became the home of the French Open, the nation’s most famous tennis tournament. And that’s what the car celebrates. As you can see from the photos, this 106 gets part-leather trim inside and seat fabric that could most kindly be described as, erm, ‘lively’. But it’s well equipped for a mid-90s ‘mini, giving you alloys, fog lamps, central locking and ‘leccy windows, not forgetting the very in-period keypad immobiliser. This (for those too young to recall) requires entry of a four-digit code before the engine will start.
All considered, it looks a tidy thing for a motor that’s 19 years old. The driver’s seat has worn through in one place but that’s to be expected at its age, price and 77,000 recorded miles. While Peugeot hasn’t built a 106 for 10 years or so, you still see a fair few on the road: they are simple, tough cars that last well. They resist rust (except where accident repairs have been slapdash) and the 1360cc petrol motor in this one will run well into six-figure mileages if serviced and treated to a fresh cam belt every four years or so.
Spare parts are readily available and cheap for the most part, while this 1995-reg car is old enough to qualify for a limited-miles, classic car policy – and these can work out very cheap.
We like this little car a lot.
Back to Roland Garros, though, because his tale is a fascinating one. As a fighter pilot he played a pivotal role in World War I, developing the first system to allow a machine gun to fire ‘through’ his aircraft’s propellor blades. He was shot down and captured, only to escape and return to the fray for the final air battles of 1918, during which he was killed. Ironically, despite his courage and undoubted skill, he narrowly missed the accolade of the title of ‘ace’ pilot. To achieve that he needed five ‘kills’ but he managed just four. In addition to his associations with tennis, a terminal at one of France’s major airports is also named in his memory. Quite a guy, evidently.
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