I’ve always thought that the best concept cars are those that feel like they’re only a few degrees separated from real life. As if the car you’re looking at comes from some parallel now on some much cooler planet. One such car was the Peugeot Oxia concept of 1988.
One of my favourite years, ’88. Some of the best disposable pop music of all time (I loved Debbie Gibson when I was seven, and Voice of the Beehive and our own Transvision Vamp had the same appeal for my Dad, I’m sure), and it was also the year the Oxia was released at the Paris Auto Show, looking for all the world like the Peugeot 405 would if normal non supercars had never been invented.
Googling Peugeot Oxia will bring all kinds of marvellous, information packed web pages up, so there’s little point in covering the same ground again. Instead, let’s just marvel at a machine that was fully engineered and could, with not a huge amount of further work, have been pushed into limited scale production for sale to extraordinarily wealthy folk.
The 670bhp engine, for example, was based on the good old Douvrin PRV V6 but with a pair of Garrett snails hanging from it, and is said to have pushed the Oxia to 217mph during tests at Nardo – you know, just because they could. There was adjustable aero and composite materials of the very most exotic, erotic types you could find in the ‘Eighties – there were even solar cells to run the HVAC fan when the car was at rest.
And then there was the interior, designed by one Paul Bracq, famed for countless Mercedes and BMW classics, and which again looked like something that had just sprung from a Peugeot brochure that you read during a particularly cheese-fuelled dream. It looks real enough, and feasible enough, but is somehow alternative and other-worldly and wonderful, with its green highlighting and blend of analogue and digital instrumentation but, like, done well.
You could scoff about the parts-bin headlamps and rear lights, but I reckon that makes the Oxia even sexier. It points to the fact that it was rooted in the real world. It was a car that was waiting to happen. It’s an absolute classic.
(All images copyright Chris Haining / Hooniverse 2017)