Peugeot 806 Runabout - the master of the French Riviera
It came from a van, it lost a roof, but gained a yacht and now it's a museum art
"Because France" level of pleasure cruising lifestyle
If you were ever in doubt of the imagination of Peugeot, just take a quick peek at their crazy one-off concepts. Examples that are properly mad, stunningly beautiful and well ahead of their time. It's mostly brilliance that was lost to production in one way or another. This particular example is a collective image for all of the above. It was unveiled as a fully functioning prototype at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1997 and can still be seen today in the Museum of the Peugeot Adventure in Sochaux, France. Let's discover what made it truly special.
From the original 806 Runabout blurb
Is it a car? Is it a boat?
Remember how Richard Hammond tried to convert a van into a boat twice in Top Gear (Series 8, Episode 3 and Series 10, Episode 2), sinking both times? Nine years earlier, Peugeot had the same initial idea, but decided better of it. What the engineers did was quite different approach to the task. They took the 806 (the original Eurovan), took almost everything off and built a road yacht on the frame. Meet the Peugeot 806 Runabout - a vehicle designed to drive you on a luxurious cruise to a body of water and be a fateful companion for your favourite water sports or luxurious nautical-themed bar to enjoy a glass of bubbly with your respective half. It was powered by a 191 hp (142 kW) 3.0 L naturally aspirated V6 engine, driving the front wheels via a four-speed automatic gearbox. Unfortunately, the car was never given to journalists, so there are no first-hand accounts of how it was to drive.
From the Museum in Sochaux
To feel truly unique
For the designers, the key feature was the harmony between the balanced European monospace, the practicality of the American pickup, the airy feeling of an open top and the nautical theme of a classic motorboat. The end result was an unrivalled combination of slender lines, curvilinear front and rear, encapsulated in a pearl-white body with immaculate cockpit windows. A teak runner decorated the flowing sides. Specially sculpted tyres were fitted onto the original magnesium wheels. The front was curved and cheerful, featuring the prowling Peugeot Lion and almond-shaped headlights. The logo, along with the tail lights, was also incorporated into the design of the rear. The rigid, blue fabric roof was retractable and easily tucked away into the boot. The world witnessed the creation of a design language that would influence a whole generation of Peugeot vehicles, starting from the 206.
From the original 806 Runabout blurb
Drawing nautical inspiration and putting some wood here and there was nothing new in the automotive world. However, Peugeot went above and beyond anything seen so far by literally creating a luxurious yacht inside, worthy even of the Port of Monaco. The attention to detail, combined with the level of functionality was unparalleled with the main focus being water sports and leisure activities. The designers wanted the dashboard to integrate both the original 806 design and the boating theme with the shapes of waves and the hull of a boat. The steering wheel and gear selector were, in their own respect, a work of art! The steering wheel was decorated with blue alcantara, with a teak chrome-ringed spokes. The wheel itself had a rope upholstery covering made from natural cotton cord. As for the gear selector, the marine theme continued with the crystal-clear blue veneer, illuminated by fibre optics and including a winch in the base to tow your custom-made Peugeot jet ski on the deck. An electronic key in the shape of a futuristic pen was used to release the steering lock and start the engine. It was also used to remotely operate the ramp and the winch for the jet ski. Two folding seats were tucked behind the front seats and could be pulled out to create two extra places. They could also pivot, along with the pivoting front seats to create a face-to-face arrangement for four. What's more, the door pockets contained a refrigerated place for a champagne bottle, a flute and two cups for various almonds and olives, as shown in the promotional video.
From the Museum in Sochaux - note the jet ski
At the water's edge
Once you've parked your pleasure craft near the waterfront, the motorised elevation system of the 806 Roundabout solid teak storage compartment transformed with the option of a mobile ramp. The lower position offered a classical pickup arrangement, while the upper position exposed a large boot to store your scuba diving equipment (including space for large oxygen bottles) which could be accessed from the back. The 806 Runabout was the perfect car for leisurely journeys in the Mediterranean sun. The vast storage compartment meant that the 806 Roundabout would accommodate all of your leisure accessories, such as the futuristic jet ski designed by Peugeot.
The promotional video from Peugeot - beware of the 1997 quality