Big things with little cars

French Friday: Peugeot D3A

We will need the “way back” machine for this post. Back to the very early days of motoring and to the early days of diecast models. This little French van will be familiar to anyone who has ever watched some old French movies. As a rule of thumb, if there is a Van in the background, and it’s not a Citroen H - then it’s a Peugeot D. But this Fourgon did not start life as a Peugeot. It was launched as the Chenard-Walcker CPV in 1946. And in that form, it was powered by a two-cylinder two-stroke engine with 26hp. Hard to imagine how that would have been able to lug any cargo...

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Chenard-Walcker was actually one of the oldest French car companies, dating back all the way to 1898. But they were never big players, and this small van was their last effort to get off the ground again after the war. It worked for a few years, but they had their back to the wall by 1950, when Peugeot (being their main creditor) stepped in and bought the concern.

They installed the engine from their 202 model, which increased power to a whopping 30hp. This was the D3 model. The original two-cylinder engine had the merit of being very compact, and in order to accommodate the four-cylinder unit from Peugeot the nose of the van had to be extended, which compromised the clean frontal design of the original van and gave rise to frequent use of the “Nez de cochon” (pig nose) nickname. For the D3A model, Peugeot installed the engine from the 203, which increased the power even further to 32hp. And finally in 1955, Peugeot introduced the new engine from the 403, which gave a handy 45hp. That was the D4.

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Peugeot made about 76,000 of all the D models, in various configurations such as a minibus or a horse-box. In 1965, the J7 van replaced the D range of models.

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This Dinky casting (another Atlas re-issue) itself dates back to the 1950s - and that definitely shows. There are no windows, no opening features, no interior. It’s a pretty simple affair from a far simpler time. The original release came in French “Postes” livery - but here we have the “Cibie” version. Cibie were pretty famous for their aftermarket fog lights - my first VW had them too. It was a bit of a fashion thing. And fog lights, or “projecteurs anti-brouillard” is exactly what this van is advertising.

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So, it’s not exactly a LeMans winner here today. Instead, a workhorse that helped the French post-war recovery.

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