Among the total of 11 coachwork-variations, there is also one with an electric folding roof, whereby the roof doesn't actually fold, but disappears as a whole into the spacious luggage compartment. This is probably also why the rear-end of the car gives the impression of being so long. It was available as the 401/402 with four cylinders and later as the 601 with six-cylinders and 44kW (60HP). Whereas the 401 only weighed 100 kg more than the saloon, the 601 was almost 5 meters long and brought 1436 kg onto the scales.
The idea and the first draught, probably came from Georges Paulin, a dentist and part-time designer. The prototype with an electric convertible roof was a converted 301 and the patent dated back to 1932. The coachbuilder, Marcel Pourtout then developed the project into a ready-for-production series. Thus, the first 401 Eclipse appeared exactly 80 years ago. The distribution was first taken over by the authorised Peugeot dealer, Emile Darl'Mat. Only 24 years later did an American road-cruiser with this concept appear.
The 401 was probably also Peugeot's answer to Citroen's Traction Avant, although it couldn't keep pace with Citroen's technology. Indeed, it also saved Peugeot a lot of problems. As one can see with the above convertible, it was all about aerodynamics and composition. The shaping of bodies was changing, and for those who believe, that our modern electric folding roofs are something very new, well, they'll just have to think again.
Apart from the aerodynamic rear-end, the saloon showed a many other changes as well. Any number of car-body variations were available featuring two different wheelbases, also an improved list of optional extras including heating and a radio. Times were hard however, and after only one year, the production was stopped. The 402 only appeared in 1937. Then, from the year 2000 onwards, Peugeot started copying itself. 08/14