We spotted the Peugeot 309 pictured below in a field while driving on the freeway. With the help of Google Maps we found out that we could access the car via a network of dirt roads so we grabbed our camera, hopped in our Renault 4 and drove out to get a closer look at it one night after work.
Even from a distance, the tail lights immediately indicate we’re looking at a pre-facelift model. The registration number was issued in 1987, and the GLD emblem on the back reveals the 309 is powered by a 1.9-liter four-cylinder diesel engine that makes 65 horsepower. The mill was also found in a number of Peugeot and Citroën cars during the 1980s and 1990s.
The insurance sticker on the windshield indicates the 309 was last on the road in 2009. We’re guessing it was parked either following a mechanical failure or when the owner decided it was too old to drive regularly but it was likely still in one piece back then. The broken windows seem to be the result of vandalism sustained recently.
The 309 holds an interesting spot in Peugeot history because it started life as the Talbot Arizona. It was largely developed by Talbot in Poissy, France, as a successor to the Horizon (sold as the Plymouth Horizon / Dodge Omni in the United States) and designed to fight head-to-head against the Renault 11.
Peugeot started to phase out Talbot in 1984 following years of losses, slow sales and crippling strikes but the Arizona was nearly ready for production. Some historians argue the 309 was designed as a Peugeot from the get-go, but the general consensus is that it was added to the Peugeot lineup as an afterthought in the wake of Talbot’s demise. Regardless, the 309 rode on a modified version of the 205‘s platform and the two shared a large number of components inside and out.