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After acquiring Peugeot 5008s in 2021, the Gendarmerie Nationale has just placed an order for 395 Peugeot 3008 Plug-in Hybrids*. The next volume in Peugeot and the Gendarmerie’s long history, which began just after the Second World War…
At the end of the 1940s, in the post-war turmoil, the Gendarmerie Nationale was rebuilding its rolling stock as best it could, by requisitioning cars from the Resistance or by drawing on what was left of the army’s car fleet. Quite naturally, the first Peugeots, 202s, 302s and 402s, were part of the brigades, in limited quantities… and most often in black! In fact, the now famous – and dreaded – Gendarmerie Blue colour was not made the standard until 1969/1970.
Estate cars before SUVs
From the 1950s onwards, the Gendarmerie Nationale structured its equipment purchases and began to place large-scale orders for vehicles. This was the beginning of a long history with Peugeot, particularly with the brand’s estate cars.
It was the 203 estate car that was the first to be used by the Gendarmerie, particularly in the newly created traffic police brigades in a France that was entering the boom years. Then, each decade brought its share of Peugeot estate cars to the Gendarmerie: 403, 404, 204, 304, 305, 504, 505 and 306… until the arrival of a new generation of vehicles that combine even more practical and generous interior space with efficient road holding: the Gendarmerie opted for the Peugeot Expert, the predecessors of the 5008, and soon the 3008 Hybrid.
Of course, beyond these “large capacity” vehicles, the Peugeot and Gendarmerie history spans many other models, starting with the stars 205 and 206, many of which equipped the brigades, as well as the 306, which was mostly used by the motorway patrols. Not forgetting all the 203, 403, 305 or 505 saloon cars which, as service vehicles reserved for officers, were not Gendarmerie blue, but black or grey.
The special models
Being responsible for the security of the territory in all its diversity – roads, motorways, mountains, countryside… – and all its components – metropolitan France, overseas -, the Gendarmerie had to adapt its vehicle fleet. So it had to acquire special, and sometimes unusual, models.
Motorists in the 1980s and 1990s will definitely remember the Brigades Rapides d’Intervention’s (Rapid Intervention Brigades) Peugeot 405 T16 (200 bhp) and 306 S16 (167 bhp) that operated on French motorways.
Other vehicles the general public will also remember are the 203, 403, 404, 504 and then 505 estate cars of the Garde Républicaine, which were responsible for the security of the Tour de France cycle race. Less famous, but just as useful, a dozen Peugeot 806 minivans were used in the 1990s to escort nuclear convoys.
In order to be able to intervene in all types of terrain, including the most difficult, the Gendarmerie Nationale has always had a fleet of 4X4 vehicles. In the 1980s, the Gendarmerie took a leaf from the French army’s book and opted for Peugeot P4s, mainly intended for the Mobile Gendarmerie squadrons. In the overseas departments, the 504 and 505 4X4 station wagons prepared by Dangel enabled the gendarmes to travel on the worst tracks. Finally, in 2004, a few rare examples of four-wheel drive 206s prepared by FAM were delivered to certain brigades.
Since the 1940s, Peugeots have been used to transport the men and women of the Gendarmerie, as well as their animals! Fitted out as vans, Peugeot J7s and then Experts were used to transport the Republican Guard’s horses. As for the dog brigades, they could rely on Peugeot 203 and then 504 estate cars, before choosing the Peugeot Partner, Boxer or Bipper, which were considered more practical than a traditional estate car.
A long history indeed! The gendarmes in the 1950s, who travelled the roads with their gallant 203 estate (42 bhp, 4-speed manual gearbox, 120 km/h max, 8 l/100 km), would no doubt be surprised at the performance of the 3008 Hybrid 225 eAT8 (225 bhp, 8-speed automatic gearbox, 225 km/h max, 1.4 l/100 km).
To find out more about the close relationship between Peugeot and the Gendarmerie Nationale, please refer to the excellent book “Les voitures de la Gendarmerie Nationale” by Pascal Meunier and Laurent Jacquot, published by E-T-A-I.