A peculiar name
Even today, a lot of people still think the 309 is not a real Peugeot because its “name” is quite awkward. Yes, the 309 differs from the 205 or the 405 but as we stated it previously, Peugeot didn’t have any choice. At that time, Peugeot wanted to get back to a more logical series of numbers but a car would pay the price for that. With the wrongly badged 304 and 305, the C28 had to have a different number. Peugeot could use the 40X numbers again as the 405 did but keep in mind the 405 replaced the 305 and no other car. Obviously, Peugeot thought about calling the car 306 but the number seemed too far away from the current range. So if you think the 309 has an awkward name, please think again because so do the 304 and the 305.
The story behind the name
Peugeot had no choice as to what name should have the C28. This was a serious issue at Peugeot and thy didn’t choose the 309 name at once. As a matter of fact, the car had lots of names and they changed it often. The first proposed name was 300, which solved three problems: 1. this name emphasized the 30X line-up belonging; 2. it got round the previous mistakes made with the 304 and 305; 3. it sort of reset the counter to zero. But some months later the name was rejected since it was said to cause a problem for future cars which would have to be called 301, 302, etc. Later, they decided to use a bigger number so the next car could be named 306. Peugeot also considered the Japanese market in which they were trying to sell more cars thanks to joint venture with Austin Rover Japan. The figure 9 in Japan is a sign of bad luck and is thus not used for commercial products. Peugeot did hesitate between 309 and 308 but the latter was chosen. All official paperwork was printed, suppliers were let into the secret but there was something wrong with the name. Two months prior to the official launch in France, Peugeot changed their mind and chose 309. The badge was changed, printed paperwork were still used but most of it was modified and an erratum note was sent to all services. The main reason for the modification was to gain time. And by the way, do you remember the story about the car which was badged Talbot and was finally badged Peugeot at the very last moment? Well, that’s what we call Chinese whispers!
You probably all have seen the 309 badge, nothing different from the 205 and 405 ones actually. But did you know there was another version of it? In fact, Peugeot did use a precise custom font at the time but some characters were missing. The company in charge of its design was asked to create the figure 9 which hadn’t been designed. A couple of months prior to the launch of the vehicle, the company handed the final badge in to Peugeot. Photos were printed and sent to the press and so were some inside information due to dealers, suppliers, etc.
Nevertheless, the marketing department told superiors they had doubts about the design. According to them, it was deemed to rehink it since they considered it to look old and to be inappropriate. The 3 was considered to be out of proportion with both the 0 and 9 and to be too angular too. Peugeot agrees and asks the company to make another design. Some weeks later, the new design was sent and accepted. Even though the decision was late, the production of the first design was stopped weeks in advance but a very few cars had the first version, most of them were pre-production cars. The second and final version inspired the future badges among which the 205 mark 2 one, the 405 and 605 ones.