Pug & Me
Issue 1/June 2013
Rod Doherty lives in the Hunter Valley with his wife Carol, and together they have four children and 10 grandchildren. Rod retired as manager of the Hunter Region Business Centre in December 2010 and now concentrates on his role as the president of the Kurri Kurri District Business Chamber, focusing on growing the economy of the Kurri Kurri district. He is also an elected councillor with Cessnock City Council. Over the past 40 years Rod and Carol have owned 10 Pugs, including the 403, 504, 604, 405 Turbo Diesel, 306, 405 Mi16, 206GTi and 4007. Rod tells Tatyana Leonov his story.
“I was around eight years old when I first learned about Peugeots,” Rod remembers. “I was watching the 1953 Redex Trial and saw Ken Tubman, in the Peugeot 203 winning car, go through Muswellbrook. I was hooked”.
Luckily for Rod, learning about Peugeots was easy because of his family’s strong connection to the motor industry. “Every Saturday night there would be chatter in the men’s shed about cars, and as a young boy I just loved the banter. I told them I’d own a Peugeot one day and they all told me I was mad for wanting one of those ‘funny French cars.’” Rod laughs.
“When I started my apprenticeship in fitting and machining I began reading an American magazine called Car and Driver. They listed the top 10 cars in the world and the Peugeot 403 was listed number 10.”
It wasn’t until 1972 that Rod purchased his first Pug, a tired old white 1964 404 rally car that had seen more rough gravel roads than most cars would see in a lifetime. “I was immediately hooked on this car that had won six times in the East African Safari from 1962 to 1968 and also winning the manufactures trophy.”
His trusty 404 went on to win the Group 5 Motorkana series three times, the New South Wales Motorkana series, and was runner-up in the Australian event in 1975. “It was a great car, strong, reliable and nimble. My one regret is that I don’t still have one today.”
Rod’s 404 eventually retired from motor sport and two 403’s joined the family. One 403 was used for a couple years in motor sport and setting car trials before Rod eventually retired from the sport completely to concentrate on his career as a New South Wales ambulance officer.
“Since those days I’ve had the opportunity to own a fully imported V6 Manual 604. This car had had only two previous owners, one being the Austrian Consulate.” Rod smiles. “It was a magnificent vehicle and had all of the mod cons that the new breeds today have and then some.”
Years later when visiting Sydney, Rod dropped into Pymble Peugeot to check out the new 206 GTi… but walked out with a different Pug.
“There it was. Sitting in the back of the yard – a magnificent 405 Mi16. After some haggling I paid the salesman cash for the car… then rang my wife to let her know what I had done! There was silence on the other end of the line. I had two hours coming home for her to simmer down. Having witnessed the Mi16 win Pikes Peak in the United States of America I had wanted one of these for years. It was worth it!”
Together with his wife, Rod had the good fortune to visit the famous hill climb Pikes Peak on the American national holiday, Independence Day, in July 1992. “The Peugeot wasn’t there but we witnessed what Ari Vatanen would have achieved in the Mi16 a year earlier. We’ve had many great drives in our Mi16 but traded it in 2003 for the Peugeot 206 GTi. The 206 GTi is still in the family along with our latest acquisition, a 2010 4007. And Rod is thinking that another Pug could be on the horizon. “Possibly a 508?”
The Hunter Valley Sporting Car Club is based in the Hunter region at Maitland. Its most famous member and club patron was Ken Tubman, a Maitland Pharmacist and winner of the first Redex Trial in a Peugeot 203. The club always had a range of French cars including Peugeots, Renaults and Citroëns. The club began around 1948 and concentrated on Motorkhanas and rallying, but wound up in the early 1980s. The club has held one reunion since then, with members from the original club still living in the local area.