Not such a well known off roader, and a distant cousin to the G Wagen, but the Peugeot P4 is a truck worth a mention and viewed as a classic by some. The vehicles are little known outside of France this was due to the restrictions of the defence contract that stipulated no export license except for countries bound to France for defence protection.
The P4 has been the most widely used 4×4 utility ”jeep” used by the French army since the early 80’s in both home use and foreign campaigns.
The P4 came into existence in the late 1960’s when the French army decided to update their 10,000 Jeeps for a modern equivalent that had to carry four men and equipment, be light enough to transported by plane and parachuted in to locations.
Peugeot and Mercedes came up with the deal clincher on a 50:50 agreement to build the P4 for the military, hence the boxy G Class similarities.
The vehicles were assembled at the Sochaux plant under the Peugeot badge and the first prototype was tested in the mid seventies with a 2.0 litre petrol and a 2.5 litre diesel model being entered into a rally in south Algeria for evaluation of endurance.
In 1981 the P4 was given the nod by the French army and 15,000 units were ordered, the order was reduced at a later date to 13,500 after cut backs were made to the military. The vehicle assembly for the military was eventually moved to Panhard who are owned by Renault Defence Trucks.
A model was produced for the civilian market but sales were poor due to high cost and poor power to weight ratio, the model was discontinued after only a short production run. As an example, in 1987 the basic diesel P4 pick-up had a price tag in France of FF 182,000, then equivalent to £20,000 , while a Land Rover 90 DT was a mere £12,000.
Weighing in at 1.75 ton the P4 has a range of 800km on its 75 litre tank and 20 litre jerry can, with a top speed around 70 mph. As for the bodies, there were short- and long wheel base (2,400/2,800 mm between axles respectively) soft tops with foldable windscreen and fabric hood and doors. In addition to these, equivalent hardtops were also available. All typically had two seats in front plus two longitudinal benches in the rear
There were several versions of the P4 made;
P4D a diesel version with the Peugeot 2.5ltr d
P4P (protected P4) an armoured version for overseas use by the army and commissioned by the Navy for protection of sensitive sites.
P4 SAS this version was for the special forces with a large firepower (two GPMG mountings) river crossing and long range equipment fitted.
Finally the rarest of the breed was the P4 V6.
The P4 entered in four Paris-Dakar rallies. In June 1984 to 1987, ASA 1000, an association of motorsport fans formed by members of the French army. The V6 variant then went on to complete various publicity events driven by motoring journalists in North Africa and the Middle East.
We reported recently on the demise of the P4, it is soon to leave the ranks of the French army to be replaced by Ford pickup trucks.