But our patience has now paid off - here it is, a nice SE-spec model in a decent colour (none of that 'flac jacket' yellow, please) with reasonable mileage, and it's on-budget. Check and mate, Monsieur Quatre-Cents-Six.
The 406 Coupe was launched in 1997 to mixed praise. But while opinions on the car's dynamic abilities varied, the interior was slated and most of the engines were labelled underpowered, one matter which attracted little disagreement was the styling.
Pininfarina had worked jointly with Fiat (and a certain Mr Bangle) to produce the Fiat Coupe two years earlier, but the rivalling 406 Coupe seems to have been a rather more committed Pininfarina design, and it shows. Well proportioned, with elegant lines and subtle detailing, the design looked great then and - we reckon, for such things are inevitably subjective - has aged brilliantly (provided you avoid the aforementioned yellow).
The interior was a rather less impressive affair, with most parts lifted straight from the 406 saloon. But at least there was plenty of space in all four seats and a decent boot, which is more than can be said for many of its contemporary rivals.
Cornering was not the 406 Coupe's best asset. Though there was plenty of grip from the front-wheel drive chassis, the soft suspension lead to lazy handling, with pretty chronic body roll. I was taken around a track in one of these in 1997, and in fast corners that odd combination of high grip and high roll meant it really did feel like it might tip over, despite being fairly low to the ground and not particularly heavy, at 1450kg.
But, in a sense, it is these very 'shortcomings' in the car's dynamics that betray the essence of the 406 Coupe's character. This may have been around at the same time as the Fiat Coupe, Toyota Celica, Alfa GTV and Nissan 200SX, but it wasn't a rival to them. No, this was something quite different. The 406 Coupe was a soft, wallowy thing; A motor for wafting, not ragging.
In truth, the example we've picked out for SOTW probably isn't the one to have. It's a manual, and though this may at first seem appropriate for a coupe, the 406 is really best seen as a luxury car and not a sports car. A smooth auto 'box seems a much more appropriate choice - but at least a manual makes the best of the available power, and the thirst won't be quite as poverty-inducing.
It's worth underlining that this price does represent the cusp of these cars' used values. A V6 SE for under a grand is a bit of a scrape, but just a few hundred quid more gets you into much broader territory, and a reasonable number of the 10,709 examples of the 406 Coupe originally sold in the UK are still around. But this particular example is not to be sniffed at; 100,000 miles isn't a great deal these days, and being in SE spec you get all the toys appropriate to a luxury coupe, including climate control, electric heated leather seats and a CD multichanger. Road tax is due this month, but the MOT is good for another 6 months.
There's no proper description on the eBay auction page, but there is a fairly comprehensive data table listing the car's particulars. At the time of writing the auction price is beginning to creep awfully close to the £1000 'Buy it Now' price, and the auction ends shortly after midnight tonight.
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