The firm’s managing director, Thierry Sybord, was in charge of marketing in France at the time the two wacky cars were launched – and was the man who eventually pulled the plug.
He said: ‘The problem with the Avantime was that though the design was fantastic, the quality was a disaster.
‘It was not at the level of quality that was expected, and we launched the car with the wrong engine and gearbox. It had a V6 engine and a manual gearbox – and, at the time, it should have had a diesel engine and an automatic gearbox.
‘We had a terrific car but we were unlucky.’
The Vel Satis was an executive car that few people liked – Car magazine slated it as ‘ugly and very French’. The Avantime was even more outrageous. It was supposed to be a people carrier crossed with a coupe, but it cost too much and only had four seats. Sales of both cars were dismal.
Sybord added: ‘I think we were just too ahead of our time. I am sure that if the Vel Satis was launched today with a good level of quality, the success of the car would not have been
the way it was.’
But when asked if they’d ever be another Avantime or Vel Satis he added: ‘I think so.’ You’d have think they’d have learnt their lesson by now wouldn’t you…