Founded in 1920 by Frenchman Adolphe Heuliez; Heuliez started out as a coachbuilder. Assembling his first car, a Peugeot 177B in 1925, Heuliez would continue to develop a number of bespoke projects and parts before the company would evolve from cars to coaches.
Heuliez were for the most part, a specialist production and design manufacturer for other brands. Arguably one of the last remaining coachbuilders today, Heuliez specialise in the development of select complex parts as well as developing their own fully functioning concept cars for other manufacturers. They have since completed a number of concept cars based on a number of large scale manufacturers Citroen cars but also Mercedes-Benz and Porsche.
Heuliez were fully capable of handling specialist car builds for mainstream manufacturers, saving costs by having a smaller, more efficient and flexible factory and workforce. Whilst best known for their extended partnership with Citroen, Heuliez were also a large part of a number of significant cars. Whilst working with Renault for example, Heuliez would build the 5 Turbo in its entirety. The 5 Turbo would start as a normal chassis on the production line and then face the extensive reworking to manage the 300% power increase and the change from front to rear-engine layout. With this experience, Heuliez would later produce the 205 T16 Homologation vehicles.
More recently, Heuliez was wholly responsible for the development and manufacture of specific parts for large manufacturers, most notably, the folding metal roof mechanism for the Peugeot 206CC.
For the 1996 Paris Motorshow, Heuliez developed an off-road convertible well ahead of its time. Ferrari would not make a car with a folding-metal roof until the California in 2008, some 12 years later.
Based on a Mercedes Benz G320, the ‘Intruder’ was powered by the 3.2 litre six-cylinder powerplant and four-speed automatic with all-wheel drive. The car retained the differential locks from the G-Wagen donor whilst inheriting both styling cues from Mercedes of the time.
Most fascinating was the decision by Heuliez to incorporate a fully-electric folding-metal roof akin to that of the pioneering Mercedes Benz SLK, a car revealed just 4 short months before in April 1996 at the Turin Motorshow.
Although folding metal roof technology had been looked into as early as the 1920s, it would not be until 1996 and Mercedes' efforts before the technology would become more mainstream. With this, the Intruder changes from an off-roading coupe to an off-roading roadster in just 30 seconds.
Unusually for a prototype, this example was subject to a comprehensive restoration and cosmetic refinishing to the tune of €280,000. The engine received a thorough overhaul and the fully-operational electric folding-metal roof was completely overhauled. At the time of its reveal in 1996, the Intruder was amongst the very first cars to receive a folding metal roof!
The sole example built, this car has been shown in three liveries since its unveiling. First shown in Mercedes Silver, then white, red, before being returned to its original colour scheme. A few years later, five production vehicles were produced by OPAC, the 'Contender', was a coupe body style only.
As such this is a very rare opportunity to acquire one of the very first production vehicles with a fully-functioning, fully-electric folding metal roof. Presented in fantastic condition and freshly serviced with just 1,700km from new, the Intruder is a 4x4 concept from another world!