Triumphs of Design from France and Denmark
Peugeot of France
If you want a strong, reliable and unfussy racing bike, a Peugeot is a really safe bet. The company have a long history as a bicycle manufacturer (I once rode a Peugeot bicycle that dated back to 1906!) that even predates its long-established car-making division. With lugless tubing and no particular flourishes in terms of design, it might be a little too safe for some people's taste. But I've bought and sold my fair share of racing bikes and I can very confidently say that what sets the Peugeots from every other 1980s racing bike is its paint job, which is nothing short of exceptional! I don't know what the French did differently to their English counterparts, but they got it right. I bought an absolutely filthy Peugeot racing bike last year and it took me at least two hours to clean it. Like an obstinate Frenchman, the paintwork was impervious to everything that had been thrown at it - it had simply refused to let anything through. Whether it's the lacquer they used to seal the paint, I don't know. Whatever they did, it was an absolutely heroic effort from Peugeot. I love these colours on this one in particular. I see so many plain white Peugeot racing bikes that it's a breath of fresh air when I come across a colour scheme as fresh as turquoise and yellow. And it's amazing what some brightly coloured bar tape can do to a racing bike. And I'm in the process of ordering some outer brake housing of various colours to brighten it up even further.
Mobler of Denmark
Back last year I bought a wall plate by a Norwegian earthenware manufacturer called Stavangarflint. It didn't have a particularly big resale value, but it was charming, it was relatively unusual and it absolutely fascinated me. I've been on the prowl for well-designed Scandinavian items ever since. And these chairs by Mobler are exceptional. It was love at first sight. I would have happily paid £100 for them, but I didn't tell the seller this when I secured them for a mere fifth of that price. Stick back chairs are very popular in today's market and as such carry a very strong premium. It's not very unusual to see a set of Ercol stick back chairs every now and again, but it is similarly not unusual to see them priced accordingly. That's why I was so jubilent when I saw these. They made by a Danish designer called Folke Palsson and are dated 1969. While the chairs have an air of cool simplicity about them, they weren't designed with just aesthetics in mind; they are very comfortable to sit on as well. Such is the enduring appeal of this chair - named simply 'J77' - that they are still being made to this day.
Some further photos: