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Peugeot 404

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The Peugeot 404 is a large family car produced by French automobile manufacturer Peugeot from 1960 to 1975, with the exception of the truck which was sold until 1988. It was also made under licence in various African countries until 1991 (in Kenya). It was also built in Argentina by Sevel.

Designed by Pininfarina, the 404 was offered initially as a saloon, estate, and pickup. A convertible was added in 1962, and a coupé in 1963. The 404 was fitted with a 1.6 L petrol engine, with either a Solex carburetor or Kugelfischer mechanical fuel injection or a 1.9 L diesel engine available as options. Introduced at the Paris Motor Show as an option was the inclusion of a 3-speed ZF automatic transmission, similar to the unit already offered on certain BMW models, as an alternative to the standard column-mounted manual unit.

Popular as a taxicab, the 404 enjoyed a reputation for durability and value. Peugeot's French production run of 1,847,568 404s ended in 1975. Still relatively common in developing nations (especially in pickup form), an additional 2,885,374 units were produced under license until 1988.

Production history

Year 1960

Sedan introduced with 72 hp petrol engine and column-shift 4 speed gearbox with gate "reversed" (1st down, up for 2nd and towards the wheel for 3rd down and 4th up) – identical to the 203 and 403 (except that 4th gear is direct drive). Grand Touring model has square air vents on the dashboard and body-coloured wheels.

Year 1961

Introduction of Super Luxe model: Superstructure painted silver, chrome headlight rims, large diameter hubcaps, tan leather interior trim, front armrest. Grand Touring model has body colour wheels replaced with metallic silver ones.

Year 1962

New suspension with increased travel and flexibility. Dashboard is modified and square air vents are replaced by circular directional vents. New reinforced drum brake linings. Anti-reflective paint used for the dashboard.

Introduction of Commercial, Break and seven-seat Family estate versions, with tandem coil spring rear suspension in the place of the sedan's single spring arrangement. These versions have a balanced spring system to assist in opening the tailgate, different rear light clusters, rear bumper arrangement and the fuel filler cap is no longer hidden behind the rear number plate, but behind a flap in the rear wing. These variants are also longer (4,590 mm (181 in) vs 4,445 mm (175 in)) and heavier (1,190 kg (2,624 lb) vs 1,100 kg (2,425 lb)) than their saloon equivalents.

Convertible launch

The Peugeot 404 cabriolet/convertible made its first appearance at the Paris Motor Show in October 1961 and the accompanying coupé version was launched six months later. The convertible and coupé bodyshells were made by the Pinin Farina workshops in Turin and only the floorpan and mechanical elements were shared with the saloon. These models were initially powered by the same single carburetter engine as the saloon and the option of a fuel injection engine (XCKF1) with a Kugelfischer injection system was added to the range at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1962. The US$3,899 price in 1965 put the convertible in the same price bracket as the Jaguar E-Type in the American market.

Year 1963

The 404 Super Luxe sedan is available with the 85 hp fuel injection engine and has door cappings trimmed with leather. The 404 Grand Touring sedan adopts painted side window trims instead of chrome. The steering wheel and horn ring change. The Family estate gains a split middle row of seats to improve access to the rear row.

Year 1964

The sedan carburetor engine adopts 5 bearings (XC5), as does the injection (XCKF2). Launch of the 404 diesel with Indenor engine (XD85), which is quickly replaced by the engine XD88, having a more powerful and reliable Bosch pump. Rubber over-riders fitted on the bumper. Bi-colour oval front indicator clusters fitted on coupés and convertibles (a similar design will be used later on sedans and derivatives).

Year 1965

XCKF2 injection engine power increased to 96 hp. XC5 carburettor engine power increased to 76 hp. Thermostable Hydrovac brakes servo-assisted by a mechanical vacuum manufactured by Bendix. The Super Luxe, coupé and convertible get eight-hole wheel covers cells instead of six-hole ones. New seat pads for Grand Touring, with cloth quilted to form longitudinal ridges similar to the 404 Super Luxe. All models are given reclining front seats.

Year 1966

The Grand Touring sedan is available with the XCKF2 injection engine. It was also available with a ZF automatic gearbox. The front indicator light clusters are now orange / white on all models. Two tone door linings (black top and bottom) on all models. Cigarette lighter fitted on Super Luxe only. Brake compensator fitted on petrol models.

Year 1967

XC6 carburetor engine fitted with increased power of 80 hp. Rear anti roll bar fitted. New dashboard with 3 round dials, steering wheel is no longer adjustable. The spare wheel is relocated from inside the boot to under rear of the car. The rear valance is amended (Sedan only) and the capacity of the petrol tank is increased from 50 to 55 liters (sedan). Cigarette lighter fitted on all models, Super Luxe has automatic light on lockable glovebox. The front of coupés and convertibles is redesigned, incorporating a new grille with integral driving lamps and rectangular indicator clusters. The convertible hood now has a "Panoramic" rear window and the seat mechanism is improved for better accessibility.

Year 1968

A 404 (8hp) Comfort model is added to the range, having an identical 1468cc engine displacement to the old 403 (although the engine is not from the 403, but derived from the larger XC6 unit). It is an economy model, fitting into a lower French puissance fiscale (road tax) class than the 9 hp version. It has the former dashboard and bumpers without over riders. This is also the first model to benefit from front disc brakes. 8 hp cars are not imported into the UK, but some RHD models are produced for other markets.

Reversing lamps are fitted to Super Luxe. New gearbox with European grid (BA7) fitted on all models in place of "C3" box. New steering wheel, dashboard modified.

Year 1969

Peugeot launches the 504. 404 injection no longer offered, new door interior panels introduced. Disc brakes fitted on all petrol models.

Year 1970–1972

In 1970, the 404 Super Luxe and 404 (8 hp) Comfort are discontinued, leaving the Grand Touring, Break and Family models to continue in petrol and diesel forms. The Grand Touring receives chrome headlight rims and reversing lights as standard. Wing-mounted indicator repeaters are no longer fitted. New XC7 engine fitted (de-tuned to 73 hp), but with torque equivalent to XC6.

New front indicator clusters from 1971. 2-speed windscreen wipers introduced on the sedan 1972, with optional rear screen demister.

Year 1973–1975

Water temperature gauge is replaced by warning lamp on dashboard, grille shield is replaced by lion. The optional automatic transmission (which is now 6 positions: PRN 3 2 1) is available until the end of 1974. In 1975, production of European passenger models ceased.

Technical specifications

  • 8 tps petrol: 1 468 cc 1 468 cc (60 PS (44 kW; 59 bhp)) (discontinued 1969/70)
  • 9 tps petrol: 1 618 cc for carbureted models (72 PS (53 kW; 71 bhp)) or injection (85 PS (63 kW; 84 bhp) at 5 500 r / min), economy: 10.8 litres/100 km (26 mpg)
  • 8 tps Diesel: 1 948 cc (64 PS (47 kW; 63 bhp)).
  • Transmission: clutch disc or semi-automatic (Jaeger electromagnetic coupler) or automatic (ZF).
  • Suspension: Coil springs with hydraulic shock absorbers front and solid axle with Panhard rod at rear.
  • Maximum speed: 167 km/h (104 mph) (fuel injection)

Surviving Coupés and Cabriolets

Le Club 404 (France) is conducting a worldwide inventory of remaining 404 Coupé and Cabriolet cars. 17,223 were built between the two variants, and as of July 2011, 1516 of these have been identified.

Road tests and press reviews

404 coupé injection

The 404 coupé with the desirable "KF2" fuel injected engine was tested by Motor magazine on December 4, 1965. The title of the article is "A First Class Job" and the rest of the article follows suit, mostly with praise for the car's remarkable performance and beauty. Even with 415 lb (188 kg) of driver and test equipment on board, the car posted a 0-60 mph (97 km/h) acceleration time of 12.2 seconds, 18.8 seconds in the standing start 1/4 mile and a top speed of 105.2 mph (169.3 km/h). Fuel economy (over a shorter test distance than usual) was 23.8 miles per imperial gallon (11.9 L/100 km; 19.8 mpg-US), which the author suggests would have improved had the usual test distance been completed. The punitive British taxes of the 1960s made this a very expensive car indeed, equivalent in cost to a Jaguar Mark X. Overall the conclusions of the review were excellent.

404 saloon

The 404 saloon was tested by Motor magazine in 1968. The styling was criticised as square cut, perpendicular and appearing rather dated, while the interior was considered "austere" compared to British cars of the time (the article includes a performance comparison with the Triumph 2000, Ford Corsair 2000E and Humber Sceptre). However, great praise is given for build quality, with the article stating that the car is suitable for African safaris and Arctic gales alike.

404 Familiale

The 404 was tested (in Family estate form) by Motor magazine in 1965. The car's quirks (the unusual original column-shift gearbox gate and awkward body roll at low speed) are listed. Build quality was praised and the interior described as "quietly tasteful", although the authors felt that the appeal of the car was limited.

The car was tested again by Motor magazine five years later. The article is critical of the car's styling, calling it "square cut" and "hardly avant garde", but then relents and opts for "mature rather than dated" as its final comment. The ride is reported to improve as loading and speed increase. Of some concern to the testers was the driver's difficulty in reaching the handbrake when wearing a fixed seat-belt – inertia reel type belts would not have this problem. Alternative cars were listed as the Citroën Safari and Volvo 145. The car is described as having been used by one reader to transport the driver and 12 children.

An article in The Times newspaper on French-made cars includes a comparison of the outgoing 404 with the 504. The performance of both cars (given their engine size) is praised.

404 Diesel

During the 1960s Peugeot, along with Mercedes-Benz, were pioneering large scale production of diesel engined passenger cars. The British "Autocar" magazine tested a Peugeot 404 Diesel in November 1965. The car had a top speed of 81 mph (130 km/h) and accelerated from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 25.5 seconds. An "overall" fuel consumption of 32.2 miles per imperial gallon (8.77 L/100 km; 26.8 mpg-US) was recorded. This compared with a top speed of 88 mph (142 km/h), a 0-60 mph (97 km/h) time of 20 seconds and an overall fuel consumption of 32.2 miles per imperial gallon (8.77 L/100 km; 26.8 mpg-US) for the petrol version of the car which had recently been tested by the same journal and which (albeit without the diesel car's a rev limiter) had exactly the same gear ratios. In terms of performance the Peugeot comfortably outperformed the diesel Austin Cambridge and the Mercedes Benz 190D also included in the comparison. The slower Austin nonetheless won on fuel economy. In terms of price, the 404 diesel was offered in the UK at £1,396 as against £1,093 for its petrol fuelled sibling. The manufacturer's recommended price for the Austin was just £875. The slower heavier Mercedes was not really pitched at the same market segment, being priced in the UK at £2,050. The testers described the Peugeot 404 Diesel as 'the fastest diesel yet'. They reported the characteristic diesel rattle when idling and the 'roar at high revs', but found the performance 'very reasonable'. They commended the sure-footed road holding, good steering, powerful fade-free brakes, the comfortable seats, the very good fuel economy and the prospect for a 'long attention-free life'.

The 404 Diesel was tested again (in Family estate form) by Autocar magazine six years later. Top speed was improved on the previous test, 82 mph (132 km/h), but acceleration to 60 mph was poorer at 26.8 seconds. Notable features in the report were that the test car had broken two speedometer cables during testing. They mention its size twice: "wonderfully roomy" and "a big car for big men". The cars "oddities" are listed as the reverse-acting gearbox gate, window-sill door locks and windscreen wiper controls.

Racing

Peugeot 404s won the Safari Rally in 1963, 1966, 1967 and 1968, the latter three in Kugelfischer fuel-injected variants.

Gallery

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