Quonset Find: 1969 Peugeot 404

One more thing: Columbo didn’t drive a Peugeot 404, his famous convertible was a Peugeot 403. It was close, but no cigar. (See, he always had a cigar in his hand) (tough crowd)… I think this car, a 1969 Peugeot 404 Berline, is one elegant car with beautiful proportions and details and those tailfins are great. This one is listed here on eBay in Colorado Springs, Colorado and there is an unmet opening bid price of $800 and no reserve after that.

Pininfarina sure had an elegant touch. The Peugeot 404 was made from 1960 to 1975 in France but production continued on elsewhere until 1991. They were rock solid and even some German folks referred to the 404 as Der Französische Mercedes: The French Mercedes. You can see the resemblance.

Lieutenant Columbo, Peter Falk’s unforgettable character, drove a Peugeot 403 convertible and it’s certainly one of the most famous tv cars of all time, at least for vintage tv shows. I think that the Peugeot 404 is a more elegant, stylish car but that’s just a personal preference. Production of the 403 elapsed the 404 until 1966 and after the 404 came the 504 and then in 1980 came the 505, probably the model that most of us in the US and Canada remember if we were around in the 1980s.

There are only five photos and the ad is a little different. The first line is “1969 Peugeot 404 Berline – Vintage Photography. Shipped with USPS Priority Mail.” I’m not quite sure what that means? The seller has zero feedback but it could just be the very first thing they have ever sold on eBay, I guess. There isn’t much to see in the interior photo above other than a steering wheel, some gauges, and a pile of parts stacked up inside. Here’s a YouTube video of the introduction of the 404 from 1960.

The engine should be Peugeot’s 1.6L inline or slant-four. It appears to have had a carb and/or air cleaner replacement at some point, that air cleaner element doesn’t look a French factory piece to me. The seller says that it turns by hand but doesn’t run at the moment. The whole car could use a restoration but it looks like a solid car to start with. Have any of you owned a Peugeot?

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    I can always tell a “Scotty G” writeup. Unusual car, and a great opening line. It’s a local car, and no, don’t ask me to look at it. I don’t mean to be rude, but I did a trip in the ol’ square body Jimmy( no a/c) to COS ( in the blazing heat), I swear I’ll never do THAT again. The mountains, it ain’t.
    Anyway, the “POO-Joe”, like my old man called them, were outstanding cars. The old man got a 403 once when I was a kid. It was the 1st car I saw’r with a sunroof.( GET YOUR HEAD BACK IN THE CAR, the old man yelled) Never saw any other Peugeot’s. There was just no dealer network in Midwest. I fear, the same may hold true today,,”Hello Autoplace”, “um, hi, I need a cap, rotor and points for a 1969 Peugeot 404″,,( dial tone),,”Hello”? I suppose the innernet is your only hope there. Cool find.

    3
    • Scotty Gilbertson Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Ha, thanks, Howard! I was going to ask you to run over there and look at it…(kidding)

      3
      • Howard A Member

        For you, I would throw caution to the wind, and do it, heck, I’d even deliver it!

        2
  2. ken tilly UK

    “In 1963 the Peugeot 404 broke Mercedes’ and Volkswagen’s hold on the five thousand kilometre East African Safari, winning outright for the first time just as the event was picking up steam in the eyes of the world. And they only got better, picking up a hat trick from 1966”. (Info ex Wikipedia). One VERY tough car and one VERY tough rally, which has never been won by an American car. Since 1953 until 2019 Mitsubishi have won it 17 times. British Fords 8 times, Toyota Celica 8 times.

    3
  3. Chas H

    My first car was a 403 Peugeot sedan. Pop was impressed enough to buy a 403 station wagon, then a 404 wagon after that. I really liked Peugeots back then but as teenager needed something with power., so I sold the 403 to a hitchhiker I picked up and bought a 120 Jaguar.

    4
  4. Rex Kahrs Member

    Sunroof?

    1
  5. Francisco

    I drove one of during college in the ’80’s. You should be easily able to turn this engine by hand since they had a removable crank.

    1
    • ken tilly UK

      There is no way that you are going to be able to turn a locked engine with that crank handle as you won’t get enough leverage. The best way would be to put it in second or third gear and rock the car back and forth. That might do it.

      1
  6. Car39

    My family were Peugeot dealers in the 60’s and 70’s. 404 exhaust and charging systems were a mish mash of various parts. S.E.V. Alternator? LeRhone regulator? Which one of 4 possible rear mufflers do you have? They rode spectacularly. The frame supports rotted away in less that 6 years. As a teen, my job was to drive the trade ins 30 miles to the frame shop to be welded. Handled very weird with the missing frame.

    2
  7. Mark_Mitchell Member

    Back when I was 21, I treated myself to a solo summer trip in Europe. I had originally planned on taking the train/backpack everywhere, but on my first day in Amsterdam, I met an American couple selling their RHD Peugeot 404 wagon cheap, as they were returning to the US the next day. I got it for $300, and wasn’t concerned with registration, insurance, etc (this was back in the early ’80’s). It was ingeniously set up for camping with a bed in the back, folding table and chairs, cookstove, storage, velcro curtains to cover all the windows, etc. Really a nice setup for sleeping in the country or city as it was pretty incognito. I immediately hit the road and was soon driving through Germany, Denmark, & Sweden, then dropping down to Austria and all through Italy. I took my time along the Riviera, enjoying the beaches and clubs. I eventually toured France and Spain, before taking the ferry to the UK. I kept thinking that if the car broke down, I would abandon it by the side of the road and grab a train, but it just kept going and going. Never missed a beat after MANY klms of driving over the summer months. I was beginning to get very attached to this car, but had my return ticket, and sold it when I reached the UK (where the RHD fit in better). It sold in a day to someone else wanting to do a similar road trip. I actually made a profit when the car sold, so my Euro trip cost almost nothing. I still look back on this trip as my best ever! Good times…

    15
    • Stevieg Member

      Wow Mark! That sounds like a spectacular once in a lifetime trip! I am happy for you, but also a little jealous lol.

      1
  8. Brock

    Copy of the Austin Cambridge/ Morris Oxford etc that came out first.

    • ken tilly UK

      Similar design but a far better car.

      5
  9. Edward Stull

    I was under the impression Columbo drove a Hillman? My GF had one at the time, was constantly stopped by admirers, and it sure was similar…. but perhaps I’m mistaken….

  10. MikeH

    It looks as if that’s a Texas plate, so the car might be rust free. The air cleaner is from a Peugeot 203. Don’t know if it’s used on the 404 as well.

    1
  11. Brakeservo

    I’ve owned a number of French cars. They have their own way of doing things. Typically radiator hoses with different diamaters on either end. Obscure fittings. Just being obstinate or seeking revenge on the rest of the world??

    3
  12. Steven M Dempsey

    I had a 504 and enjoyed it. The tin worm got the better of it.

    1
  13. Louis Chen

    Too bad these French cars-Peugeots were very smooth riding cars. My family had the later model 504 which was also good. They were smooth riding and reliable cars and cheap to own. I had a chance to ride in one of the 403 while visiting in Vietnam. it was a taxi and I was surprise to see that this car still running and ride smoothly. As “wiseguy” i asked the drive if I could adjust the idle on his car and was willing to let me do it and he also told me that no one seemed to be able to do it! I adjusted it and the owner thanked for the roadside service and refuse the cab fare frrom the airport to my hotel! The best part was that I spoke Vietnamese as well. Which reminded me: you get better service/treatment when you can speak the country’s language. I was lucky enough to be able to speak 7 languages fluently.

    2
  14. PeterfromOz

    The air cleaner is an aftermarket item. The 404 had a large oil bath cleaner held on by three rubber mounts. If you look at the valve cover there is a flat steel panel on the top. At the front of the panel you can see one of the rubber mounts.

    The car is either late 68 or 69 as the dash gauges are round. 68 or 69 is when the gauges went from long strip to round. Apart from the round dials the other giveaway is they were then fitted with 12 & 3/4″ diameter front disc brakes with twin piston calipers.

    Spare parts should be no problem as plenty were made and there are similarities with other models.

    Engine uses wet cylinder liners. You can change these with the block still in the car. Engine capacity is 1618cc. If you fit the longer stroke crank from the 504 it goes to 1800cc. If you then fit the larger pistons and liners from the 504 you jump to 2000cc. The blocks are essentially the same so you can bolt them in. All use the same clutch.

    A flat top utility (pick up) was also available and some of these has the 1800cc engines. These also had a full chassis with leaf springs on the rear whereas the sedan uses a single coil and station wagon two coils (the second coil picks when loaded.

    The intake manifold is in the head and the single barrel carb bolts on. The head has a number of welch plugs in it and later double barrel and a single + double barrel version enter through the welch plugs. If you want to go all out the was a Kulglefisher fuel injection version as well.

    The sedan rear end uses a brass worm drive differential. Don’t fill with normal EP sulpherised oil as the oil dissolves the brass. pick up & station wagons use a conventional hypoid diff.

    You can change the headlight bulbs without tools. The headlight rim has two holes underneath to fit your fingers into to pull off the rim. The light is held in place with a spring clip which again you move with your fingers.

    We had one in the family for 27 years until our daughters didn’t want t be seen in an old car.

    2
    • ken tilly UK

      My mechanic serviced a 404 with Hypoid oil back in the day, and the differential didn’t last one hour!!

  15. Ward William

    My grandad was a Peugeot mechanic and had everything from 203s to 504s and everything in between. I spent a lot of time in 404s as a kid and loved them. My favorite was the 504 though. A diesel 504 will last as long as a diesel merc of the same era.

  16. Dlegeai

    Parts car, period!! yes indeed these were great cars, reliable, comfortable, thrifty on gas etc…..but they have almost zero collectible value, who would spend thousands to restore it? nuts!

  17. Steve Bush Member

    Don’t remember seeing many of these back in the day although I do remember the later 504 and 505s. A bit amusing that the 404’s expansive wiki page, describes the AMC Hornet sized car, as a “large family car.”

    • ken tilly UK

      In actual fact Steve. I owned a 404 at the same time as my friend owned a Hornet Sport about and let me tell you, the 404 was still a lot smaller than the Hornet. A little while later he emigrated to the USA and bought an ’81 Cadillac with the bustle back, and when I went to visit him I found it to be quite a bit bigger than the Hornet.

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