Peugeot 404 Cabriolet: Ferrari 250 Spyder in miniature

Karl-Heinz Augustin
Peugeot 404 C Super Luxe from 18,000 euros
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K he comes up like a faint quiet who have favourited narrow BF Goodrich crunch in the gravel. The typical gentle whispering of the Peugeot four-cylinder engine has trouble drowning out the eager chirping of birds, a hint of the howling of the gear wheel of the second gear mixes with the subtle acoustics. Those were the times when you could recognize the cars by the sound.

It is a sunny morning in May when the silver 404 Cabriolet comes to a stop far in front of the salmon-colored sandstone facade. The rose trellis next door blooms dark red early on. There is no question that this elegant four-seater, a Pininfarina creation like all Peugeot over the decades of this extremely happy liaison from the 403 to the 406, likes its ambience more lovely than tart. Better castle courtyard as a brick graffiti wall or even a postmodern glass palace.

The Peugeot family from Hanau

Hugo Schroth has his place in the sun behind the Bakelite steering wheel with a chrome-plated horn ring. He is more than just the owner, he lives and loves the car and the brand, has the elegant Peugeot 404 Cabriolet restored from scratch more than 15 years ago. His wife Renate and son Oliver helped him with this.

The Schroths from Hanau are a Peugeot family, just as Peugeot is still mostly a family company. You also drive a 404 Coupé and, in everyday life, a 306 Cabriolet and a 306 Break, all with the lion on the front, the heraldic animal of the Sochaux region.

Completely rusted base

The Peugeot 404 Cabriolet in elegant Gris Metallisé was completely rusted through in the area of ​​the sills and the reinforcement profiles of the underbody. It took a year and a half to get the rare car back on its wheels.

Today the hardship has long been forgotten, coupé and convertible can now bask in the glamor of international Peugeot meetings or at the annual Classic Gala posing in the Schwetzingen palace gardens. Today the Cabriolet is a photo model forthis driving report.

Relationship with Fiat 1500 Cabrio and Ferrari 250 GT

Karl-Heinz Augustin
Stern in the typical Pininfarina style, whether Rolls-Royce Corniche or Fiat 1500 convertible.

Even when the vehicle is stationary, the Peugeot 404 Cabriolet conquers the hearts of the beholder. “Length runs”, once again the old designer wisdom applies, because the Peugeot 404 Cabriolet was not cropped, as convertibles like to be. The sedan's floor pan was used in its entirety. That is why the overhangs are short and the proportions are harmonious. The Peugeot 404 Cabriolet not only looks like the Fiat 1500 Cabriolet from a distance. No wonder, it was its contemporary competitor, but a size smaller and almost 5,000 marks cheaper.

The Ferrari 250 GT also swings, in the rear section and in the sweet little hip bend, which the pagoda also stole Has. Pininfarina is known to use a successful creation, slightly modified, more often. The resemblance of the 404 sedan to an Austin Cambridge is astonishing, and much later the Peugeot 405 and Alfa Romeo 164 are almost twins.

The lion logo is different on the convertible than on the sedan

Karl-Heinz Augustin
The brilliance of the 404 convertible ends with the body. The engine and chassis are well made.

At the front, the Peugeot 404 Cabriolet is most reminiscent of the sedan, but it doesIt quickly becomes clear that every component is different. 'Not even the lion logo is identical, and of course the stainless steel bumper does without the hole for the crank,' explains Hugo Schroth. Something as rustic as this is simply not appropriate in the elite circles of automotive haute couture. The distinctive headlights in the grill, on the other hand, are a noticeable distinguishing feature. Coupé and convertible have only been wearing them since the end of 1966, and the interior of the Peugeot 404 Cabriolet is also influenced by Pininfarina. The shape of the standard synthetic leather seats is unmistakably Italian, and the shiny silver instrument panel is later adopted by the 504. You won't find any sporty elements in the Peugeot 404 Cabriolet.

The old-fashioned lever handbrake lives by the pedals, there is no rev counter. Shifting takes place at the steering wheel like in an Opel Rekord. For the last year of construction, the stick on the transmission tunnel was available for an extra charge, which was called the Nardi gearshift at Peugeot. Insiders like Hugo Schroth also rave about the 'Jaeger-Tafel', a rare item these days that offers the rev counter, which is sorely missing for optical reasons. Because you really don't need it when driving.

The four-cylinder likes it discreetly from below

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Development began about 5 years earlier, the first prototypes were tested as early as 1957.

The otherwise gentle four-cylinder in the Peugeot 404 Cabriolet announces early and loudly when the turning shop becomes too colorful for him. He soon asks for the next gear, 60 in the second is just as good as 90 in the third. The conventionally designed four-cylinder with a side camshaft is not a barrel organ, despite the cross-flow head and crankshaft with five bearings. He prefers to do it discreetly from below, because he develops a good pulling power that encourages early shifting. With the steering wheel lever, the gears can be changed surprisingly easily and precisely. Only the circuit diagram is different. Just like a three-speed gearbox with a fourth later flanged on. That means first course at the bottom left, second and third in an alley and for the fourththe right arm has to reach far to the top right. You are not fast with it, but the engine doesn’t signal a rush either.

The Peugeot 404 Cabriolet absolutely loves the calm driving style, which goes very well with its more elegant exterior. Then the four-cylinder sounds satisfied at the front, doesn't need much and doesn't have to be ashamed of its not exactly lush 68 hp. This dynamic modesty is hardly noticeable when gliding along, but it should also be 90. There was also a higher compression variant (8.3: 1) with 74 hp and the injection engine with the Kugelfischer pump, which BMW also knows in the 2000 tii, and 88 hp, everything as in the sedan. Cabrio and Coupé don't get any extra performance sausage from Peugeot or even automatically the top engine.

French stubbornness in detail

The lightness of being, which the engine and transmission live, also continues in the chassis. The passengers in the Peugeot 404 Cabriolet can enjoy old-school French comfort. Because the rear axle is rigid, but precisely guided with all sorts of thrust struts and a central thrust tube around the cardan shaft, which keeps the accurately spring-loaded axle in check. There is no relocation as with the leaf springs that are quickly overwhelmed. In this discipline, the Peugeot 404 Cabriolet is even superior to the Ferrari 250 GT.

The Peugeot would not be a real Frenchman if it did not afford a few quirks. A lever on the right of the steering column is used to blink, the steering wheel is too flat and the wheels have to be content with only three wheel nuts, the chrome wheel caps discreetly cover it. What remains of the drive in the Peugeot 404 Cabriolet is the defining impression of a beautiful car that lacks brilliance on the drive side, but which promises a pleasant life in the open air. “I would like to have him” is the best compliment I can give him in the end.

This is how much a Peugeot 404 Cabriolet costs

The market watcher Classic-Analytics noted the Peugeot 404 Cabriolet in condition 2 for 26,000 euros, in moderate condition 4 around 8,600 euros. The injection versions cost around 2,000 euros (state 2) or 700 euros more. This means that the prices of the convertible are more than three times those of the sedan. It costs around 8,700 euros in state 2 and around 1,800 euros in state 4. The price of the Peugeot 404 Coupé is in between: 17,000 euros in condition 2, around 4,400 euros in condition 4.

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