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Peugeot 404 Diesel Record: Sochaux must go on - with a record diesel

Beate Jeske
Peugeot 404 Diesel Record
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When it comes to sporting laurels, beauty sometimes has to suffer. Even if it is about the elegant forms of a P eugeot 404 convertible. The open two-seater Peugeot 404 was shaped by the Italian master tailor Pininfarina in 1962. With its beguiling swing of the hips, the pretty sister model of the tail fin sedan delighted fans of stylish car driving not only in France.

Cheese bell for the driver of the Peugeot 404 Diesel Record

The typical swing of the hips is the blue vehicle, that rolls out of the workshop of the Peugeot Museum in Sochaux has remained - but this Peugeot seems to be an elegant show run 404 Diesel Record not necessarily suitable. Bumpers and any chrome trim have been dismantled, and a narrow cockpit with an extremely curved windshield rises above the driver's seat, not unlike a cheese dome. A smooth surface extends where the passenger usually sits, making the Peugeot 404 Diesel Record appear even more stretched. And not necessarily nicer.

But the blue Peugeot 404 Diesel Record with the strange structure did not enter 40 years ago to win beauty pageants. World records were written in the specifications for the single-seat prototype. With the 404 Diesel Record, Peugeot wanted to demonstrate that a diesel can not only be durable and economical, but also fast.

The development department of the lion brand, located in the Paris suburb of La Garenne, quickly implanted a 2.2 liter large vehicle Diesel engine in the convertible converted into a single-seat coupe. Sporty cars with diesel engines were an almost unimaginable combination at the time, and the 2.0-liter diesel with initially 50, later 64 hp, which was available in the 404 sedan, also had a wallflower existence in the model range. But in the Peugeot 404 Diesel Record, the diesel engine puts on its blue tracksuit.

Bad manners: The diesel wakes up with a tremor

When warming up, the diesel engine in the Peugeot 404 Diesel Record can find its constructive origindon't even begin to hide - on the contrary. After the preheating, the starter button is pulled all the way, whereupon a real earthquake rolls through the body. The engine shakes, and with it the whole Peugeot 404 Diesel Record. The single-seater is a perfect sound box: There is no insulation or cladding material in the interior, and the sound waves of the diesel can spread happily under the cover of the passenger seat and the narrow cockpit.

After a few minutes, the roar becomes more bearable, but the combustion principle is constantly made clear to the pilot with every compression ignition. In contrast to the audience. Once at operating temperature, the Peugeot 404 Diesel Record amazes its surroundings with a pithy, downright aggressive exhaust sound, which is crowned by a hoarse rattle when the accelerator is released.

At the wheel of the Peugeot 404 Diesel Record, the driver has to be with him arrange an unusual sitting position. The small bucket seat is positioned very low, the steering wheel, on the other hand - just like the series convertible - was mounted quite high and also a little crooked because of the sloping steering column. After all, a chic wooden steering wheel is used, and the large Jaeger round instruments do not correspond to the series.

The Peugeot diesel is amazingly easy to turn

That the Peugeot 404 Diesel Record likes to be in the The speedometer proves that it is in the upper speed range. It is attached so that the 200 mark is exactly vertical. The gearshift is more for sporty use, because instead of the lever on the steering column typical of the Peugeot 404, the record car has a conventional stick gearshift that needs to be moved over long distances when changing gears. This has to be done quickly, because the engine of the Peugeot 404 Diesel Record proves to be surprisingly easy to turn. Beyond 3,000 rpm, it again increases vigorously and provides a respectable acceleration experience - after all, 40 years ago the compression-ignition engines were still miles away from the performance of current diesel engines.

Because of the very low seating position, the driver has to stay in the Peugeot 404 Diesel Record to get used to unfamiliar perspectives that are anything but clear. After all, the extremely wide curved windshield opens up good prospects for the future, it only restricts the space when getting in and out.

Mission successful : 40 world records, 22 individual records

A look into the interior of the Peugeot 404 Diesel Record brings the sober dreariness of bare metal. On the right side of the vehicle, the passenger door can still be seen from the inside, which is welded shut in several places. In front of it, reinforcements for the flat cover of the passenger seat protrude from the ground.

Overall, the Peugeot 404 Diesel Recordin June 1965 set exactly 40 world records. With the 2.2-liter engine, he initially reeled 5,000 kilometers on the Montlhéry race track in 31 hours of continuous use and thus achieved an average speed of 160 km /h - with 22 individual records.

Almost two weeks later the record team returned to Montlhéry with a 2.0-liter engine, which drove the blue Peugeot 404 Diesel Record non-stop around the circuit for 72 hours, unwinding 11,627 kilometers - which results in an hourly average of over 161 km /h. The Peugeot 404 Diesel Record only made a short stop at the pits on the traditional racetrack to refuel and change drivers. Five men took turns in the marathon: In addition to three test drivers from Peugeot, the two French racing drivers Carl du Genestoux and Roger de Lageneste grabbed the filigree Nardi steering wheel.

Economical: Only twelve liters of diesel per 100 kilometers of racing

During the day, the Peugeot 404 Diesel Record drivers changed every three hours, at night another one got in after just two hours and 15 minutes the tight bucket seat. The stopovers were always extremely quick. The 27 pit stops of the second record run lasted an average of only 53 seconds.

So that no time was wasted when refueling, the Peugeot 404 Diesel Record has a large filler neck in the trunk lid with a diameter of twelve centimeters. In less than 30 seconds, 60 liters of diesel were refilled - with a volume of 95 liters, however, the tank offered plenty of reserves. When driving at full throttle, 19 liters of fuel flowed through the injection nozzles per hour, which corresponds to a consumption of around twelve liters per 100 kilometers.

The record drive for the drivers of the Peugeot 404 Diesel Record couldn't have been too stressful. As a change from the monotonous turning around, Carl du Genestoux chatted over and over again with his wife, who was waiting in the boxes. Or he passed the time with a song on his lips, perhaps also to drown out the diesel. He would have liked to light a cigarette every now and then, he later admitted. But the undulating road surface of the Montlhéry racetrack simply didn't allow you to bring a lighter to the Gauloises with a steady hand.


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