(first posted 7/13/2015) CC reader, neighbor, and occasional contributor Gordon Sayre sent me an email this morning with these pictures attached titled “Paul you will be excited about this car! Yes I am, as well as a bit disappointed that I missed it, parked at Home Depot. For those of you who haven’t been around very long, I am a certified Peugeotphile, and once owned a little fleet of 404 sedans, most of them saved from junkyards.
When I finally found a 404 sedan in Eugene, I spilled my love for it all over these pages. But what I had really lusted after was a Cabrio, and I once almost talked a guy out of a sunburned one he had been storing for years in a lot with dozens of sedans in Asuza, CA. Almost…so it’s (still) one of my unrequited loves.
As you can see, I wasn’t the only one who loved these cars.
Red seems to have been the color of choice for the promotional shots. The 404 Cabrio (and coupe) were neither just open or coupe versions of the 404 sedan, nor genuine sports cars either. They were sports tourers, with the kind of legendary ride most sports cars could only dream about. These were for owners who were not trying to impress anyone with extraordinary performance, although the fuel injected version of the 1600 cc hemi-head four was quite brisk for its time.
They were a French alternative to something between a Mercedes W111 four-passenger cabriolet and the Pagoda SL, and much more affordable than either of them. Several times more affordable, actually, a ’66 MB 250 SE Cabrio listed for a whopping $9748; the 230 SL for $6185. The 404 Cabrio was a mere $3899.
Needless to say, the 404 Cabrio, like all Peugeots for decades, was designed by Pininfarina. In typical Farina fashion, many of the same design elements show up in other cars, like the Fiat 1500 Cabrio, and were first tried out on various Ferraris.
The 404 Cabrio was sold in the US for some years, roughly 1965-1969, but not the fixed head coupe. And its successor, the exceptionally beautiful 504 Cabrio/Coupe, sadly were never sold in the US.
Gordon didn’t take any shots of the interior, but here’s one from the web. The somewhat unusually flat angle of the steering wheel is obvious, as well as the column-mounted shifter for the four speed transmission. These shifters were much lighter and more precise than the typical American three-on-the-tree, and were a pleasure to use. After a brief acclimatization, I never really wanted for a floor shift.
This color combination is very tasty.
The featured car is wearing a removable hardtop. Needless to say, these are rarities in the US. I can’t say for certain, but I’m guessing it’s an original US import, which would make it a 1967 or earlier, as it doesn’t have the federally-mandated side marker lights from 1968 on.
I’m sorry to have missed it, more ways than one, but I’m happy to know there’s one about in Oregon. If it’s a local car, I’m hoping to run into it again. And if I do, I will also be highly obnoxious and try to buy it from the owner.