(The Peugeot 404 continued to be made in South Africa until 1978, and as a result of further development have same unique features, like a larger engine and floor-mounted shifter. Edmund Sishange from Johannesburg, South Africa sent me this article and the pictures of his fine 404. I don’t remember that color being offered either)
I’m a 30 year old male who’s been fascinated with the French classic, Peugeot 404 since I was 4 years old. I’ll be taking you through the journey of the “South African 404” during this article.
In 1973 a change happened to the 404’s original front end. Peugeot SA decided to redesign the front fenders in order to fit the smaller HELLA headlights (on right), as they were trying to save costs. It would cost them less than importing them from Europe as they always did. In order to fit the HELLA ones the front fender had to be bent slightly at the edges in order to house the smaller lights, giving the 404 a bit of different look especially when you are sitting inside the car, in the front seat, it’s not too noticeable from the outside.
In fact it took me a while to make the distinction but when you sit inside the car, you realise that the fender is not as sharp all the way through. My greatest gripe with this invention is that we can’t get the HELLA headlights that would fit our 404s anymore and guess what when we import the original headlights from Europe, they won’t fit unless you have an older 404, pre-1973
Now let’s get to the juicy part! When 1974 dawned, Peugot executives created a thing of wonder. They took the 1800cc(XM7) engine of the Peugeot 504L along with its its gearbox and its swan-neck shaped gear stick and fitted it in the 404.
This new 404 was also fitted with redesigned seats, the upholstery resembled those of the 504GL’s and it had a specially designed console to house the gear lever.
The floor was graced with a beautiful brown velvety carpet, once again the same one used on 504s.
The radiator was also larger to provide effecting cooling for this ambiguous 404 and they badged it the 404GL: 404 body styling with the heart of a 504.
This car was my dream for years and almost 5000 were produced between 1974 and 1978. The ordinary standard 1600 XC7 404s were also still in production and everything stopped in 1978, 3 years after the last ones were made in France, no wonder most of our “last year” 404s have the steering wheel of 504s, body parts were becoming scarce for the internationally discontinued 404
On a final note, I bought myself two beautiful GL’s on my 30th birthday last year, after a 4 year hunt! These are truly rare pugs with a great torque! Enjoy.