Tomorrow is the start of the Tour de France – the greatest cycle race in the world. Usually, there are some stages held outside the borders of France, and this year the first three stages are in the UK, starting in Leeds, in Yorkshire, visiting the historic city of York and the industrial city of Sheffield, as well as the spectacular moorland of Yorkshire and some of the area’s others sights, before travelling from Cambridge to Buckingham Palace on Monday 7 July. As one wag said, the Tour de Yorkshire is finishing in Paris this year.
The cycle race itself is preceded by a promotional procession, known as the caravanne, in which vehicles of all types to promote the tour’s various sponsors, in what is sometimes a gaudy and even tacky manner, but as it is ahead of the race itself gathers a lot of attention. Think giant town carnival parade, with a huge twist of French-ness.
In 2009, Vittel mineral water used this Peugeot 404 Cabriolet.
The 404 saloon and station wagon have been covered well on CC before, but the Cabriolet has not been seen as frequently. My personal view is that it is one of Pininfarina’s best ever cars, and should have a higher profile.
However, as Paul Niedermayer noted in his review, the looks of the Coupe on which the Cabriolet is based are not that great from certain angles, and although less formal than the saloon are certainly not as well balanced. The rear side window shape with the kick up in the window line do not ease the flow from front to rear, and if you were unkind you might describe it as the front of an Austin Cambridge merged with a Lancia. The Cabriolet carries this off a lot more successfully – may be Pininfarina actually based the Coupe on the Cabriolet?
The Cabriolet was produced from 1961; thouogh I am not clear on the age of this example, but from the larger front indicator and side light combination and the foglights in the grille, I suspect it is a post 1966 car, with Kugelfischer fuel injection. The combination of low volumes, the complex fuel injection and the durable quality of the engineering in the car kept the price high, around Jaguar E Type levels in the US and UK.
The car had a 96bhp 4 cylinder engine, with a four speed gearbox with a column shift driving the rear wheels. Performance was good for its day, reaching over 100mph and a 0-60 of around 12 secs. So, this was no slouch and had the performance to match the visual appeal.
If this year’s caravanne is as a good, we’re in for a great three days. I’ll let you know – I’ve been chosen as one of the volunteer Tourmakers to help the race organisation work with the public and to manage some of the race route marshalling.
Should be a good few days!