Cars of Tintin Series – Peugeot 404

Peugeot 404 1960_cAfter Bianca Castafiore came to stay at Marlinspike Hall, there are a number of rumours of love blooming between the celebrity singer and Captain Haddock. In fact to the Captain’s consternation and thanks to our hearing challenged Professor Calculus’ interview to some reporters, “The Paris Flash” magazine came up with a cover story about the impending wedding between Bianca Castafiore and “retired Admiral Hammock”. The next afternoon a TV interview was scheduled at the Marlinspike Hall. The scene depicting the TV crew unloading their gear has a red coloured car in the foreground. This car is a Peugoet 404.

Peugeot 404 1960_5The 404 was a large family car designed by Pininfarina and manufactured by Peugeot between 1960 and 1975 in Europe. It was manufactured in Kenya till 1991 and in Argentina between 1962 and 1980. It was manufactured at a number of locations like France, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Ireland, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Portugal, Peru, Rhodesia, South Africa and Uruguay. It was offered to the public in a number of body styles that included: –

  • 4-door saloon
  • 5-door estate
  • 2-door coupe
  • 2-door convertible
  • 2-door pickup

Peugeot 404 1960_2The 404 was extremely popular as a taxi because of its sturdiness and its reliability. A total of 2.89 million of these cars were produced worldwide before production finally ceased. This car was offered with anti-glare dashboard. The steering wheel was placed in such a manner that it did not interfere with the view in front of the driver. The gear lever as well as indicator stalks were mounted on the steering column. Driver and passenger were offered independent seats which could be moved front and back. The back rests could be inclined to various angles including flat if one so desired. As the car catered to the upper crest  of the clientele, leather seats were offered. It could seat six passengers in comfort, three in front and three at the rear. Air conditioning with heater as well as windscreen demister was also offered in certain markets.

Peugeot 404 1960_3Depending on the model purchased, the cars varied from 4,442 mm (174.9″) to 4,580 mm (180.3″) in length, 1,612 mm (63.5″) to 1,680 mm (66.1″) in width and 1,300 mm (51.2″) to 1,490 mm (58.7″) in height. The weight also varied from 1,060 kg (2,337 lbs) to 1,250 Kg (2,756 lbs). Peugeot 404 front suspension comprised two helical springs with telescopic shock absorbers and and lower wishbones. The rear suspension comprised two helical springs with telescopic shock absorbers, stabiliser bars and radius arms.

Peugeot 404 1960_4Peugeot offered the 404 with a number of engine options which included a 1,618 cc (98.736 Cu-inch) inline four cylinder naturally aspirated petrol engine that produced 62 BHP at 5,600 rpm while breathing through two Over Head Valves per cylinder. Later the engines were upgraded with fuel injection to produce 72, 85 and finally 96 BHP of power. The front mounted engines transmitted the power to the rear wheels through either a four speed manual gearbox or a three speed automatic. Another engine in offer was 1,948 cc (118.5 Cu-inch) inline four cylinder naturally aspirated indirect injection diesel engine. This engine also breather through two valves per cylinder and produced 50 BHP at 4,500 rpm. Stopping power was provided by 255 mm (10″) drums on all four wheels. In the later models disc brakes were provided on the front wheels.

Peugeot 404 1960_6This car was used in motorsports extensively and it won the Safari Rally in 1963, 1966, 1967 and 1968. A 1963 404 was entered in the Le Mans race at Thunderhill Raceway Park in 2014. It completed the 2-day event while winning the “Index of Effluence” Award. In 1965, to prove that diesel engines could be successful in passenger cars as well as used in motor sports; Peugeot prepared a single-seater “monoposto” diesel record car. This car was powered by a 2,163 cc (132 cu-inch) diesel engine. It covered 5,000 km (3,106 miles) at an average speed of 158.4 km/h (99 mph). They again went for the record after a month with a 1,948 cc (119 cu-inch) engine and covered 11,000 km (6,835 miles).




Cars of Tintin Series – Opel Rekord P2

Opel Rekord Olympia 1961_cIn my last post I had talked about the Citroen Ami which was driven by Captain Haddock’s doctor. The poor Captain had broken his leg after slipping off a broken step and was bound to the wheel chair when disaster struck in the form of Bianca Castafiore arriving to stay at the Marlinspike. Many a gypsies had encroached upon the Marlinspike estate and the matter was resolved by Tintin. When he returned after settling the gypsies, he saw the doctor leaving in his Citroen Ami while another car was parked. Yes, it was our boisterous friend, always ready to cheer up the Captain…Mr Joylon Wagg. The car Mr Wagg was driving was an Opel Rekord P2.

Opel Rekord Olympia 1961_1The Opel Rekord was a pretty popular car in Europe and has been depicted frequently in Tintin. Both, Opel Olympia Rekord and Opel Rekord P1 were shown in “The Calculus Affair” and “The Red Sea Sharks” respectively. The Opel Rekord P2 was nothing but the replacement for the P1 and was sold between 1960 and 63. It was an executive sedan manufactured at Russelsheim in Germany and was the second most popular car in Germany after the Volkswagen Beetle. It was offered in a number of body styles like:-

  • 4-door saloon
  • 2-door saloon
  • 3-door station wagon
  • 3-door van
  • 2-door coupe

Opel Rekord Olympia 1961_2The P2 had the same wheelbase as the P1 but was slightly longer and wider than the P1. Though the panoramic windscreen; which gave the P in the name; was not offered in the P2, the panoramic view was maintained by providing a very thin A-pillar. To make the car less American looking, the detailed chrome embellishments and the rear fins were removed. The 2-door coupe was offered as a factory built offering making it much cheaper than the coach built P1 coupe offered earlier. The car was aimed at customers who valued comfort and sportiness in the mid- sized segment. Customers could order the car in two-tone schemes both for the exterior as well as the interior.

Opel Rekord Olympia 1961_4At Opel the design approach had been to improve interior and luggage space for the same wheel base. As a result, the interiors of the car were designed before the exteriors thus achieving better passenger and luggage space than its predecessor without changing the dimensions. Engineers had also worked on improving the passive safety by providing a lower hub for the steering wheel and a padded dashboard. A number of luxuries were offered on the 2-door coupe like the fresh air and heating system, individual seats, velour carpet, headlight flasher, a reversing light and two-tone horn. The top of the line car was the Rekord “L” which was introduced in 1962. It was a sedan offered with the same engine as in the coupe, a four speed gear box, heating, individual seats, decorative wheel trim, chrome exhaust etc. The cost was an additional 135 DM over the standard Rekord sedan.

Opel Rekord Olympia 1961_6The Rekord was offered with two engines in three states of tune. The first engine was from the earlier generations of Rekord dating way back into the 1930s. This was a 1,488 cc (90.7 cu-inch) four cylinder inline naturally aspirated petrol engine. It breathed through two over head valves per cylinder, one for intake and one for exhaust. This engine produced 49 BHP power at 4,300 rpm and 106 N-m (78 ft-lb) torque at 2,400 rpm. The power and torque were transmitted to the rear wheels through a 3-speed, all synchromesh, gear box. The gears were operated by a steering column mounted gear lever. A four speed all synchromesh gear box as well as a Fichel and Sachs “Olymat” automatic clutch could be optioned by interested buyers. The second engine on offer was the 1,680 cc (102.6 Cu-inch) four cylinder inline naturally aspirated petrol engine. In the “S” version offered in the Coupe it produced 59 BHP of power at 4,100 rpm. Breathing through two Over Head Valves per cylinder, this engine also generated a torque of 125.5 N-m (93 ft-lb) at 2,000 rpm. However in the “L” version offered in the sedan it produced 54 BHP power at 4,000 rpm and 120 N-m (89 ft-lb) of torque at 2,100 rpm.

Opel Rekord Olympia 1961_3The P2 measured 4,515 mm (177.8″) in length, 1,632 mm (64.3″) in width and 1,485 mm (58.5″) in height. The coupe was lower at 1,405 mm (55.3″) in height. The cars weighed between 1,380 Kg (3,042 lbs) for the sedan to 1,260 Kg (2,778 lbs) for the coupe. The 1.5 litre engine could push the sedan to a top speed of 128 km/h (80 mph) accelerating from 0 to 100 km/h in 22.7 seconds, a 0-60 mph was dispatched in 20.7 seconds. On a drag strip, it could cover the quarter mile in 21.6 seconds achieving a speed of 98 km/h (61 mph) the end of the strip. On the other hand the “S” version 1.7 litre engine could make the coupe achieve a top speed of 137 km/h (85 mph) accelerating to 100 km/h in 18.3 seconds (0-60 mph in 16.9 seconds). Quarter mile was dispatched in 20.5 seconds with a terminal speed of 105 km/h (65 mph).

Opel Rekord Olympia 1961_5These cars had double wishbone suspension incorporating ball joints, coil springs and hydraulic shock absorbers at the front while the rear comprised a beam axle supported by leaf springs and hydraulic shock absorbers. Stopping power was provided  by hydraulically operated 200 mm (7.87″) drum brakes on all four wheels. In case of the estate and van the rear drums were enlarged to 230 mm.

Cars of Tintin Series – Citroen Ami 6

Citroen Ami 6_cWe had been discussing a number of British cars in an Indian background. Tintin and Captain Haddock were on a rescue mission to save Tintin’s close friendChang in “Tintin in Tibet”. After the exhausting climb in the Himalayas the Captain was relaxing at Marlinspike hall. Here he met with an accident, thanks to a broken slab in the staircase. The Captain unfortunately broke his leg which was put in cast. And then disaster struck in the form of Bianca Castafiore landing up at Marlinspike Hall not for a short visit but for a stay. The doctor that was attending to Captain Haddock drove a very peculiar looking car. This was a Citroen Ami 6. To me this car was a great example of quirky French design. So lets take up the Citroen Ami 6.

Citroen Ami 6_2This car was manufactured from 1961 to 1978 in France and Argentina. It was a small four door sedan which despite its quirky looks was a best seller in France at the time. The Ami 6 was also offered as a “Break” or an estate for others. Ami in French means a friend. The Ami was launched in Apr 1961 and was aimed at clients who wanted to buy something larger and less rustic than the Citroen 2CV. The reason was to fill the huge chasm between the Citroen 2CV and the Citroen DS offered by Citroen. Citroen Ami 6_1The car was actually based on the 2 CV with some mechanical upgrades which included a larger engine to deal with an increased weight. It was offered with independent suspension all round to handle the not so good roads of rural France. The suspension was taken from the 2CV. The car’s seats could be removed easily and one of the USP was that the seats could be used as picnic chairs.

Citroen Ami 6_3The Ami 6 was the first car along with the Ford Taunus to offer rectangular headlamps. Till then it was a done thing that headlamps had to be round. In fact, in the USA non-round headlamps were illegal and hence the Citroen Ami 6 had illegal headlamps as far as USA was concerned. As a result the export versions were fitted with double rund headlamps. This was considered as a major innovation at the time. The most defining feature of the car was the reverse raked rear windscreen. The interior was spartan but with stylish streaks in the form of a single spoke steering wheel derived from the Citroen DS. The door handles and minor controls were also carried over from the DS.

Citroen Ami 6_5The Citroen Ami 6 was powered by a 602 cc (36.74 Cu-inch)  2 cylinder flat air cooled naturally aspirated petrol engine which produced 20 BHP at 4,500 rpm while breathing through two over head valves per cylinder. It also generated 40 N-m (29.5 ft-lb) of torque at 3,000 rpm. The power incrementally increased from 1961 to 1968 to 26 BHP at 4,750 rpm, 28 BHP at 5,400 rpm and finally 35 BHP at 5,750 rpm. The power was transmitted from the engine to the front wheels through a four speed gearbox. This engine was sufficient to push the 3,870 mm (154″) long, 1,520 mm (60″) wide and 1,490 mm (57″) tall car weighing just 620 kgs to a maximum speed varying from 102 km/hr (63.38 mph) to 123 km/hr (76.43 mph).

Citroen Ami 6_4The suspension from the 2CV comprised independent and interconnected front and rear with horizontal longitudinal coils springs and inertia dampers at each wheel and friction dampers. Stopping power was provided by drum brakes provided on all four wheels.

Cars of Tintin Series – Vauxhall Velox EIP

Vauxhall Velox 1954_cOnce Captain Haddock had been deposited into the rear seat of a Cadillac Type 75 taxi after his chaotic ride on the back of a cow, the duo rushed towards the airport in order to catch their flight to Kathmandu. On the way they passed another green car. This was the Vauxhall Velox. This was a large car manufactured by Vauxhall in UK which competed against other similar large six cylinder cars like the Ford Zephyr.

Vauxhall Velox 1954_1The Velox was manufactured from 1948, when it was introduced at the London Motor Show till 1965. These cars mirrored the American styling more closely as compared to other European manufacturers. Especially from 1957 onward when the  Velox PA was introduced. The car which Captain Haddock and Tintin passed on their way to the airport was a Vauxhall Velox EIP which was the second generation car introduced in 1951. The Velox, which means rapid of swift, was manufactured in UK, Australia and New Zealand. The EIP was manufactured from 1951 to 1957. These were offered in a number of body shapes like: –

  • 4-door saloons.
  • Estates.
  • 2-door tourer.
  • 2-door coupe utility which was a pickup.

Vauxhall Velox 1954_2The Velox EIP had a modern integral construction and had a traditional three box shape. The Australian built utility vehicles had a separate chassis and body construction for more ruggedness. These cars were called the EBP instead of the EIP. One of the important facelifts came in 1955 when the trafficators were replaced with flashing indicator lights. Keeping with American design philosophy, the indicators at the rear were red as in American cars instead of amber. For people who may not know, trafficators were manually operated metallic arrows mounted near the front windows which were used to indicate the direction in which one intended to turn. One could use hand signals instead. Traffic was less dense and speeds were low, so one did not need a flashing light to attract attention of the other drivers.

Vauxhall Velox 1954_3Though this was an upmarket six cylinder model, such basic amenities like wind-up windows were introduced only in 1956. It took yet another year for Vauxhall to introduce electric wipers for the windscreen. The Vauxhall Velox was a large car at 4,382 mm (172.5″) long, 1,702 mm (67″) wide and 1,613 mm (63.5″) tall. It weighed in at 1,021 kg (2,251 lbs).

Vauxhall Velox 1954_4The car was powered by a 2,276 cc (138.89 cu-inch) naturally aspirated six cylinder inline petrol engine that produced 55 BHP at 3,000 rpm. The engine breathed through 2 Over Head Valves per cylinder. All the power and torque produced by this front mounted engine was transmitted to the rear wheels through a three speed gearbox using a single dry plate friction clutch. This engine could push the Velox to a top speed of 129.4 km/h (80.4 mph). It could accelerate the Vauxhall Velox from 0 to 60 mph (0-96 km/h) in a leisurely 21.4 seconds. Stopping power was provided by hydraulically operated drum brakes on all four wheels.

Vauxhall Velox 1954_5This car has been shown in one of my favourite movies – “The World’s Fastest Indian”, which is a biopic on the New Zealander Bert Munro. He worked against all odds to set the world record on an “Indian” bike on the salt planes of Bonneville. The car that he is seen driving around in New Zealand is a Vauxhall Velox. These cars also made quite an impact on the punk rock scene in New Zealand.

Cars of Tintin Series – Standard Vanguard 1950

Standard Vanguard_cIn melee that followed Captain Haddock’s attempt to remove the bovine road block, our Captain ended up riding the holy cow. It transported him adding to the chaotic Delhi traffic which ended up in many a scrapes between some of the iconic and now revered cars in the world. The last one we saw was the Mercedes Benz 220 which went and hit the rear side of a Morris Six. The next victim of the angry and offended cow being ridden by Mr sea salt was a Standard Vanguard. I saw a picture of this car for the first time as a six year old and found it pretty intriguing.

Standard Vanguard_1The Standard Vanguard was produced in UK, Australia and New Zealand by the British manufacturer Standard Motor Company from 1947 to 1963. This was the first post was car offered by Standard. It was a completely new design as the process started in 1945 and was mainly aimed at the export market. The car was named after the last British Battleship, the HMS Vanguard. The idea was to appeal to a large population of ex-servicemen (veterans) who had served either the Army or the Navy during the recently concluded World War. It took quite some effort on behalf of the company to coax the Royal Navy to allow use of the name. Interestingly, the Russians claimed that the design of this car was influenced by the GAZ-M20-Pobeda. May be the only case of a western car being influenced by a Soviet design. The rear ends and profiles of both the cars are definitely similar.

Standard Vanguard_3The Vanguard was showcased at the Brussels Motor Show in 1948. Initially all cars were reserve for export only. It was offered as:-

  • 4 door Sedan/ Saloon
  • Estate
  • Utility Pickup
  • 12CWT delivery van

Standard Vanguard_2This car was more popular than other British imports to the USA as it could seat five and at times six people as compared to usually four seater Austins. It had adequate power to keep up with American traffic and looked familiar to pre- and post war Fords thus mingling well in the scenery. The Vanguard had a body on frame construction with a fast back shape which though appealing to most looked stubby to a few. The design was modern with integrated fenders and an envelope body. Even the rear wheels were covered with removable fender skirts. The seating was more generous at the front where the bench seat could easily accommodate three abreast. The rear seat could comfortably seat two and squeeze in a third if required. The car was pretty compact in dimensions with a length of 4,216 mm (166″) width of 1,753 mm (69″) and height of 1,626 mm (64″).

Standard Vanguard_5Though all Standard Vanguards were exported initially, it did not set the sales charts on fire abroad. It was moderately successful in the USA as it looked and felt like a pre-war American car but was slightly smaller and much less powerful than one. It was more popular in the Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Though it sold in small numbers, it was the third most popular import in Germany despite being much bigger than the competing imports which were tiny people cars from France.

Standard Vanguard_4The Vanguard was powered by a 2,088 cc (127.42 cu-inch) inline four cylinder naturally aspirated petrol engine which produced 68 BHP at 4,200 rpm while breathing through two Over Head Valves per cylinder. It also produced a torque of 146 N-m (108 ft-lb) at 2,000 rpm. All the power and torque was transferred to the rear wheels through a three speed manual gearbox. This engine could push the 1,191 kg (2,626 lb) car to a top speed of 129 km/h (80 mph). It could accelerate from 0-60 mph in 21.5 seconds. The suspension was independent at front with coil springs and had a live axle at the rear mounted on leaf springs.


Cars of Tintin Series – Mercedes Benz 220

Austin A50 Cambridge_cTintin’s friend Chang was on an aeroplane which crashed in Tibet, but intuition told him that Chang was alive. Tintin being Tintin, he left in search of his friend half way around the world based on just a hunch. In my last post, Tintin and Captain Haddock were in Delhi on their way to Nepal in “Tintin in Tibet”. After sight seeing they were in their way to the airport when Captain Haddock decided to move an imbecile cow which was blocking the road. The Captain ended riding the cow with the attendant chaos that it created on road. Once scene depicts the cow weaving through cars on the road before it dumped the Captain in a Cadillac Type 75 Taxi. The Captain escaped being run over by an Austin Cambridge, while the driver of a Green Mercedes 220 hit another car.

Mercedes has manufactured a number of cars with the 220 model name. In fact you can still buy a 220 C and E Class Mercedes. This model name spawned a number of platforms like: –

  • W187 from 1951 to 1955
  • W180 from 1954 to 1959
  • W128 from 1958 to 1960
  • W111 from 1959 to 1965
  • W115 from 1968 to 1973
  • W202 from 1993 to 2000 (C Class)
  • W203 from 2000 to 2007 (C Class)
  • W204 from 2007 to 2014 (C Class)
  • W205 from 2014 to present (C Class)
  • W 211 from 2002 to 2009 (E Class)
  • W212 from 2009 to 2016 (E Class)
  • W213 from 2017 to present (E Class)

Mercedes 220 1952_1The car in “Tintin in Tibet” is a W187. This was a full size luxury car manufactured by Mercedes from 1951 to 1955. This car along with the Mercedes Benz 300 Adenauer were the first post World War II six cylinder cars introduced by Mercedes. These cars were manufactured as:-

  • 4-door Saloon
  • 2-door Cabriolet
  • 2-door Coupe

Mercedes 220 1952_2The cars looked very similar to the Mercedes Benz S170 with only the headlights being integrated into the fenders to give a more modern look. This was because the tooling of 170 was the only complete set which survived the fury of American and British bombers. Mercedes factories were a major target for the US and British Air Forces during World War II. As a result, most of the cars which came out of the Mercedes factories looked very similar to the 170 for many years till the company revived. Certain upgrades were introduced for the 220 in the form of curved windscreens in response to the demand from celebrity owners of these cars, of whom Mercedes never had a dearth. The major difference between the 170 and 220 was the engine. The 220s were offered with six cylinder engines.

Mercedes 220 1952_5These cars were powered by a 2,195 cc ( 134.2 Cu-inch) naturally aspirated inline six cylinder petrol engine. Each cylinder breathed using two valves, one for sucking in the air fuel mixture and the other for exhausting the burnt gases. These valves were operated by a single overhead cam (SOHC). These engines produced 70 BHP at 4,600 rpm and could churn out 142 N-m (105 ft-lb) of torque at 2,500 rpm. All the power and torque was transmitted from the front mounted engine to the rear wheels through a 4-speed manual gearbox. Mercedes 220 1952_4Though these were large cars measuring 4,150 mm (177.6″) in length, 1,685 mm (66.3″) in width and 1,610 mm (63.4″) in height. They weighed in at 1,690 Kg (3,726 lbs), the engine could push them to a top speed of 135 km/h (84 mph). It took 18.7 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h while a 0 to 60 mph came up in 17.2 seconds. These cars could cover a quarter mile drag strip in 20.8 seconds achieving a speed of 103 km/h (64 mph).

Mercedes 220 1952_3The body was fitted on a chassis and suspended using double wish bones, coil springs and stabilising bar at the front and high pivot swing axle with coil springs at the rear. Electrical power was supplied by a 6 Volt system and stopping power was provided by 240 mm diameter (9.44″) drum brakes on all four wheels.


Cars of Tintin Series – Austin Cambridge A50

Austin A50 Cambridge_cIn my last post we had seen that Captain Haddock had an involuntary ride on an angry cow on the streets of Delhi. The scene, before the Captain Haddock was dumped in the Cadillac Type 75, shows the Captain holding on to the neck of the running cow and  number of cars swerving to save themselves. The blue car depicted in this scene is an Austin Cambridge A50.

Austin A50 Cambridge_1The A50 was manufactured between 1954 and 1971 at Cowley, England. Later versions of this car were also manufactured in Australia as a pickup called the Coupe Utility and in Japan by Nissan as a 5-door Estate. This car had a monocoque construction. It was a great leap forward for Austin which had been manufacturing traditional cars with separate body and chassis till then. It had integrated wings and a full width radiator grille. The A50 was a pretty successful car with 114,867 cars being sold between 1954 and 1957. This car was offered in a number of body styles like:-

  • 4-door saloon.
  • 4-door estate.
  • 2-door van.
  • 2-door pickup.

Austin A50 Cambridge_4These cars had a live rear axle supported by leaf springs while the front had independent suspension with wishbones and coil springs. They were provided with heater, leather seats, carpets, arm rests on doors and a passenger side sun visor. These cars had more chrome as compared to the A40s whose body was shared by the A50. These cars were powered by a 1,489 cc (90.9 Cu-inch) inline four cylinder naturally aspirated petrol engine. This engine breathed through two valves per cylinder, operated by push rods. It was capable of producing 50 BHP at 4,100 rpm and 100 N-m (74 ft-lb) of torque at 2,100 rpm. The power and torque was transferred to the rear wheels through a four speed gear box which was provided with a Borg-Warner overdrive on three of the four gears. It was also offered as a semi-automatic, called the “Manumatic”. This gearbox permitted clutch less gear shifts. However, it was not very popular with the buying public.

Austin A50 Cambridge_2The 1.5 litre engine in the A50 could push the 4,121 mm (162.25″) long, 1,562 mm (61.5″) wide and 1,562 mm (61.5″) tall car weighing 1,045 kg (2,304 lb) to a top speed of 113 km/h (70 mph). This car could accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 25.9 seconds while a 0 to 60 mph came up in a slow 23.6 seconds. In case you felt like drag racing, the Austin A50 would cover the quarter mile strip in 22.5 seconds attaining a speed of 94 km/h (58 mph) when the anchors were dropped. Stopping power was provided by 9″ Girling drum brakes in all four wheels.

Austin A50 Cambridge_3