We stay with the “Calculus Affair”, a book that may have depicted the maximum number of cars in any Tintin book. The detailed drawing of a temporary parking lot which had come up in front of Marlinspike has a treasure trove of classic cars from the 50s. Another car shown parked there is the Peugeot 203.
The 203 was manufactured by french manufacturer Peugeot from 1948 to 1960. Peugeot had started designing a new car for post war Europe in 1942 and showcased the 203 at the 1947 Paris Motor Show. It was a replacement to the long produced 202. Between 1945 and 1955 when production of 202 stopped and that of 403 commenced, this was the only model offered by Peugeot. It was a large family car and approximately 700,000 cars were sold.
When launched it was a modern car with a monocoque steel body and the streamlined fastback shape. Peugeot offered the 203 in a number of body styles which included:-
- 4-door saloon.
- 5-door estate.
- 2-door cabriolet.
- 4-door cabriolet.
- 2-door coupe.
1950 onward Peugeot offered the 4-door “Commerciale” and “Familiale”, which offered seating for six in three rows of seats, something akin to the hugely popular MUV category in India which include the Maruti Ertiga, Toyota Innova, Chevrolet Enjoy, Honda Mobilio etc.
The Peugeot 203 was powered by a 1,290 cc (78.5 Ci-inch) 4 cylinder inline naturally aspirated petrol engine which breathed through two valves per cylinder. This engine produced 44 HP at 4,500 rpm. It generated a torque of 80 N-m (59 lb-ft) of torque at 2,500 rpm. The power and torque were transmitted to the rear wheels through a 4-speed gear box.
This 4,350 mm (171.3″) long, 1,610 mm (63.4″) wide and 1,560 mm (61.4″) high car weighed in at 910 Kg (2006 lbs). The 44 HP produced by its engine could push the car to a maximum speed of 116 km/h (72 mph) achieving a 0-100 km/h in leisurely 32 seconds.
Front wheels were suspended by an independent suspension using transverse leaf springs while the rear suspension had coil springs with Panhard rods.
The 203 was extremely successful in France, a result of pent-up demand generated by extensive and very aggressive marketing which commenced nearly a year before the car was launched. It was a cheap, comfortable, spacious and reliable machine, as a result it was second in sales only to the much smaller and cheaper Renault 4 CV. Success was not limited to the home market where it commanded a market share of 19.5%, but soon spread to Germany. 1953 onward the car was also produced in Australia becoming the first Peugeot to be produced Down Under.
To establish its reliability and economy, Andre Mercier and Charles de Cortanze drove the car across Africa for 15,000 km (9,300 miles) from Cape Town in South Africa to Paris. This distance was covered in a span of just 17 days, covering approximately 882 Km (551 miles) per day over rough terrain and bad roads.