Joylong Wagg has been able to persuade a large number of people to participate in the Vagabond Car Club rally. For the last eight weeks we have been discussing one car at a time from the large congregation of cars in the lawns of Marlinspike. Till now we have discussed about some of the cars which were popular in Europe in the 1950s. The next car is the blue coloured car number “3” parked next to the Mercedes 190SL. As a recap, the cars which we have already discussed are listed below.
- Alfa Romeo Giulietta.
- Cadillac Eldorado.
- Citroen DS.
- Mercedes 190SL.
- Messrschmitt Kabinenroller.
- MG MGA.
- Opel Rekord P1.
The Peugeot 403 was manufactured by the French manufacturer for eleven years between 1955 and 1966. This was a pretty popular model from Peugeot and was manufactured in France, Australia, Argentina and New Zealand. It was offered in a number of body shapes like:-
- 4-door sedan.
- 5-door estate.
- 2-door convertible.
- 2-door pickup.
- 3-door van.
The car was styled by Pininfarina and made its public debut with the saloon body on 20 April 1955. It had monocoque construction following the ponton three-box styling. Except for the base model, all models had an opening roof panel, a per-cursor to the sunroof. One of the unusual features for the time in Europe was a wide (90 degree) opening rear door. This was a feature that was much appreciated by the customers, making it the first Peugeot to exceed one million mark in production. Another feature that distinguished this car was that the front seats could recline completely flat and flush with the cushions of the rear seat. Thus providing a couchette in the car.
The five door estate was called the Peugeot 403 “Familiale” and provided a third row of seats. The car was sold as a 7/8 seater. Very similar to the large number of so called compact Multi-Utility Vehicles (MUVs) sold in India like the Honda Mobilio, the Maruti Suzuki Ertiga, the Datsun Go+ etc.
The 403 was powered by a 1,468 cc (89.5 Cu-inch) 4 cylinder inline naturally aspirated petrol engine. Each cylinder inhaled air through one inlet valve and exhaled the combustion products through a single exhaust valve. In the process it could generate 53 BHP at 4,900 rpm. The crankshaft also churned out a torque of 101 N-m (74 ft-lb) while rotating at 2,500 rpm. All this power and torque was transferred from the front mounted engine to the rear wheels through a four speed manual gear box. This power and torque were sufficient to push the 4,470 mm (176″) long, 1,670 mm (65.7″) wide and 1,510 mm (59.4″) tall car weighing 1,095 Kg (2,414 lb) to a top speed of 135 km/h (84 mph). The torque generated was enough to accelerate the car from 0 to 100 km/h in 22 seconds or 0 to 60 mph in 20.6 seconds.
In addition to the petrol engine, Peugeot also offered the 403 with a 1,816 cc (101.82 Cu-inch) four cylinder inline diesel engine.
The Peugeot 403 was offered with a column mounted gear shifter. It was also provided with radial tyres, a rarity for the time. Using the various permutations and combinations of body type, trim level etc, Peugeot offered a total of 51 variants to its customers to choose from.