After 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.
The 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
The 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.
Depending 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 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.
This 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).