- Peugeot marks 50 years since 404 diesel smashed speed records
- The 404 set 22 endurance records in June 1965, with a further 18 records set in July
- 72-hour endurance run covered an amazing 11,627.329km
- Peugeot celebrates milestone by running 404 up Goodwill Hill
In the European summer of 1965, a one-off Peugeot 404 diesel set 22 international speed and endurance records at the Montlhéry race track on the outskirts of Paris.
To celebrate the milestone, Peugeot will run the 404 diesel up The Hill at the 2015 Goodwood festival of Speed in the UK June 26th – 28th.
One of the most significant records set by the 404 Diesel was the considerable 11,627.329km covered in 72 hours at an average speed of 161.49km/h, or a touch over the 100 miles-per-hour mark in the day.
That was a new record for a Class E diesel car, as was 5,000 miles in 49 hours 51 minutes and 30.14 seconds at an average of 100.87mph (161.39km/h), plus 10,000km (6250 miles) in 61 hours 55 minutes and 4.08 seconds.
Other records the 404 Diesel broke included covering 101.20 miles (161.929km) in an hour, 1,000 miles in 9 hours 57 minutes and 9.22 seconds and 4844.66 miles (7751.457km) travelled in 48 hours at an average speed of 100.9mph (161.49km/h).
Over those 72 hours the 404 Diesel was driven on the track for the entire time as five drivers conducted a succession of three-hour shifts.
However, that remarkable 72 hour stint wasn’t the end of this car’s exploits.
A month later in July, fitted with an experimental 2,163cc engine, the Peugeot 404 set another 18 world records for speed and endurance in the Class D (for compression ignition, or diesel) engines.
The 404 Diesel was based on a 404 Cabriolet with the original roof and windscreen removed and a purpose-built, aircraft-like bubble added to cover the driver.
The result was a tightly curved screen and reduced frontal area, while the rear window was recessed between a pair of buttresses, all optimising elementary aerodynamics.
The bumpers were removed to help smooth wind flowing over and around the car, while the only rear-view mirror was housed in the cockpit.
Weight was reduced inside by adapting components such as the steering column and the windscreen wiper motor.
Despite its heavily modified appearance, beneath the bright blue bodywork lay a mostly standard Peugeot Indenor XD88 diesel engine.
The naturally aspirated 1948cc four cylinder diesel engine had a compression ratio of 21:1 to help maximise efficiency, with peak power of 84bhp at 4500rpm.
Driven through a four speed gearbox the drivetrain garnered much praise for its smooth power delivery and drivability – a feat at the time, given diesel’s use as a truck and industrial power plant.
In perfect running order to this day, the 404 Diesel remains the sole example of a car that proved to a generation of drivers that diesel power had a future beyond taxis, tractors and trucks, and in the process Peugeot became renowned for producing durable, capable and efficient compact diesel powered vehicles.