Gallic Luxury

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The Peugeot 404 KF2 Pininfarina Coupe

It is always a pleasure to drive a Peugeot and recently this was extended to trying the 404 KF2 fuel-injection Pininfarina coupe. French manufacturers have turned their backs on luxury motoring since the war, except for the American-engined Face! Vega, a lesson perhaps for those who seek to restrict automobile development through taxation!

The Peugeot 404 KF2 coupe is a welcome trend in the direction of a return to Gallic luxury. A product of Pininfarina, the lines are stylish without any unnecessary embellishment, and although a 2-door body, there is a fully-upholstered back seat of very reasonable proportions. Upholstery, not only of the seats but of the entire body, is in high-grade soft cloth, with black crash-padding and surrounds. The big separate front seats are very comfortable, although the initial impression is of sitting rather too low. Fore and aft adjustment is by levers accessible beside the bulky transmission tunnel which divides the front compartment, but squab-angle has to be set by getting out and turning a couple of studs. First impressions of any car are largely determined by what one has been driving immediately beforehand, and the clutch of this Peugeot seemed very heavy, likewise the steering when parking, after those of a Ford Cortina GT. But once accustomed to the 404 KF2 all was acceptable, the 3-plane steering-column gearchange sensible, if slow, notchy and demanding some thought at first, while the brakes, too fierce on the KF2 saloon I drove last year, functioned satisfactorily on this coupe, being snatchy only when used while reversing.

Having reported on the saloon version of the fuel-injection Peugeot 404 KF2 (Motor Sport, June 1965), there is not much to add about the coupe. It is a sporting rather than a sports coupe, acceleration good but not breath-taking, while the impressive maximum speed of over 100 m.p.h. from the saloon has gone up by a few m.p.h., to about 105 m.p.h. for the coupe—from a 4-cylinder, 1,618-c.c. engine which is notably economical, as well as possessing the prompt-starting and smooth pick-up expected of a fuel-injection power unit. I regret that I had no opportunity for making long journeys in this comfortable coupe but only after 223 miles of local driving did the fuel tank require replenishment. A slight mechanical rattle intruded from the engine but otherwise this rugged Peugeot ran quietly, rode comfortably on suspension which suggested that only good damping killed a too lively action, and cornered unspectacularly on Michelin XA2 tyres, although lurching about on the sharper bends (later cars have Michelin XAS tyres).

The hooded French Jaeger speedometer, like the odometers, were kilometre-calibrated, and conversion to r.h. drive had not gone so far as to remove the vanity mirror from the o/s to n/s vizor. Neat square-faced dials labelled “Eau” (normal indication 75° C.). “Carburant” and “Amperes” are supplemented by unlabelled warning lights, except for that bearing the inscription “Huile” in the centre of the “Eau”-gauge—oil in the water, ugh! There is also an accurate electric-clock. The usual four accessible fuses are recessed in the trim on the passenger’s side of the scuttle and because a radio normally occupies the I.h. side of the facia a lockable pull-out “basin” under the dash replaces a cubby-hole. A short I.h. turn-indicators stalk and that “roundthe-houses” r.h. lamps stalk, the former cancelling a bit too eagerly, the latter usually leaving those new to Peugeot, with the Marchal lights on in the daytime, follow normal Peugeot practice, and the wipers/washers knob is well-placed on the extreme right of the facia. The boot, its lockable lid self-supporting under the action of clock-springs, is rather obstructed by the covered-up horizontal spare wheel. ‘The internal door handles, ahead of the arm-rests, lift to open, press down to lock the heavy doors, which could do with better “keeps.” The heater required prompting by the fan before it gave an adequate output at normal speeds, and isn’t helped by unopenable rear quarter-windows. There is a steering-column lock, and the usual Peugeot underfacia hand-brake lever. A full horn-ring sounds, depending on enthusiasm, a soft or loud horn, compulsory on French cars.

Handsome, rugged, giving the usual Peugeot impression of dependability and longevity, the 404 KF2 coupé is a fine car but needs a fine bank-balance to justify its British price of £2,367.

It is encouraging to find a manufacturer or concessionaire interested in early examples of its products, so I was pleased to see, when collecting the Peugeot 404 KF2 coupe from the modern Lion Works at Croydon, a 1933 Peugeot 201 I.h.d. coupe which their Mr. Graham had found, after some searching, in Marseilles, and which it is his intention to have restored . It stands on a fine selection of Englebert and Dunlop balloon tyres.—W. B.