Words & photos - Daniel Bevis
The Goodwood Festival of Speed always promises to surprise and amaze with its variety of unexpected and downright weird cars... but the number of people who were expecting to be rubbing their thighs Vic Reeves-style at a fifty year-old 1.9-litre Peugeot diesel was probably quite small.
Nevertheless, this is where we find ourselves. The car in question, achingly beautiful as it is, is the fabled 404 Diesel streamliner; the 404 series of saloons, estates, coupés and convertibles had been selling strongly since 1960, and the mid-sixties saw Peugeot experimenting with diesel engines for mainstream use. As a sort of halo for this emerging drivetrain development, they embarked upon a project to set a few records, and turned a 404 convertible into a lightweight, streamlined single-seater. This Jetsons-like creation was shipped to Montlhéry in June '65, where it nonchalantly racked up forty records with barely a mechanical Gallic shrug - one of the more notable being that it ran for 72 hours at 99mph, with a tag-team of five drivers keeping the oil-burner pumping. So it's clever, plucky, tenacious, and pretty damned gorgeous too. See, the combination of the words 'Peugeot' and 'diesel' doesn't have to be disheartening.
More from FoS 2015 here.