Peugeot 404 Diesel Record Car

Car of the Day #99: 1965 Peugeot 404 Diesel Record Car

Peugeot 404 Diesel Record Car
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I've been having difficulty with my own permanence lately. 

This doesn't have anything to do with the 1965 Peugeot 404 Diesel Record Car per se, but hang in here.

Last I checked, if you look at the list of current outright headline speed records acknowledged by the FIA, you'll see that Peugeot is nowhere to be found. 

What's amazing to me (apart from how many records the Volkswagen W12 Nardò and Oldsmobile Aerotech still hold) is the more-than-a-century of speed and endurance attempts that have fallen to this small list (.pdf) of superlative machines.

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I often think of the man-made objects, the tools, dyes, models and prototypes, left in the wake of a more successful product — or, in this case, car. (To say nothing of the records, paperwork, or piles of ephemera stuffed into 53.21% of the world's glove boxes.)

For my own writing, most of it online, ideally it will be trashed by the publications I once worked for to make room for a "better" website and "more exciting" content. 

In reality, many of those publications no longer exist — nuking my byline, along with the bylines of all editorial staff, contributors, and commenters. At least if I’d been out setting records, my name and any achievements may carry more permanence today as part of a list of names verified to have gone more quickly than anyone else. 

Peugeot's 404 Diesel Record Car still exists, which is nice, because when diesels were becoming a real 'thing' in the '60s, Peugeot made one of the best. For a publicity-generating record run, the company either sliced the roof off of a coupé, started with a 404 convertible, crafted all of its bodywork from scratch…or a combination of these.

The records it set could now probably be eclipsed by a Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet (with the top down), but in 1965, they were good enough to shine some positive publicity on the diesel models offered in the 404 range.

And, let's face it: monopostos look awesome. A lack of A/C, perhaps not.

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A first set of records were set using a 2,163-cc 4-cylinder diesel engine, with a 5,000 km (3,100 mile) run at an average speed of 160 km/h (99 mph). 

The second set of headlines was generated by a smaller 1,948-cc 4-cylinder version of the car that hit 11,000 km (6,835 miles) at an average speed of 161 km/h (100 mph). Sources say the car was awarded 40 more records, but presumably they weren't quite as exciting as the two mentioned above.

Curious about other speed records set over the years? The FIA has an entire page just for you.

Remember, those are only current record holders, and say nothing of the machines that came before them — like the 404 Diesel Record Car, which has since been erased from the record books.

  • Fan video of the 404 Record Car at Goodwood FoS (2015): YouTube
  • AP newsreel (no sound): YouTube
  • Normal Peugeot 404 Diesel driving in traffic (great sound): YouTube


Thank you to my supporting members: Ben B., Brad B., Chris G., Daniel G., Damian S., Daniel P., Drew M., Ingrid P., Karl D., Luis O., Michael J., Michael L., Michelle S., Mike B., Mike L., Mike M., Richard W., Sam G., Sam L., Wiley H.