Classifieds Hero: Peugeot 404 Pininfarina convertible

Combining arresting Pininfarina lines with great day-to-day practicality, this 1968 drop-top has much to offer. We find out more about a market rarity…

Finished in a flawless metallic silver-grey that elegantly sets off numerous chrome highlights and two grille-mounted, yellow-tinted driving lamps, the Peugeot 404 convertible is a surprisingly exquisite vehicle from a manufacturer the majority of us associate with everyday practical motoring.

The delicate form of the drop-top version of the already popular 404 was conceived within the Turin workshops of Pininfarina. That made it the first vehicle for which Peugeot handed to an external design house complete responsibility for the body assembly.

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As a result, the convertible shared only its floorpan and mechanical components with the 404 saloon. However, this was no bad thing, as the more conventionally bodied tin-top already had an excellent and widespread reputation for practicality, comfort and reliability, which led to the sale of more than 2.8 million saloons over a 15-year production period.

TV’s Columbo had enjoyed driving around in an open-top 403, and in 1961, at the Paris Motor Show, Peugeot launched the succeeding 404 convertible. The company’s ambition was to deliver the very same characteristics possessed by the moderately priced family saloon, but parcelled in a guise that would appeal to those seeking more élan.

The 404 soft-top was quick to capture the praise of many a motoring journalist, and proved a tempting automotive option. Not that the combination of robust mechanicals and handsome bodywork came on the cheap, though; the price of a convertible was over half that of a Super Luxe four-door. Had you tried to purchase a 404 drop-top back in 1965, you would have needed the same money that would have secured a Jaguar E-type within the American market.

Despite this, clearly many people were willing to pay notable sums for something a little more unique from the French manufacturer, with a total of 17,223 convertible and coupé models being produced between 1961 and ’68. Whatever your thoughts on the price, there was little argument against how the 404 was a stunning car that was well made, comfortable and more than willing to undertake everyday driving duties with style and flair.

Thanks to a recent restoration this particular 404 convertible remains in exemplary condition, with an underside that is completely free from rust and panels that fit snugly. The spacious interior remains very respectable throughout while enhanced with a charming patina.

The smartly upholstered leather seats await a new driver, who would go on to enjoy an engine with the desirable carburettor set-up and a four-speed floor-shifter conversion by Nardi in place of the often-criticised column change found on the majority of convertible 404s.

Meanwhile, the mechanicals all round have benefited from an overhaul, resulting in a drive as impressive as this car’s oh-so- smooth looks.

With France’s Le Club 404 having identified that just over 2000 404 convertibles exist today, the sale of this Pininfarina-styled Peugeot represents a rare opportunity to acquire both complete usability and a gorgeous automobile just in time for summer. Find out more details in the AutoClassics advert here.

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