"A Peugeot 404 Family History" - Mike Tippett
In 1960 my father – Eric S. Tippett, a Flight Lieutenant in the RCAF, was posted to Metz, France with the 1st Canadian Air Division. Not long after arriving there, he saw his first 404 sedan and wanted one. But the infant son (me) and family costs took priority so he settled for a French domestic market Dauphine. In 1963 we moved back to Canada and in 1966 when we were in Montréal, he bought a brand new brown metallic 404 Injection Super Luxe sedan with tan coloured leather seats. That car was amazing, capable of 100 MPH and fun to drive, the whole family loved it. By then I had a sister and she liked teething on the piping on the backs of the front seats! He told me that the only problem that car had that was of any consequence was a water pump that failed under warranty. So: a free and easy fix. Once in a blue moon the lever that connects the throttle body to the injection pump would pop off and the car would still run, but super rich, major black smoke. Dad would get out, probably burn his hand a bit on the hot engine and pop the ball socket back together…. and we’d carry on.
Family 404 Injection Super Luxe in 1966
This car was imported to the Netherlands in August 1969 (it arrived in September in Antwerpen, and the rusty exhaust fell off on the short drive home to southern NL) and spent its last years there. We drove to Spain a couple of times in the car. Acid rain in the area we lived finished off the paint and the salt from Montréal was taking its toll after six years too. In late 1971, Dad bought a new 504 Automatique (thinking, incorrectly, that my mother would learn to drive) and the 404 was sold to another Canadian officer just before we left for Canada in summer 1972.
I always loved 404s and so I resolved to get one of my own. In 1977, while driving down Seymour Street in Vancouver in that same 504A, I saw a beautiful light grey metallic 1967 404 Coupé Injection in the window of Jay’s British and European Motors. The serial number was 4599493. When I stopped by a while later, the car was being offered for sale at $3800, WAY more than I had, still being a student in high school. This car still exists and is in Jim Schlick’s impressive Peugeot collection in the USA.
1977 Jay's European Motors Showroom - grey metallic 1967 404 Coupé Injection (Jim Schlick would purchase years later)
At the beginning of 1981 at age 20, I was finally able to get my first 404. It was a 1967 Coupé Injection but not the same one I had seen at Jay’s earlier. This one was slightly newer and had the serial number 6800274. It cost $2500 (probably too much) but I enjoyed driving it. It had the smoothest Kugelfischer-injected engine, and the Nardi floor shifter was nice too. This car was rather rusty to say the least although it presented well at twenty paces.
1981 with first 404 - 1967 Coupé Injection
The rear bronze crown wheel of the axle was badly worn due to the wrong lubricants being used (it feels like gentle surging under drive) so a friend and I reversed the differential assembly in the housing and thus the good side of the gear was used when accelerating. This was a tip from the mechanics at Jay’s. I had some other problems with that car: the electric fuel lift pump failed so I rebuilt it as best I could and the alternator kakked on a road trip to the Okanagan valley in BC’s Interior, so we limped home, using a charger at a gas station. The upper rubber shock mounts were failing – rattling on bumps – and so I put some cheap Boge inserts into them and new donuts. Other than that, it was reliable despite its 150,000 miles.
Front view of 1967 Coupé Injection in early 1980s
I sold it in 1985 to Nicolas Galitzine in Victoria BC, and it was scrapped by the subsequent owner in 1991. I joined Le Club 404 in 1984 (then known as Club 404CC, as only the C models were admitted).
Spring1985 with new 1963 Peugeot 404 sedan on Cypress Bowl Road, West Vancouver
In 1985 I found, with the assistance of a mechanic at Jay’s, a worn out but not too badly rusted navy blue 1963 404 sedan in West Vancouver BC. A family named Huxtable from California, where the car had been sold when new, owned it. The serial number was 4326224. The car was offered at $250 - 273,000 original miles but the engine had recently been changed to a later 5 main bearing version, still carburated. I test drove the car and it had a terrible driveline vibration at lower speeds. I knew right away what it was: failure of the driveshaft centre bearing. The deal for the car was done and I drove it home. I got some parts to fix it up from my friend in Germany, Reiner Plass, and drove it “as is” for two years.
404 Sedan in 1990 at end of its run
In 1987 I decided to put an Injection engine in it and the candidate engine was from a scrapped red Cabriolet that Boucher Motors had in 1981 (serial number 6800519) in parts in the basement and I thought I would reassemble it with new rings and bearings but the old pistons and liners. And so I did. The installation was straightforward more or less, with a fuel return line being added to the tank, some wiring changes for the cold start valve, fuel lift pump and a couple of other things. But the engine was still strong and made the car immense fun to drive. This was the daily driver until 1990, when it was becoming increasingly rusty, to the point that the body flex was palpable on speed bumps. Also, the head was cracked from a frozen/blocked coolant incident and I scrapped the car in 1990. But still have the engine from that red Cabriolet…..
In February 1989 I bought a white 1966 404 Coupé Injection (no. 4598609) from Hugh Roberts of West Vancouver for $500. Hugh was selling it “below cost” because I was a student and he believed me when I said that I would restore the car to its former glory one day. He told me that the first owner is a BC Supreme Court judge, Lloyd McKenzie. I contacted Lloyd about the car and he told me its history.
1966 404 Coupé Injection (no. 4598609) from Hugh Roberts of West Vancouver
It was in far better condition than the light grey metallic 404C I had bought 8 years earlier, but still rusty. In 1990 I drove it to a restoration shop near Spectacle Lake on Vancouver Island for a restoration estimate and they told me it would be at least 300 hours to do the metalwork. The advice was to get all the exterior sheet metal I could for the car and that would simplify the eventual restoration. So I set about that task and over the years got new floors (1988 - originally intended for the 404 sedan but they’re the same as for the C models), new front fenders in NOS from Joe Wagner in Cincinnati, new chassis rails etc from Reiner, new rear fenders, sills and other parts from Michel Aubé in Ontario, and so on…. Then there are the mechanical parts: new high compression piston and liner kit (the pistons are different than the carbureted ones), new cylinder head, new rear axle gears, new parts all told that add up to about $16,000.
1966 404 Coupé Injection recently stripped down and ready to be towed for complete renovation
After owning this Coupé for 27 years, the restoration has finally begun. The shell is being rebuilt and painted by Coachwerks, the premium restoration shop in Western Canada and should be done by late spring of 2017. The new colour will be Dark Blue 1057, a colour that better suits the car’s lines. The mechanical work is underway but since this and the reassembly will all be done in spare time by me, I expect the car may not be roadworthy until later in 2018.
You can follow Mike's Coupe renovation here: http://www.coachwerks.com/MT1966Peugeot404C/