THE 404 IN THE EAST AFRICAN SAFARI
© 1993 by Mike Tippett
L'Aventure Peugeot, in a list of 404 victories provided on request, identifies an impressive list of Peugeot 404 performances in east Africa: First place overall in 1961 (definitely incorrect, a 220 SE won in 1961), First in Class in 1962, and Second place overall, First place overall in 1963, First in Class in 1964, First place team in 1965, and Second place overall, culminating in the hat-trick in 1966, 67 and 68.
This rally was created in 1953 as the Coronation Safari to commemorate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Typically, the rally started at Nairobi, Kenya, and was composed of two distinct legs: one towards Uganda, the other towards Tanganyika (later Tanzania). The event usually covered about 3000 miles, mostly on unsurfaced roads or tracks, and took about 5 days to complete.
This rally had been won by a number of different vehicles:
1953 - Volkswagen Beetle
1954 - Volkswagen Beetle
1955 - Ford Zephyr
1956 - DKW 1000
1957 - Volkswagen Beetle
1958 - no overall winner
1959 - Mercedes-Benz 219
1960 - Mercedes-Benz 219
1961 - Mercedes-Benz 220 SE
1962 - Volkswagen Beetle
Video Montage of 404 in East Africa Safari - 1960s
Up to 1962, the event had clearly been dominated by German vehicles, and up to 1956, no overseas driver had tested him or herself on this event. In 1956, the recent Tulip Rally winner, Maurice Gastonides, entered, without notable success. News of the Safari spread, and in 1957 many more foreigners entered. The event first attracted the interest of a factory team in 1959, when Ford UK entered a number of Zephyrs and Rootes used three Hillman Minxes.
The foreign drivers had a relative lack of success compared to the local drivers, for many of whom the tough conditions were no more than routine inconveniences encountered throughout the year.
For 1963, the English Royal Automobile Club set up a World Championship Rally trophy for manufacturers, to be awarded to the marque scoring the most points in 4 of 5 of the following events: the East African Safari (so renamed after Kenyan independence, for obvious political reasons), the Shell 4000 (Trans-Canada Rally), the Marathon de la Route (Liege-Sofia-Liege), the Rally of the Midnight Sun, and the RAC rally in the UK. Various manufacturers took up the challenge in 1963, with 8 teams represented. Peugeot vehicles were not officially factory prepared, either being done by Marshalls (Peugeot importer in Kenya), Tanganyika Motors in that country, or by privateers.
Unbiased accounts of these events are available in the local press of the period, a particularly good source being The Reporter, a Kenyan news magazine. What follows is a detailed summary of the 1963 and 66, 67 and 68 events, based on contemporary Reporter articles.
1963 Car Winner #65 Team Nowicki / Cliff
Nick Nowicki & Paddy Cliff 1963
EAST AFRICAN SAFARI 1963
A total of 84 cars were entered in 1963, including:
18 - Ford
11 - Peugeot 404
4 - Peugeot 403
9 - Fiat
7 – Volkswagen
7 - Morris
5 - Saab
5 - Simca 1000
4 - Nissan
4 – Mercedes-Benz
4 - Rover
The route was composed of a 3189 mile route through Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika. The first casualties shortly after the start were a VW and a 403, which rolled less than 100 miles out of Nairobi due to intense thundershowers. Shortly thereafter, a further 6 cars retired or were excluded due to lateness. By the 1/4 point at Kampala, Swedish Monte Carlo Rally winner Erik Carlsson in a SAAB 92 was in the lead. The mud on the sections out of Kampala was severe, and Carlsson was lucky to get through before a knot of cars became embedded, tying up all other competitors for many minutes. Back in Nairobi, at the halfway point, Carlsson was still in the lead, with a Ford Cortina in second, and three other Fords rounding out the top five. At Nairobi, all 43 remaining competitors were compelled to have a 12 hour rest. It was then predicted that the second half would prove to be the most difficult.
Erik Carlsson had a collision with a giant anteater near the 3/4 point, which damaged his Saab's front suspension, and pushed the engine back 1.5 inches. He continued on for some minutes, until his front suspension completely folded up on him. Other competitors' hopes were destroyed by the incredible mud, with the most common reason for retirement being exclusion for lateness (time-barring). The second place Ford holed a sump and retired with engine failure. A 404 sedan then took over the lead.
Due to the extreme conditions, a further rest stop was organised near Dar es Salaam. On the return leg to Nairobi, a few more retirements were recorded, but the Kenyan crew of Nick Nowicki-Paddy Cliff held their lead. Only 7 cars were still running at the finish:
1 - Peugeot 404 (Nowicki-Cliff)
2 - Ford Anglia (Hughes-Young)
3 - Mercedes-Benz 220 SEb (Cardwell-Lead)
4 - Fiat 2300 (Joginder and Jaswant Singh)
5 - Peugeot 404 (Lionnet-Philip)
6 - Peugeot 403 (1300) (Jaffray-Bathurst)
7 - Rover P5 (Bengry-Goby)
The most impressive finishing percentage belonged to Rover and Mercedes-Benz, with a 25% standard. The Peugeots had a 20% finishing rate, and the others declined from there. Ford was particularly hard hit, with only the little Anglia showing the flag at the end.
Nick Nowicki & Paddy Cliff Celebrate 1963 Win!
EAST AFRICAN SAFARI 1964 and 1965
For the sake of brevity, and because I assume that we are all Peugeot fans, the less successful Safaris (Peugeot - wise) of 1964 and 1965 are summarized briefly below.
The international stature of the Safari continued to grow. In 1964, a major assault on this event was made by Ford UK. In the end, a Cortina GT won. Erik Carlsson was second in his Saab Monte Carlo. One 404 managed a win in Class D.
1965 was another reasonable year for international entries, with Ford and Citroen (with nine DS19 models) leading the manufacturers. However, the local Kenyan heroes, Joginder and Jaswant Singh (the latter now lives in the Vancouver area) were victorious in their Volvo 544. A 404 Injection finished second to the Singh car, and one of the African Peugeot teams captured the team trophy.
1966 East African Safari Rally - BBC Video Summary
EAST AFRICAN SAFARI 1966
1966 saw a reduced involvement of directly sponsored factory teams. Peugeot was well represented among entrants:
13 - Peugeot 404 Injection
9 - Peugeot 404
6 - Peugeot 204
22 - Fords, including 1 Lotus Cortina
9 - Saab 96 / Monte Carlo
5 - Volkswagen
4 – Mercedes-Benz
4 – Datsun
4 - Triumph 2000
3 - Volvo
3 - Citroen OS 19
3 - Morris Mini Cooper S
1 - Alfa Romeo Guilia Sport
1 - Toyota Corona
In all, 88 starters were registered.
The leaders from the beginning of the rally were Bert Shankland and Chris Rothwell of Tanzania, driving a 404 Injection. Among the first to fall were three of the Triumph 2000s at Dar es Salaam, due to flooding in the mountainous terrain. The last of the Triumphs was time barred at Nairobi at the halfway point. The Mercedes-Benz 230 of Edgar Herrmann-Gerd Elvers retired with oil pump trouble during the first half. Difficult conditions in the first leg also removed the Datsun of Mr and Mrs Cardwell, a Ford Cortina GT, a 404 Injection and the Jeeves-Collinge Citroen DS 19, which was running in second place at the time.
Deep water in part of the southern leg (first halt) was a major problem in particular for most of the Peugeot 404's, as sandy water was able to get into unsealed engines through the dipstick hole (located very low, directly on the block in 1960-1966 404's). The introduction of water and grit into the oil system took most of them out shortly after the deep fording episodes.
The 404 Injection of Lionnet-Hechle was forced to deviate off-course by other cars which were baulking them at a mud hole. In so doing, their gearbox struck a rock and its casing was cracked. The damaged 'box seized several miles later.
The Goode- Vincent Mercedes-Benz 200 went out about 1/4 of the way through with engine bearing trouble. Interestingly, the 200 series, like the 404, has a dipstick hole which is particularly low on the block, and some 6 inches lower than the 219 model. At some points along the southern leg, the three-pointed star on the grille became fully submerged (which shows what kind of severe conditions competitors were facing). The engine oil was then changed, but on the bumpy roads on the way back to Nairobi, the remaining sand in the. sump was stirred up, got into the rest of the engine and caused bearing seizure!
The second half of the rally was less eventful, most of the retirements having occurred in the southern leg. Throughout it all, the 404 Injection of Shankland-Rothwell led, which was at least in part due to their very careful waterproofing effort prior to the start of the rally.
The final results were:
1 - Peugeot 404 Injection (Shankland-Rothwell)
2 - Ford Cortina GT (Preston-Gerrish)
3 - Volvo P132 Amazon (Singh-Bhardwaj)
4 - Ford Lotus Cortina (Hughes-Snyder)
5 - Datsun P411 (Greenly-Dunk)
6 - Volkswagen Beetle 1300 (Aird-Hillyar)
7 - Volkswagen Beetle 1300 (Barbour-Doughty)
8 - Ford Cortina GT (Smith-McConnell)
9 - Mercedes-Benz 220 SE (Saunders-Wilson)
Bert Shankland, after this victory, said "I've participated in 8 Safari Rallies, but I've never had to run in such difficult conditions. We drove in mud for hundreds of miles at a time. In some places, our car was swimming in over 3 feet of water.”
Peugeot, despite winning, suffered from a dreadful finishing percentage in 1966. Perhaps the lesson was learned, because 1967 saw the introduction of the long-necked dipstick tube on production 404's!
EAST AFRICAN SAFARI 1967
The 1967 version of the Easter classic had another full roster of entries:
21 - Ford (including 3 Lotus Cortinas)
12 - Peugeot 404 Injection
2 - Peugeot 404
6 - Peugeot 204
12 - Volkswagen
6 - Datsun
5 - Alfa Romeo
5 - Saab
5 - Volvo
3 - Toyota
2 – Triumph
2 – Renault
2 - Citroen
2 – Mercedes-Benz
1 - Mini Cooper S1 - Lancia
1 - Isuzu
In all there were 93 starters. Unlike the previous Safari, which had been plagued with incredible amounts of rainfall, this Safari had totally dry conditions. Rather than the well known water hazards, such as mud pits, the problem was therefore the choking dust. The consistency of the dust encountered ranged from the texture of fine talcum powder to coarse pumice, orange or grey, respectively. In these conditions, only the first starter would be free of fugitive dust kicked up by other competitors. It was the Ford Cortina GT of Soderstrom-Palm which had the number one spot.
Soderstrom, a well-known international rallyman, took full advantage of his position during the first stages of the rally, being able to see all of the road hazards with the benefit of clear air. The state of the roads was best described by a quotation from the Reporter article:
"Each bump, which had made its blushing debut months ago as a sweetly rounded contour of yielding mud, had long since been baked and hammered into a flinty harridan of terracotta ... even the smallest car, on descending from one such horror to another at rally speed, administers a shock through its suspension which would shame a steam hammer. Keep that up long enough and any machine will break."
The third factor after the dust and bumps, was the loose nature of the road surfaces, which varied from the relatively adhesive to the very Slippery. Soderstrom and Palm led the rally through the first three days on the entire southern leg of well over 1500 miles. Local Safari watchers were impressed by the dynamic Swedish duo, but wondered if they were exacting too heavy a toll on their Cortina GTs suspension by keeping close to the ideal stage times.
2010 Video of 1967 Shankland/Rothwell Car on Track
Among the first to drop out was the 1962 winner in a VW 1500. Following a long dusty convoy, Tommy Fjastad tried to pass at an unfortunate location, missing a corner and tumbling down one of the Teita hills. He and his navigator were lucky to escape their car shortly before the fuel tank caught fire after their car' came to rest on an embankment. Next to fall was the Datsun of Herrmann-Elvers, which died of clutch slip and suspension failure about 1/3 of the way through the rally. The lone Mini Cooper expired around the same time, of head gasket failure.
The only American car in the event, a powerful Mercury Comet V8, which The Reporter says "carried a greater weight of petrol than the overall weight of some complete cars (!)", was dispatched by a blow to the left front suspension dished out by a deep pothole. The Lancia Flavia did not make it past the third control point, and one of the Saab 96's and a 404 Injection retired shortly thereafter, the 404 doing a short off-road tumbling routine in the process. A Citroen retired at the 1/3 point, of terminal suspension failure. An Alfa quit due to connecting rod trouble, and one of the ubiquitous Cortinas also expired before reaching Dar es Salaam. Heading back from Dar to Nairobi, a further 14 cars retired early on in the Usambara mountains. A further hazard in these mountains was the vandalism, specifically, the stones thrown by the locals at the passing vehicles. Several injuries caused by flying glass were reported. Some cars had to replace as many as three windscreens in this area alone.
Meanwhile, Soderstrom and Palm continued in the lead, but several local competitors were within striking distance, notably a 404 Injection crewed by Bert Shankland and Chris Rothwell of Tanzania, which was only 8 minutes down at the halfway point.
The dismal record of foreign drivers in this event was confirmed about 100 miles north of Nairobi, on the northern leg of the rally. The Tripmaster odometer of the leading Cortina must not have been calibrated correctly, or the navigator made an error, as Soderstrom plunged headlong into a road works area which was well marked in the road book. The Cortina's suspension was gravely damaged, and the car was unable to continue much further. Shankland and Rothwell, running a very consistent rally, then inherited first place. Two Cortinas (one a Lotus) behind the 404 Injection bravely scrapped for first place, but it was the slower but stronger 404 which won the battle.
The top ten of the 49 finishers were:
1 - Peugeot 404 Injection (Shankland-Rothwell)
2 - Ford Lotus Cortina (Preston-Gerrish)
3 - Ford Cortina GT (Hughes-Snyder)
4 - Volvo 122 S (Joginder Singh and H. Sembi)
5 - Peugeot 404 Injection (Nowicki-Armstrong)
6 - Ford Cortina GT (Simonian-Huth)
7 - Ford Cortina GT (Bianchi-Greder)
8 - Peugeot 204 (Lionnet-Cliff)
9 - Peugeot 204 (Jaffray-Hechle)
10 - Peugeot 404 Injection (Din-Din)
In all, 11 of the 12 404 Injections which were entered finished, 1 of the 2 non-injected 404s, and all 6 204s made it home. In comparison, only 9 of the 21 Fords entered were able to finish.
1968 Video East African Rally Summary by BBC
1968 Nowicki/Cliff Family Celebration
EAST AFRICAN SAFARl 1968
The 1968 East African Safari was a total length of almost 3100 miles, to be traversed over a total of 5 days (including the nearly 24 hour stop midway in Nairobi). Unlike the previous two Safaris, this year's route headed northwest to Uganda first, returning to Nairobi; from there, the usual southern leg to Dar es Salaam was followed by the return dash to the Kenyan capital. 94 cars were registered:
19 - Ford (including 5 Lotus Cortinas)
9 - Peugeot 204
6 - Peugeot 404 Injection
2 - Peugeot 404
10 - Volkswagen
8 - Datsun (including one 510 1600 SSS, the eventual winner two years later)
5 - Vauxhall
4 - Renault
4 - Saab
3 - Fiat
3 - Alfa Romeo
3 - B.M.C. 1800
2 - Triumph 2000
2 - Toyota
2 - Mercedes-Benz
1 - Volvo
1 - Daihatsu
Predictions of wet weather preceded the event, and these were accurate. First away from the starting line was the Triumph 2000 of Brown-Hegarty, as the rain clouds amassed but did not (yet) open. Shortly after the start, the Finn Timo Makinen (who later had successes with Peugeot in the 504 V6) and his B.M.C. 1800 retired, due to a massive leak in the oil filter. Shankland and Rothwell (404 Injection) were soon thereafter reported to be digging themselves out of a watery ditch. Preston-Gerrish in a Lotus Cortina were running in first after a few hundred miles, with Joginder Singh in a Datsun close behind. Soderstrom and Palm were next in their Ford Lotus Cortina.
Vandalism again was evident, as Pat Moss and Liz Nystrom in a Renault 16 hit a man-made barrier of stones which was laid across the road. Although their car was damaged beyond repair, these sporting women proceeded to clear the debris and stones for other competitors, having already deployed a warning triangle some 100 metres up the road.
About halfway through the northern leg, the rain began to fall. The running order remained the same as before, although the time between the cars was growing. A few hundred miles from the return to Nairobi, reports of difficult going for the front-running Fords and Datsun came in. The Peugeots then began to make up for lost time in the muddy conditions. The 404's were generally much less in need of repair work at the checkpoints, perhaps indicating a "slow but safe" strategy.
A nasty surprise awaited Vie Preston at the midway point in Nairobi, when it was revealed that the Lotus Cortina crew had failed to have its card marked with one of the required control stamps. As a result, the team was disqualified, notwithstanding the formal protest lodged by Ford. The Lionnet-Bates Peugeot 204 was then excluded for working on the car at Nairobi control. Their car had a loose rear mudflap, and the, crew asked if they could reattach it. An official indicated that it would be OK, so they did it. Another official then disqualified them!
Attrition during the return from Uganda to Nairobi was very high - only 21 cars. were able to start the southern leg towards Tanzania. Many of the cars were disqualified due to time violations at Nairobi control. Soderstrom and Palm in a Lotus Cortina retired after being stuck in a mud pit for 8 hours not far south of Nairobi. The same hazard awaited Joginder Singh in his Datsun, but he and B. Smith were able to extricate their car in a mere 75 minutes.
Entering the Kiroka Pass section in Tanzania, torrential rains began. The Ford Lotus Cortina of Huth and Grant led, but was closely followed by two injected 404s. As the Lotus had required a new clutch, the resultant 30 penalty points left very little time between the top three cars. Huth and Grant then were delayed for 65 minutes at a flash flood - up until then they had over an hour on the 2 Peugeots. When the Nowicki-Cliff car reached the same ravine, the waters had receded, so they were not delayed. They took over first place, and the Shankland-Rothwell 404 was in second position.
In fact, Shankland had been making up time on the first place 404 Injection, until on a tarmac section the engine was either overrevved or suffering from their previous off-road excursion, and it threw a connecting rod through the side of the block. At the time, this car was reeling Nowicki in at a high rate of speed on a smooth tarmac section of road. Crude attempts made to patch the hole to prevent oil from escaping, to enable them to limp home to Nairobi were unsuccessful, and the car had to retire around 150 miles from the finish. In all, two-thirds of the cars which began the southern leg were abandoned due either to time violations or mechanical failures. The 7 finishers were:
1 - Peugeot 404 Injection (Nowicki-Cliff)
2 - Ford Lotus Cortina (Huth-Grant)
3 - Triumph 2000 ( Mandeville-A1lison)
4 - Peugeot 404 Injection (Armstrong-Pavely)
5 - Datsun H130 (Joginder Singh-Smith)
6 - Ford Cortina GT (Ulyate- Wood)
7 - Nissan H130 (Lucille Cardwell-Geraldine Davies)
The Reporter summed up the condition of the top 2 cars in this way:
"On the ramp at Nairobi the Huth Ford was a mess. Its door pillars were cracked. Its windscreen was held in place with rope. It had no clutch, and it failed the brake test. In contrast, the Nowicki Peugeot looked all ready to go around again."
The impressive results which Peugeot achieved in the Safari in the 1960s were a testament to the high quality and durability of the basic product. It should be remembered that in the 1960s, rally cars were very nearly showroom stock, workaday vehicles. The 404 Injection models made do with between 90 and 100 DIN HP.
Ford, with the Lotus Cortina, had introduced a new breed of purpose-built rally car to Africa, with a fair measure of success. In the early 1970s, heavily modified low-production models such as the Ford Escort RS 2000, Lancia Stratos, Fiat 124 Spider Abarth and Alpine Renault All0 became the norm in international rallying. This led to even more radical machinery in the 1980s.
At the end of 1968, the 404 was more or less superseded by the 504 as the Peugeot of choice in African rallying. But the specialized nature of the sport required ever more powerful engines - the first 504 1800cc Injection rally cars had 110 HP (versus 93 DIN stock); by 1975, when Peugeot next won the Safari, the 2 litre 504 Injection Rally version had no less than 165 DIN (106 HP stock). The low-volume 504 Coupe V6 which won the 1978 Safari was pumping 225 HP out of its 2664 cc, and it looked more like a monster truck than a Pininfarina Coupe on its jacked-up suspension (a la MGB)!
The 1967 Safari winning 404 Injection Number 5 of Shankland-Rothwell in full rally trim is preserved at the Peugeot Museum in Sochaux. If you ever find yourself there, spend a few moments taking in a very proud era in Peugeot's history.
NOTE: I wrote this account of the 404's exploits in the East African Safari back in 1993 for the now-defunct Peugeot Owners' Club in the USA. I would have preferred to have a primary source - I did write to Bert Shankland in Scotland but I didn't get a reply. I spoke with Jaswant Singh about it on two occasions but in the end I found a very good secondary source in the bowels of the library at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. This was the Kenyan news magazine "The Reporter", which had excellent pre- and post-rally articles. So I photocopied these in 1989 when I found them and eventually wrote an account of the 404's exploits based upon this source.
If anyone would like to reproduce this article for any non-commercial purpose (for example, a car club newsletter), that would be great with me, please just mention the origin of the information.