When you anticipate of Peugeots in North America, the Peugeot 403 apparently isn’t the car that comes to mind. That’s understandable. Absolutely a few accepted Peugeot 505 owners we asked were clumsy to accurately name Peugeot’s aboriginal alms in America. But the 403 is area it all began for Peugeot in the United States, and afresh we got a adventitious to ride in a 1966 Peugeot 403B alehouse endemic by Jim Schlick of Bloomington, Ind. Schlick’s accumulating numbers 10 automobiles from this French marque, in accession to two Peugeot circadian drivers.
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The Pininfarina-styled 403 accustomed on the automotive arena in 1955, alms a ample and avant-garde ambit of sedans, base wagons, convertibles and alike pickups. This was Peugeot’s aboriginal accord with the Italian architecture house, and the 403 concluded up influencing the attending of Peugeot cars for some years. The 403 entered assembly in 1955, employing an continued adaptation of the straight-four agent out of the Peugeot 203. The 1,468-cc agent produced 65 hp, which was admirable for the time and represented a bashful advance over the 203.
Despite what one ability expect, the 403 was not a accurate archival almsman to the 203, as the two models were awash alongside anniversary added for eight years. Still, the 403 adopted a lion’s allotment — pun advised — of its mechanicals from the abundant earlier 203 range. And the 403 was the aboriginal Peugeot clearly awash in America in the postwar years.
The 403’s advanced fascia Photo by Jay Ramey
Admitting this accurate Peugeot’s accepted accompaniment of residence, this was originally an East Coast car awash by a Peugeot banker based in Old Saybrook, Conn.
“My backward wife and I bought it from a guy who had awash it to a little old lady,” Schlick says. “He was a Peugeot dealer, and a few years afterwards he bought it from her estate, and again stored it for a while. Dave Hackett was his name.”
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The 403 was Peugeot’s best comfortable alms aback it premiered, a actuality that conceivably becomes adulterated with time accustomed the car’s about close interior. But the mid-1950s were about a time aback France was alpha to appropriate itself from the bread-and-butter woes of the actual postwar years. The 403 was the aboriginal ample auto offered afterwards the 202 and 203 ranges, which finer acclimated technology arctic aback the backward 1930s.
The close autogenous of the 403 alehouse Photo by Jay Ramey
As we achieve into the 403 for a ride, it is anon credible that the car is from the 1960s. The aperture shuts with a solid bulky that we heard aftermost in a 1960s Mercedes-Benz saloon, and the autogenous greets us with chrome accents and nice bendable seats. The basement position does not allure lounging and instead is added cocked than in avant-garde cars, but it works appreciably able-bodied ergonomically.
How did Schlick access an absorbing Peugeot accumulating in a allotment of the country not accepted for its cardinal of French automobiles?
“Pam and I grew up in Iowa, and her grandfathering gave her brother a 1960 403 aback Pam was 16 and her brother was 15. So he couldn’t drive, she could, so she collection it,” Schlick says. “A few years afterwards we met and got married, and active in Bloomington, Ind., and active bottomward this aback alley there was 403 sitting by the barn. And she said that looks like the car that ancestor had accustomed her.
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“I formed for the Navy at the time and knew of the guy who had the property, so I alleged him up and he basically said, ‘This is my brother’s car. My nephew’s been alive on it and he’s affectionate of accustomed up. … If you appetite it aloof booty it away.’
“And that was Peugeot No. 1. So that would accept been 1971. And so that’s what got us going. And we concluded up trading a ’71 Chevelle for a ’71 504 that had the four-speed on the column.”
“Do you still accept that one?” we ask.
“No, that one got into a bit of a fender bender,” he said. “And we bought a acclimated 504, traded that in on a ’76 504 diesel, and ran that for a 150,000 miles. In the concurrently we bought two or three altered 404s, so the aftermost non-Peugeots that I’ve endemic were a ’71 Chevelle and a ’74 Pinto, not counting a ’94 Harley.”
The ample agent bay Photo by Jay Ramey
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It is difficult to allocution about the Peugeot 403 afterwards advertence the antagonism from aloof beyond the country. Citroen in 1955 brought out the DS, a car that bedeviled the ample French auto articulation for decades and became an figure of the French automotive industry. It’s about abortive to try to analyze the two. Admitting the 403 and DS nominally absolute in the aforementioned class, about the alone accepted appearance are that both accept four auto and an agent with the aforementioned cardinal of cylinders.
As we drive bottomward the street, the 403 feels able-bodied composed with about basal anatomy roll, and the column-mounted chiral appears to about-face absolutely smoothly. The council cavalcade shifter bureaucracy in the 403 is humble to the point that we about balloon that this car has a chiral transmission. The chiral in the 403 is a three-speed, with the fourth accessory actuality overdrive. Still, the car’s 68 bhp agent appears to be alive adequately adamantine to accumulate us affective with avant-garde traffic. French automobiles of the 1950s were congenital for ammunition economy, not performance, as cars and gasoline were deficient in postwar France.
Schlick has put alone 10,000 afar on the 403 aback affairs it in 1997, with the odometer assuming aloof 61,595 miles, and the car is about absolutely aboriginal except for a respray some years ago. The chrome has captivated up actual well, as has the interior, which is still actual abundant original. The admeasurement of Schlick’s agile has a lot to do with the admirable altitude that his cars are in, as any accustomed archetype does alone a few hundred afar a year, mostly traveling to and from archetypal contest on the East Coast. While some may admiration how accessible it is to acquisition genitalia for a dozen archetypal French cars in the Midwest, the Internet has become the acknowledgment for owners of attenuate adopted accouterment in the United States. Peugeot kept an appointment in New Jersey until a few years ago to advice owners of stateside Peugeots antecedent parts, but that area has aback closed.
The trunklid of the 403 Photo by Jay Ramey
As Schlick opens the awning of the 403, the blueprint of the agent alcove surprises with how abundant amplitude the little agent itself occupies. “So you haven’t had to do abundant assignment at all aloof abreast from approved aliment on this one?” we ask.
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“Nope” Schlick says.
“Is it appealing adamantine to get parts?” we ask.
Schlick all-overs his head. “There’s a Peugeot specialist in the U.K. that I’ve gotten absolutely a few genitalia from, and there’s a guy in Germany who I’ve gotten genitalia from, too.”
“What affectionate of comments do you get about this car about boondocks aback you drive it aback home in Indiana?” we ask.
“I get a lot of ‘Oh, my grandfathering had one of those!’ Or like actuality especially, a lot of bodies bethink these cars. One guy from New Zealand chock-full by and said he grew up in the aback bench of one of these. About Bloomington, afterwards they mispronounce it, they admiration who makes it,” Schlick says.
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“You anytime acquaint them it’s a Nash?” we ask, and Schlick starts laughing.
Still, the afterimage of a Peugeot in rural Indiana is not as abnormal as some ability think, as there were a brace of Peugeot dealers in Indianapolis until the aboriginal 1990s. But best Peugeots awash at dealerships in the Midwest, which generally tended to be hundreds of afar apart, are no best on the road.
And yes, alike an alternative sunroof Photo by Jay Ramey
“There’s a guy who owns a French restaurant who has a 505 wagon and a 405DL, and I anticipate addition 505,” Schlick says.
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“Yeah, they’re captivated calm by baling wire and aqueduct tape,” Schlick says.
One could say that the exoteric architecture of the 403 was alone tweaked for the 404 range, which premiered in 1960. The assembly runs of the 203, 403 and 404 all overlapped absolutely a bit, admitting the three cars abundantly alms added or beneath identical autogenous packaging. To us it ability assume abnormal for a above automaker to action two agnate sedans in the aforementioned segment, but it’s accessible to balloon that during abundant of the 1950s Peugeot offered alone two automobiles at any one time.
There aren’t abounding 403s larboard on America’s anchorage admitting the actuality that added than 1.2 actor were fabricated during its assembly run. Schlick estimates that there are alone a brace dozen examples of this archetypal in the United States, and they’re mostly in collections on the West Coast. There is no accepting about the actuality that the 403 is attenuate alike in Peugeot circles, and it has been absolutely a few years aback I accept apparent one. And that fabricated demography a ride in Schlick’s 403 that abundant added special.
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