Peugeot 404 KF2
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 2
THE FIRST fuel injection
version of the Peugeot 404 engine was introduced in 1962, initially only for the Pininfarina
cabriolet. The following year came an alternative installation for a Super Luxe version of the four-door saloon. Since the 404's introduction, the Peugeot engineers continued development work to the point that it seemed they were intent on releasing an entirely new car!
Modifications to the power plant increased output by nearly 13%, the net figure being 88 b.h.p. (or 96 b.h.p. gross); this in turn managing to bring the magic 100 m.p.h. within the car's capabilties, and the chassis modifications were primarily concerned with added safety and durability, two points with which the 404 had already proven itself
Chief amoung the safety improvements were the special "Thermostable" front brakes, which had composite ribbed drums of a special cast iron with high thermal conductivity, and contained two double-acting pistons for the two shoes. This was claimed to eliminate any self-servo effects and consequent variations in efficiency as the friction co-efficient changed with heat. They were assisted by a Bendix vacuum servo.
Cote Exterieur Voiture
Secondly, the wheels had perforated discs to assist brake cooling, and were shod with either Michelin XA2 or Dunlop SP Sports tyres. The XA2 was a then new asymetric type - it had to be mounted with the wall marked cote exterieur voiture to the outside.
To cope with the increased torque and power there were stronger clutch springs, and the final drive was strengthened; the aluminitim lining for the worm axle was ribbed, the worm wheel was wider, and the drive shafts were thicker at their inboard (splined) ends. Engine modifications included a new head casting to accommodate larger inlet and exhaust valves
, special pistons and main bearing shells, and extensive alterations to the inlet manifolding and exhaust
system as well as a new injection pump.
Super Luxe Special Equipment
Super Luxe specification included real leather seat trim, a removable armrest which could be slipped in between the front seats, and a sun-roof. The model was availlable in four distinctive finishes - metallic grey or brown with tan leather, bright red with the same, and white with a green interior.
Drivers and Owners Detail Their Experiences
Sometimes the task of putting together a review in Unique Cars and Parts
is made all the more difficult because drivers and previous owners views about the car concerned are so varied; however in the case of the fuel injection
404 there was no such problem because everyone had fond memories of it, with a few reservations about mostly minor details.
Compliments paid include the ease of cold morning starts, the 404 being able to move off at once without induction gulps or transmission
jerks - this of course being due to the thermostatic device automatically arranging for the engine to be fed with the correct mixture to suit its temperature. In fact, the behaviour of the fuel injection
system on the 404, for the era, was exemplary in every respect.
In standard carburettor form, when the net output was 70 b.h.p., the 404 unit was one of the sweetest and smoothest fours there were. Although the greater effort which the fuel injection
version exert did slightly reduce its mechanical refinement and quietness, it remained very unobtrusive, only becoming a bit noisy when pressed hard in the indirect gears. It still sounded and felt, according to one review of the time, "essentially a touring unit that never plays on the nerves during a long day's run".
The Kügelfischer fuel injection
arrangement gave it excellent torque characteristics, with good tractability at low engine revs and a strong, even pull right to the top of its useful range. At a true 100 m.p.h., the 404 remained smooth and at ease. This speed represented about 5,650 r.p.m., which was still below the peak of the power curve. In the indirects, using 6,000 r.p.m. as the limit, you could reach 27, 48 and 75 m.p.h. in first, second and third gears respectively, ratio spacings complementing the distinctly sporting performance very nicely.
The 404 seemed to have no well-defined best cruising speed, so it became simply a matter of expense; for instance, if you were prepared to cover only 20·2 miles per gallon you could maintain 90 m.p.h. indefinitely. By cruising 10 m.p.h. slower than this a saving of 5·1 m.p.g. was obtained. Obviously these speeds, and fuel consumption figures, were obtained under test conditions only!
The manufacturer's constant speed figures overall of 25·1 m.p.g. seem very reasonable in relation to the car's performance, and in everyday use we believe these figures to have been attainable. While the 404 was extremely popular in the rugged terrain of North Africa, strangely there was neither a reserve supply nor a low-level warning lamp.
When the ignition was turned on, two red tell-tales were lit, one for low oil pressure and the other for the brake servo vacuum. As the electric fuel pump started to turn, its pressure tellltale was first lit and then extinguished as the pressure built up to about 27 p.s.i. The other two were extinguished once the engine had started and built up normal oil pressure and evacuated the servo reservoir. The brake tell-tale was also lit if the fluid level in the system dropped too low.
Synchromesh was provided for each of the four gears, and was very effecctive except on the lowest one. A steering
column lever followed the familiar Peugeot three-plaIie arrangeement instituted on the 203, that is with first opposite reverse and the need to pull the lever towards the steering-wheel rim before moving-it into fourth. The lever movement was a bit clumsy and notchy by the standards of the day (it coming in for some criticism in several reviews of the era), however you could make nice changes from 2 to 3 or vice versa. A smooth and progressive clutch helped the car to set off very easily on a 1-in-3 test hill, with some wheelspin.
The Unique Peugeot Worm-And-Wheel Final Drive Gears
Peugeot cars of the era - apart from the front-drive 204 - were unique in having worm-and-wheel final drive gears. In this design the propeller shaft was enclosed in a torque tube locating the axle fore-and-aft and a Panhard rod controlled it laterally, since the coil springs performed only as such. Peugeot final drives were often a little noisy. An inherent shortcoming of this arrangement was that torque reversals in the drive line were not cushioned as well as with the conventional bevel drive. Hence it was not easy to drive the Peugeot smoothly at low speeds, or to avoid a distinct jerk when the accelerator was released. An important service requirement that owners needed to remember was that the worm axle needed to be filled with a vegetable-based oil, the original Peugeot recommendation being Esso VT.
An Uncanny Insulation
An outstanding attribute common to all Peugeots of the era was an almost uncanny insulation of road-and-tyre noise from the interior of the car, to a degree equalled by few much more expensive vehicles. This was a sort of self-effacing virtue, which would only become onvious when you stepped out of the Peugeot and into a less succcessfully insulated car; we know today that insulation of road noise is an important factor in reducing nervous fatigue on long runs.
Also helping were the
which were quieter than pretty much all others then offered. Best of all, they gave exceptional grip for rapid cornering on wet or dry roads. On wet surfaces, however, you could induce wheeIspin and back axle tramp if trying to take off too quickly, and the wheels would tend to lock up and slide if you applied the brakes
to hard. In the dry it was the rear brakes
that locked first, although not until the road testers Mintex U-tube was showing better than 0·9g.
were considered by many to be savage at low speed, and not truly progressive. But on the positive side, they turned out to be incredibly resistant to fade, even after enduring prolonged tortuous high speed braking tests. It was evident that Peugeot had developed a drum brake system which was the equal of most disc types of the era.
The Peugeot rack-and-pinion steering
had a well earned reputation for precision and freedom from wear after long use. The gearing on the 404 was on the high side, and with a lack of slop or sponginess it did make the unititiated think the steering
was over-sensitive. Given enough time behind the wheel however, you would soon learn the steering
was a virtue.
Panhard Rod Effects
The rear suspension
geometry, with the axle pulled sideways by the Panhard rod as it rose and fell, and pivoting about the torque tube's forward anchor point behind the gearrbox, produced some back-end steering
effects on indifferent road surfaces. Older drivers will remember seeing this when following along the blacktop, and it could be felt inside the 404 as a sideways rocking motion. Drivers unfamiliar with the Peugeot's suspension
were likely to mistake this characteristic for a form of instability and try to correct every little deviation with the steering-wheel.
But the truth was the 404 had very good directional stability (if you were prepared to overlook this particular quirk). On the standard tyre
pressures (21 p.s.i. front, 24 rear) it understeered slightly if pressed hard through corners, but there was not much body roll; and stability was scarcely affected by variations in load. With its small turning circles and straight-through movement from first to reverse and vice versa, the 404 was also particularly easy to park and manouvere.
Car reviews of the time all agree that the ride was a nicely balanced compromise between what was needed for high speed stability and freedom from harshness when moving slowly, apart from the previously mentioned worm-and-wheel final drive. The seat springing was sufficiently "dead" not to amplify road-wheel suspension
movements. Back seat passengers traveled just about as restfully as those in the front. Reviewers had varied opinions about the driving position, the critics pointing out the steep angle and offset of the steering-wheel (such that the column passed through the floor to the left of the clutch pedal lever) and the abnormal height of the pendant brake and clutch pedals from the floor. When fully back on its runners the driving seat was still too near the pedals for tall drivers.
Heating and Ventilation
Within seconds of a cold start, warm air would be extracted from the heater with the rather noisy single-speed fan turned on. Without this the air-flow was not always sufficient unless the car was moving fast. To concentrate all the delivery on the screen you needed to reach under the facia to close little doors at each side of the heater unit. Powerful cool air vents at each side of the facia, adjustable for quantity and direction, were a great asset in warm weather.
The usual Peugeot four-position lighting switch, with a lever to the right of me steering
column moving through an upturned U, was very convenient, easy to find and its functions easy to remember. Small parking lights were provided on each side, just ahead of the screen pillars, and had a separate three-way switch beneath the dash. The Peugeot's control were few and uncomplicated. Instruments included a quadrant speedometer
- which was prone to exagggeration - with total and trip mileage recorders, water temperature and fuel level gauges and a clock. By night the panel lighting was clear but subdued.
The single-speed wipers were adequate to about 80 m.p.h. but thereafter become progressively less effective; and they could not reach very far around the sharply curved extremities of the screen. Fine weather visibility was first-class, with deep windows, slender pillars and a steep fall-away of the bonnet and boot lid between the prominent mudguard pressings. Either loud (dual) or soft (single) horn notes can be sounded, depending on how hard you pressed the horn ring. Stowage space within the car was limited to a cubby-hole at the left end of the facia, with lid but no lock, and the rear window shelf. The sliding sun-roof (a very popular option in France) created very little draught when open up to about 70 m.p.h., beyond which there was understandably some booming and buffeting.
One Word - Longevity
In most markets around the world the Peugeot 404 KF2 had strong competition to contend with, and its performance could be matched by other relatively small-engined sedans selling for less money. Its special attractions were not only what it could do and the way it went about it, but the prospect that it could maintain these abilities over a long period. Ask anyone who has owned one to sum the car up in one word, and invariably that word will be "longevity". Having already won the Safari Rally in 1963, the Kügelfischer Series 2 would go on to win again in 1966, 1967 and 1968.