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504 WANTED

Hi there ,

I was wondering if you guys could please help me out. I have been looking for a Peugeot 504 sedan for the longest time and I was wondering if you guys have any contacts to people selling their 504 Peugeot. It’s been a dream of mine to own one for many years.

Kierohn Sims

Kierohn@gmail.com

You can also contact me on 02102763488


WANTED

WANTED

I am looking for a rear torsion bar for a 2000 Peugeot 306 2.0 petrol;

rego is ZG6001

Lawrence Woodhouse, ph 03 548 2619 or nelbrakes AT xtra.co DOT nz

 


President’s Ramble – September 2018

Like last August, I am going to make this brief. We have had the AGM and nothing changed except that Don and Wynne have both given notice that this will be their last year on the committee.  Nobody has yet volunteered to replace them, so you have a year to get yourself ready for nomination.  As a committee we have to be appointed by the members at the AGM, but there is however nothing stopping the committee appointing you as an acting committee member, if you want to come along and see what we do and get a taste of it prior to the next AGM.  If you think you would or could, your club needs you.  Please contact the secretary to find out when and where the next committee meeting is. being held. We would love to see you.

Coming up soon (October7th) is the annual Pride of Ownership; check the magazine for more details.  We would love some different people to turn up and show their Pride and Joys. It would be good to get another name or two on the trophies rather than the traditional few we already have, and remember should you have an ‘05, you normally only have to turn up to beat me to the trophy. My car was a working car.

The 4th of November sees a rescheduled Navigation Trial on the 1st Sunday of November – not the date previously advertised.  Remember this is the first part of our annual contest with Citroen and counts for point towards the Tricoleur Trophy, please turn up and compete. (You don’t need to drive a Peugeot on it.)  Hopefully we can keep our hands on the Trophy for a 3rd consecutive year.

I look forward to seeing more of you at these events,

Brent

President’s Ramble – August 2018

We are about to have our AGM, and with that in mind I would like to ask for volunteers to step up and take on roles in the committee.  In particular we are in need of a new secretary for next year. Wynne has decided it is time for her to step down after 24 years in the role – can anyone remember who had the job before her? Certainly not me. I have only been a member for 19 years now. Anyway please consider yourself for this role. This will be Wynne s last AGM as secretary, but we will need someone else to take over next year.  The role I believe is not too arduous, mostly taking and distributing the not quite monthly committee meeting minutes.  Please step up and volunteer for this role.

I myself have been rambling (in the USA) and missed the last committee meeting, I would also not be surprised if Don will be standing again for the last time as a committee member. He has been threatening to not stand for at least the last three AGMs.  Therefore as per usual some fresh blood amongst the committee is also more than welcome. We have been lucky to have Xerxes join us this last year and his contributions have not been unnoticed.  Others are also welcome. Being a committee member is also relatively easy; occasionally you may get a small organising job to do, usually by volunteering to do it, but other than that it often involves no more than expressing your ideas at the meetings and helping stuff the envelopes with the magazines.

Other club matters to keep in mind are the upcoming events we have in October and November.  In October is our annual Pride of Ownership, no date announced as yet, but keep it in mind, come have your car judged.  It doesn’t have to be the shiniest car there, in fact I have won the “05” category before by simply turning up and being the only one in it. I have my name on the Trophy to prove it, and probably still came last overall!  As it hasn’t been discussed I can’t even give you a venue, however I would not be surprised if it is in Cornwall Park again.

The other event to keep in mind is the first stage of the Navigation Trial. It is our year to organise it.  If anyone wishes to have a go at setting one this November please get in touch with a committee member.  A number of us have set them in the past as well as competed in many.

My rambling to and within the USA has seen me mastering driving on the wrong side of the road again, mastering sitting on the wrong side of the vehicle and trying to remember which way traffic should be coming from.  To achieve this I largely discipline myself  so that as the driver I need to be sitting in the middle of the road, not by the kerb.  I do find that every intersection takes more concentration to check I turn to the correct side of the road. It didn’t become habit despite driving close to every day there for 16 days.  I am glad to say however no mishaps or even anything remotely like a close call except on the freeway in Los Angeles where I found the 12 seater Ford Transit van I was driving still managed to have a bit of a blind spot on the passenger side, all this despite having the best wing mirrors I have ever driven with! Even then it wasn’t so much a ‘close call’ situation as a ‘be aware’ one.

We spent the majority of our time away in Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota, especially exploring National Parks, National Forests and State Parks.  The most beautiful was probably the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming which seemed to combine mountains, forests, meadows and lakes in the most picturesque combinations.  Yellowstone (the world’s first National Park) on the other hand is beyond compare with its diversity of geography and wildlife, and its sheer size.  The geysers, springs and mud pools make those at Rotorua almost a non-event, and yet those at Rotorua are quite something.  To see a bison up close and personal is really quite something, then to see a large herd is something else again, and in the Lamar Valley in particular we saw many herds.  We were also very fortunate to see 6 brown bears whilst there, we met some who had been more than once and never seen any, we managed 6 in 4 days, so very pleasing.  In South Dakota we visited Mount Rushmore National Monument. Although I have seen many images of the four presidents etched in stone before, seeing is really comprehending, especially if you are lucky or organised enough to get one of the ranger talks about the making of the faces.  The drives through some of the other South Dakota parks were also quite something, in particular The Needles Highway comes highly recommended, and we went underground at Wind Cave National Park.  Wind Cave has something like 90% of the world’s known box lattice work; the rest apparently is spread scattered across the globe in small amounts here and there, even other large cave systems that are located very close by do not have it.

In Montana we visited the site of the Battle of Little Bighorn, the location of “Custers Last Stand”. This is a truly well laid out experience with great interpretive panels, and again with a superb Ranger’s talk.  My favourite spot was the Big Horn Mountains in the Big Horn National Forest.  Here the views are just phenomenal and the roads at times unbelievably steep, but well made.  A small fortune must have been spent to build them.  Despite the challenging gradients some big rigs still use it as a route to traverse Wyoming. On the downhill runs on the western side were a number of emergency run offs. I would not have fancied using them in a kart let alone a multi ton rig. The views are remarkable, farmers have leases and we observed both cattle and sheep (the only spot we saw a sizable flock) being rounded up in high mountain meadows. Elsewhere we observed moose grazing amongst willows and elk grazing on the forest edge.  Yellow Bellied Marmots were found amongst the peaks near the “medicine wheel” archaeological site and I was very fortunate to see a rather rare pika – a type of small and rare alpine rodent.  I talked to the rangers and they informed us that as well as elk and moose, bighorn sheep can be found (though only rarely now due to a disease outbreak) and with them predators such a wolves, cougars, coyotes and foxes.  Eagles and other birds of prey abound and can occasionally be found diving on the pika and marmots, which keep a constant and shrill chatter going amongst the mountain tops, talking to each other about what predators may abound.

From a motoring point of view, I was initially apprehensive about the size of the Transit Vans I was to be driving. They are over 6m long, though once you are driving them I found them not to be overly large compared to the many large pickups. This part of the country is full of large vehicles and this is reflected in the size of the car parks, not the same as in NZ.  Much to my surprise it also has a very responsive power steering system and was much easier to manoeuvre than my smaller Mitsubishi Ute back home.  The Transit van is an American morph of what was a European design. I suspect they make them larger and unlike the Europeans they are not diesels; instead Ford USA has a 3.5 litre turbocharged V6 petrol engine in them.  Although at times I felt it lacked power, I suspect it was more an issue of the gear ratios, I did get the big bulky creature up to 80mph, which was the limit on some of the interstates.  Most of the time 55 to 65 was the limit.  In South Dakota many of the highways were concrete (at least in the Black hills – Rapid City area) and they whined.  It was inescapable, it was almost as if we were travelling in a jet aircraft such was the constant  background noise.  I never figured out exactly what they did to those roads to create the sounds; interestingly enough one section there were visible patterns in the road and this was one of the few silent ones, whereas visually it looked like it should have been the loudest!

I am going to run my ramble down now to its conclusion with one last story. Whilst in the Custer State Park in the Black Hills of South Dakota we were caught in the most magnificent hail storm any of us had experienced. Some of the hail stones were larger than golf balls, most not much smaller, though interestingly they were more ovoid than round. All traffic stopped and tried to hide beneath pine trees; at least two cars slid off the road not getting enough grip on the instant ice. We have some incredible photos of the road and landscape looking like summer snow-fall, but it wasn’t!  The sound of the hail on the roof was incredible, sounded like we were in a tin drum and we had expectations that the glass might break. It didn’t and casual observations revealed no dents though we didn’t climb on the roof to check. I didn’t time it, but can confidently say that the hail would have fallen intensely for more than 15 minutes and less than 30. Torrential rain followed for a similar amount of time afterwards followed by brilliant sunshine. Three days later we were flying out from Rapid City regional airport.  Whilst in the rental car park area we observed a Ford Mustang Convertible. Every panel was pock marked, the rear window smashed through and the front windscreen had a number of impact marks as well as cracks of some length throughout it.  We observed that like us they had the obligatory Custer State Park fee paid sticker in the window. Clearly the hail was somewhat larger than that we had experienced – or alternatively the metal on the Mustang is somewhat thinner than on other vehicles; I suspect the former.

See you at the AGM at Armstrongs dealership in Greenlane; remember to volunteer to be our new secretary or to join the committee,

Catch you soon,

Brent

My experiences with the 403 by John Grant

The Peugeot 403

 This is one of the most under rated cars of all time. The 203 looks sufficiently different to have already become a collector’s item, but the 403s seem to be just fading away, unappreciated.  This seems odd when you consider that over 1000 were assembled here in NZ by 1962 at the Volkswagen plant in Otahuhu. They were sold in large numbers to farmers and vets.

This is not just my own opinion. In ‘Drive; the definitive history of motoring’, it is concisely described in these words –

The Peugeot 403 was ideal for austerity Europe – a large solid car with simple mechanics and a no-nonsense approach. It was the preferred car for much of middle-class France.”

My own first encounter came in 1966 when I wanted to upgrade my 203. This had done over 270,000 miles (yes MILES), most of it towing a light racecar or trialling over both islands.  I saw one advertised from a deceased estate. It was a French assembled 1957 car, dark blue in colour and with only just over 70,000 miles on the clock.  I bought it at Easter and initially was very disappointed with its performance.  It had been “babied”. It was in immaculate condition but had always been driven with consideration, even when shipped over to Australia for touring.

I paid about £450. I could have beaten the widow down, but it was in such excellent condition I was prepared to pay top dollar. I took possession of it and gave it a full service and tuneup before driving down to Wellington. I was planning to compete in a ten-hour Trial starting on Easter Saturday.

We drove down on Good Friday when the traffic was quiet. At first it would only cruise at about 50mph, so I ran it in again on the trip. I would ease the speed up and run it faster for short bursts of half a mile or so. Bit by bit, the engine readjusted and settled in to the higher speed without breaking any rings which had been a real risk. If a lip has developed in the bores, a change of driver bringing a drastic change of speed can pound the rings against the lip and break them. By the time we reached Wellington, it was purring along faster and smoother than it had probably ever done before.

We cruised back up to Auckland in about eight hours – not bad for the roads in those days. I managed to get a set of Michelins for it and over the next nine months put on 35,000 more miles. I then sold it as I was going overseas – to the UK where I picked up my brand new fuel injected 404 at the wharf. A couple of months later I also found a secondhand 403 in London for my uncle, Frank Peake. He had bought a caravan which we had been towing around Europe behind my 404 and in June we took it over to Dublin with the 403 which I drove around Ireland towing the caravan with four adults and a child on board.

On arriving on Irish soil, I noticed the oilpressure warning light was coming on when the motor was hot. “Oh yes” said Frank,. “It always does that”. Not fancying the thought of an engine seizing while towing, I checked and found that it was a sludging problem, and short of stripping the engine down, there was nothing to be done right then. We carried on towing.

Jeanette has one vivid memory of that car. We had got to our campsite early one day and Frank decided that we should drive around the Ring of Kerry in the evening and he would drive so I could “play being a tourist”. At one point we were going down a straight road and could see a right angled bend coming up – but Frank was not slowing down! “Frank! There’s a bend!” cried Aunt Minnie. He braked abruptly and we made it safely around the corner. When she asked what he had been thinking about, he admitted he had “been watching that fellow cutting the hedge back there” – in the rear vision mirror. In all his years of driving, he never had an accident, but he gave his wife grey hair and high blood pressure.

 

That car and caravan went round Ireland three times that summer taking various relatives visiting each other and then across to Scotland. Coming south, it finally scuffed a piston going over “Shap” which is a very long steady drag.  My uncle carried on.  Just north of Liverpool, it scuffed another. By this time it was belching out lots of smoke – so much that it was not allowed to go through the Mersey Tunnel and they had to drive around through Warrington, the equivalent of going round the head of the Waitemata through Riverhead.

Believe it or not, car and caravan made it safely home on two cylinders to Bebington. An engine job was now essential and this was automatically considered to be my job. The question was where to do it. There was no garage and the local service stations had no hoisting facilities available. We eventually bought a little Haltrac hoist, and lifted the engine out on the road side with the aid of a convenient tree branch and a passing postman who provided the essential extra hand to guide it straight.

Parts were available from the agents – in Croydon.  Finding our way there however was not the end of the problem, as they could not make sense of the Peugeot parts books. Eventually I managed to get it sorted out, we picked up the parts – a new set of sleeves and pistons -, went back by train and put the engine together. Even after all that time with low pressure, the crankshaft was as good as new. The postman came to the rescue again with the offer of his own garage which had a strong roof beam. We therefore put the overhauled engine in the boot of the 403 and towed it around a couple of blocks to his garage where it all went satisfactorily back together again.

After we returned to NZ in December 1967, that car continued in regular use towing the caravan around Europe as well as the UK. Judging by the wear in the engine and on the rubber of the pedals, it had been round the clock several times before we bought it and went around several times more before the rust caused by the salt on the roads, finally made it unsafe. Frank then went out and replaced it with another 403 which served him well until he died in 1981.

A fix for that dreaded antipollution fault? by Merrick Hilton

This article appeared in the Australian August 2017 issue of TORQUE and appeared to be relevant to us as well.

My 2002 406HDi manual wagon has generally been free of any major faults during its life of 500,000 kms. Although the vehicle has had regular and attentive maintenance every 10,000kms it was not unexpected, given its age, that at some stage it would experience some complex problems.
In the past 15 months the vehicle has been plagued by a persistent anti-pollution fault (APF). The APF initiated “limp mode” operation. Whilst in limp mode the vehicle was still driveable. Limp mode prevented the engine spinning past 3000rpm so a deal of short shifting was required to get it on the move. Cruise control was also disabled.
The fault, initially intermittent, became a permanent feature in the Latter part of 2016. An increase in fuel consumption was evident and the engine was also “running on” for several seconds after the ignition was turned off.
The vehicle was diagnosed as having a P1138 fault code. The code indicated there was a fault generated somewhere in the fuel/air delivery system. The difficulty was in pinning down the actual component and related sensor which was causing the alert.
I became an avid reader of posts in Peugeot forums which described the issue. It appeared that there are several components and sensors which could prompt an APF. The conponents are a small fuel regulator motor which is attached to the high pressure fuel pump, a sensor on the common rail and the mass airflow (MAF) sensor located immediately behind an air intake filter box.
Forums mentioned the need to check all electrical connections and related wiring connected to the above mentioned components. This was done and everything appeared to be in good repair. Some forum posts indicated a variety of fairly complex engine management problems which could be associated with the P1138 code. I tried to keep things simple by focussing on the major parts involved.
Commencing my search for replacement parts I initially concentrated on the fuel regulator motor and MAF sensor. Australian dealer prices for each were incredible – $1200 for a regulator motor and around $300 for the MAF sensor. Armed with the correct OEM part numbers I started searching for these parts on the Internet. A genuine regulator motor was soured from the UK for less than $200 landed in Australia and a non-genuine MAF sensor from China for around $40.

The MAF sensor was fitted and appeared to solve the problem for several months. The replacement fuel regulator was also fitted. However, I felt the latter was emitting a strange whine whist operating and I was not happy with the noise. The APF problem was not solved and persisted for a few more months. During that time I noted a forum post by a person who appeared to have an intimate knowledge about APFs. The quote was “that in my experience such faults always seem to be related to the operation of the fuel regulator.”
I noticed that there was a fuel regulator repair kit available from the UK. It consisted of a new metal gasket, an “O” ring and split spacer which replaced parts on the shaft of the regulator motor. Reasonably priced, I ordered several kits. After fitting the repair kit to my old regulator motor and reinstalling it on the high pressure fuel pump I tentatively started the engine. The change was immediate – the APF was not registered on the dash and the engine was operating normally again.

A lengthy test run indicated that the motor was running like new – the power and the torque of the HDi engine had returned along with much improved fuel economy. Fuel consumption over the past 2 months has now returned to 5.2 litres/100km on the M1 from Morwell to Melbourne.
Looking back at the problem it became obvious that the small “O” ring had worn and allowed excess fuel to enter the common rail, trigger the SPF and cause the engine to run on. It was also probable that the MAF sensor required replacement
Although the problem took some time to sort out, it seemed to be a fairly simple solution to the APF in the end.

Helpful Hint on Electric cars

BUYING ELECTRIC?

If you are thinking of going the fashionable way and buying an electric vehicle, you may find the article `SWITCHED ON’ by Rachel Ellis in the Autumn 2018 issue of the magazine ‘AA DIRECTIONS’ has some good advice about what you should check before buying.
It includes specifics on prices – for both new and secondhand vehicles – and running costs which may come as a shock

Technical Tip from John Grant

I was recently reminded of an occasion when I had a problem with water in the sump of a 203. I feared it was a blown head gasket but it turned out to be a leaky liner seal.
I fixed it with the aid of RISLONE BLOCK SEAL which is available from Repco and I thought it might well be worth telling others that this can save stripping an engine down.

Peugeot 5008 Review by Brent Druskovich

Being a first time reviewer of a new car leads to some nerves and apprehension, especially when your everyday drive is 30 years old this year and quite frankly holds little resemblance to a 2018 vehicle. In much the same way that a 1958 203 cannot be fairly compared with the technology of my 1988 505, maybe even more so, as I am sure that the last 30 years have had far more technological advances than the previous 30. So where does a first time reviewer begin? I want to give the vehicle justice, but not gushing with the unfamiliarity of all the advances and appearing to be a starry eyed child getting the greatest Lego set at Christmas! I decided that rather than jumping in, I would take a step back, to think about the years of reviews I have read within the club magazine, the NZ Herald and any multitude of magazines. For that reason I intentionally have left writing this article for a couple of months after the fact.
The greatest inspiration I can dredge out of my motoring article memories are those associated with the launch of Lexus in the 1980s. At the time the journalists were gushing about this new brand; Toyota were stating that it was a separate brand; it would have nothing on it that could be associated with the mother brand and the motoring public and enthusiasts were waiting with a great deal of anticipation. Now hold those thoughts till the end of this article.
The 5008 that Auto Distributors NZ arranged for me to review was the GT model, which sells standard for $59,990 plus On Road Costs. The GT is powered with an 180hp 2.0L diesel coupled to a 6 speed automatic gearbox. To put that in comparison, that is 10 more HP than my 1988 2.8L 505V6 and both are more than adequate to power their respective vehicles. Auto Distributors, the New Zealand agent for Peugeot, are marketing the 5008 as its 7 seater range, which this vehicle has configured in three rows. Like all modern SUVs that I have seen sold new in NZ with the third row of seats, the third row seems only appropriate for younger children and the boot space is compromised when they are set up. However this is no criticism of the 5008, it is a reality of the modern SUV and occasional stationwagon, and Peugeot manages to make those third row seats less of a token than many others have and still offers more luggage space at the same time. Gone are the times of three large rows of seats and a big boot as once found in the 203, 404, 504 and 505 wagons.

The GT offers a few extra appointments that the petrol engined Allure doesn’t – which you would expect to be the case when you compare their $10,000 difference in price. These include, but are not limited to, a hands free tailgate release – which I found worked well; a massaging driver’s seat – that frankly didn’t do it for me, though I only tried it in one of its five settings; a different front bumper – which I think does look better and differentiates it from the Allure; an advanced digital dashboard – with easy to use settings to personalise your display as you like it, including an easy to use navigation system. I really enjoyed using that, even though I only drove the vehicle on routes that I knew and had no need for navigation aid. The colouring of the dash board display was easy on the eye and I thought contrasted well to make easy viewing.

The ‘extra’ I marvelled over the most however was the sport setting. This gave the 5008 a more responsive get up and go, and you could really hear it too! However I am told that that was all smoke and mirrors. The get up and go is real, but the sound is not. Apparently there is no perceptible change in the exhaust tones to those on the outside. However within the car, the stereo system emits an amplified exhaust, all electronic trickery, and it is very convincing, in fact totally convincing. It is not the first time that Peugeot have used this. The 308 GT diesel has the same function. However it is a first time for me. I tinkered with the volume of the radio thinking I might catch the ‘exhaust’ out, however even if the talking/music increased or decreased, the exhaust tones didn’t; they just adapted to the situation. I know that it makes no difference to the ride. However it does make a difference to the driving experience, especially for those who wish to enjoy the sound of an open exhaust.
Getting away from the 5008 features, the reality is that once the novelty of a new vehicle and all it has to offer has worn off, it becomes more important to know how useable it is. Peugeot have equipped the 5008 GT with a number of sensors and between them they make driving both easier and safer. There are sensors that pick up road signs and recognise the posted limits, and displays them on the dash. Other sensors warn through a vibration in the steering wheel if you are departing your lane (I intentionally tested that one – it works well). It monitors the drivers blindspots and watches for frontal collision dangers. There are sensors to tell you if things are too close to the sides. [This was the worst function for driving in and out of my driveway as it is thin with vegetation that protrudes into it so the sensors set alarms off like it was a party.] However that was a minor event to put up with when thinking about how convenient it is in unfamiliar places.
I have driven or been a passenger in a number of vehicles recently with reversing cameras. The 5008 GT has by far the best I have experienced. Not only does it show a clear high quality picture of what is behind, it incorporates views of what are alongside the vehicle as well. As you approach a solid object such as a fence or a wall, the view then switches to a near vertical view. I do not know what other vehicles may also offer this feature, but it was a first to me. All reversing cameras should have this feature. It even will park itself, though I didn’t try it. That is not in my driving DNA.
As part of my test drive weekend I drove to Hamilton with Joshua for a football game. Whilst he warmed up I took the 5008 to Hamilton Lake for some photo opportunities, some of which you will see in the magazine.
The drive to Hamilton was effortless, I kept the transmission in the ordinary mode, occasionally changing to sport, but it was totally unnecessary. Despite its large size the SUV feels light and easy to drive, and extremely comfortable too.
Joshua soon started “discovering” the sound system features and how to sync his phone in with the sound system, the Bluetooth abilities and a whole lot of other things I barely understand. His declaration was that the system was better than in his friend’s parents’ Audi Q7, a vehicle that sells new for a minimum of $55,000 more. The traffic on the way home was often at a standstill through various State Highway 1 roadworks. It was a long trip and on this rare occasion I was grateful for the air conditioning (instead of my normal open window), everything you could expect it to be in a modern vehicle.

When I reflect on my three days of driving the 5008GT I can’t really think of anything but praise. It was everything it promised to be and more. So I guess this is my Lexus moment. For the Lexus the criticism from the motoring journalists was that it was so good they could find nothing to criticise it. My Lexus moment came about three weeks after they released it, I found one parked on Percy Street in Mount Eden. I examined it as much as a teenage boy can from the outside, I wasn’t disappointed, I found that it wasn’t all it was supposed to be. I found in small print

Jeanette Grant’s 1st encounter

My husband John has been a Peugeot enthusiast since he bought a secondhand 203 in 1957 to tow his racing car around the country. He subsequently rallied that car satisfactorily for several years and over 20 years ago was delighted to have the chance to buy a 1955 model – and find its handling was just as good as he remembered.
We met on the ARCADIA in 1967. He was going back to England to visit his parents and was planning to pick up a new fuel injected Peugeot 404 on arrival. I am sure the only reason he noticed me was because I knew what it was!
The first Peugeot I had ever encountered was a wine coloured 1965 404 belonging to my brother in law, Con Attwood. He is a farmer at Kumeu and the 404 replaced his Studebaker as a farm vehicle for himself and his stepfather/partner Arawa Worrall. Barbie and Con had young children and appreciated the childproof locks on the rear doors. Arawa did not! A couple of times he happened to be a back seat passenger and did not remember that he would have to wait for the door to be opened from the outside. I wonder if Peugeot ever realised it was possible for an impatient elderly man to actually break off a door handle?
I remember this car fondly as it gave me one of my most satisfying early driving experiences. I had only had my driver’s licence for a couple of months and my sister did not drive at all at that time. We — my parents and I — had been staying at the beach with Barbie and family when she decided that she HAD to go back to the farm for a few hours to pick and freeze beans or she would lose the entire crop.
My parents agreed to look after the three children and we set off — with me driving! Con had hurt his hand and used that as the excuse to put me behind the wheel with him as the quintessential backseat driver. If they gave degrees for heckling, he would hold a PhD!
At this stage, the only car I had driven before was my Mini. This 404 was MUCH bigger and had an unusual gearbox pattern. First and reverse were opposite each other. 2nd and 3rd were opposite – which was a very practical pattern for town driving. Top gear was like an overdrive – out on its own, the way reverse often is today. In those days when seatbelts were optional novelties, the handbrake was set under the dash. Fine if you were unconfined but impossible to reach with a properly adjusted fixed belt.
Anyway we reached the farm without incident and got onto the loose metal farm tracks. Then I had to stop on a steep hill while Barbie opened a gate and Con heckled from the back seat. As an inexperienced driver, hill starts were not yet something to take for granted — particularly in a 404 with the handbrake positioned so awkwardly underneath the dash.
I still remember the glee with which I successfully made a PERFECT hill start – and the silence from the back seat was an accolade in itself.
Many years later, Arawa died and passed the 404 on to his oldest grandson. We bought it after he let it run out of oil and I used it for several years before passing it on to Reay. as I was NOT going to share a car with him. He was delighted. The odometer only went up to 99000 and then started over again and we weren’t sure how many times it had been round the clock. There was no rust in the body and he spent many hours stripping and sanding the body and had it repainted in pale grey – a nonstandard colour which suited the bodyshape very well. Unfortunately he had an offroad excursion a year or so later and bent the chassis rails. and as the car was older than he was it was uneconomic to repair.
I have owned and driven half a dozen other 404s since, but I still look back with affection at this very first one. From 1985-2006 my personal vehicles were 404 stationwagons., a vehicle I consider had only one main defect – no slowspeed window wipers. Apart from that it suited me down to the ground. The first one was a white Family Estate with three rows of seats. It had a diesel engine and it was no slug. I regularly beat more modern cars away from the lights. Unfortunately it had come over from Rhodesia as deck cargo and rust in the chassis rails eventually proved its doom. It was replaced by a gold coloured 404SW which I parted with regretfully when I retired as we felt four cars were really not needed for the two of us.
I am currently deriving a 306xrdt which is an ideal town car, but I still look back very fondly on the 404SWs. They could make a U-turn in Mountain Rd where Jap cars had to make a 3 point turn!.