Buying Classics Abroad
There are probably fewer than 50 Peugeot 404s in this country, and even fewer people who know much about them. High prices relative to UK rivals kept original sales low on these shores, but their distribution elsewhere was far and wide. Of the four UK examples currently listed on CCW’s website (classiccarsforsale.co.uk), two were recently imported from Sweden, while the others came from Bulgaria and France.
There are plenty of examples in Europe and even more in Africa, especially in French-speaking countries such as Algeria and Tunisia, but also Zimbabwe and Egypt, not forgetting Kenya, where the 404 was built under licence until 1991. Expect all these to have a strong patina though, and negotiating the export paperwork is unlikely to be a jolly affair.
South Africa, where vehicles are right-hand drive, tends to be a more reliable source. There’s a decent selection in online classifieds, mostly for less than £3000. Look inland though, as coastal vehicles are often just as crispy as UK cars. If you find a top example, the cost of import might be justifiable considering the inflated values and rarity in the UK.
You really need to look in Europe for the ultra-desirable convertible. Production was brief – 1963 to 1968 – and there are only a handful in this country, partly because the ragtop added enormously to the price when new. Beaulieu Garage ( beaulieugarage.co.uk, 01590 612999) currently has a one for sale that came to the UK from Sweden a couple of years ago.
The 404 was also imported to the USA from 1961 ( by an American distributor rather than Peugeot itself ), the convertible in particular predictably finding loyal devotees in California. Some were also built from CKD kits in Canada – look for ‘Alouette’ badging.
Few from across the pond survived, however, and there aren’t any currently for sale on the major American classified sites, so you’ll need to keep your ear close to the ground to find one. Club Peugeot 404 North America (peugeot404na.com) would be a good place to start.