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Peter Falk, RIP: May Columbo's Peugeot 403 Convertible Putter On

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Peugeot 403 Cabriolet

Peugeot 403 Cabriolet

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As Columbo, Peter Falk played one of the more memorable detectives ever to ply the airwaves, but his trademark fedora and trenchcoat weren't his only distinctive calling cards.

Can you imagine Elliott Stabler driving...a 1959 Peugeot 403 Convertible?

As a fan site describes it, Columbo's Pug was "battered and unbeautiful, eccentric and woeful looking, but still a classic. " Just like the actor, who died today at the age of 83, in California, after suffering from years with Alzheimer's disease.

Falk is said to have picked the Peugeot out himself, after seeing one in a parking lot at Universal Studios. The car's even said to be mentioned in one episode by Falk, and it was banged up at least four times in the weekly drama's seven-year first run on NBC.

The 403 is a rarity, with only 504 copies built during the 1959 model year. The specs were nothing like the more muscular cars afforded to Starsky, Hutch, and Baretta in the same era. The 403 weighed about 2400 pounds, almost Miata-like, but with only 58 horsepower on tap it surely didn't feel as swift as any MX-5.

If you're interested in one of your own, you'll have to be patient. We can't find any listed on eBay Motors or AutoTrader Classics, though Bring A Trailer last year pointed to a 403 sedan in excellent condition. Keep searching--or just settle for this video ride-along in a 403 Convertible.

[Columbo fan site and Wikipedia]


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  1. My anecdote is about “his” 403 cabrio. In late 2007, a buddy and I each drove one of my 504’s to Universal, leaving one of them to be used on a soundstage. Ten days later we returned to pick up my 504. While waiting, we walked around the lot. I spotted a few cars a ways off. As we got closer, I saw Colombo’s 403. Though I do believe they had at least 2 of them. Sadly, all of the cars were in poor condition from years of baking in the sun and being rained on and in. The top had disintegrated; tires rotted & flat. It was full of trash thrown in via the open top. A very sad sight and an ignominious end for a great car. It’s probably still there. I guess anyone who sees it will remember Peter Falk. God-speed Peter. You will be missed.
     
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