What Kind of Car did Columbo Drive in the Whole Series?

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Columbo is the famous TV detective series between 1971 and 1978. In the show, the main character, Lt. Columbo always drove a small, odd, battered car that perfectly fit to his appearance that always looked rumpled and untidy. However, this small car gained popularity through the shows and many people have been asked since the last show “what kind of car did Columbo drive?”

What Kind Of Car Did Columbo Drive
What Kind Of Car Did Columbo Drive

The answer is Peugeot 403 two doors cabriolet. There are different opinions about the year this Peugeot 403 was made. Some reports said that it was made in 1959, and the others said it was made in 1960. But, most people agreed that the years didn’t make any significant difference because Peugeot 403 which were made in 1959 and 1960 were only slightly different.

Peugeot 403 is a French car that was introduced for the first time in 1955 at the Trocadero Palace in Paris. Peugeot 403 Cabriolet version is considered rare car. When it was made in 1959, the manufacturer only produced 504 cars. 1961 is the production of Peugeot 403 Cabriolet versions ending year. Until the time it was officially ended for production, the amount of Peugeot 403 Cabriolet that were available in the market were 2,030 cars. The car was not sold in North America market because the manufacturer thought its exotic appearance wouldn’t fit the taste of North America people.


Peugeot 403 design was made by Pininfarina, the famous Italian car designer. According to rumors at that times, Peugeot 403 was made to replace Fiat 1900. But, the rumors had dejected when Turin as the manufacturer of Fiat reported to defer the replacement for the next four years.

Peugeot 403 Cabriolet had opening roof panels. But, in the whole series of TV shows, Columbo never opened the roof even just for once. Peugeot 403 had unique design for Europe market at that time. The back door could be opened fully wide up to 90 degrees. The back windows could be opened fully till the windows were disappeared into the door frames. At that time, there were no manufactured cars which had these unique features in whole Europe.


Peugeot 403 used 1,468 cc-engines which produced 65 hp and 75 lb.ft of torque. This car were considered underpowered even among other cars in 60s. Peugeot 403 had innovation that was called thermostatically controlled engine fan which later used by most cars in 2000s. Since the car taxes in French were based on the engine size, the manufacturer built another Peugeot 403 version which used 1,290 cc-engines that produced 47 hp. The new cars were called as “403 Sept” or “403 Berline Luxe”.

Peugeot 403 Cabriolet 1958 What Kind Of Car Did Columbo Drive
Peugeot 403 Cabriolet 1958 What Kind Of Car Did Columbo Drive


Peugeot was built with manual 4-speed gear transmissions. But, it could be replaced with electromagnetic Jaeger automatic clutch as long as the car buyers were willing to pay an extra cost.


The front seats could be reclined to the point where the front seats’ backs would meet the cushions of the rear seat, creating a double bed inside the car.

The production of Peugeot 403 Cabriolet was stopped in 1961, and was replaced by Peugeot 404. That’s concluded the answer of the question “What kind of car did Columbo drive?”

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