Power was again increased late in 1950 when the engine was replaced with the 1290cc engine of the recently introduced Peugeot 203, and the D3 became the D3A. In 1952 output increased to 40hp, with the D3B, and to prevent lonely journeys, a passenger seat was fitted in early 1953.
Peugeot had previously discontinued the 202, and the 203 was its only passenger vehicle until 1955, when the 403 was launched. This 1468cc engine was then promptly stuck into the van and in August 1955 the D4 was born. Aesthetically, though, the van was pretty much unchanged – apart from two ‘baguette-style’ (what else?) over-riders on the front bumper. Prospective buyers also had the optional extra of a side door for the load area.
Four years later a diesel option became available, this being quite an innovation for the time – Peugeot was, after Mercedes-Benz, the world leader in diesel engines for automobiles and light trucks – and by 1960, the D4B with 55hp petrol engine was released. A few minor exterior changes followed, including fitting of flashing indicator lights. The van came in a range of body types, including basic panel van, minibus, ambulance and horse-box. The minibus was most famously used by the French police – in fact, in the movie Pink Panther, Inspector Clouseau was driven away in one – and the post office, which found the vans useful for transporting mailmen. But by 1965 the D4B had grown long in the tooth and was replaced – this time with the brand-new Peugeot J7.
The French manufacturer wanted a new design that would be practical and reliable – the idea was a sort of cross between a station wagon and a van that would be comfortable but also work as a utility vehicle. The new van retained the original cab-over design, front-wheel drive and all-independent suspension. As far as engines, the options were either a 1.5-litre (1468cc) four-cylinder petrol engine or a 1.9-litre (1816cc) diesel – these being the same engines as used in the 403 and 404 passenger cars.
The van was not exactly a supermodel in the looks department: it had corrugated side panels, a front grille, large windscreen and high windows. But the driving position was both comfortable and ergonomic and the dashboard was more advanced, which made a change from the vans of the period. It had sliding doors and a rear door that opened wide enough to accommodate its payload of between 1400 and 1800kg, depending on the version. Along with its somewhat basic looks, its ride quality was not great and it had a wicked tendency of shaking up its passengers like cooked pasta draining in a colander when pushed a little harder than it liked.