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Q: What kind of car did Columbo drive?

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Author: 
Adam Thomlison / TV Media

It was hard to tell under the dents and the paint job (or lack thereof), but the beaten, sputtering car Columbo drove en route to solving cases was a Peugeot 403 two-door convertible.

Reports differ on whether it was a 1959 or 1960 model, but most agree there was little difference between the two.

Though the Peugeot 403 was mass-produced by the French carmaker, the two-door convertible model was, in fact, somewhat rare. Columbo, played by Peter Falk, brags about that fact in the Season 5 episode "Identity Crisis," saying there are only three of them in the entire United States.

The first seven seasons (though the episodes were all film length, and ran weeks apart, they were still officially divided into seasons) of "Columbo" ran on NBC from 1971 to 1978, but the series was picked up again a decade later, with new episodes premiering on ABC starting in 1989.

When the revival was announced, Universal reportedly had to go hunting for the original car, which had been sold. It was found in the possession of James and Connie Delaney of Findlay, Ohio, who reportedly bought it after NBC dropped the show.

Universal struck a deal with the Findlays to borrow it for filming, but the couple refused to sell it.

Despite its now-classic status, the car is portrayed in the series as a junker. Fan site www.columbo-site.freeuk.com made a list of all the problems the car gave Columbo over the years, including a passenger door that had to be punched from the inside to open (the missing door handle turned up in the glove compartment in a later episode), a rear-view mirror that fell off (causing an accident in the Season 7 episode "Make Me a Perfect Murder"), and multiple broken tail lights.

 

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