By on March 30, 2011

When I returned to my old DOTS stomping grounds to help defile a once-proud race track, I figured I might find an interesting street-parked car or two on the Island That Time Forgot. First there was this semi-custom ’62 Continental, but then I spotted the real prize.

Thanks for the picturesque background, San Francisco! The only French car I’ve ever owned was a 504 (gasoline-powered), and it was both cool and very maddening. So comfortable, yet so difficult to keep running. Believe it or not, you used to see a fair number of 504s on American roads… and, someday, I’ll get another one for myself.

This one is a much-battered diesel model, in full Ahmadinejad-grade white-sedan trim and apparently rigged to run on some flavor of biodiesel. Such stories this survivor could tell!

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23 Comments on “Down On The Street: Peugeot 504 Diesel...”

  • avatar

    It’s…French…That’s all I have to say. Now, if you find a 2CV or a DS, you’ll really have something!

  • avatar

    I think the Citroen SM is the real trophy find in terms of French cars. I saw one last summer…so bizarre.

    • 0 avatar

      I saw an SM as a 7-year-old many years ago and have wanted one ever since, although I’ve since developed the maturity and good sense not to actually purchase one (and acquire the associated headaches along with it).

  • avatar

    I used to have a thing for French cars. Now I just have a Chevrolet, ’cause it sounds French.

    I had a 504 diesel that I bought with a blown engine. I put in a Ford 2.8 V6, which worked pretty well. But there was a lot of space in front of the engine, so I took out the V6 and put in a Ford 302. Now that really rocked.The trans and diffeential from the 504 survived quite nicely with a 5 fold increase in power.

    I feel like an alchoholic walking past a bar. I better just keep walking before I see another Citroen SM. I put a Ford engine in one of these, too, but that’s another story.


    • 0 avatar

      “I used to have a thing for French cars. Now I just have a Chevrolet, ’cause it sounds French.”

      Ha ha ha! Me too.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m not sure why but I positively detest the name “Chevrolet”. To me it sounds tinny and cheap. Not saying the vehicles are so, just how the sound of the name has always struck me. No logic to it.

  • avatar

    I’m gonna’ score with my 504…. my fiyive ohhhh fore

  • avatar

    The car I never should have sold – for 5 years I had a pristine ’79 Peugeot 504D. I found it in California on a business trip and had it shipped home to Maine. Absolutely rust free, but the paint burned off by the desert sun. I had it painted and it was lovely in a metallic sea green. A delightful car to drive, and utterly reliable for me. The only bad thing was it really needed a 5th gear, as it ran out of revs on the highway at ~70mph. I only used it on nice days though, never in the salt. I only sold it due to being laid off from my job, but it went to a fellow Peugeot Club member who has a barn full of classic Peugeots. I have regreted it ever since. I have a ’79 MB 300TD now, but it is just not the same.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    I’m an American boy.
    Drive me a Chevy aint got no Peugeot.
    My older brother was a gi-joe.
    Red white and blue from my head to my.
    I’m an American boy. – Eddie Rabbitt
    When it was released in 1990 I still remember thinking… How many ‘Mericans even know what a Peugeot is?  (I did but I’m car crazy.)

  • avatar

    Congratulations, MM! Nothing like finding a car from one’s past. Now I hope my comment doesn’t get banned for “spamming”, but I had two similar experiences as MM: I drove (several) 404s back in the day, and I had pretty much given up ever finding one, especially on the street. And there it was one day, a regular driver owned by as student no less. It’s been the most exciting CC find so far:

  • avatar

    Ooo, this one is right in my sweet spot as an owner of a daily driver Peugeot 504 (GL, gas) in the Bay area.  Murilee is right, very very few of these on the roads even in car-friendly Northern California, a rare find indeed.  The rust in the doors is somewhat unusual however as is the lack of the original blue 70s version California license plate suggesting that this car lived in a moister climate for at least part of its life. Reliable?  About as reliable as any nearly 40 year old car with the added aggrevation that the French (at that time) seem to have barely believed in mass production, hence any given car could have one of several different radiators, alternators, etc, many of which seem not to be interchangeable. Ah, but that’s the charm.  This car will put Lebowski-like uncertainty and adventure in your life and by the way Dude, there is a car exactly like this one (could be this one) for sale on the SF Craigslist if you’re ready.

    • 0 avatar

      there is a car exactly like this one (could be this one) for sale on the SF Craigslist if you’re ready.

      Which needs at best a clutch, and possibly a transmission rebuild. Offered by someone who has no idea what a “coupe” is.

    • 0 avatar

      It doesn’t look like the same vehicle as the one on Craigslist (which is in Alameda)– the lousy photo in the CL ad shows one that seems to be in much better condition. Maybe they used Google and found a pic, though… how many of these things can be on Alameda, anyway?

  • avatar

    Nothing like finding a car from one’s earlier days. Like MM, I too drove Peugeots, but the earlier 404. And I too finally found one on the street: Best CC find yet.

  • avatar

    A friend had a turbo-Diesel wagon in St Louis. Very sleek, elegant, French. And infuriating:  he’d have to bring the battery in the house in winter to get it started in the morning. The stupidest things would break, like an angled slab of metal that attached the alternator to the block.

  • avatar

    When I was a lad, our neighbor had a black over tan Peugeot 505 Turbo – I want to say it was an ’85 or ’86, mebbe an ’87. I was fascinated by that car and it proved fairly durable, lasting them until the late ’90s and well into the 100k – 200k mileage range.  Western NY’s heavy use of road salt ultimately did the poor thing in.  You can definitely see the bones of the 505 in this 504.  Nice find!  I wish PSA would return Peugeot and Citroen to the U.S. if only to increase the number and variety of cars on offer here.

  • avatar

    My neighbor once had a white 504, just like the that one. He got a picture of it printed in the local paper.
    It seems a newspaper photographer saw my neighbor and two friends pushing the inoperable 504 to a mechanic down the street for yet another repair, and the photographer noticed the custom bumper sticker one of my neighbor’s friends had put on it: Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Peugeots”.

  • avatar

    I had a gas 1976 504 in Germany when I was in the army in Germany in the late 70’s  It was a great car.  It was supremely comfortable and very reliable. It was a great trip car which we drove all over Europe.  It was actually fairly good in snow mainly due to the fact it had almost no power.  I sold it when I left Germany because it did not have air conditioning and I was moving to the DC area.

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