New or Used: Time to Replace the Pug?

Sajeev Mehta and Steve Lang
by Sajeev Mehta and Steve Lang
new or used time to replace the pug

M. Peerson writes:

Well, I think it is time to replace the Pug. My little 505 has crossed the country, oh I do not know how many times. I mean I just did a round about from Westminster CO (North Denver) to Roundrock TX (North Austin) back to Benton CA (Mammoth lakes) and it is still running fair to decent for a car that I have replaced the speedo on two times. Actual millage is up past 400K closer to 440,000 miles as I clock it with the log book.

I am the third owner of this 1985 505 STI. I have a FULL service history to the car. From the Original owner who bought it in Dallas/Ft Worth to the second owner in Orogrande, to me when I picked it up in Alamogordo (20 miles north of Orogrande). I purchased the pug in 2009 with a clocked 159.XXX on it and a broken speedo.

It was one of those ones that sold as repairable. Well the body was straight and 110 dollars latter including delivery it was mine. A set of fuel pumps, a accumulator and a good service it was on the road. Since then it has been normal wear and tear items. Rear and front bearings, several speedo clusters and cables. A timing chain because I could hear it rattle (and I still can, but no oil light flicker) Little air con work, (It blows cold with 134A!) several sets of tires, Normal stuff.

The interior is just SHOT, all the electrics work save the power sunroof and cruise. (And they are labeled Lucas.. what blasphemy!) Really all in all, save the when you push it over 70 loaded with all my tools, fuel millage has been ok, it goes down to 15.5 loaded. 23.5 unloaded.. I mean I have been back and forth across the country time and time again, and lets not forget the 400 mile in a day work trips… daily. It has soldiered on, only needing 1 quart every oil change (No Joke!) a good heap of Dextron for the power steering. (I refuse to buy a 600 dollar rack) and the normal stuff that has to be done at service. Including the oil bath air cleaner.

The interior is shot, it has absolutely 0 rust, the doors shut like they are new, all the windows work and the door seals are completely gone. So lots of wind noise less you have a tail wind.

The pug has served well, and been a better car than most. In it’s last trip it has been through things that would total most cars, and soldiered through with just a crack in a tail light. (If I posted what happened on the trip, people WOULD cry.) But it made it. Point is….

Time for something else I think. I would love to dump 2K in my pug but that would barely get things back to normal. I have been looking at off brand things (Alfa, Mercedes W115’s, Suzuki’s,SAAB’s) Name it but the car market right now is just rubbish. When a 2006 Toyota Tacoma with 200K on the clock goes for 10K where does that leave someone with 2K in there pocket.

I have pondered giving some panther love, but I do not want to feed one. Hence the Alfa and Merc route. I would go back into a brick but there prices are higher than a 10 year newer Alfa! It is just astonishing. I refuse to drive Escort/Tracer and Tempo/Topaz derivatives because face it. They were rubbish new and after a family has had one they become just worse.

I really want to avoid Camcordsnotltima land because, if I am going to wear beige, I will do it in a 1987 Caravan with wood grain and a turbo 2.2 under the hood with a five speed. (Only because I know where the donor 2.2 turbo is and the Caravan with a 5 speed is) But money can be better spent on something else, besides building a 13 second caravan.

But what do I do, build a caravan, buy a snotatima with a bazillion miles on it and no history? Try for panther love that has not been to the ghetto? Or just start degreasing the pug and pray for another 200K to go on the clock. Or find something reasonable since CA smog means new cars are king. (As well as Orange county crap tastic SUV’s)

Steve answers:

It all depends on whether you want to finally rid yourself of the Pug. Rebuilding this vehicle would be a lot less than $2k.

What you can do is go online for the legal notices in your neck of the woods. Here is where I search for mine. Also you can venture on super search sites, such as and see if there is a donor vehicle with a good interior that you can use to rebuild your own model.

Finally you have the enthusiast forums that you are probably all too familiar. However there is an opportunity for a nice twist. Instead of just searching for an old Pug beater whenever it becomes available, post a new topic at a few Peugeot forums about the fact that you want to redo the interior of your 505.

Ask if anyone has an extra Pug, not running, that they are willing to sell. Many enthusiasts who are financially sound tend to be more amenable towards selling an inop vehicle to an enthusiast at a reasonable price.

Finally, if you are looking for a Pug alternative, the Panther ain’t it. Older Saabs and rear wheel drive Volvos (240/740/940) have better seats and handling then ye olde Panthers which are traditional old school American rides.

If you are still lockstep in an old Euro world, then find yourself a late 80’s to early 90’s Saab or Volvo. The Mercedes W124 is also a good bet if you find one that has been maintained to spec.

Good luck.

Sajeev answers:

Oh my damn, son! You’ve kept a Pug on the road for HOW LONG in the USA? You make my tastes/obsession with cars look normal. While that’s a compliment, that’s also somewhat shocking. Hmm…shocking?

Yes! The answer is obvious…you need to make that turbo, 5-speed Caravan! What the heck are you waiting for?

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2 of 40 comments
  • Carbureted Carbureted on Oct 08, 2012

    You are speaking to my heart, M. Peerson. I have owned both. I owned an '89 2.5L Caravan Turbo 5-spd. It was glorious. I have rarely had more fun than pulling away from "better" cars in that beast from a stoplight. I am, however, wondering about your motives for that type of trade. The caravan is a much larger beast. I didn't read anything about your need to carry cargo (be it people or whatnot) long distances. I guess you've had one before, so maybe you know best. I have also owned an '84 Volvo 245T 4-spd/od. That car owns my soul. I haven't owned a car in four years (motorcycles only these days), and I still constantly reminisce about that wagon. Go back to the brick. Buy a turbo (with comparable fuel milage to your Pug, actually), and enjoy life. Yes, they need periodic maintenance, but it seems like you have the sense to deal with that. In my eyes, there is NO car better. There just isn't.

  • Saabaru Saabaru on Oct 09, 2012

    If you love it as much as I love my '92 Saab 900, keep fixing it! I'm married to my car, and have also driven it NY-CA and back last year, and will be driving it back to CA in a month. It also moved all my worldly possessions to and from college several times. If you decide to get a C900 like mine, just do NOT buy an automatic! With the 5spd, loaded with all my stuff cruising at 75mph, I averaged 30mpg. I also have an auto '92 900. With its archaic Borg-Warner 3-spd it has averaged 24-25 mpg while turning around 3400 RPM at 70mph.

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