By on December 5, 2018

Rare Rides has featured a couple of Peugeot vehicles before, like this 106 from Canada or this 405 from The America. But both of those were sporty cars from the Nineties. Today we have a look at a Peugeot from the Seventies which is most definitely not sporty.

It’s a stunning 504 with a diesel engine, from 1975.

The 504 was developed as successor to the 404, which was the company’s midsize offering between 1960 and 1975. Owners of 404s were pleased with their durability, frugality, and good value, and Peugeot desired those same qualities in a successor vehicle. After contacting Pininfarina to work up a new design, the company set out to perform some sturdy engineering. Enter 504.

In typical Peugeot manner, the 504’s introduction was well before the discontinuation of the 404. The new entry was available for the 1968 model year in a variety of body styles (also typical). Off the four-door sedan base came a five-door wagon, a two-door coupe, convertible, and even a pickup truck. Power always traveled to the rear wheels, and engines between 1.8 and 2.7 liters in displacement were available. Transmissions varied, and included four- or five-speed manuals, plus three-speed automatics.

In short order, the 504 cemented Peugeot’s reputation as provider of rough and ready cars. 504s were found all over the globe, used for all kinds of things beyond driving on paved roads as family transport. The 504’s body was tough, and the considerable suspension travel proved beneficial in countries with rough roads.

The 504 lived a very long life and remained nearly unchanged between its 1968 introduction and its 1983 cancellation. Its popularity was reflected in the sales figures, which totaled over three million. Africa in particular fancied the 504, arranging multiple production locations there using knock-down kits. In the end, the 504 was manufactured in 14 different countries, and continued in production until 2006 in Nigeria.

Today’s Rare Ride was listed recently on San Francisco Craigslist (ad since removed). It has one of the three inline-four diesel engines. With 44,000 miles on the odometer and some killer photos, it asked $4,500.

[Images: seller]

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29 Comments on “Rare Rides: An Absolutely Beautiful Peugeot 504 From 1975...”


  • avatar
    bunkie

    French cars from this era absolutely excelled at providing a great ride. It comes from their experience in their colonies with crappy roads. They had lots of suspension travel, progressive springs and well-matched damping. Everyone loves to make fun of French engineering, but they really understood certain things. Riding in the back of a Citroen or Peugot of the 1960s-1970s is a real eye-opener.

    • 0 avatar
      HelloWorld

      Not just in the 60s and 7ß0s.

      It must have been in 1996 or 97 that I travelled to Nice in France and took a cab from the airport to my local hotel. That cab was a Renault Safrane. I swear that, to this day, this thing had the smoothest ride and most comfortable suspension of any car I’ve ever sat in, plus I remember it as being eerily quiet inside.

      Have never had the chance to ride in one again, sadly.

    • 0 avatar
      Rovercar

      There used to be a Renault/Peugeot dealer not far from where I grew up in NJ. My dad purchased a new R10 for about $1,600 which later became my car. The first car I was ever in that had a leather interior was a 404 at that dealership. I can still smell that car in my memories. I immediately had a sense of how well made these cars were. The Renault R10 itself turned out to be utterly reliable despite other reports to the contrary. I did replace a head gasket, brake master cylinder and clutch in it while I owned it, but by then it was 15 years old. In the meantime, I ran it back and forth from NJ to college in Wisconsin multiple times, and it always got me there, even when the clutch started slipping due to a bad rear seal. Also one of the most comfortable cars I have owned. Seats were only vinyl but they felt like leather and wore like iron.

      • 0 avatar
        N8iveVA

        Rovercar- One of my mother’s boyfriends in about 1974 had an R10. I was about 9 years old and I still remember throwing bags of aluminum cans we had collected into the frunk. I recall the odd dashboard with round vents with a single disc that swiveled open. I don’t remember it having a radio.

    • 0 avatar
      jatz

      “They had lots of suspension travel, progressive springs and well-matched damping.”

      WHEN will a major manufacturer for the US market glom onto this?!

      Obviously we’ll never again have a First World road system so give us a Third World suspension system.

      • 0 avatar
        WallMeerkat

        Owned a Citroen Xantia. It ran on fluid suspension, most comfortable riding car this side of a Rolls Royce.

        It had a big notice in the engine bay *not* to export it to the US.

        Citroen gave up the US market when regulations came in that the bumper must be a certain height at all times, when their fluid suspension could be raised and lowered (and until mid 90s models lowered overnight at rest)

  • avatar
    2drsedanman

    Look at that upright greenhouse and headroom. You will have to get a pickup or a minivan to get that today.I’m also digging the shifter and boot. Outside has sort of a Volvo vibe. I like it.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Nice, but not one of my favorite French cars, seems like a good price, though

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Fun fact: The Peugeot 504 was one of only three cars sold in the US in the popular Brown, Stick Shift, RWD, Diesel, Station Wagon format!

    The other two were the Volvo 245 and 745.

    http://www.curbsideclassic.com/automotive-histories/the-brown-rwd-manual-transmission-diesel-station-wagon-a-comprehensive-guide-to-that-mythical-beast-of-the-internet/

  • avatar
    redapple

    Lust
    If only the ad was still up and it was closer to Atlanta. 504 with a diesel and Citroen DS. My 2 favorite European cars.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Lordy, those sheepskin seat covers. De rigueur for any mid-’70s European car with vinyl seats.

  • avatar
    N8iveVA

    I remember riding numerous times in my mother’s friends 504 wagon. I don’t recall the ignition switch being on the left side of the column. While I was a kid I remember thinking how huge it was inside. We had a Mustang at the time.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    People think Peugeots were popular in Africa because they were somehow suited to conditions. The reality is they were there because of French colonialism.

    This car is a perfect example of the Peugeots I remember from my childhood. They sat in driveways and garages, accumulating zero miles while the humanities professors who bought them delayed taking the loss of selling them as non-runners before paying them off or waiting for some far away day when they’d have nothing better to do with their money than find someone who could fix a Peugeot.

    • 0 avatar
      WallMeerkat

      A mixture of French ‘influence’ and the car itself being rugged. They used to call Peugeots the French Mercedes.

      Sadly with the x07 range of the early 2000s it all went wrong. But they’re starting to get their mojo back with their second generation x08 range (they stopped incrementing the last number as they already had a 309 in the 80s, now x08 is a regular model, x008 for ‘niche’ or SUV, and x01 for a model for developing markets)

  • avatar
    sco

    I have more experience with the 504 than most, owned a ’75 Diesel much like this one in the ’80s and currently own a ’74 504 gas version. The 504 is a lovely car, way ahead of its time, 4 wheel disc brakes, advanced suspension, roomy and luxurious, all in a very compact package. Certainly not fast and yeah you’re going to have to have some basic mechanical ability to keep up with things. But $4500 for this one- great deal for a timeless car.

  • avatar
    someoldfool

    These cars are perhaps the most comfortable cars in which to sit, ever. The seats are a perfect combination of soft surface and firm support. I’ve been told all French cars are extremely comfortable, opposite of German cars “Dis is da vay da doctor said it should be and you VILL like it!”

  • avatar
    MeJ

    What a cool little car! I’d love to own it.
    Also is this possibly the original car to have the “Angry” headlight design?

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Wow, I remember these, with their “truncated trunk” as I called it. Great riding cars. I’ve always like the styling or these, and the 604, too.

    There was a monthly column in Car and Driver at the time (I can’t remember whose column) that one month was about a mechanic at a garage in NYC, who called Peugeots “Pigouts”. He swore he could make out a parts and repair list for any Peugeot, without ever having seen it. Supposedly they all needed a water pump, valve cover gasket, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      Gordon Baxter published a brilliant column in Car and Driver titled, “I’ll never get rid of ole’ herpes,” about his brown, scabby, few-year-old Peugeot 504 that was ruining his life. He traded it on a Buick by giving them the Peugeot plus the retail price of the Buick plus some more money to offset disposal of the Peugeot only to have his wife’s friend buy the forsaken Peugeot off the used car lot and haunt him for solutions to its daily issues.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Only 44,000 miles, and $4500? That was a steal; no wonder it sold quickly.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      It averaged a thousand miles a year because it spent most of its existence waiting for repairs. I’ve seen it almost as many times as I’ve seen Peugeot 504s, 604s and 505s. 405s mostly got scrapped in real time for some reason and 404s weren’t as obscenely horrendous.

  • avatar
    lon888

    Beautiful car – all it needs are the Euro-spec headlights. Wish I had some play money around, because I would love to own this car.

  • avatar
    AJ

    Looks great!

    My dad bought a new 504 wagon back when diesels were popular in the late 70s for under $10k. The poor car was susceptible to engine problems due to water in the diesel, and dad would go out of his way to buy diesel from only truck stops thinking that it was less likey to have water in it. Twice the car broke down on family vacations, probably due to water, where he’d rent a car and pick it up a few weeks later from a non-Peugeot dealer who would take pitty on him and repair it. Back at home, a foreign car shop serviced it.

    When it hit 100k miles, after more water in the diesel did serious damage, it ended up going to a junk yard with it looking nearly new. Seems like the body, paint, and everything else but the engine were well built. The first set of tires had about 60k on them, which was remarkable for tires back then.

  • avatar
    DrGroove_phd

    Those bumpers though :-/

    Not the first car to look ridiculous in America.

    With Euro/rest of world bumpers (with those delightful little rubber 70s era overriders) https://i.ytimg.com/vi/kZkCPhXKPaQ/hqdefault.jpg

  • avatar
    Gedrven

    I lived for half a decade with someone who had two and a half of these – a turbodiesel sedan with a 4-speed manual, NA diesel wagon with a slushbox, and a parts sedan.

    The wagon had a solid rear axle (as do the pickups) and neither rode nor handled half as well, but had scads of room and payload. Its engine was inadequate for the weight, the transmission dreadful, and economy disappointing (mid-20’s), but it was reliable and useful despite spotty maintenance.

    The sedan had IRS and torque tube driveline. Despite a lot more power, it got low 30’s mileage. The ride was excellent by any standard, thanks to not only the competent suspension design but also a long wheelbase for the size. Overall comfort, build quality, and general feeling of solidity were close to contemporary mid-sized Benzes, while the rack steering was vastly superior to any competitor – including the likes of Mercedes and 5- or 7-series BMW – until years after it was discontinued. Under the same half-assed maintenance regime, the sedan was also reliable but eventually succumbed to a chunk of the stainless steel pre-combustion chamber insert falling out and making a hell of a racket. It still ran fine before the engine was pulled, then Life intervened and the whole 2.5 lot was sold before repairs could be completed.

    Mechanically, they were a bit quirky but not too complicated (compared to a Mercedes for example). Interior design was not intuitive to me, used to German and Japanese cars. Materials quality was generally good, special tools rarely needed. Maintainability had been thought through and the WTF-Were-They-Thinking Index was fairly low, much lower than French car stereotypes would suggest. Parts were mostly available, though that insert was hard to find. Information in English was not as common as I, not knowing French, would’ve liked.

    BTW, there was a 4wd version offered as somekinda aftermarket-endorsed-by-OEM conversion deal (I don’t know details).

    Iranian president Ahmadinejad famously owned one, and sold it to raise money for some charity.

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