Drive Modern Classics The Peugeot 504 Saloon

In Modern Classics by Chris RandallLeave a Comment

It’s another family saloon that caught my eye this month, this time of the French variety.

The Peugeot 504 may not seem the most exciting of cars, but this roomy and robust motor had a production span of over 30 years, and I reckon that makes it pretty unusual.

Launched at the Paris Salon in 1968, buyers were offered a spacious 4-door bodyshell with a 1.8 litre four-cylinder engine in 82bhp carb-fed or 97bhp injected flavours, and it was an instant hit with show-goers.  There was nothing hi-tech about the 504 – the engines were tried and tested, there were manual or auto ‘boxes, and a MacPherson strut/live axle suspension arrangement – but it was stylish for the time, and more importantly spacious and robust.  In fact, that toughness was to be proved over the next three decades as the 504 tasted success on the notoriously car-breaking Safari Rally, as well as being the taxi of choice in many an African nation.

A steady development programme throughout the ‘70s saw engine and trim upgrades as well as the introduction of a diesel model, but it was the beginning of that decade that saw the launch of perhaps the most enduring model, the family-favourite estate.  In 7-seat ‘Familiale’ form the 504 wagon with its three rows of seats became a serious load-lugger, a theme that was to continue with the 505 replacement.  But by 1983, the 504 was judged to be well off the pace, and with more than 3 million having been produced, European production came to an end.  Not that that was the end of the story as it continued to be built in countries including Argentina, Kenya, Nigeria, and Egypt well into the noughties.

It even managed a film career, being driven by the baddies in ‘For Your Eyes Only’ as they chased Roger Moore in a 2CV, enough on its own perhaps to make you want one.

Buying One

Finding one is probably the biggest problem as a quick trawl through the classifieds only turned up a couple of examples, both of which resided in Europe.  And the opportunity to buy the 1977 example once owned by Iranian leader President Ahmadinejad has passed as it sold at auction for a reputed $2.5 million!

If you do find one, it’s rust that is likely to be the biggest problem with the potential for tin worm to break out in just about every panel.  Floorpans and sills are particularly at risk, so it would certainly pay to be thorough with the screwdriver and magnet before handing over any money.  Tired engines, flaky electrics, and battered cabins are other areas to watch for, particularly as sourcing some replacement parts can be a tricky affair.  Luckily, there is a good supply of second-hand bits and a thriving owners club to call upon for help and advice.  Better news is that the simple construction and mechanicals mean working on a 504 isn’t a chore, and apart from issues with the Kugelfischer injection system that can need a specialist to set up correctly, they certainly make for an interesting alternative to British saloons of the period.


There’s something of a restrained style to the way a 504 goes about its business, not flash, just cool and comfortable.  And I reckon that makes it pretty attractive amongst the sea of other European saloons on the classic market.  As already mentioned it’s finding one that could prove a challenge, but if a dose of understated Gallic charm floats your boat, then take a look at the 504 before they all disappear for good.

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