This post started out to cover both the 504 Coupe and Cabriolet, but I see that Roger Carr has found a genuine curbside Cabrio, and will be sharing it very soon. So avert your eyes from the red car, and keep them on the Coupe. Either way, these are some of the finest classic European grand touring coupes/cabrios of the era, and a long one it was. These Pininfarina designs were built from 1969 through 1983, and the ones above are from that final year. Genuine evergreen classics, from day one right to the end.
The Coupe (and Cabriolet) premiered at the 1969 Geneva Auto Show, and were of course heavily based on the 504 sedan, which had arrived the previous fall. The wheelbase was shortened by 7.5 inches (19 cm), the rear track was widened a bit, and the springs and shocks were stiffened some. Pininfarina built the raw bodies at its Grugliasco factory, and then shipped them to be finished at Peugeot’s Sochaux plant in the Alsace.
Under the hood was the 504’s 1798cc four, enlarged to 2.0 liters in 1970, in what would be the ultimate evolutionary stage of the venerable hemi-head pushrod four whose origins trace back to the 1947 203. Along with that increase in displacement, Kugelfischer fuel injection became standard, upping output from 90 to 108 hp.
The Peugeot four isn’t a rev-happy engine like the OHC fours from contemporary Alfas and BMWs, but it had a fat torque band, and was smooth, and suited the over character of these as relaxed, comfortable but very capable tourers, in the classic idiom of the term Grand Turisimo. Top speed was some 111 mph.
The distinctive tail lights were simplified in 1974, as would the quad-headlight front end and the bumpers in subsequent years in an effort to reduce costs.
One of the most direct competitors to the 504 Coupe was the BMW 2000CS (left) and the subsequent six cylinder version, the E9 coupes. The 2000CS is also considered a classic design, although the BMW four cylinder version’s front end wasn’t nearly as successful as the later E9 six cylinder redesign.
It does makes for an interesting comparison.
The coupe didn’t exactly have a stellar interior, although it was different and better trimmed than the sedan’s.
There’s little doubt that Pininfarina was inspired by Giugiaro’s brilliant Alfa Romeo 105/115 GT/GTV coupes, in terms of the gently flowing front and rear ends.
Comparisons to the Fiat 124 Coupe are inevitable, but as nice as it is, it’s overly tall and long greenhouse looks out of proportion to the rest of the car, and makes it look too much like a two-door sedan rather than a genuine sports coupe. The 504 Coupe’s proportions are decidedly superior.
In 1974, the 504 debuted the new PRV (Peugeot-renault-Volvo) V6, in its original 2664 cc form and making 136 hp. The ultimate engine version in the coupe was the later 160 hp fuel injected V6, but that was withheld from the Cabrio because of concerns about structural integrity. In fact, later versions of the Cabrio were four-cylinder only for that reason.
The interior was modernized along the way, with a new larger instrument binnacle and other changes.
It’s a car that doesn’t have a bad angle.
Even when pointing down hill.
This ad is for a low-spec four cylinder coupe from 1983, with steel wheels even.
The re-fresh for the last few years is controversial, as it includes body color bumpers considered inferior to the early ones. But it’s hard to ruin the 504 Coupe, no matter what is tacked on.
Some 22,005 Coupes were made over its fourteen year life span, compared to only 4472 cabriolets. Of course, the Cabrio is in greater demand, as is the case with just about all open top versions of cars. Sadly, neither were imported to the US; why I’m not sure, since the 404 Coupe and Cabrio were. So many of you may well be rather less than familiar with this gem. Needless to say, I’d most happy to introduce more Americans to a 504 Coupe in the flesh, if one happened to come into my possession.