Junkyard Classic: 1980 Peugeot 504 Diesel Wagon – Paris’ 16th Arrondissement Just Got A Little Poorer

I know CC Royalty when I see it and while I’m not sure if anything actually ranks higher than a Peugeot in wagon form, it’s at least very close to the top.  But I’ll let you in on a little secret:  I’m not all that well versed on the subject.  I’ve thought about it and there are four definite ways that Peugeots have related to my life that I am aware of:  1. My uncle Wolfgang in Germany always had 504s and we always wondered why he didn’t just get the real thing, you know, the German Mercedes instead of the French Mercedes. 2. My high school English teacher had a 504 in blue but traded it for a BMW (also blue) my sophomore year.  3. I always liked and wanted a 405Mi16 but that fizzled when Peugeot pulled the plug over here, and 4. I was completely smitten with Meg Tilly in the movie Masquerade and she drove an older 505 wagon in that; set somewhere in New England it seemed like excellent car casting.  She made a beige 505 wagon the new hotness for me back then.  Beyond that, CC has (re-?)awakened in me an appreciation for all things Peugeot in the same way I somehow enjoy the smell of a Gauloise although I do not smoke.  So, with that being said, off we go…

Yes, I found this Pug the same morning as the Saab 99 of the other day just a row or two away.  It may even have come from the same stash as the ’77 Audi 100 and ’80 5000 Diesel, who knows.  In any case, it was a cold day and I would have given many francs for a cafe au lait and a warm baguette.  But that wasn’t happening.

The average American is probably vaguely familiar with the 504, and probably more so than the 404 and older models and perhaps even more than the newer models (505, 405, etc) if only because it was generally the most popular over here, popular being used in the relative sense, not in the sense of the market flocking to it like a RAV4 at half price or something.  Built in at least eight countries between 1968 and 2006, the 504 had an astonishingly long run and was produced in many variants during that span.  As it concerns us, the wagon version made it to our shores between 1972 and 1983, lasting several years longer than the sedan did.

Of course, in the US, we mainly got the 4 door sedan and then the wagon.  The sedan was the popular choice (with the word popular used the same way as previous) but the wagon was probably the more interesting choice.  While CC has quite a few posts featuring the 504 (and I will link a bunch at the end so there is no reason to repeat everything here, please read those again), the wagon is longer and taller and has a completely different rear suspension setup allowing for an excellent ride unloaded but also a massive carrying ability, in excess of pretty much all the competition and many actual cargo vehicles such as pickup trucks.

While the sedan was definitely distinctive, especially with its droopy rear end, the wagon seems to blend into the automotive landscape a bit better, if anything it somehow resembles an early Toyota Cressida wagon (or perhaps it’s the other way around, but that word popular gets in the way again here).  The color on this one is also the same root beer brown color that a lot of Cressidas were as well and they both have/had the large black rubber bumpers so…

But Peugeot had the Diesel.  Long known for holding up queues of traffic at onramps, and rolling coal up hills, these late 70’s diesels from multiple manufacturers had a loyal following at the time and allowed a few manufacturers to get a much larger foothold on the market here than they might have otherwise done.

Here it is in all its glory, gloriously silent for once.  This 2.3l diesel produced 71hp, which isn’t actually that terrible for the era, although it did weigh around 3400lbs; 0-60mph is said to have taken about 23-24 seconds with the 3-speed automatic.  The top speed of this car was 85mph.  That’s also the normal speed of traffic on I-25 which explains a lot as to why we don’t see these too often (okay, ever) anymore.

It also looks like something had bedded down in here for a while before this final move.  While nowadays there are diesel trucks galore in this part of the world, I don’t think that Colorado at its elevation was a hotbed of naturally aspirated diesel automobiles back in this era, likely making maintenance and repair a bit of a chore.  Then again, Boulder is just over an hour away from this location and if any place would nurture diesels back then, that would be it.

You all know my general formula by now, walk around the outside, then pop the hood and after that settle into the comfort of the cabin and the mysteries it holds.  Egads, this diesel is an automatique model, I can’t even imagine driving through the Eisenhower Tunnel at 11,000 feet in this.  But it sure looks roomy up front here, even if the upholstery has seen better days (as have the covers).

Peering through the heavily sun-damaged steering wheel, we see that the Grande Dame has managed to cover right around 99,000 miles of her own accord.  Bummer, I was hoping for a very large number here.  Once again, a clock faces us instead of an RPM gauge, perhaps again to mark time between shifts.

Peering in from the passenger side, the cabin really does have a ton of footroom, and the center console isn’t too intrusive either.  A decent glovebox, door pockets, and real metal trim spanning the dashboard surface probably looked pretty appealing forty years ago.

The back seat looks pretty roomy as well and was in better shape than the front seats.  I have no idea what the huge wraparound windshield in the back stemmed from (anyone?), but the Volvo parts box in the footwell just held some used wiring harnesses.

Popping the hatch allows access to a very deep and plenty wide cargo area.  Fold that rear seat down with the protector strips on the back of it and it’ll hold some very large, lengthy items.  The whole cargo area would have been covered in the wood paneling with the strakes. The white on the right wheelwell and the latch area is, I believe, the primer or undercoating, it would have been covered originally.

The VIN plate tells us that this was manufactured in France in February of 1980.  This is the first time I’ve seen a tag stating not just the country, but the city, and then the neighborhood of the manufacturer.  J’adore that.

The sleepwalking lion is undeniably charming, and I kind of feel bad that this car has an upcoming date with Le Crusher, but it had its time, I suppose.  Had I ever owned one of these it probably would have annoyed me, and I wouldn’t have been interested in it back then, but it’s one of those cars that can certainly be admired from a distance.  Perhaps if I was twenty years older twenty years ago, who knows…

However with the recent word that FCA and Peugeot are merging, perhaps I’ll have another shot. This is the 508 wagon (several generations removed) that I saw in Tokyo, one can dare to dream!

Related Reading:

COAL: Peugeot 504 Diesel Wagon – The Long, Slow Trip by Junkharvester

CC: 1976 Peugeot 504: One Continent’s French Mercedes and COTY is another Continent’s POS by PN

CC For Sale: 1976 Peugeot 504 Diesel – More At Home In France Than Seattle by Roger Carr

The World’s Greatest Wagon: Peugeot 203, 403, 4004, 405, 505 – An Illustrated History by PN