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!
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
Ummmm–I guess it’s a Peugeot thing–I wouldn’t understand. But I won’t begrudge you or judge you for loving it. We all have our weird things we find irresistible. For me, it’s Panther love….
From the rear three-quarter view, it’s giving me serious Plymouth Volaré / Dodge Aspen vibes. What a find!
It generally looks like a smaller version of some American car – like many other midsize European cars of that period.
For me, formidable.
The adventures I had with my 504 Break driving to most European ports vary from lifting my foot off the brakes in Emden Germany when 2 punk rockers gave me the -then new- finger while on the zebra crossing, these guys could jump like hell, up to an Egyptian Captain who insisted to buy the Peugeot from me and take it home onboard.
If this was in my neck of the woods I’d save it and restore it, regardless.
Love over gold. And it’s a GLD Superluxe, mine was a humble LD Break.
This is one of the Western cars that were too old to get on Poland’s post-2004 EU used import wave, and too French to be imported in large numbers before that, so it’s a bit obscure here in Poland.
The later (80s and onward) Peugeots are better known here, mainly as bargain working and middle class transportation.
Perhaps the main reason was they all ended up on the African continent…
The world’s greatest wagon of its time…still, my beating heart.
Needless to say, as a 404 wagon owner in the late ’70s in SoCal, I had lots of opportunities to ogle these. Yes, they were slow, but unstoppable. I’m pretty sure our 404 wagon with the 1.6 gas engine and automatic was actually a bit faster than these 504 diesels.
There’s simply no good comparison of these to other wagons of the time, with the exception of the CX wagon. They were designed primarily for commercial use; a big wagon as a family car was very unusual yet in Europe then.
Frankly, some of the buyers of these in CA at the time may have ruined it for Peugeot, as they were buying it as a cheaper alternative to the very expensive Mercedes 300TD wagon. And when they got frustrated with its temperament, or needed competent service that was hard to find, they soured on the brand.
Of course that made finding cheap used Peugeots easy, after a few years.
When I first moved to Eugene in 1992, there was an independent Peugeot shop, littered with old Pugs around it. Perfect for Eugene. But it was gone within a few years.
But there’s still a couple of 505s in town. 🙂
“The world’s greatest wagon of its time”
Possible bias here?
But I speak from experience, and not the typical anti-French car bias so prevalent. I didn’t say that made it the best wagon for everyone, but it certainly was for me!
“I didn’t say that made it the best wagon for everyone, but it certainly was for me!”
I think there just isn’t a “best car”, or “best wagon”. It all boils down to what one wants and can afford.
And the 504 got a longer lifespan in Argentina and Nigeria from what I read on these French articles.
Excellent article! The 4 headlight yellow car, however, is not Argentinian, as it’s RHD and the license plate is different. Most likely from Nigeria then . Nice site. Thanks for sharing, it’s good to de-rust my French!
The 4-headlight yellow car has a Victoria (Australia) license plate.
My friend whose parents had a 504 sedan (gasoline, 4 on the tree, chrome bumpers) also had wagons. But not Peugeot wagons. I remember a Rambler Classic wagon, replaced by a Mercury Montego wagon. I always wondered why they didn’t combine the two styles and get a Peugeot wagon. As I recall the 504 outlasted both domestic wagons.
“They were designed primarily for commercial use; a big wagon as a family car was very unusual yet in Europe then.”
That may be the case in other countries, but here in the Netherlands the 504 break was a very good seller and almost always as a (family) estate. I cannot remember seeing many commercial variants in use back then.
Having grown up with our family 404 Familiale (3 seat rows), which was also the the car I learnt to drive in (not that the column change gear was of much use later), I could see the attraction of a big Peugeot estate.
As common as they were back then, these now almost completely have vanished from the streets. Rust was the main issue.
My generalization was too generalized. 🙂
Admittedly, it was based more on my exposure to Germany and Austria, where wagons were a bit late in being accepted as family transport. They had a decided workman’s image. In fact, there really weren’t any German three-row wagons, IIRC. If folks needed a big family hauler, they bought a VW bus or such. Seemingly all the Peugeot 504s and 404s I ever saw over there were sedans, and even they were hardly common.
But I can see that these three-row wagons might well have been attractive to large families a bit further to the West.
Dangit! You came *this* close to spotting the Mythical Beast of the Internet!
I always liked the 504 wagon. They always caught my attention. The wrap around windsheild in the back looks like it’s off of a boat. Was it plexiglass?
No I don’t think so, I tried (half-heartedly) to move it and it felt very heavy. Thus it remained in place for picture-time. That’s a good guess though, I didn’t even think of boats and it does look shaped correctly for that.
What a nice looking car even in its final days and dusted with snow. Did it never occur to anyone back then to give their vehicles engines with more horsepower since 71HP sounds way too low and dangerous even back then.
That’s all a naturally aspirated diesel can make, for that size. It takes turbocharging to increase it, and Peugeot did that in a few more years.But turbocharging was pretty expensive back then.
Keep in mind that back in Europe, diesels were mostly for commercial use, and the low output wasn’t an issue with them. It’s really not dangerous either. Big trucks used to be much slower. You just make it work.
Someone made an aftermarket turbocharger kit for the 504 diesel. Ca. 1982 a coworker had a 504 diesel sedan so equipped. I wasn’t at that job very long and don’t know how the car and turbocharger worked out for her long-term.
Thank you Paul, for the information.
I would daily drive a 505 wagon if I could. I have always loved all Pugs, especially the wagons. I grew up in a decent sized city, and there were a number of Peugeots around the neighborhood. A realtor up the street traded for a new 505 about every year, a lawyer at church had a 504 (and an Audi 100LS), and my dad’s boss had a 505 and 604 at the same time.
But even in a city the size of ours, the dealer was generally considered to be the worst in town for service, and it folded at what was the height of Peugeot popularity.
Then you had to drive an hour away for a dealer and they started disappearing. The lawyer got an Audi 5000, the realtor got a 7 Series, and the boss got a new XJ6 (out of the frying pan and into the fire as they say).
I always liked the wagons, despite their awkwardly long wheelbases, or perhaps because of that. And they didn’t feature the pre-Bangle butt of the 504 sedan, which just looked wrong to me. I wonder if that squashed trunk was intended to make a strong statement of the evolution of the design from the tailfinned Farina 404.
While we’ve got this wagon post active, does anyone know how to pronounce “break” in French? Brék, or Bré-ak? And what is the origin of that term, was it just a phonetic mis-spelling of brake, as in shooting brake?
Break in French is pretty much pronounced as in English, except with the French ‘R’ sound.
As I understand it, the French term kept the old English spelling, as the “Break” was used to “break in a horse”… The spelling changed in the 19th Cent. in English to Brake, but nobody sent the memo to France, who had just begun using the term.
What I understand the term originates from a horse drawn carriage (as most body shapes did) called break de chasse, or hunting carriage.
This was a carriage with two opposite longitudinal benches in France.
But the term is suggested to be a translation of the english shooting brake.
I love Peugeot wagons, although the thought of owning one scares me to death.
But I was treated to quite a surprise this fall when I spotted this 1985 505 wagon drive by. I was aware of a handful of 505 sedans near me, but haven’t seen a wagon in ages. Hopefully I’ll catch up with it again sometime:
I always liked the 504s in all their forms, especially the wagons. I always knew the 504 and 505 wagons had a live rear axle instead of the sedan’s independent rear, but only recently became aware that the wagon had a rather unique 4 coil spring arrangement, contributing to a very high carrying capacity.
The wagons with their additional weight should have kept the rear disk brakes in my opinion, even if they were no speed demon.
I can’t imagine why a 4 cylinder diesel powered heavy wagon, especially with an automatic, was sold in the US, especially with its cheap petrol. Was the wagon offered with a petrol engine in the US?
In Australia it seems all 504 wagons including the 7 seater Familiale, were petrol powered manuals.
Back in the day, I had read about some wagons fitted with the 504Ti engine, something Peugeot should have done themselves.
After the 306 and 405 I hated the path Peugeot too styling wise (407 anyone?) , but the current models seem to be a return to form. That 508 looks pretty good
Someone local fitted a 3.5 Rover aluminum V8 to a 504 sedan. The Pug 4cyls are very bulky, heavy things, and I think the eight actually weighed less! Now, THAT’S what Peugeot should have fitted to the wagons especially, as it would be a perfectly good size for such a capacious car. Oh, and got the Germans to build it, and all its electricals and accessories.
Nothing could possibly have gone wrong with a an Anglo-French German production in the pre-EU 1970’s, surely….
I’m pretty sure that the wagon was offered with petrol engines in the US.
It was, but only through 1979. 1980-1982s were diesel only. And the overwhelming majority of 504 wagons after 1975 (energy crisis) were diesels, as were a rapidly growing percentage of sedans. And the 2.0 L gas four was pretty badly strangled by emission controls. Hp was 88, then 96 after it got FI.
Peugeots were seen as a cheaper alternative to the very hot Mercedes diesels during the Diesel Mania (1974-1984 or so).
I had a 505 turbodiesel wagon as my
Daily driver for about 3 years, up until 2 years or so ago. It was a $1200 Craigslist purchase, and it really didn’t need much during my ownership. Excellent driving dynamics and comfort, and if my driving situation had not changed, I would still.own it.
Any that survived the demon rust bug in the u.k got vacuumed up in the 1990s for export to Africa, where even when taking shipping into account, they were worth a lot more money. They can still be seen there, usually chronically overloaded with banana shaped chassis. That one in the pictures would have been good enough to be sold there, no question.
No, Mr Klein, this is pretty much how they were sold new. In fact, this has one of the better paint and trim jobs. They were not, shall we say, assembled in a particularly diligent fashion.
As for the thing living under the hood, it could easily have set up nest and raised young ‘uns to adulthood and left during a long climb up a steep US mountain pass. You say perhaps 23 secs to 60? Ah, well, an English road test from lighter – basic and no whopper US bumpers – ’76 has a manual at 24.3 secs: I’d say add a good 3 for the auto. This Colorado one also has a dash for A/C (seems removed underbonnet). It is documented that in this combination, on a hot day needing a/c, with 5 adults and their copious luggage, up along, long hill pass in that State, an actual mini-elephant was gestated, born and freed under the bonnet before the ridgeline was crested.
They are such a lovely, pragmatic design, and reputedly handle all-but as well as the sedans, which is to say superbly. It’s a pity the brilliant French also got to design the detail stuff, because most of that broke or fell off or melted, and it’s that stuff that gives buyers the screaming shits and destroys a brand.
If you know what you’re getting, a great car. I’d have one, albeit sans auto and wheezy-deisel. But if you’re 95% of car buyers, it’s just a great steaming pile of mouldy fermented truffles.
Always loved these Peugeot wagons in the abstract, just from the body design standpoint. Not every wagon can manage to be both classy and practical like that. I have no use for diesels and they were too expensive for me as current used cars, but other than that, I’d totally have owned one back in the day.
Peugeot is a weird brand. For all Toæ Gear’s faults they actually got it right with their Peugeot history. First rugged, durable cars like the 404, 504 and perhaps 505. Then sporty cars beloved by enthusiast drivers – cars like the 205, 309, 405, 306 and 406 were great drivers and unbeatable i GTI/Mi16 forms. Then since then, shit as far as the eye can see.
Now that we’ve got the PSA/FCA hookup going on I’d love to see the Peugeot 508 come over as a reborn Dodge Magnum wagon.
But I’m one of those delusional wagon enthusiasts.
Brown? Check!, diesel? Check! Wagon? Check! Manual? OOPS:( Pretty close to perfect in my opinion.
Agree with Joseph Dennis regarding the Aspen/Volare wagon
Nice wagon or it was once upon a time, old Pugs are getting rare over here though I did see a 404 pickup last week loadrd down towing a trailer going the opposite way it seemed to getting along ok too. I had a look around one of those 508 GT wagons recently 2.2 TDI auto it was going for 6k under usual market price at an auction yard, quite a stylish car but I dont need one right now, A good mate has a 407 sedan 2.0 TDI after driving and riding in my C5 he reckons he bought the wrong PSA car and has it for sale, he still misses the 406 he gave away to a daughter.
The 4 lug wheels on these were hunted for to fit on older Subaru’s because of their larger diameter. It looks like Subaru took some design cues for the Leone GL / Loyale.
That 505 is riding pretty high. Is it one of the Dangel 4×4 conversions?
23 second 0-60. For those who found the Iron Duke Camaro to be too intimidating.
I have one and would like to buy that Colorado wagon for spare parts