(First posted 2/20/2016) This aging car deserves a road test.
And here it is, scanned from R&T’s 1987 August issue:
Lord have mercy, I have wanted a 505 since they were new. The only person I have known in my whole life who actually owned one had a horrible experience, as far as reliability, but that doesn’t temper my desire to own one of these before I die. I almost think a wagon would be preferable over a sedan, but either one would be just fine.
The 505 wagon my parents’ aspirational vehicle (they lived in New England and my father had lived in France) when they set out to get a station wagon a couple after I was born. Unfortunately that coincided with Peugeot’s obvious near-term exit from the US market and, combined with being pleasantly surprised at the 745’s steering, led them to the more archetypal Volvo.
I had one and loved it. Mine was a ’81 505td with an automatic. It performed adequately, got very good MPG and had the most comfy interior ever.
I’m sorry that I sold it.
There’s a woman who used to drive a white pristine 1986 or 87 505, around my area, it was a daily.
I say “used to”, because I haven’t seen it in about 10 months.
There was also a Peugeot 505 for sale on CL, going for about $1250, seems to be in good shape.
Think it’s still there. As an owner of an oddball make, like my Alfa… Reliability or parts availability must be spotty as heck on these Peugeots.
Maybe Paul can chime in, since he has more Peugeot expertise.
Jamie Kitman had a column on “the unexpected durability” of old Peugeots (a 505 STX in his care) and Alfas a while back:
It’s a fun read (and yes, he does concede that patience/budgeting/care is one of the reasons why most Peugeot and Alfa survivors are still there).
Thank you, for that, Atenza.
True, as long you have a supply of needed parts and do scheduled maintenance on prone areas, any car shouldn’t be much of a nightmare to live with.
My Alfa actually isn’t bad in dependability as I thought it would be.
I recently saw a mint 1978 Peugeot 504 diesel, going for $2500… Wanted to take the plunge, but didn’t want to venture into uncharted territory.
Sarcasmo,parts were easy to obtain in Australia.My 1968 404 didn’t have the cover for its interior light so I phoned a Peugeot parts business in 2002 and asked if they had a used cover.He said he did not but he could sell me a new one.I asked if it was a new old part and he replied no and that it was a freshly manufactured Peugeot factory part and the price was $15.Amazing,especially considering that the 404 was released in 1960 with that same light cover.You had no difficulty obtaining any part for those cars,only needed an occasional water pump,one clutch in one ute $130.They were so immensely reliable and a fluidity of the driving experience only a Citroen can excel.
There are two or three small suppliers in the US that will get you almost any Peugeot part you need. A water pump for my 504 cost me I think $130. Ebay works for some other parts and if you live in CA or maybe near a college town there usually are 505s (or older 504s) sitting in junkyards although the numbers have dwindled significantly over the past three years. And you will need parts- these cars are almost 30 years old after all. There is also very little love for Peugeots on the resale market and $2500-3000 would get you one very nice car. There are to my knowledge no $10,000+ Peugeots except maybe a 504 cabriolet
Recently bought a 505 diesel wagon as a commuter. Excellent mileage, great ride. Reminds me greatly of the 240d I used to own. With an indicated 189k on it, it still feels tight and solid.
Jon, that’s awesome… Hope you do a COAL on your Peugeot. 🙂
There’s a red one of these late STI V6s in town, which I shot a couple of years back but never got around to writing up. I still see it.
This was the culmination of the 505, and a very fine one. These V6 STIs were pretty rare here, as by this time Peugeot was starting to founder. I really need to do a CC on a 505 sedan. I did one on the wagon; maybe it’s time to re-post that this weekend.
Go for it, Paul.
I missed it the first time around. Would make for a good read on a great car.
Paul,we didn’t get the V6 505 in Australia.We did get the proper headlights which enhance the pure sculptural form of Pininfarina’s design.I reckon the square headlights do not improve the pugs shape,quite the opposite.Whenever I see a 505 I stop to admire its simple and clean lines,do the same when I see three local and immaculate Peugeot 306 hatchbacks.I guess you didn’t get the 306 in the USA,they are the finest front wheel drive car,handling,ride and comfort,I have driven.Every road test praises them highly and many suggest they were the finest roadholding of any FWD car.They are an exceptionally composed drive.I will buy a 306 before I shuffle off this mortal coil.
They retuned the 306 suspension for more progressive rear steer action and called it the Citroen Xsara which I have, beautiful to drive especially stupidly too fast, they make much fancied sports car look really silly.
They really could run with some of the best. Case in point, the factory backed Xsara F2 rally cars were the last non-awd vehicles to win WRC rallies, claiming podium position in both the 1999 Rallye Catalunya-Costa Brava and the Tour de Course. Keep in mind, at the time, rear suspension geometry had to remain essentially the same as the road cars, and the FWD Xsara F2’s were naturally aspirated. This embarrassment to the WRC class of cars concerned the FIA enough to revamp two-wheel-drive regulations beginning in the 2000 season.
Yes thats the model I have though mine is turbo diesel, the next model they stiffened the bodyshell which improved handling, I often wonder why there are very few cars that can stay with a Xsara on a twisty road anyway Very fun cars to drive.
I drive a 97 Volvo V90…something tells me the driving experience in a Peugeot may not be too awfully different.
I do detest red single-stage paint…I had ONE bright red car in my life and spent way too much time trying to keep it looking good via polishing and waxing, and never really succeeded.
There is a red Volvo 240 I see frequently that was either freshly painted or the owner waxes the hell out of it because it is beautiful, but it’s the exception.
One of my neighbors acquired an ’83 Peugeot 505S about a year ago. The woman who owned it gave it to him, absolutely free, in exchange for yard work.
The body, paint, and interior are in near mint condition. It’s light metallic silver-blue with a mouse grey interior. The only thing keeping it off the road is a dead fuel pump.
“To say that the styling has held up well would be an understatement. Everything written in our original styling comment on the 505’s still holds true for the 1987 models. And with so many new aero-designed cars progressing toward a mean, the “old” 505 design is actually refreshing.”
“The objective numbers bear out the subjective praise. The normally aspirated 505 STX turned in a commendable 0 to 60 time of 9.8 seconds and a quarter-mile time of 17.2 sec.”
Then one reads the At A Glance specifications and the Peugeot is specifically criticized for having an “aging body design and modest acceleration in class“. So which is it, then? Bizarre…
When you’re wearing rose colored glasses, all the red flags just look like flags. I think only English cars received more undeserved praise in Road & Track reviews than French cars did.
You must be joking
I had a ’79 (?) 505 Sedan , it was old and the paint was de laminating (clear over burgundy) , it had of all things , TWO CARBYS instead of one two barrel carby but the French you know….
Anyway , the secondary carby was frozen solid , I lucked onto a similar car in Pick-A-Part , bought and installed the carby and the car ran sweetly , handled like it was on rails , had hands down the very best seats of anycar I’ve ever been in .
I sold it to some Sisters for $150 or so, they loved it but being Mexican meant no one would work on it for them and it experied about three years later , they cried .
Pus are good cars but really , _REALLY_ ‘ different ‘ for no discernable reason .
No French car mechanics would work on it in California for them because they were Mexican?
Sorry~ my English skills failed me : they were two Mexican Sisters who lived in a very bad Barrio and didn’t know nor were able to find any one who’d even give it a look .
Some here will know what I’m talking about when I say they lived on Troost Steet .
I found my first 505 a 1985 505S, when it was only 5 years old. It had only about 72,000kmns on it, I was the second owner, and there were service records as long as your arm. I lavished care and money on it, and was generally rewarded with a fine car for the next 50,000kms. I parked it to use a Renault R5GTL that I had previously sold to somebody who could not finish paying for it, so I got it back and decided to use it for what I thought was the short time it might take to kill it, based on the neglect it had endured at the hands of others. But it never did fail me…for years…..
The 505 sat and sat, and was sprayed by a skunk when my dog trapped one beneath it. Of course he got it too but we could clean it all off his coat easily. The underside of a car is less accessible and it stunk for a very long time. And sitting outside is bad for any car let alone a 505 with vulnerable paint. Eventually, after my dog could no longer control the population, red squirrels made a home in the car. They ate wiring the glove box and finally bits of the interior. I could not near to watch it get worse so I sent it away to its demise.
Some time later, about 1996 I found the second one, a 1984 505S. It had 120000 kms on it, had a 5 speed, a/c, fabric interior, and a sunroof. Using the XN6 engine, it produced a mere 97 or so horsepower….but was like a tractor for durability. I got it very cheaply from a business owner who had a pair of them for sale…and this one had not travelled as far. There was an issue with brakes…there were NONE when I went to try it. It ran well, appeared to be a solid car despite three or four scars on the paint where rust was bubbling through. All it took to fix the brakes as to replace the flex hose that transferred brake fluid from the brake reservoir down to the clutch master cylinder and then bleed the entire hydraulic system. There was always a slight vibration from the exhaust system at a certain RPM, but other than that it was a great car. I paid $250 for it and put only a couple of hundred into it to get it safety checked and etested and repaired. I drove it everywhere, did embarrasingly rude things to it when went off road at Mosport with it…crossing creeks, getting stuck in mud, climbing hills and driving through the bush on the outfield….but getting through.
I drove that car for almost 5 years…and did almost nothing to it apart from oil changes and tire purchase, as well as replacing exhaust. Left outside in Ontario winters, driven hard most of the time, seldom even washed, it served exceedingly well. It was parked when I was given an old Toyota Tercel wagon, and since I was doign some renvoation work at teh time, that was a good thing. The 505 as eventually broken for parts and sent elsewhere.
For a long time I had no Peugeots….only driving the Tercel or the enxt one that came along, a Tercel wagon that came here from the mild climate of British Columbia. Again, it was pressed into hard service as a work horse.
Yet, along the way a friend had bought a 1986 505GL wagon for his wife…with some advice from me to service it and keep it going. After thy had of several years, he came by asking about the cooling system and issue with them. He also told me about a low mileage 505 Turbo sedan that had been advertised. Since I was in process of selling of some extra cars at teh time I was not so intersted…yet it kept popping up in my mind. Eventually I made contact with the vendor, worked out a time to see it and, of course, bought it. It had less than 100,000 kms on it since it was new in 1985, and had been stored for at least 4 years when I got it, without being used or even started.
So, about the same time as that happened, my friend appeared again and told me he was giving me the wagon…insisted upon it. He had bought a Subaru for his wife and that was that…the wagon was being delivered to me shortly. That night, at arrived. The next day, the Turbo arrived from out of town.
Now, having too many cars is a problem since all of them are acquired for good reasons and so in order to honour the rationale we use to convince ourselves that we do in fact need the cars, we must continue to want them….and have a good reason for having them that stands the test of time. Of course I did…I had all the parts to keep them going in my garage upstairs loft, and if I didn’t I knew where to get them!
So, I slowly got the wagon into service and started to drive it occasionally. I collected a load of bricks in it…all 1600 pounds of them, laid out in layers on the nearly 8 foot long load floor. It was close to my house so I drive slowly and over smooth roads, and unloaded them as quickly as I could. No ill effect. I have moved furniture with it…used it as storage, and for simple pleasure of driving it even if it IS an automatic.
The Turbo should finally be completely recommissioned by this summer…all new brakes to correct the years of disuse….and corrosion within the hydraulic system. Engine is clean and runs well..with fresh gas it improves considerably. Leather interiors is a little firm in some places, but is intact and well preserved.
Once I get the sunroof working again…(gear drive is dead)…and change the old tires for new ones, it should get through the safety check easily.
There are indeed a few 505s out here in wonderland and I am lucky enough to have two! Will let CC know about the event when it happens.
Speaking as the past owner of a 1985 505S, I will absolutely echo everything said above about the durability of the pushrod XN6 motor. Kept maintained, they have an almost Mercedes diesel-like ability to just go forever.
In the three years I had that car, it went from 180,000 miles on the clock to 260,000 with what I would consider to be next to no trouble for a car of its age and mileage. Replaced the timing chain and related hardware (it was getting rattly), the clutch slave cylinder took a dump (not uncommon), and the shifter linkage bushings failed, leaving the car stuck in 3rd gear but still driveable enough to get me 15 miles home. Other than that, it just needed run-of-the-mill stuff like tyres, oil and fluid changes, and the occasional thing like an ignition coil.
It did get some junkyard upgrades: the velour seats were swapped for matching leather ones, the carpet (which a previous owner had spilled a gallon of latex paint onto behind the driver’s seat) also got a refresh, and I replaced the trunk lid with one from a same-colour Turbo due to peeling clearcoat and the Turbo spoiler adding more horsepower.
When it was the middle car in a three-car pileup on the freeway, it was the only car the Highway Patrol allowed to drive home; the other two (Honda Civic and Honda Accord) were sidelined and the owners told to call a cab. Some dents down the passenger front door, a broken mirror on the same door, and a scrape on the passenger rear door were the sum total of the damage; again, the junkyard fixed that.
Comfortable, great handling and steering, excellent brakes, and about as capable in the desert on sand and dirt as a small 2WD pickup. The best $850 I ever spent to buy a secondhand car.
I bought a 1983 Peugeot 505 Grand Rallye,manual gearbox and limited slip differential,in 2000.Much more complex under the hood,pipes and hoses everywhere,than my beautifully simple 404 sedans and utes.The 505 was a very strong car,just try lifting the hood on one,heaviest of any car I have encountered.Many Pug enthusiasts believe Peugeot stretched that 1600cc engine too far to 2000cc for reliability,prone to blow head gaskets.Travelling at 130 kilometres per hour the 505 was almost whisper quiet and the seats were more comfortable than those in a Jensen Interceptor,my previous benchmark.Recline the seat to nap on long distance trips and those seats were more comfortable than most expensive beds.My 505 was white exterior with tan wool cloth interior,looked very sharp.The 505 wagons used two coil springs on each side at the rear so they retained that fantastically smooth Peugeot ride and handling while being capable of carting heavy loads.I still see a few good wagons here in Tasmania.505 cars could be prone to electrical problems.My female neighbour’s son missed the bus to his first day of high school and my 404 ute was unregistered.Her female partner had taken their car to work so I loaned her the 505 to drive her son to school.I didn’t realise that there was a pinhole in a heater hose and she cooked the motor.She didn’t,despite promises,ever pay me and that ended a very close friendship.The 505 was a simple and stylish car although it was very heavy compared to a 404.The 505 was a superb handling car but in my opinion it didn’t equal the driving experience of a 404,it didn’t have that gokart like steering of the 404.Nevertheless the 505 was a great drive.I later bought a beautiful bright cream exterior with tan,black and chrome interior,1968 404 sedan,89,000 miles only,always garaged,for the bargain price of $500.Now that car is one I regret selling.
Like my 406 the difference between 100kph and 180 kph is the speed of the scenery the car behaved no different still able to corner smoothly and quiet nearly no noise at all and thats with a diesel motor, most comfortable cars you can get bar nothing and superb roadholding is built in along with the comfort no compromises at all.
Great cars, but in the U.S., not for people looking for a rolling appliance, due to poor resale value and hard to find good repair and service. Have a 405 myself, look forward to similar coverage on it, also.
Years ago, a had two chances to buy a 505. Nice cars but the high mileage scared me. They were comfortable, intriguing, and very alluring cars…I was tempted!
A good friend of mine had an almost brand new 405 sedan. It was a nice deep red color. I rode in it a few times and it was a very sporty car.
Unfortunately, a few months later, he was driving on the highway and it caught on fire and was totaled. He replaced it with a brand new Subaru Loyale which he still drives today…and that was in 1992!
My father had one; it was an Israeli tax special which meant the 1.8 L engine coupled to a ZF 3sp auto box. It was in my opinion the most dangerous car I drove to date in the sense that it had the performance a 40s or 50s car, not really fit for everyday driving in the 80s. Overtaking on a double lane road often became an exercise in advance planning. Not doing so resulted in cold sweat and palpitations as you pressed pedal to the metal trying to extract any available horse out of that poor little engine. Turning the aircon was like switching the jake brakes on a truck. As for the handling, at the pathetic speeds you were travelling, it might just as well have been the aforementioned 40s/50s car, it was irrelevant. Another brilliant achievement by the Israeli Finance Ministry (we had a number of such cars back then, and I believe the Volvo 244 1.8 (with the old B-series engine produced for Israel only) was even worse).
My understanding is that the later 2L, 4sp model was just about tolerable (and I understand most surviving Israeli cars have their 1.8L units swapped for the above, in the same way that Volvo 244/245 owners swap for the 2.3L engine) but by then my father had seen the light and bought a 2L 405 with 120 hp which was OK, sort of.
Yes, it was very comfortable and reliable.
Years later a friend has a GTI and later a V6 (EU STX) and both were very different…
A client of mine bought a new Peugeot 505 Familiale in the early nineties, so near the end of the 505’s production run. The big wagon, for the family who didn’t want to drive around in a see-through panel van.
Renowned is of course the 505 4×4 by Dangel. But there’s more, like this 505 double cab ute:
And a 505 coupe concept, which I found on this French website:
Don’t forget the Cabriolet concept supposedly conceived for North American consumption ( note the 104 break and saloon concepts behind! ) :
And the hearses and ambulances, built by renowned coachbuilder Heuliez.
Je suis l’auteur de la photo que vous avez diffusée
N’ayant pas autorisé la diffusion de celle ci, merci de la retirer
And this 505 Citroën CX style:
The Ute caught my eye , a single cab one would do me nicely .
What I’d really like is a Mercedes Benz ‘ Bakkie ‘ 300D – T on a W-123 chassis…. I’d prolly go into hock to buy such an item if one existed .
Rented one from Hertz in Los Angeles in 1987 for a weekend. Loved it.
I’ve always had an odd affinity for these, odd considering they were never all that popular in North Carolina and I’ve never even sat in one. I do have the dealer brochure for the ’86 or ’87 model from an auto show, tucked away back at my parents’ place.
Was the 2.8 in these the late/even-fire PRV engine, or had they already moved on and developed something else to replace it? The displacement and power figures match the PRV and it looks quite similar, though the engine bay photo is too small to make out much detail.
I always wondered why they didn’t go to fully flush lamps once they became DOT legal in ’84. These “inset squares” don’t look bad, and are similar to what Mercedes used on the pre-facelift W124 and W126 cars, but I think the look would be much cleaner with smooth lamp expanses.
I might be tempted if I ever came across an estate version for sale, especially a turbo. That interior looks quite nice and the estates had *massive* cargo space. This well-worn but still running example showed up at my workplace back in 2010 and I had to snap a photo.
Pity that cars that do so well in Europe so do badly in the USA.
I’d say the reason Peugeot never gained traction in the US is the failure to assemble a legitimate dealer network. This is an example of what was a dealer in Weymouth MA, about 20 miles south of Boston. The building still remains, somewhat renovated, and the lion remains on the sign. At the time it functioned as a dealership, the building looked as though it was about to fall down. Hard to imagine putting down Acura+ money on something sold out of this.
In my last two years of university, I had a girlfriend who needrd a car. A quick look around in Shady Used Car Land turned up a 505, I think a 1980.
In my opinion it was just as good a car, or even better than an MB W123. Potential buyers were scared off the Peugeot because of its Frenchness and rarity. The one time I needed a part for it, a water pump, it wasn’t that hard to get.
A 505 wasn’t going to win any races but it was extremely comfortable. The seats were the best I can recall. The body was built like a tank and the long travel suspension was very supple.
We eventually sold it when together we left to work in Japan. She lasted six weeks, crying every spare moment. I was really perplexed since going to Japan was her idea! She arrived back on Vancouver Island no place to live, no job or a car to drive.
I can’t quite agree the Pug is better than the w123.
I’ve owned a couple of the Frenchies, and it’s beyond question that they’re quite superior to the W123 in suspension quietness, ride quality, steering accuracy and seats. Handling is about on-par, perhaps unsurprising for a quite-similar set-up. The Pugs are lovely, peaceful things wound up to 70 or 80 mph in top gear of the manual on a long and winding road. There, the Mercedes can’t compete, with its rock-art seating, its concrete tyre feel, the massive road roar, vague on-centre steering and generally wearing effect.
But I have to admit the Merc is a much better made thing, bodily as sold at 200k as at 20, super high-grade details, and as happy at 120mph (with the right engine) as it is at 50, something the Pugs could not match. Their bodies got rattly, and the details and interior bits were made of snails and gruyere, quite done-for by many miles use. They’re mechanically as tough as the German, mind, if not better.
So on balance, to advise a friend, buy the Mercedes any time, but to myself, buy the Pug when they’re not too used, and enjoy a much more comfortable, more elegant but entirely more frangible device.
Man, I’d have killed for a V6 manual. I’ve only ever driven the fours, and even the Gti ones have rather more noise (and vibration) than motion.
Sweet, sweet cars, of course – I bought my ones for a reason after all – but some torque and smoothness would have iced the cake perfectly.
Unfortunately, that V6 would have made them quite a silly price in the Oz of ’87, when big economic changes (especially floating of the dollar) made imports super-expensive for a while. Things like $40,000 for a Celica, for example, so lord knows what these’d have been. Certainly a price that no-one was going to pay for a funny Frog with slightly dubious reliabilty and no real resale.
I had a 505td wagon as my daily driver about 5 years ago. A CL purchase, the price was
right. Really liked it, if it had had a manual trans I likely would have kept it rather longer
than the 2 years or so I did. Having owned a 1982 240d previously, my opinion was that
the driving dynamics of the Peugeot were better.
I had a new ’86 505 as a demonstrator when the Buick dealer I worked for decided to take on a second car line.
As it was a manual transmission model, no other employee wanted it.
Hardly the peppiest car at the time; but I grew to admire it’s truly excellent & comfortable seats and compliant suspension that turned New Orleans pot holes into slight street depressions as well as it’s roomy interior.
Sadly, the A/C system could not cope with the car’s tall greenhouse and the heat & humidity that permeates New Orleans for most of the year.
And then there was the reliability issue. Whatever Pug used to meet U. S. emissions standards kept breaking down from almost day one. The dealership mechanics, used to working on Buicks, would back away from the car in bafflement & frustration.
We had two Peugeots in Vermont in the 1970’s. My brother got a job working for the local Peugeot mechanic who had previously been a professor at Goddard College. Central Vermont is a small place. A few decades later, I left the firehouse and riding west came across two men working on the local SAAB 96 (?). I stopped to chat, and ended up helping them remove the V4 to change the throwout rod. It was two guys and a 2×6 holding up the engine! Glen was the father in law and the mechanic. He had a 404 parked nearby, after his drive from Seattle. I mentioned that we had a 404, and my brother worked for the Peugeot guy in Plainfield, Vermont, Brian Holm. Glen replied that he had spoken to Brian the previous day. Brian has a large cache of cars in his pasture and ships parts all over the US. It is an odd sight to see row after row of Peugeots in Vermont.
The 505 Turbo was dominant in SCCA Showroom Stock in 1988
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