The Peugeot 604 has received its share of love here, but let’s go back to the time when it was just appearing. Road and Track does their usual thorough technical analysis of the new large sedan, and a drive as well.
I remember seeing these only on occasion . How long did they sell in the U.S. ? I think this was the last Peugeot model here before they pulled out.
Last year for Peugeot in USA was 91.
The 604 ended in the US in 80 or 81. It was superseded by deluxe 505 models.
According to Wiki, the 604 was available in the US through the 1984 model year. Sales were few and far between in the later years, though.
Based on NADA guides, 1980 was the last year for the 604.
EPA fuel economy estimates are listed for the 604 thru 1984; it also appears that they became diesel-only beginning in 1982.
I think the 604 was available in the U.S. until the end of the run in 1984, but might have been special order only by the early eighties.
I believe the 405 was the last one sold here. A pretty good car, if memory serves, but not enough to save the company in the US.
Oh yes, Now I remember the 405. It was a smaller looking front wheel drive 4 door sedan, more aerodynamic . Looked more like the Honda sedans of the same period.
The 505 was a pretty good car. The 405 was not regarded as good as the 505 her in Europe. The first “big” FWD had some problems, to say the least. The 406 was better.
I really like the lines of these cars, they look very elegant. I think they were sold in Canada until 1979 or may ’80. Never ever seen one of these on the street.
Not a bad looking car, but sadly those big headlights (the most interesting part of the car) didn’t make it to the US. Here’s the 1977 American version.
HOW could a car company (and their products) perform SO well in Europe but constantly perform SO badly, for SO many years, in the USA?
Peugeot did okay in the States, esp in the coastal markets, until Japan Inc confiscated and expanded Peugeot’s “alternative to domestic products” market slot. Although it was a relatively small part of total sales, the Camry and Accord ate an even bigger percentage of Peugeot’s US market share than of domestic brands; the Japanese cars had most of the virtues of Peugeot’s products and almost none of the liabilities.
Paul has devoted some digital ink to answering your question:
I heard anecdotally that U.S.-market 604s were less reliable than previous Peugeots, and asking prices for used 604s seemed to track with that perception.
The 604 didn’t do too well in Europe either. Too thirsty in V6 mode, too expensive as a Turbo Diesel. Add the terrible rust issues and the third-rate fit and finish, and you’ve got a turkey on your hands. Not as big a turkey as the Citroen C6, but still a pretty big bomb.
Brings back old memories through. My father had one in the mid-’80s, bought 2nd hand. First car we had with power windows.
The second half of the seventies and the early eighties. Can we say Peugeot’s “Malaise Era”?
Till the sacred number 205 -which still doesn’t look outdated- changed everything.
True enough if you’re looking at Peugeot. But if you look at D/E segment French cars, they haven’t had a real hit since the CX and possibly the Renault 25.
– Citroen XM, C6 = mediocre and turkey respectively (sales-wise)
– Peugeot 604, 605, 607 = turkey, mediocre and turkey again respectively
– Renault R30, Safrane, VelSatis = turkey, mediocre and turkey respectively
– Talbot Tagora = unmitigated disaster.
Big French cars have underperformed both domestically and abroad for some time now. The 604 was the first generation of failure.
Certainly, the E-segment is over and out for Renault and PSA. And for all other mainstream automakers too, as a matter of fact.
But they are doing quite well in the D-segment with the Renault Talisman, Peugeot 508 and DS5. A new 508 and Citroën C5 will be introduced in a short while.
Quote Laurens van den Acker (Renault): “it’s unthinkable that Renault doesn’t offer a D-segment model in Europe”.
They sell well in Europe, but mostly small cars and in France. Their lager cars never did very well outside France, but the smaller cars did in Southern Europe.
I’ve seen 1 or 2 of these, both (?) while living in Memphis during the 90s. At least 1 was a turbo-diesel, IIRC.
I thought these were a bit pricey, but hey, they were the “top of the tree” for Peugeot….weren’t they? Certainly, they were decently competitive, on paper, with contemporary Volvos. Unfortunately, the dealership experience was nothing like Volvo’s.
Here in YAZD there is a guy who converts cars into pickups.i saw a 604 truck(pickup)last week.looks bigger as a TRUCK.i also saw a mercedes 450sel that was turned into pickup.there is still tons of PEUGEOT404&504s are on road here.all are petrol.dry climate of central desert of iran is probably helping to keep them on road.
Another Peugeot model, the 405 -introduced in 1987 and mentioned in the comments above- is still being produced in Iran according to the information I found.
It was a major Peugeot success in the mid-size family car segment.
You Are Correct.405&it’s persian siblings SAMAND&PARS are pretty much alive and well here.Even Last Year IKCO Had Introduced ARTISAN Which is Basically 405 pickup.Many Taxies are 405s&SAMANDs.
Note that the Arisun pickup (ute) is rwd, so uses some of the 405 bodyshell but there would be a lot that was new.
I spotted this interesting French article who have more trivia about the Iranian 405. http://boitierrouge.com/2014/07/23/peugeot-405-rd-et-roa-des-propulsions-et-on-ne-le-savait-pas/
Edit: Here another article in English about the Iranian 405. https://ranwhenparked.net/2014/01/22/a-look-at-the-iranian-built-peugeot-405-pars/ There’s still some Paykan/Hillman DNA still running in them.
The last few years of Hillman Hunter production in Iran had Peugeot engines fitted.
Peugeot’s had legendary status in Australia throughout the 50’s and 60’s due to excellent performances in endurance rally events. The well published results sold many if them. They had acreputation for bring tough and particularly comfortable – an ideal combination fir a country with lots of rough roads and very long distances.
By the ’80’s things had changed and they were seen as medium market Euro cars, somewhat quirky. Mixed dealer experiences did not help things either and all French cars of this period seemed to suffer sun damage here – rubber trio would soon fade, dash boards cracked very quickly and metallic paint faded and turned to sandpaper very quickly. But they were always comfortable.
The model range here has changed over the years but they have always remained in the Australian market.
Didn’t Peugeot as well as its rival Renault also suffered from some boycott due to nuclear tests then France did in French Polynesia? Here what I founded at http://www.aussiefrogs.com/forum/renault-forum/105111-renault-australia-useless-info-file.html
“…French nuclear testing in the Pacific caused Australian Unions to ban the movement of French sourced goods, which greatly reduced production at Renault Australia. Despite the bans, 1973 was the best year yet for Australian Renault production, with 5633 cars produced….
Chrysler Australia also had high hopes with the Centura who was based on the Simca/Chrysler 180 but the Centura had meet the same fate as Renault and Peugeot due to the French nuclear tests.
On a off-topic sidenote, someone had posted a vintage test drive of the Renault 12 by the staff of Wheels magazine. http://www.aussiefrogs.com/articles/renault_12/index.html The R12 was Wheels Car of the year Down Under.
Consumer Reports was impressed by it too, despite their test car throwing a rod (!)
As you’ve probably worked out, Stephane, Renault and Peugeot were assembled in Aus in the same West Heidelberg (a Melbourne suburb) factory, surely a world exclusive. Australia at this time had a government that, by todays’ standards, was ultra-left, and French Pacific nuclear bomb-related union boycotts not only made the Centura late and unviable, it tarnished the rep of French cars generally. Very ironically, the cliche was that the bearded leftist proffessorial class were the core buyers of these French oddities! Even today, French cars are seen as a bit of an academics choice here, and sell in very small numbers. The 604, btw, was a disaster here; very expensive, very thirsty, barely faster than the old 4cyl Pugs, rust-prone and hopelessly unreliable. Having said which, I’ve driven one, it was wonderful, and did indeed sound like a Citroen SM (a 90degree v6 thing, perhaps?),I love the elegant boxy look, and would have one tomorrow. Alright, alright, I’d have a free one….
It seems to be a pretty rusted on belief about the Centura being delayed due to French nuclear testing in the Pacific and union bans but is there any evidence? The car didn’t get approved to go into production till Mach 1973 so I’m not sure how it could have reached the showroom any early than it did.
Nice cars but rare here even the more common 504s are scarce now, rounded up by the shipload when they were cheap and exported to Africa for parts or rebuilding, theyve become a rare sight.
Peugeot probably grew to fast in the sixties as their four-O-four was a world wide success.
I reckon this was the backfire of their success, although the six-O-four drove and handled like a dream, they installed relais in the nude unprotected behind the headlights.
Not a great idea if you consider the amount of road salt used in wintertime in Northern Europe.
At the same time, BMW used a $ 2 lunchbox and squeezed all fuses and relais in that thing.
A pity and a missed opportunity for Peugeot, the car had standard features like an electric sunroof, the color palet, well I’ve never seen any nicer palet of metallic colors that made this car an impressive piece of work with its four yellow headlights and Mercedes style wipers.
In fact the 604 came closest to the Mercedes S class but in a somehow French arrogant and elegant way. One thing I do must say is that Peugeot did not look at their rival Citroën but looked east at their German counterparts.
Too bad it failed, like the Rover SD1, the Renault 30 TS , Alfa Romeo 90, Lancia Gamma and Volvo’s 264.
Each of those failed luxobarges you mention in your last line have enormous appeal (have driven only the Pug, Renault and SD1), but like so many internet speculators, I would never really have bought one new with my own money. Fuel, unreliability, and most of all, vertiginous depreciation would have meant I’d have done what everyone else in the world has ended up doing – buying Japanese, or at minimum, those who learnt from their methods.
In one of those CC coincidences, we watched the classic 80s movie Real Genius last night, & the main antagonist drove a 505. I felt a little sorry for the car since the character was such an amoral schemer, but perhaps it was an evil Peugeot as well.
A chase scene from “The Driver ” (1978) is shot precariously close to a raft of warehoused US 604 sedans. At the time I suspected the distributor was perhaps staging an insurance claim…
This would be it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nIiroTIEBw
I’d watch that film again!
I can confirm the observation that the car is rarely seen in these parts anymore. There are 2 that do the shows, one white and the other a burgundy. They were never common, but all the ones I remember from the 1980s were a champagne colour.
A pretty nice car – ride and accommodations, I imagine. My father used to have a 505 so I imagine the comfy ride and roominess.
Sadly, the executive sedans from the European mainstream manufacturers (Ford, Peugeot, Opel and Rover) fell by the wayside to BMW, Audi and Merc…
Interesting review. I notice the author is critical of the body roll. Many other reviews from the launch thought it cornered without much roll; as years went by though this aspect was relatively worse. Still the same but not as good as the newer cars. Many period reviews raved about the ride and the steering. UK magazines and (if memory served Road & Track) considered the ride as good as an XJ-6. I’vd driven one of these (there’s an article here somewhere) and yes, the ride is excellent, better than this review implies. The rear seating is superlative. The driving position is set up for leisurely motoring as in relaxed even if one is pressing on. Interestingly, the 1995 406 is basically everything this car is but better screwed together. It’s still dead plain but fits a UK writer’s description of the 604: professional.
Note: Citroen sold about 330000 XMs. It did okay in its first five years but Citroen failed to invest in it to recitify its persistant habit of never winning tests. Then in 1996 they didn’t replace it but carried on for four more years with what had become an uncompetitive car. Opel did update their Omega and sold plenty during the same time.
I remember these and even worked on one or two. Loved the car. Hated that engine.
A friend offered me a dirt-cheap Volvo 265 wagon with the same engine a few years later, and I turned it down!
Happy Motoring, Mark
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