July 22, 2010

Peugeot 504 Coupe.

Several readers correctly identified the mystery car: it's a Peugeot 504 coupe.

The Peugeot 504 sedan was introduced in 1968 to replace the aging 404 sedan, though the 404 had such a loyal following that production carried on until 1975. The 504 was all-new but not shocking; it was the logical evolution of the 404. It had a modern, austere body and kept the same rear-wheel drive layout as the 404 but a four-wheel independent suspension system improved its handling.

The next year Peugeot introduced a coupe and a convertible version of the 504, both equipped with a 1796cc four-cylinder. The designed was penned by Pininfarina and differed from the stark 504 sedan. The Pininfarina dress gave the coupe and convertible an elegant, sporty look that was an instant hit in the European automobile press. With the notable exception of rust-proofing the built quality was above par; the 504 continued the 404's tradition of reliability and the entire line stood in a different league than other more haphazardly built cars of the era. All of this came at a price: in 1976 a 504 V6 coupe cost 55,900 francs. To put it in perspective, that same year a base-model 504 sedan cost 28,350 francs and the flagship 604 sedan 47,500 francs, making the 504 coupe the most expensive Peugeot of the 1970s.

The 504 coupe's biggest drawback was its lack of performance: initially only the 1795cc straight-four was available, mated to either a four-speed manual or a three-speed automatic. The advantage of this engine was its impressive fuel economy but it made the 504 more of a touring car to drive at a leisurely pace than sports car like an Alfa Romeo 2000 GTV (which, for the record, cost a little less than a Peugeot 504 coupe.) In 1971 the 1796cc grew to 1971cc (104hp) and like the 1796cc could be ordered with fuel injection. The bigger engine paired with a mechanical Kugelfischer fuel injection helped remedy the performance issue a little but not enough to cater to customer demands.

Tired of losing sales to German and Italian competition Peugeot fought back in 1974. They stuffed their 2664cc PRV (Peugeot Renault Volvo) V6 engine in the 504 coupe and created the antithesis to the four-banger: with 136 hp under the hood the 504 V6 coupe was fairly quick but because of its prodigious fuel consumption the economy aspect was lost. In conjuction with the availability of the PRV engine Peugeot slightly redesigned the coupe's headlights, grille and taillights.

Throughout the 1970s Peugeot successfully fielded both four and six-cylinder 504 coupes (and sedans, for that matter) in rallyes across Africa, including the Sahara Rally which the car won in 1978. This solidified the car's reliability reputation.

In 1979 the 504 coupe got its third facelift and saw its metal bumpers replaced with plastic body-colored units. That same year a five-speed manual gearbox was finally available on the four-cylinder engines.

The quiet but comfortable production run of the coupe ended in 1983 after 22,975 of them left Peugeot's assembly lines. The 505 sedan carried on the 504 sedan's torch but the 504 coupe saw its light burn out when Peugeot opted to not produce a 505 coupe.

A first series 504 coupe:

A second series 504 coupe, notice the tail lights are different than the first series above:

A third series 504 coupe with body-colored plastic bumpers:

In rally action:

No comments: