The French make some of the best food in the world, and in fact both their fries and toast have become staples of the American gastronome. Sadly, French cars never found as much favor, despite such offerings as today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe Peugeot 504 estate. That's too bad, but could the reason be that this one's price is hard to swallow?
It's often said that Great Britain and America are two nations separated by a common language. The U.S. and France do not share linguistics, but at one time, we did come together in our love of what could be considered the comfort food of automobile form factors, the grand estate.
Big-ass wagons, no matter what language they speak, are notable for being the first stab at family utility, and in fact their dual nature - car-like driving dynamics and capacious room - made them nearly de rigueur for entry into post-war America's suburban society. France probably has suburbs, although in place of cookie-cutter tract homes with manicured lawns, they are likely dotted with chateaus surrounded by vineyards. At least that's how I'd like to picture them.
And for decades - literally decades - a car that could have been found in the driveways of those suburban chateaus was Peugeot's venerable 504. The Pininfarina-designed made its debut at the 1968 Paris Salon - delayed three months due to the May revolution that year - a period of political and labor strife led by the Fédération des Mimes.
At its introduction, the 504 was made available in three bodystyles- a 4-door saloon with an odd humped boot, and coupe and cabriolet which shared no body panels with the sedan. They were in fact Carla Bruni to the sedan's Nicolas Sarkozy. The 504 won the European Car of the Year award that first year, while in 1970 an estate was added to the lineup, sharing nose and front doors with the saloon, but rolling on an extended wheelbase and sporting enough room in back to house an entire bistro.
At 114.2 inches, the wagon's wheelbase is a full seven inches longer than that of the sedan, and because of that, rear seat room descriptors change from adequate to expansive. This 1982 504 estate evidences not only that distance between wheel centers that may require a visa for tire rotations, but also the extended rear overhang that provides such commodious accommodations under the hatch.
With only a claimed 39,000 miles on its clock, it's not surprising to find the car in what looks to be reasonably decent shape. Inside, the seats and dash appear fully intact, and bring up another feature of the 504 which is worth mentioning, which is its unflagging comfort and solidity. Part of that - and perhaps a reason for there being so few miles on the car - may be due to the somewhat languorous nature of what resides under the hood. That's the Indenor-designed XD2 diesel, an engine that is not far removed from its 1950s predecessors, although it is the first without removable cylinder liners. The 2,304-cc compression ignition four provided 70 horsepower, and only 97 ft-lbs of torque, but was none the less considered both sturdy and frugal. It proved so popular in fact that derivations were, and are, used across many manufacturers' products Europe-wide.
Backing that up here is a 4-speed manual gearbox, which should help eke out the most from those few ponies, and at least give the driver something to do while waiting on the 2,965-lb Peugeot to turtle its way to its destination. The seller says that - while slow - it still runs great, and has had the benefit of a new alternator, battery and heater core. It also rolls on a set of 505 alloys - the ones with the little black decals on the spokes - but comes as well with the original steelies and hub caps.
On the downside, he says the paint - being 29 years old - is as faded as most Americans' memories of Peugeots in general, and could stand a respray. Seeing as this car is prime hipster fodder, its current grey patina may be seen as preferable as a porkpie hat or beard stubble. The most alarming part of the description is that there is hardly any rust, which could mean anything from surface rust on the door jams to it having more holes in it than the Maginot line. It's. . . Concerning.
Potentially concerning as well is that price, which at $4,500 could buy you a really nice Miata. Of course, the Japanese sports car won't hold a quintet of unionist strikers and their petulant egos, this Pug will. It's also a rare through attrition diesel wagon with a stick, that's like buttons pushed on the Jalopnik scale of things that are good. But then there's that 19-second zero to sixty time, and the ominous claim of not much rust - which can be as concerning as your girlfriend telling you she's not much pregnant.
So, with all that in mind, what's your take on this uber-slow, but also uber-low mileage Peugeot? Is $4,500 a price that would make this a great estate? Or, for that much, can this seller French kiss any deal goodbye?
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