The magic touch of Pininfarina meant that the coupe and cabriolet versions of the 504 were thoroughly stylish Peugeots.
Peugeot’s 504 saloon may have been a best-seller in its homeland, but despite being designed by Pininfarina, its looks erred on the side of traditional. But there was more opportunity for indulgence with the coupe and cabriolet variants, launched in 1969, the year after the saloon’s debut. These were very handsome creations that shared only their engines and running gear with their more staid sibling.
Sadly, Britain got less than its fair share of these cars. Although there were right-hand drive conversions, they were quite expensive and thus uncommon. And official imports from across the channel ceased around the same time that Peugeot dropped a 2.7-litre V6 – the first use of the Peugeot-Renault-Volvo joint engine development – under the bonnet for 1975. Some left-hookers subsequently sneaked in, but most of the few examples in the UK are four pots. Not that that should stop you from looking abroad if you really want one of these in your life, of course...
TORQUE 125lb ft@3000rpm
MAXIMUM SPEED 111mph
FUEL CONSUMPTION 23mpg
TRANSMISSION RWD, four-speed manual
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Be very afraid of rust; you can’t get new body panels and even secondhand items are very scarce. Vital areas to scrutinise are where the scuttle meets the sill and inner wheelarch – corrosion here is usually running rampant deeper in. If there’s significant body flex from a cabriolet, suspect weak sills and check the stiffeners underneath the sills too. Bonnets also rust. Also on al fresco versions check the floorpan in case water has got in. Don’t forget to look under the rear seat. On pre-1978 cars, there’s a scoop in the bonnet that allows water into the inner wings. If the drain holes are blocked, it will start to chomp through the inner wings. Brightwork is difficult to replace.
Engines are generally tough especially the V6, for which parts supply is still good, so usual common sense checks apply. If the fan runs constantly, suspect head gasket issues. Fuel injection (where fitted, from 1978) is more complex. If it’s malfunctioning, a specialist will need to tinker. A diaphragm with a hole in it will cause over-fuelling. Corrosion in the fusebox (left-hand footwell) can cause the fuel pump to stop working – in which case, you won’t hear the usual ticking. Or it could be that its belt-drive has snapped. Replacement belts are needle-in-haystack jobs. The in-line fuel filter should be changed regularly to keep the right pressure.
You’ll be lucky to find a gearbox that isn’t dripping some oil, but it shouldn’t be a big pool. Five-speed boxes will feel sloppy with age and start to clonk.
WHAT LIES BENEATH
Front spring saddles collapse, so look at these. Power steering (standard from 1975) racks are known to leak too. Rear subframes can break away from their rubber mountings if the car has been jacked up incorrectly. Turning to the brakes, front discs are known for wearing out, but can be upgraded. A non-functioning handbrake points to inoperative rear calipers.
Hoods are usually pretty watertight, but do check them carefully, just in case. Try out all the electrics but especially the windows. Rust inside the door can cause their pulleys to break loose. Cabriolets have vinyl upholstery, on the coupes it’s cloth. But replacements for anything are hard to find, so you’ll need to resort to a retrim if a revamp is necessary. Check any right-hand drive conversions carefully; they can often look a little amateurish. Dashboards can crack, especially around the glovebox edges.
Why do you want one? Because it’s the sort of car that will prompt the uninitiated to ask if it’s really a Peugeot. The looks, while displaying some Peugeot family genes, are much more Italian grand tourer in style and, certainly in V6 form, the cars drive that way too. Think of the four-seater convertible as a less obvious French retort to the Triumph Stag and you wouldn’t be that far from the truth. Be prepared to search hard and wait long for the right one though. You probably won’t find one for sale just around the corner…