Blogs at Amazon

« Share Your Car Lust | Main | Smart Roadster »

Peugeot 505

5051 Most French cars of the 1980s and before were weirdly styled, horribly unreliable, slow, and possessed a combination of pillowy ride and freak-show interior ergonomics. This combination proved to be either immediately endearing or nausea-inducing to Americans.

The Citroen CX, for example, was such a car--my lust for that vehicle marks me as one of those unfortunates genetically predisposed to French cars. I'm hoping medical science finds some pharmacological help for me before I do something I regret.*

If it is at all possible for a French car to be in the American mainstream--and I'm not at all convinced that this possibility exists--then the Peugeot 505 was it. It replaced the typically strange 504, but set itself apart from the diverse oddness of other French cars.

5052 Smart buyers bypassed the gutless base four-cylinder, but real power was available from either a smooth V-6 in the STX, or a punchy turbo. Its handling was almost sporty, and its driving manners were endearing. Its handsomely crisp sedan lines were reminiscent of a contemporary BMW 7-series, but with just a hint of Gallic expressiveness--which, like the pungent bleu cheese of which the French are so fond, is best used in strict moderation lest it overwhelm the basic flavor. The 505 was also available as a good-looking wagon.

The 505 sold like hotcakes in America, at least by French car standards. Which is to say, Toyota has probably spilled more Corollas off the docks than Peugeot sold 505s. Nonetheless, you can still find 505s on the road, and for me at least, a used 505 is a dangerously seductive option. There were a cornucopia of interesting European sports coupes and sedans available in the 1980s, and for me the Peugeot 505 was one of the most interesting of the group. Viva la difference!

5053I've included a creepy and bizarre 505 commercial below--evidently a 505 driving through your window and coming to a stop in your bedroom is proof positive that the French brought the same inspiration to the 505 as they do, um, in the bedroom. That's information we don't get from Chevy and Ford.

The handsome 505s featured here all belong to Peugeot Club of North America members. The top 505 STX belongs to Rick Matteis, the gray 505 STi belongs to Mike Murphy, and the gorgeous 505 GLS wagon belongs to Jim Lill.

* I once came this close to purchasing a windshield-less diesel Peugeot 504 in a level of condition that could best be described as not "Excellent," not "Good," not even "Poor," but rather "returning to the earth from whence it came." Fortunately, my horrified friends staged an intervention and brought me to my senses. I still get goosebumps and cold sweat when I think about that near-miss.

--Chris H.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

One of my law-school classmates had a green one. He called it "The Booger," and that was not a term of endearment. It drove well enough--between breakdowns, that is.

I have odd memories of the 504. In my many trips to Egypt (archaeology), I've ridden in numerous 504's since that is one of the favorites of taxi drivers. Generally speaking, ask any archaeologist working in Egypt what he/she is most fearful about they will reply, not terrorists or curses from the mummy's tomb, but being anywhere near a road.

Tough cars though. I'll let this photo tell my own particular harrowing story:

I have odd memories of the 504. In my many trips to Egypt (archaeology), I've ridden in numerous 504's since that is one of the favorites of taxi drivers. Generally speaking, ask any archaeologist working in Egypt what he/she is most fearful about they will reply, not terrorists or curses from the mummy's tomb, but being anywhere near a road.

Tough cars though. I'll let this photo tell my own particular harrowing story:

The 505 is a lovely car- the wagon has particularly nice lines. But the fact that it is more mainstream really bothers me and I think that is why I always liked the 504 a little better.

My fondest view of the 504 was through the rear view mirror of a 1979 Mercedes 280SE I was driving through the Ardennes Forest. The roads were a dream of twists, turns, and open straights through rolling hills and pastures. The 280 was in its element. A 504 had for some time been dogging me in a most inappropriate way. After slipping through one beautiful but challenging curve I looked back and watched the 504 slide into road shoulder and knocking down plastic road marker after plastic road marker - each breaking off like a match stick in an almost choreographed succession. The 504 appeared to be undamaged and continued on at a more appropriate speed, its Gallic driver chastened by the laws of physics. After that I had a soft spot in my heart for the 504.

There was never any reason to think of the 504 or the 505 as any sort of real competition or as a great car. They were part of that automotive spectrum that is considered peculiar or strange. One could even reasonably argue that the Peugeot could be in the spectral range of the incompetent car. What ever the case it's a French car and its weirdly attractive so honestly that's good enough for me. I want one.

The difference between Heaven and Hell is Personel Management.
Heaven has English police, French cooks, German mechanics, Swiss bankers, Italian lovers.
Hell has English cooks, French mechanics, German police, Swiss lovers, and Italian bankers.

I drove one of these for about a year. An excellent, if low-powered cruiser. These things had huge tanks & with good mileage, they could drive for ever--it seemed.

Alas, one day after the 200,000 mile mark, the stick shift broke off in my hand as I drove down the parkway. It was a sign that shortly thereafter the transmission would no longer shift at all!

I did like that car!

My parents had a 504 when we lived in Kenya in the early 80's. It was the car that I learned to drive in and I loved it. French cars are bizarre enough to begin with, but imagine a French car with right-hand drive (i.e. the steering wheel on the other side). Since it was an "African specs" model it had to be incredibly basic, i.e. no electric anything, even the choke was manual. The African models also had extra high ground clearance so they could deal with situations where the road disappeared and became one big pothole. It was even a passable off-roader. No 4wd, but with the high ground clearance you could easily head off into the bush to see some lions in the game parks. A terrific car overall. I have never really liked Renaults, and Citroens are a whole new level of wierd, but I always have warm feelings for Peugeots. It's strange that they seem to have dropped the 50X series entirely. Now they jump right from the 407 to the 607. The 607 is too big and not at all convincing as a luxury car. If they put it on a diet and revived the 50X line I bet they would sell a lot more.

I wonder where I can find a good CX to buy!

I love that car! Positively.

Mochi Mochi: "There was never any reason to think of the 504 or the 505 as any sort of real competition or as a great car."

Yep. No offense meant to the 504 - I'm just awfully relieved I didn't buy that particular 504.

Gonna do the 2CV?

Peugeot built cars for 'world' markets back then and their definition of the 'world' was France's former African colonies. We in the West got a pretty decent independent suspension but the wagons were all stick-axle and they built sedans that way for the bush, too.

The 505 was a nice car, magnificent seats, nicely laid-out interior sans some of the quirks of the 504. It was even decently attractive until they stuck the body kit on it later in its life.

The 505 Turbo was pretty fast for a big sedan and had a Torsen diff as standard, it won the SCCA Showroom Stock title for its class for a couple years back in the '80s.

I've owned two 504 diesels, one 505 turbo gas, and one 405mi16. All great cars, I liked the 405 least (cramped interior, firmer ride, and I'm not a fan of front wheel drive). The cars were "different," but to me in a very nice way. I did all my own mechanical work and found the cars to be as reliable as anything else around. They were made a little differently and required one to be more open minded as to how to effect a repair, but really no problem. Their bad reputation, I think, comes more from the fact that few mechanics were willing to take the time to learn how to work on them rather than any inherent flaw in the design or construction. The 504's had a wonderful ride quality with decent handling. The 505 was fast, handled very well, and rode reasonably well. The 405 handled very well and was very responsive but was just a bit too harsh in it's ride quality.

I have owned one or more 505s continuously since 1982. Wagons, sedans, standards, automatics, 4s, turbos, V6s - everything but the excellent turbodiesel, and that was only because I could not find one. In the last few years, I have been looking for replacement for my vehicles, which are all now over 20 years old and with from 130,000 to 200,000 miles on them, but can find nothing that will do all that a 505 can do. Top notch ergonomics, chassis engineering, excellent use of space, comfortable, confident under all road and weather conditions, clean, crisp and classic styling are all strengths of the 505. Yes, it has a few weaknesses, but none of them are debilitating, rather they define the character of the car. They are rapidly becoming a 1:1,000,000 find. Although I do not seek the attention that they often generate, it is gratifying.

BTW, the gray sedan shown above is my 87 V6 automatic - a lovely car in the city and on the open road. As for the blue wagon, an 88, also shown above, I bought it from bud Jim Lill a few years ago, and it has proven to be a wonderful winter car, starting in the coldest weather without a plug in, and easily handling hills, snow and ice that have sometimes sent Jeeps back to lick their wounds. See some of the rest at

Mike Murphy

I am not a 405 fan - it's simply too small for someone 6'3" and I prefer RWD, but here is a video that shows the car climbing Pikes Peak - con brio.

I had a handed down 505 as my first car.Loved her to death,like my mom who gave it to me.And like her,it was somewhat finicky yet sturdy.Both became even more so with high mileage,naturally.Saab,BMW,and Volvo were always know for longevity.I've had both Swedes.None seemed to carry on as stubbornly as the Pug.

It's now Sept, so this thread is about dead, unfortnately. That "creepy" 505 advert was, I thought, one of the best spots I'd ever seen in my life...and I'm a creative director at an ad agency. I owned a new 505 sedan from '84 to '86 and it was an entirely painfree and wonderful car. A nice memory was taking it on the banked racetrack of my ex-wife's grandparents (Pocono) and hitting 120mph.
And this could be the year:
Audi, with seven-times Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen in fourth place, said they were focusing more on set-up for the race, which starts on Saturday.

"We cannot do a better lap time than Peugeot," Dane Kristensen said.

I am looking for a tire to fit the 13" rim from my 1983 Peugeot 505s diesel - the rim size is 150 TR390. OR I need help finding a rim and tire that will fit this car - the current rim is a 4 lug 140 mm hole spacing.

My 505 Turbo won 2 of 3 consecutive SCCA Showroom Stock "B" National Championships from 1987 to 1989.

After that it became my daily driver for another 17 years and currently has 175,000 miles on it. I can tell you all that this car is absolutely reliable, fast and comfortable.

Oh, and by the way..........the car in the "Bedroom" commercial? That's my car too.

Pleasant face and tasteful interior for the time.

However I feel the 505's silhouet is extremely bland and boring - almost Celebrity or K-car like - I guess this is why North Americans liked it better than most French cars.

I thought the 504 was way more interesting. It was also one of the better cars available in Europe for any money. We had one in the family and knew a couple of other owners and the overall reliability was well above average for the time. This is further evidenced by so many 504's STILL being visible on roads in the Middle East and North Africa.

Well, what can i say after reading all the comments here. I can tell u all after working as a mecanic for 17 yrs and for the last 6 yrs as a automotive engineer(opel in Russelsheim, Germany), that the 505 is one of the best car designed exterior and mecanicly. I have never worked on a easier car to repair. Coz all details are easy to work on and also when u look at the suspencion and transmission how it it is designed u realise why it was such a good car to drive. With the tubular trany designe( u find it also onn the Ferrari 500 series) it makes it very rigid and no flex in the tranny. That it self makes it handle so good(ask ur self way it is only supercars today who uses this design), but very exspencive to manufacture. They left this design in advantage for the frontwheel cars. That is realy a shame. Anyway im living in Thailand and got a 89` Pug 505GR with a 2.0l carb engine. I have owned it for 3 months now, i can say that it rides beautifuly and the interior is well taken care of(looks like new), but i had to change all the bushes and ball joint(cheap here in Thailand and easy to get parts). But the only thing im struggling with now it the poor and worn out carb. Its heavy on fuel and it laking power. I have checked for air leaks but ok...its basicly worn out and its very hard to get a good second hand one. If u guys who knows what kind of replacement carb i can use, i would be very happy to hear from u guys. I know i can get Weber replacement carb, but here in Thailand it almost impossible. So im wondering to find a japs carb to fit on it, 90% of the cars here in Thailand is japs cars. So i would love the get a tip on what japs carb i can use. Write to me on Anyway enjoy ur 504 or 505 as i do(its my first french before this one i have owned Opels,Saab and BMW, but this one is the best one when it comes to ride handling, so i love it)...cheeers

I have owned one 504 and three 505's, the last of which I traded in on a Toyota 4runner in 1996. I missed not owning a French car, so one night about three years ago after drinking too much wine, I bid on a 1985 505 on ebay. I had not intended to be the successful bidder. The winning bid was $1,000. I spent about $4,000 on something of a mechanical rebuild and $2,000 for a new paint job. Three years later, I'm guessing the car is approaching 250,000 miles. I use it nearly everyday and it runs like a top. It has what must be the most comfortable interior of any car built to that date. I've driven other newer model Peugeots when traveling in Europe and like everything else in the world, the new ones are nice, but not nearly as interesting.

I use to drive my fathers 504 GL in the past and it was a wonderland car. To me, 504 was the best Car Peugeot ever produced, followed by 505. Though here in Nigeria, very few had 504 GL. 504 SR, GR, Letc were more common here. But the few that were opportune to own 504 GL would know what am talking about. The engine was so indestructible that it was termed "Never Say Die!" The body of the Car beame so old that I had to transfer its mechanicals to 505 body, which it automatically became 505. The mechanicals of 504 and 505 are the same except few parts.

I also use to drive my Uncle's 505 SR. It was a good Car. But I have come to realize that the best 505 to own is 505 V6. The engine is nearly indestructible too. Though I have not driven it, but have heard so much about its performance on the road. The engine, ZN3J, has so much power and also can exceed 350,000 kilometers before rebuilding the engine. The engine can also run without oil for a long time without knocking, to prove how strong the engine is. I have decided to buy the Car, 505 V6. So please, if anyone wants to sell 505 V6 or knows where I can find one, please contact me. My email is

That's my car in the commercial and it's also the one I drove to the SCCA National Championship. The oil pan was flattened and the "C" pillars were buckled after the commercial but 175,000 miles later it never had a failure.


I owned a 1982 505S turbodiesel. It was a fun car to drive, excellent ride and the most comfortable seats I've ever sat in in an automobile. It had its quirks, to be sure. The air conditioner was woefully inadequate for hot summers in the midwest, and the A/C abruptly discharged all its freon because the pressure hose rubbed against a seam in the engine compartment until it wore through. I have owned a number of cars over the years, but few with the character of my 505. It was fun while it lasted.

Post a comment

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In.

Pictured above: This is a forlorn Chevy Vega photographed by reader Gary Sinar. (Share yours)

Powered by Rollyo

Car Lust™ Contributors

June 2016

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30