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French Mercedes: 1985 Peugeot 505S Turbo Diesel

If you want to buy a new French car in the U.S. today, you have one choice and you had better be a trust fund baby or a YouTube mega-star, as the new Bugattis are sold out, even for its newly-introduced $5-million Mistral roadster. What have I been doing wrong for the last four decades? You can’t go wrong with this 1985 Peugeot 505 S Turbo Diesel Wagon posted here on craigslist in the Portland, Oregon area and they’re asking $5,500 or offer. Here is the original listing.

At a time when there are more people on street corners with cardboard signs than ever, there are even more people who can pay $5 million for a car. What a time to be alive. Believe it or not, I’d rather have this Peugeot 505 S Turbo Diesel wagon than a new Bugatti. I would have no use at all for a new Bugatti other than to show off at a cars and coffee-type event but this car is the ultimate in utility and usefulness, and with bank vault-like build quality.

It may seem like a small wagon, but the cargo area is big on this Peugeot and the seller says that it’ll hold 8-foot-long boards with the seats folded down. Here’s a photo of that. The seller refers to this car as a French Mercedes and they may be right, at least on paper. This car really looks great in the photos, I would love to own an unusual station wagon like this.

You can see the console-shifted three-speed automatic transmission, and that’s the only bummer for me. A manual would have been great but I don’t believe we received a manual turbodiesel version of these cars. The front seats look basically like new and Peugeots are known for having very comfortable seats, both front and rear. The rear seat is vinyl in this car for some reason and I’m not positive, but I was sure that it would be velour in an S such as this wagon. One of you will know.

The engine is Peugeot’s 2.3-liter OHV inline-four turbocharged diesel, which had a mere 80 horsepower and 133 lb-ft of torque. Those aren’t inspiring numbers and that may speak to why these cars pulled out of the U.S. market three decades ago. The seller says that this car has a rebuilt mechanical fuel injection, which should be a Bosch unit, and also there are new brakes, new tires, a new battery, and a price that can’t be beat. Have any of you owned a Peugeot 505?


  1. John Eder

    The listing has been deleted. I worked for an auto accessories business in college. The local Chevrolet dealer also sold Peugeots. I drove the dealership owner’s 505 sedan. It was a great automobile. I had never been in one previously (or since), but I was really impressed. Had I had the funds in those days, I would have considered purchasing one. My only complaint was that the driver’s seat was relatively flat and slippery, causing me to slide around while cornering (sheepskin seat covers would solve that). Somebody got a really nice car here.

    Like 6
    • MikeH

      That was a huge problem for Peugeot in the US—they were sold by GM dealers who couldn’t give a rat’s a** about selling or servicing them. I bought a new 505 in ‘84 (still have it) and the salesman continually tried to talk me into a Chevrolet.

      Like 7
  2. Robert Proulx

    Way cool car, its actually nice. My only worry would be in the case of a mechanical mishap is getting parts hoping they wont come on a boat from France and actually finding a mechanic that has knowledge on how that thing works

    Like 2
  3. Lew Chichester

    I have had a few Peugeot wagons over the years. Relatively conventional vehicles, for a French car. Parts were not really a problem, you just have to figure out where to get them, and that’s not at your basic auto parts store. And easy to fix, not like a Citroen requiring special knowledge. Wonderful drivers, underpowered but adequate, very comfortable and a pleasure to operate. They are not a Mercedes of comparable vintage. The Benz is more robust and a definite upgrade. But the Peugeot definitely has style and not a bad car at all.

    Like 6
  4. connbackroads

    If this car was in or near CT, I would have attempted to purchase it.

    I have owned and driven several 505 turbo diesels in the past (running them on french-fry oil, of course).

    I’ve driven both 3-speed automatics, and 5-speed manuals. The latter is far superior.

    I have a good 5-speed manual contained within a 604 turbo diesel body, quietly resting in the yard, if the purchaser wants/needs it. In addition, I have a good 3-speed automatic contained within the body of a 505 sedan, if this automatic transmission dies.

    I also have velour interiors (and just about anything else), if the owner wants/needs matching seats.

    Like 4
  5. eurovin Member

    I think Peugeot is one of the most underrated cars ever built, particularly the 505. I’ve had 2 wagons & a sedan, none of them turbo, but all of them stick shift, and they were a joy to drive and well built. Yeah, parts were expensive and it was hard to find someone to work on them near me, but if this one wasn’t AT and still available, I’d be driving down to Portland tomorrow.

    Like 4
  6. MK

    I owned an ’84 gas 505 Wagon. Gas powered with a 5-speed stick. Super driving experience. Handled well, very tossable. Incredible room in the back seat: almost limo space. Power was fine if you knew how to make an engine work as it was designed…..rev it and use the proper gear!

    Buuuut…..maintenance was the bummer. I did all my own work and it really soured me. There was a foam barrier on the firewall that had to be cut out for wok on certain things. Couldn’t be replaced, so here went some of your noise insulation. The radiator’s electric fan clutch: jeeze. It had 4 (?) electro magnets whose gap was adjustable. After too many overheat incidents, I simply JB Welded it solid. Replacing the 5 speed’s clutch required dropping the front cross member a few inches, and pulling the rigid rear axle free of the torque tube that connected it to the transmission. And on and on. Car went to Nigeria where I’d like to think it is still carrying on.

    Loved the driving experience and the value, but maintenance…agh.

    Like 1
    • Bradley Huson

      My boss had one of these in the late ’80s. It was a total piece of garbage. One night when we were driving home from her Island residence, I couldn’t figure out why the headlights didn’t seem to work, but were on, and as I went under overpasses, the signs on the sides of the overpasses were brightly lit from the headlights….. I pulled the car over, and noticed that the headlights were angled up, and pointing to the sky. Since it was dark, before the age of cell phones with flashlights, I could not see how to adjust them, so I got two sticks out of the ditch, and jammed them between the top of the headlight, and the headlight housing, which caused the headlights to point forward….

      Like 0
  7. George Barton

    I had a 504 4 speed but it was way slow, I sold 505’s briefly and that diesel with a 5 speed was a great long distance cruiser. I wish Peugeot would have those cars built by Nissan and I would buy one.

    Like 1
  8. Slomoogee

    I had a 504 diesel wagon in the early 90s that was a great road car. It also made a great camp mobile while following the IMSA circus in the east, mid west, and Canada. With over 7 ft in the rear with the second row folded and platform on the raised roof section it was the perfect track side venue. You could do hours in the front seats once you dialed them in. I’d love to have another.

    Like 2

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