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French Survivor: 1954 Peugeot 203

Often many of the French automobiles we feature here on Barn Finds are unusual, or different, from many automobiles built through time. This 1954 Peugeot 203 is a simple, yet stately looking sedan, not all that different from some of America’s automobiles of the time. Having made its way to America in 1984, this Peugeot changed hands, and was parked in 2002. In running condition, with some minor needs, this uncommon French machine is offered at $10,000. Find it here on craigslist out of Spring Hill, Georgia.

Equipped with suicide doors, this Peugeot becomes more fascinating the more you look it over. The interior has seen better days, but isn’t a complete train wreck. The headliner is sagging, as are the map pockets in the doors panels. With some minor fade and staining, the upholstery isn’t too bad off either. The dash has a few minor paint chips, and the radio is not period correct to the car. The horn button is cloudy and discolored, but does not appear to be cracked. All of the interior, hardware appears to be present, making a restoration of the interior easier.

Despite the fact that this is a restoration project, this Peugeot looks pretty sharp. The paint appears very shiny, although the seller describes it as a “20 footer” having some minor surface rust. All of the chrome work is nice with little to no evidence of rust. One cool feature of this Peugeot are the semaphore turn signal indicators similar to that found on early Volkswagens. Appearing remarkably solid and rot free, this would likely be a “simple” restoration.

Although sharing some similarities to some similar aged American made automobiles, this Peugeot is powered by a small 1290cc 4 cylinder with a column shifted 4 speed manual transmission. Unfortunately there are no detailed photos of the engine bay, but the engine is described as being in good health. The only thing holding this Peugeot back from being a driver is a weak brake system. Even though the seller has described this Peugeot as a restoration project, it is likely that this French machine could be enjoyed as is, until the owner decided to step up and take on a restoration. Would you restore, or enjoy, this French classic?



  1. Howard A Member

    My 1st thought was, it’s a giant Renault 4CV ( my 1st car) Great for “le Gai Paris” ( cue Eiffel Tower music), but not the best for I-75. ( someone may have had enough by 2002) Cute little car,,,,no interest.

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  2. BradL

    Mini Fleetline. I like it, even if it does have a 0-60 time of…maybe.

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  3. JunkieTruck

    Take the body off and put it on an S 10 frame with a 4.3 L V6, and a five speed, then you’d have something to work with.

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  4. Wayne

    These were very reliable cars in their day, winning many around Australia reliability trials in the 1950s. They won over Australian, American and English cars. Very comfortable and smooth riding also.

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    • Andrew

      They also came in a ute, often with a canvas canopy.

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  5. Woodie Man

    Really nice lines. If it was on the West Coast I’d look at it.

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  6. geo1_20

    I had the same car but , it was a convertible. I enjoyed it a lot and regret now to sold it in 2005.
    The above seems to be a good base for restauration. Note that the bumpers, back and front will never rust , as it’s stainless steel, just a polish was necessary to make them shiny.
    The calender is not a Peugeot one ( the original one was ugly and cheap ) but a accessory sold by GH factory.
    The immatriculation with No 12 indicate that it comes from a rural department ( Aveyron ) known by colectors for it’s “barn’s finds”
    The lion on the capot wad forbidden since 1955 cause of damage in case of accident.

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  7. Dairymen

    Simple yet refreshing! I love the lines on this car. You show up at a local car show with this and you have a crowd before you have a chance to shut the engine off.

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    • MikeH

      Love these cars. I think all the aftermarket grilles, and there are many, are not as good looking as the original. This is mine.

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      • MikeH

        try again!

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      • MikeH

        Can’t post a pic. No idea why.

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  8. Daniel

    Pre-1956 models with semaphore turn signal indicators are the most attractive Peugeot 203.

    In addition to geo1_20 comment, french registration number 8708LL12 was attributed at the beginning of 1979 in Aveyron (south of France).
    But the head of lion front ornament was prohibited in France only in 1959.

    It’s great to see that historical documents have been kept and come with the car.

    The front grill is an aftermarket model and is rare, even in France.

    It would have been interessant to see pics of the underbody, as floors and rails are well known to become very rusty on theses cars.
    But according to the origin of this one (south of France with dry and hot climate and no need of salt on winter roads), it is possible that the floors could have been preserved, which would be quite rare too.

    If you are looking at this model, there is an active community in France, which is always ready to help foreign members (even if they don’t speak french) :
    If you need to translate a technical word, you can find it on the following site :


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  9. Rustytech Rustytech Member

    Proof that at one time the French were capable of building an attractive and interesting automotive. It’s a shame it seems to be a lost art.

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    • Dairymen

      I disagree with you on that. When you drive through Europe today the French are very cutting edge when it comes to style. do I dare to say it? Yes, GM can learn something from the French design department!

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    • Brakeservo

      Bugatti, Delage, Delahaye and Talbot-Lago were also French cars, and in my opinion, the most exciting and beautiful cars ever. Early ’50s Simca Sports cars and Facel Vega cars were also come of the best built in the ’50s. Don’t sell the French short.

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  10. JunkieTruck

    Cool car till you walk in Autozone and try to buy brake shoes or a set of points, the cool factor wears off real quick.

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    • Jacob

      Not really. If that’s what you want to do you should buy a civic, not a classic car.

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    • Brakeservo

      If you can’t see beyond AutoZone, you really shouldn’t fool around with these cars. With an internet connection and imagination one can find parts for anything today! The rewards are worth the effort.

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      • Howard A Member

        Hi Brakeservo, I agree. Where else but ebay, can you find a fuel shutoff for a 1966 Suzuki K10?

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  11. Somer

    Same pix that were used in an eBay auction a while back when it was in Spring Hill, TN. I believe it was bid up higher than this.
    I would be very suspicious.

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  12. peter

    Probably the best Peugeot made. The engine bay is quite large and down here in Australia a few were fitted with the Oz-GM 179 cu-in six-cylinder engines (a miniature Chev).

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  13. David Miraglia

    Class on wheels.

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  14. Milt

    Final drive is a worm-screw to the differential axle. Very smooth until the worms-crew does a shredding job on the final drive, then a nightmare to replace.

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  15. peter

    They should not shred. The 404 had the worm as well and the crown wheel is made from bronze. The mistake made by some is to fill it with normal 80/90W EP hypoid gear oil and the EP sulphur additive products in the oil eat huge holes in the bronze. I had a 404 and only used a non-sulphurised industrial worm reduction gearbox oil in it with no problems after owning it for about 38 years.

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  16. geo1_20


    Peter is right , the damage at the worm-screw came from an inappropriate oil.
    Peugeot preconized mobilube P , a special oil for worm-scew with bronz crown.

    About the car on aunction I guess it’s not sold as the “reserve not met” after 24 bids and 6.200 $

    Here original worm-screw . Note the break and station wagon had a different pitch

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    • peter

      Are my eyes deceiving me? Is the worm screw moving to a larger diameter the further to the right? Maybe it is so it stays in contact longer with the crown wheel.

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  17. Daniel

    Good catch, Somer, for the ebay auction !
    Photos of underbody show that floors seem to be sound, with only surface rust.

    But engine is not original : it comes from a Peugeot 403.

    I agree with Peter and Geo1_20 about oil. Rear axle is really strong if you use correct special oil for worm-screw with bronz crown

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  18. jabarte

    203 s are a global legend. !! I have had a 51 sedan for over 30 years. Do yourself a favour and tour in one. You will be converted for sure.

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