Rare French Convertible: 1968 Peugeot 204 Convertible

Here in the English-speaking world, we would refer to this Peugeot 204 as either a Roadster or a Convertible. In France it would be known as a “Décapotable.” It is a car that was designed by famed Italian design firm Pininfarina, and I have to really thank Barn Finder Roger for referring the car to us. If you are on the search for something different and relatively rare in a European convertible, you will find the Peugeot located Aurora, Illinois, and listed for sale here on Craigslist. The owner is asking $10,900 for this little French classic.

There are a couple of interesting things to note about this car. The first is that it appears to be in very nice condition. It isn’t clear whether the paint is original, but the owner does make reference to the fact that it is rust-free, and that it was in dry storage for many years. The second interesting thing that I’ve noticed is the headlights. The Peugeot is fitted with quad sealed beams instead of the standard headlights offered in most markets. The 204 Convertible wasn’t imported into the US, so this one may well have been originally imported into Canada before finding its way to Illinois, and this could explain the headlight configuration. The soft-top on the car looks like it is in pretty reasonable condition, while there is also a hardtop included in the sale.

The 204 is a 2-seater, but it is a very spacious 2-seater. The internal dimensions of the car are very impressive, and if you’ve never sampled those incredibly wide seats, it is worth taking the trouble to give them a try. They rate as one of the most comfortable production seats of that era. The interior is quite presentable, although there are a few issues to address if the new owner is seeking perfection. The cover on the passenger seat is torn and would need to be replaced. The carpet looks to be stained in a couple of places, while some of the vinyl trim is looking a bit tired. None of this is a deal-breaker, and the interior could certainly be used as it is. One item that the next owner might take some time to get used to is the gear shift. This is a 4-speed manual column shift, but once this is mastered, the new owner will find that the transmission should be buttery smooth.

Speaking of transmissions, the manual transmission in the 204 sends the power to the front wheels. The 1,130cc 4-cylinder engine in the Peugeot may not be the most powerful engine on the planet with a mere 53hp on tap, but it really was a triumph of packaging efficiency. The engine is mounted transversely, in the same manner as the engine in the Mini. It is this feature which allowed Peugeot to achieve such a large passenger area in such a small car. The owner doesn’t tell us how well the car starts, runs, or drives, but he does tell us that it has recently been fitted with a new exhaust.

The Peugeot 204 Convertible was never imported into the US, so finding one of these on American roads today is a bit of a rarity. This is not a high-performance sports car, but it is designed for leisurely top-down cruising when the weather is fine. It is something a bit different to your average European convertible of the time, and would certainly start a few conversations at the next Coffee & Cars.

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Comments

  1. andrewn ot a member

    Oddly attractive.

    7
  2. Steve

    Decapotable does not mean “decapitated” in French, it means “convertible”

    Decapitated in French is “decapite”

    6
    • CapNemo

      This writer’s terminology is quite often incorrect. Thanks for the correction, I learned something.

      5
      • Adam Clarke Adam Clarke Staff

        Hi CapNemo, thank you so much for your feedback on terminology. I do my best to keep my terminology technically correct, but am always happy to receive feedback on it. When I write, I remain very aware of the fact that our readership covers not just the USA, but numerous other countries as well. That makes balancing terminology difficult because what is correct in the US can be totally wrong in places such as the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. Still, I’m always happy to learn, because that’s how I will continue to improve as a writer.

        4
      • Fred Binet

        Hi.
        This car was not designed by Pininfarina, it’s a création of Paul Bouvot, a pure Peugeot designer 👨‍🎨
        https://www.google.fr/search?q=paul+bouvot+peugeot&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=fr-fr&client=safari#

        1
    • Adam Clarke Adam Clarke Staff

      Thank you so much for correcting me on that Steve. I have to admit that the days of my French language lessons at school are a long way behind me, so I’m happy to admit my mistake on that one. I’ve corrected the article and apologize for the error.

      3
      • Brakeservo

        Sorry to pile on the criticism but this is not a roadster! Typically a roadster has a top that comes off, not one that folds down. Think of a Bugeye Sprite for instance, which also demonstrates another roadster characteristic – no roll up windows! Don’t feel too bad, I need a translator everytime I go to Australia just to order a beer!!

    • hugh crawford

      Or as the British would say, a drophead coupé. Not to be confused with coup de grace, heads dropping or anything like that.

      1
  3. Sooke

    I had a white 204 convertible in Ontario back in the 70s. I saw a few 204 sedans back then, but never another convertible. It had four sealed beam headlights, but some 204s I saw had Eurobeams. The belt for the radiator fan went “around the corner” to the front of the transverse engine. I drove it down to Myrtle Beach, S.C. to visit my brother, and I was rear ended there. The car was a complete rust bucket by then, so it was no big loss. I bought a 58 Cadillac in Myrtle Beach with the insurance settlement and drove it back to Canada…with no plates.

    2
  4. Howard A

    Sharpest looking “POO-Joe”( like my old man called them) I’ve seen. Looks like a fun thing, horribly inept for US roads today.

    1
  5. Michael

    Now here you finally post a car i like.A Highly collectible convertible!

    1
  6. NotSure

    I was not aware of this model. I think that Pininfarina did a swell job on the design! She looks like she wants to get out and see some road!

    1
    • Laurent Herjean

      Pininfarina didn’t. While the sedan was Pininfarina-designed, the cabriolet (and the coupé) were designed by Peugeot’s own styling department.

  7. Tom Fitch

    Would it kill the sellers to give us straight-on side profiles of cars they are trying to sell? I can’t get a good sense of what this car looks like from the side – all we have are quarter shots. I have this complaint on many listings, not just this one. Are we just supposed to IMAGINE what it looks like from the side?

    1
    • Laurent Herjean

      There you are.

      1
  8. Ronnie

    My father in those years was a salesman for that brand and as expected he had a few , the last one was one of those but hardtop. He have an earlier model that was look like a fiat spider.

  9. vlrd56

    That was a very popular car in the sixties,my daughters 28 still drives one but sedan

    1
  10. Joseph Wagner

    The 204-304 cars a bit of a rarity here in USA but more common on the coasts. Rare even for the entire old Peugeot owners club roster which was quite active circa 1977- 1991. But a few were known to exist within members and I still have one here in Ohio, (A 304 convertible) I bought it rusty, and it never got any better. Parts were always a problem and the car performance, well not earth shattering by any means. But if you got one to run, heads would turn, and that was really the most exciting part of ownership that I remember. Impressing your friends !!!!

  11. Will Owen Member

    This looks exactly like the photo of the one my wife had when she spent a year at school in France. Except for the headlights, of course. That was her favorite car ever, and was sad about having to sell it when she left.

    1
  12. Daymo

    My Mum had a 204 saloon/sedan. It was her favourite car ever.
    Not fast or powerful but, with a roof rack, it took four of us on family holidays for years.
    Yes it was rusty towards the end – so much so you could see the road through the drivers floor a la Fred Flintstone.
    This was a 1974 car with a four-speed floor gearbox.
    The ones to find though are the van versions – very little-known of outside France. Anyone got one of those?

    1
    • Laurent Herjean

      I used to.

      1
  13. PatrickM

    I’ve never really like any French cars. Just not sold on them. No real reputation that I’ve ever heard. This reminds me of a TR-6, at first glance, which I would really rather have. There was one posted here not too long ago. Was a really nice car, just too expensive for me.

    1
  14. Hasse B.

    Extremely rare version of a back in its day quite common car on european roads. The everyday variety was the four-door sedan with a four-door estate wagon to match, but aside that also a seldom seen two-door hatchback that had rather good looks. The 204 derived into the 304 (a boxier facelift) and then into the 305 that was a total makeover resembling the Renault 9/AMC Alliance.

    Much of those cars parts was also used for the parts bin to make the smaller 104 and its successor 205 which makes for rather interesting retro fits of the later engines into the earlier cars with not much hot rod enginuity needed, except maybe for reworking the firewall. All of them very dependable and easy to work on if you just don´t try do anything more than check the oil with the engine kept in the car, i´ve been told by owners… Being mainly a favourite for old folks looking for economy and a smooth ride, there´s not many around today unless it´s a low-mileage car like that as they rust if you spit on the sidewalk beside one, except for the bumpers that are made from stainless steel, go figure on that one.

    Can´t help thinking of the Pininfarina angle – they must have drawn heavily from the one-off Cadillac Jaqueline https://www.coachbuild.com/2/index.php/encyclopedia/coachbuilders-models/item/pininfarina-cadillac-brougham-jacqueline when designing the 204 convertible posted.

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