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Rescued By A Writer: 1979 Peugeot 504 Diesel


While it’s not pristine by any means, this Peugeot 504 diesel comes with a story. It’s located in Emeryville, California, and is up for sale here on eBay with what I think is an optimistic buy-it-now of $2,500, but lower offers are welcomed. Thanks to Jim S. for this intriguing find! And now, for the rest of the story (with apologies to the memory of Paul Harvey):


Here’s a direct quote from the ad: The jazz musician opened the hasp on the derelict garage. As the the light penetrated the dingy basement a whoosh of dust exited the old door. Inside the dimly lit cellar 2 old cars sat forlornly awaiting attention. They had belonged to a master mechanic who had aged beyond the time frame of completing them. With a heavy sigh the 5 of us began to empty the garage and air up tires. The cars rolled easily as they hadn’t been exposed to the elements in decades. Onto the flatbed they went and the whole neighborhood descended on the prime property in a desperate land grab. We were out of there in a cloud of French dust. 


The ad continues:  This 504 coughed to life and chugged a hearty chug on old diesel. Soon it began to hum. The fun ended when it was discovered the clutch master was dead. The car won’t go into gear while running. It starts now quite easily but the hoses are brittle and need replacing…French cars are cute, functional and unorthodox, 3 words rarely used together. Ok, so I’m charmed. It doesn’t hurt that I drove a Peugeot 505 wagon 87,000 miles and loved them all.


The seller is correct, the interior doesn’t look that bad; believe it or not, that steering wheel will come back a long way with some careful cleaning and conditioning (that’s what mine looked like when I bought the car). And yes, that’s a third pedal you see (reference the clutch in the passage above). I actually rebuilt a slave cylinder in my 505 (literally one of only two repairs I had to make in 87,000 miles) and it wasn’t that bad.


And here’s that engine that runs so well according to the seller. So–I have two questions to ask you readers! One, what is this car really worth, and two, what great turn of a phrase would you use to describe it?


  1. Dave Wright

    These cars are so bad the only cure is a good cube crusher………

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    • Matt Tritt

      The turbo version is actually a pretty good car. Great fuel economy, great ride and real comfy. Better built than Mercedes without a doubt. The locking, worm drive rear end in the wagons made them very popular in places with tricky roads.

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  2. marlin

    Not much. Pepe Lepew Special

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  3. Steven C

    I’m not too good with turning a phrase, but i really dig this car! Have wanted one of this body style Peugoet since seeing one this same color living in my neighborhood as a kid in the 80’s. Rock auto has the clutch master cylinder in stock for $23.99.

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  4. T-bone guy

    I wonder what the other car is. He has three other cars up on eBay; an anniversary Corvette, a ’60s Impala SS and a Skylark convertible. I doubt either of these were in the garage with the 504.

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  5. Blindmarc

    I owned an early 80’s 505 in 1989. After the clutch went out and I didn’t have the 800 to replace it, it was sold. Never had any other problems with it.

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  6. T-bone guy

    The last image in his eBay listing is of a Citroen. A DS maybe? I sent him a note to confirm.

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    • Steven C

      The car in the last picture is a late usa spec citroen ds safari.

      Like 0
  7. John.H

    Diesel 504’s were/are work horses. They were used across Africa , running hundreds of thousands of miles. I owned a 604 from new, which was a luxury car and completely different animal, but could outdrive/ outhandle any equivalent MB and Bmmr of the time period.

    Unless this engine on this 504 diesel was really abused, I would not be surprised if it would start up and run fine with just a bit of preparation. They made a lot of 504s and parts shouldn’t be that hard to source.

    This might be a good find.

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  8. wynkin

    I second John H, these were well built and sturdy. They will do massive mileages and there still plenty on the roads in France.

    See some for sale here: https://www.leboncoin.fr/voitures/offres/aquitaine/occasions/?th=1&q=peugeot%20504%20%20

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  9. Matt Tritt

    I owned one like this before acquiring a 505 TD wagon. US spec Peugeot Diesels have a serious Achille’s heel (besides the driver); that being the sensor controlling the electric cooling fan. It’s possible for an air bubble to develop around the temp sensor, which prevents the fan from starting in time to prevent overheating and head gasket blowout. Should this occur, replacing the gasket requires also replacing all the headbolts, as they are designed to stretch. Once. I lost the XD-3 engine in my wonderful 505 this way, and the one that replaced it! All that Peugeot had to do was use the same system that was so successful in the North African export models and all would have been well. Something to note is that many spouses would rather ignore annoying red lights and just keep on driving than to pull over and let the engine cool off. This phenomena also can happen with Saab 900 S sedans. If you know what I mean.

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  10. ron tyrrell

    Agree with Matt, having owned two of these in the eighties both with cooling problems and cracked heads. There was a point in about 1982-5 you could buy these fairly new with bad engines, no deal support in Tacoma for pennies on the dollar. Being a diesel mechanic I had the hair brained idea of trying to buy them, repair them, and sell them, people ran away and I ended up losing money on both of them. The interior was nice, the body was nice, and the diesel motors were a disaster.

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  11. Tirefriar

    This is a very cool find. My experience with a 504 was several brief drives in a diesel with auto. It wasn’t a rocket ship by any means but could outrace a W123 240d with a stick. I remember how smooth the car was and the cool interior. I’d be a player for this car because it’s a 504 diesel w/manual. This is one of less than a handful of cars I prefer in diesel.

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  12. Tirefriar

    Here’s a 505 for $100. You need to be registered to access the site though:


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  13. Fred P.

    I had a new one in 1976 (yess, I am old) after having my gas powered 504 wrecked. I traded it for a Porche a couple years later because I was younger and wanted something sporty. After a lifetime of driving a lot of different cars I have never had a car that rode so well with seats so comfortable that handled as well. One could easily drive all day. True, it was no rocket, but once at highway speed the road and engine noise was very low. Of all the cars I have owned or driven it is the only one I would like to have back again. I am not a mechanic so I can’t comment on that. I only remember a great car that never gave me any trouble.

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  14. Mark J

    I had one in the mid 1980s. The recirculator fuel hose split in the trunk spilling a half inch of diesel fuel in the trunk. It would have had more, but the rust holes in the trunk let most the fuel out. Put a radiator hose on for a quick fix until I could get the right hose at Gil’s in Exeter, NH. Good overall car, but 0 to 60 mph in about two minutes.

    Like 0

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