Published on May 12th, 2020 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Peugeot 204 Celebrates 55 Years Of Just Being Great
Have you seen one on the road lately?
For most middle class Malaysians in the 1960’s the idea of driving a French car was chic and stylish. The ownership meant having a good paying job. Its rival, Renault was not providing the right type of motoring experience at the time, Citroen was either too basic or too expensive with its class act hydromatic suspensions and space age styling and so it was up to Peugeot to fill in the middle class buyers gap and the choice for most was this rather odd looking car by todays standards.
Fifty five years ago a car was launched that heralded the birth of the stylish, high quality small cars that Peugeot is famous for till today in Europe.
We take front-wheel drive cars for granted now, but half a century ago they were out of the ordinary, revolutionary even. That meant that this Peugeot 204 was at the forefront of automotive innovation when it was revealed to surprised Peugeot Dealers in Paris on the 22nd April, 1965.
The 204 was PEUGEOT’s first front-wheel drive car, comprising a light alloy engine with overhead camshaft, a transverse gearbox, four independent wheels and front disc brakes.
Although the then stylish Pininfarina designed saloon appeared relatively conservative, its four-door shape cloaked some true innovations. After nearly eight years in development, the 204 was the first Peugeot to have the driven wheels at the front. It became the first production Peugeot to have disc brakes at the front and there was independent suspension all round. But arguably the biggest revolution was in the car’s size.
This Peugeot 204 was a small family car produced by Peugeot between 1965 and 1976. The 204, known in development as Project D12, was available in many body styles including a sedan/saloon/berline, convertible/cabriolet, hatchback/coupe, estate/wagon, and a van. It was launched in Paris, France on 23 April 1965 and became the best-selling car in France from 1969 to 1971.
The four-door sedan was joined in 1966 by a three-door coupe and by a cabriolet model and finally by a van, all of which enabled the car to retain the title of France’s most popular car until 1971.
By the time it was phased out and replaced by the larger, slightly more premium 304 in 1976, the 204 had placed Peugeot firmly in the mass-market and had helped to define the small-to-medium-size car segment.
Today, the value of this forgotten French automotive hero is not hard on the wallet. We have seen sensible prices in European used car classifieds and in the Malaysian classifieds it has totally disappeared. Weeks of casual searches revealed no car on sale. But speaking to classic car owners shows that dozens are still with collectors and retired gents in small towns that are still running their 204.