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The Timeless Elegance of the Peugeot 504 Coupe and Cabriolet

peugeot 504 coupe

In the ever-evolving landscape of automotive design, certain models emerge as timeless classics that transcend eras. The Peugeot 504 Coupe and Cabriolet, introduced in 1969, stand as exemplars of sophistication and elegance. Designed by Franco Martinengo at Pininfarina, these four-seater classics captivated the automotive world with their distinctive design and engineering prowess. This comprehensive exploration delves deeper into the evolution of the Peugeot 504 Coupe and Cabriolet, chronicling their journey from inception to the end of their production in 1983 and beyond.

The 504 Coupe's Design Marvel

The Peugeot 504 Coupe made a resounding debut, showcasing a design that diverged from traditional coupe offerings. Unlike the common practice of merely adapting sedan designs, Peugeot took a bold step with a completely new body for the coupe, emphasizing a sportier stance. The shortened wheelbase by 19 cm, derived from the sedan platform, added a dynamic touch. The front end featured split quadrangular headlamp clusters flanking a grille divided by three slender horizontal slats, lending an air of exclusivity. The forward-sloping engine hood and wrap-around windshield contributed to the streamlined aesthetics that would remain appealing for years to come.

Engine Options and Transmissions

At its introduction, the 504 Coupe boasted a 1.8-liter engine with Kugelfischer mechanical injection, generating 97 DIN hp. The transmission was exclusively a 4-speed manual gearbox, positioned on the floor for a sportier feel. The shift in 1970 to a more potent 2-liter fuel-injected engine, producing 104 hp, marked an evolution that coincided with the introduction of the 3-speed automatic transmission as an option for both coupes and convertibles.

The pivotal year of 1974 witnessed a restyling effort that introduced the 2664 cm³, carburetor-powered, 136-hp PRV V6 engine for both the coupe and convertible. The 2-liter engine was phased out during this period. Responding to consumer demands in 1978, Peugeot reintroduced the 2-liter fuel-injected engine, now with slightly revised power curves, delivering 106 hp. Simultaneously, a more robust V6 variant, equipped with Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection and boasting 144 hp, was introduced exclusively for the coupe. This V6 variant was coupled with a 5-speed manual transmission, enhancing the driving experience for enthusiasts.

Further Transformations and Restylings

The year 1980 brought a subtle yet impactful restyling, with modifications to the front grille and the adoption of more substantial bumpers. The 2-liter engine versions received an upgrade from a 4-speed to a 5-speed transmission, providing drivers with enhanced control. In 1981, the V6 coupe underwent further enhancement with the introduction of new light alloy wheels, not only improving performance but also adding a touch of modernity to the aesthetics.

As the summer of 1983 approached, Peugeot made the decision to cease production of both the coupes and convertibles, marking the end of an era for the Peugeot 504 range. This hiatus lasted 14 years, with no mid- to high-end Peugeot coupes gracing the market until the revival with the introduction of the 406 Coupe in 1997 also designed by Pininfarina.

The Cabriolet's Indelible Mark

Parallel to the coupe’s journey, the Peugeot 504 Cabriolet made its own indelible mark on the automotive landscape. Sharing many design elements with the coupe, the Cabriolet differed primarily in its roof, headliner, and rear window, which were replaced by a canvas soft top. The Cabriolet featured the same engine options as the coupe, with the 3-speed automatic transmission remaining exclusive to the coupe.

The Cabriolet underwent a restyling in 1974 alongside the coupe, incorporating changes in the grille, front lights, rear lights, and upholstery. In 1980, the introduction of polyurethane bumpers, painted to match the body color for metallic models and black for opaque paint models, brought a modern touch to the exterior. The Cabriolet’s story mirrored that of the coupe, marking an end to production in August 1983, leaving a void that would not be filled until the resurgence of Peugeot coupes in later years.

Conceptual Innovation

Adding a layer of intrigue to the narrative is the unveiling of the Riviera concept at the Paris Motor Show in September 1971. Based on the design of the 504 Coupe and Cabriolet, the 504 Break Riviera showcased innovation by being labeled as France’s first and only shooting brake. This conceptual twist underscored the creative collaboration between Peugeot and Pininfarina, leaving an indelible mark on the history of French automotive design.

Conclusion

The Peugeot 504 Coupe and Cabriolet, born from the collaborative genius of Peugeot and Pininfarina, stand as enduring symbols of automotive elegance and engineering excellence. Their journey, spanning from the late ’60s to the early ’80s, showcased a continuous evolution in design, technology, and driving experience. Though production ceased in 1983, the legacy of the 504 Coupe and Cabriolet lives on, resonating with automotive enthusiasts and collectors as symbols of French/Italian craftsmanship.

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Cernobbio, Italy – The stunning backdrop of Villa d’Este hosted another extraordinary edition of the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, where historic cars and concept vehicles enchanted the audience and judges alike. This year, the “Best of Show” title was awarded to a 1932 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 bodied by Figoni, while the public bestowed the “Coppa d’Oro Villa d’Este” upon a 1995 McLaren F1.

Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Figoni 1932 - Best of Show

Trofeo BMW Group – “Best of Show by the Jury”

Máté Boér Photography

The 1932 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300, owned by the Belgian HM Collection, won the judges’ hearts with its timeless elegance and captivating history. Bodied by Figoni, this two-seater spider is one of ten built on a short-wheelbase chassis, featuring an 8-cylinder, 2.3-liter engine producing at least 142 HP. Today, this masterpiece is valued at over 3 million euros.

McLaren F1 1995 - Coppa d’Oro Villa d’Este

Coppa d’Oro Villa d’Este – “Best of Show by Public Referendum”

Máté Boér Photography

The audience at Villa Erba crowned the 1995 McLaren F1, brought to the event by British owner Tony Vassilopoulos, with the “Coppa d’Oro Villa d’Este”. This hypercar, capable of reaching 384 km/h, remains the fastest naturally aspirated road car in history. The winning model, ordered in a two-tone gray by Motokatzu Sayama, is valued at around 20 million euros.

Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este 2024: All the Winners

Concorso d’Eleganza Design Award For Concept Cars & Prototypes by Public Referendum

Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale, 2022
Owner: Stellantis Europe S.p.A.

CLASS A – The Dawn of the Performance Age

Class Winner: Bentley 4 ½ Litre Blower, Two Seater Drophead Coupé, Gurney Nutting, 1930 (The Lee Collection, United States)

Mention of Honour: Bentley 3 Litre, Open Tourer, Van den Plas, 1927 (Michael Dacre, United Kingdom)

CLASS B – Shaped by the Wind: The Evolution of Aerodynamics

Class Winner: Cadillac V16, Coupé, Fleetwood, 1934 (Donald Ghareeb, United States)

Mention of Honour: Delahaye 135 M, Cabriolet, Faget & Varnet, 1948 (Teresa & David Disiere, United States)

CLASS C – “The Best Car in the World” for 120 Years: Rolls-Royce Celebrates an Historic Birthday

Class Winner: Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP Phantom II Continental, Fixed Head Coupé, Freestone & Webb, 1933 (Lord Bamford, United Kingdom)

Mention of Honour: Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, Torpedo Grand Luxe, Van den Plas, 1914 (Terence George Bramall, United Kingdom)

CLASS D – “Faster!”: The Arms Race on the Road

Máté Boér Photography

Class Winner: Ferrari 335 S, Spider, Scaglietti, 1957 (Brian Ross, United States)

Mention of Honour: Ferrari 250 GT SWB, Berlinetta, Scaglietti, 1960 (Bernard Lezaire, Netherlands)

CLASS E – The Best of Italian Grace and Pace: Maserati at 110

Class Winner: Maserati A6G/54, Berlinetta, Zagato, 1956 (Roberto Quiroz, Mexico)

Mention of Honour: Maserati 3500 Spider Vignale Prototipo, Spider, Vignale, 1959 (Phil White, United States)

CLASS F – Gentleman Drivers: Style for the Fortunate Few

Class Winner: Ferrari 275 GTS, Spider, Pininfarina, 1966 (Christopher Stahl, Germany)

Mention of Honour: Mercedes-Benz 300 SC, Coupé, Mercedes-Benz Sindelfingen, 1955 (Sheikh Mohammed Al-Thani, Qatar)

CLASS G – Time Capsules: Cars that the Outside World Forgot

Class Winner: Alfa Romeo 8C 2300, Spider, Figoni, 1932 (Private Collection, Belgium)

Mention of Honour: Bugatti Type 35C, Grand Prix, Bugatti, 1928 (Auriga Collection, Germany)

CLASS H – The Need for Speed: Supercar Stars of the Video Generation

Class Winner: McLaren F1, Coupé, McLaren, 1995 (Tony Vassilopoulos, United Kingdom)

Mention of Honour: Lamborghini Diablo GT, Coupé, 1999 (Jose Cobian, Mexico)

Máté Boér Photography

Additional Trophies Awarded

  • Presidents’ Trophy: Ferrari 335 S, Spider, Scaglietti, 1957 (Brian Ross, United States)
  • BMW Group Classic Trophy: Bentley 3 Litre, Open Tourer, Van den Plas, 1927 (Michael Dacre, United Kingdom)
  • Rolls-Royce Trophy: Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, Torpedo Grand Luxe, Van den Plas, 1914 (Terence George Bramall, United Kingdom)
  • Vranken-Pommery Trophy: Bugatti Type 35C, Grand Prix, Bugatti, 1928 (Auriga Collection, Germany)
  • ASI Trophy: Fiat Dino Aerodinamica Berlinetta, Pininfarina, 1967 (Lee Hower, United States)
  • Auto & Design Trophy: Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato, Coupé, Touring Superleggera, 1960 (Andreas Halvorsen, United States)
  • Il Canto del Motore Trophy: Lamborghini Countach LP400, Coupé, Bertone, 1976 (Christine Schams, United Kingdom)
  • Automobile Club Como Trophy: Ruf CTR “Yellowbird”, Coupé, Porsche, 1987 (Alois Ruf, Germany)
  • Poltrona Frau Trophy: Talbot Lago T26 Grand Sport – Prototype, Cabriolet, Graber, 1953 (Kaspar Fleischmann, Switzerland)

The 2024 edition of the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este once again confirmed the timeless excellence and beauty of vintage cars, alongside the innovation and cutting-edge design of the latest concepts, creating an unforgettable event for all car enthusiasts.