The Peugeot 504 made its debut on 12 September 1968 at the Paris Salon and made such an impact that it scooped the European Car of the Year title the following year. In South Africa, though, the 504 only arrived in 1971. Although the initial models produced in Europe had been 1796cc four-cylinder models, by 1970 the engine had been increased to 1971cc, and this was what the very first South African-produced 504s were given. The 504 GL, introduced in March 1971, was a four-door saloon with all independent suspension and four-wheel disc brakes. Its styling, like its predecessor the 404, had been developed in collaboration with Italian stylist Pininfarina and was neat and functional, yet stylish and aerodynamic too. At R3 408 it was not the cheapest of cars, but this did not seem to deter the South African public, who bought a total of 2 143 of these cars in their first year.
And even to this day, this is a car that refuses to die. With its robust body, long suspension travel and torque tube drive shaft, it was durable and hardy – perfect for rough-terrain areas – and became incredibly popular outside of Europe in far-flung places including Brazil, Argentina, Australia and, of course, Africa. In Europe, more than 3 million 504s were produced from 1968-1983. But was this the end of the tenacious 504? Not a chance! Throughout the world, production continued under licence. In Kenya and Nigeria, assembly using knock-down kits continued into 2004 and 2006 respectively.