In this section, we’d like to highlight and give credence to cars of old or new that have become and remained household names. This article will be featuring two of the most popular everyday cars that eventually evolved in their own right to become what they are today, ‘iconic classics’ and it wasn’t hard for us to see why.
This car doesn’t need any introduction. The Peugeot 504 from the seventies. Definitely not sporty, stunning diesel engine from 1975. The 504 was developed as a successor to the Peugeot 404, which was the company’s midsize offering between 1960 and 1975. Owners of 404s were pleased with their durability, frugality, and good value, and Peugeot desired those same qualities in a successor vehicle. So they contacted Pininfarina to work up a new design. After, the company set out to perform some sturdy engineering, enter the all-new Peugeot 504.
In a typical Peugeot manner, the 504’s introduction was well before the discontinuation of the 404. The new entry was available for the 1968 model year in a variety of body styles (also typical). Off the four-door sedan base came a five-door wagon, a two-door coupe, convertible, and even a pickup truck. Power always traveled to the rear wheels, and engines between 1.8 and 2.7 liters in displacement were available. Transmissions varied and included four- or five-speed manuals, plus three-speed automatics.
In short order, the 504 cemented Peugeot’s reputation as a provider of rough and ready cars. 504s were found all over the globe and used for all kinds of things beyond driving on paved roads as family transport. The 504’s body was tough, and the considerable suspension travel proved beneficial in countries with rough roads.
The 504 had a long lifespan and remained nearly unchanged between its 1968 introduction and its 1983 cancellation. Its popularity was reflected in the sales figures, which totaled over three million.
Africa particularly took to the 504, setting up multiple production locations there using knock-down kits. In the end, the 504 was manufactured in 14 different countries and continued in production until 2006 in Nigeria.
It was recently featured on San Francisco’s Craigslist (ad since removed). It had one of the three inline-four diesel engines. With 44,000 miles on the odometer and some killer photos, it asked $4,500.
The peugeot 504 was as rough and ready as you could get. It was Africa’s preferred car for a while. You would still find quite a few of them in countries like Nigeria where they are predominantly used as taxis or transportation vehicles. We give the Peugeot 504 a thumbs up for a car well lived.
Volkswagen Golf Mk1
The story goes that VW engineer Alfons Löwenberg saw the potential in his company’s then-new supermini, so he gathered together a group of like-minded colleagues willing to work in their spare time on what they called the ‘Sport Golf’. When it was done they showed it to the executives, who were so impressed they gave it the green-light.
At the 1975 Frankfurt Motor Show VW unveiled the Golf GTI (Gran Turismo Injection). Apart from the chin-spoiler, tartan upholstery, and much pin-striping, it looked remarkably like a regular Golf. But under the bonnet was a different story entirely. The 1.6-liter, fuel-injected engine from the Audi 80 GT, enabled it to hit 0-60mph in around nine seconds and a top speed of 110mph. Not fast by today’s standards, but plenty enough for the early Eighties.
The later model Mk1s had enlarged 1.8-liter engines (and five-speed gearboxes, rather than four) which made a little more power (112bhp plays 108) but nonetheless helped them to 60mph in eight seconds. Torque increased from 103lb-ft at 5,000rpm to 109lb-ft at 3,500rpm. At 840kg, it’s 14kg lighter than the most featherweight modern-day VW and near enough half the weight of an Mk7.5 GTI.
Right-hand drive cars arrived in the UK in 1979 and in its first, full-year on sale, VW shifted more than 1,500 of them– signaling Brits’ desire for a practical, accessible performance car. This was a testament to the popularity of the little ‘firecracker’ known as the MK1 VW Golf.