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This is one of the best specialised cars there ever was. The 504 Coupé V6 took straight over from its saloon car equivalent. But don't be mislead by the reasons why Peugeot decided to move to the coupé version. I.e. you may be surprised that the coupé is not at all lighter than the 4-door saloon. The 504 Coupé and Cabriolet versions looked in the body shells drastically different to the 504 saloon. This is actually often done at Peugeot, not only with the 504, the Coupé has a very independent design but everything else down to interior details is identical, so it deserves the 504 name. It further is one example of Peugeot designers cooperating with Pininfarina. Compare side profile of Peugeot 405 & Alfa 164, or here compare frontal looks of Peugeot 504 Coupé, Fiat 130 Coupé & Lancia Gamma. However in the context here, talking i.e. weight, the 504 Coupé road car was designed with fashion and style rather than sport in mind. For performance there was however an important trick:
The 504 saloon car may have won all 3 major African rallies in 1975, but it was a time when the opposition was coming in more and more tuned form. In fact on the Safari 1975 the 170BHP 504 saloon performed the miracle of beating 2 works Lancia Stratos into 2nd & 3rd places! This example serves well to prove what a brilliant car for Africa the 504 was, but if a conventional 170BHP car is fighting Stratos’, you must be blindfolded not to see the air is becoming thin. The 504 TI with its 2.0 litre engine wasn't going to stay ahead of the opposition forever, something at least more powerful was needed. Even for the TI road version an upgrade to a 2.2 litre engine (from 108 to 123BHP) was on the cards, but in rallying that would not have made a significant enough difference over the 2.0 either. The 504 Coupé however was available with a 2.7 V6 engine and already in its first rally versions it reached 225BHP and soon up to 250BHP, an impressive 60-80BHP up on the strongest TI 2.0.
Some fans have the 504 Coupé V6 stuck in their minds as a troublesome car, but for the wrong reasons. Indeed in that period Peugeot had 2 events that turned into an absolute nightmare for them: Safari 1977 & Safari 1979. On both the entire team was basically eliminated within sight of the start line. But the bad impression was likely enhanced because Peugeot by now were the big favourites on this type of events since 2 decades, for any other manufacturer such failure would have been less of a sensation. Plus both these nightmare events were editions of the Safari Rally, easily the event that was the highlight with the most publicity of Peugeot’s annual programs. Bad luck somehow, if you look i.e. at the 504 Coupé V6’s Bandama results, you get a very different picture!
Indeed the Safari 1977 incidents could not at all be blamed on the 504 Coupé V6. The problems were such as wrongly mounted oil filters, unbalanced flywheels, non-waterproof distributors, all minor stuff as if the team was not properly prepared. Maybe Peugeot and their likeable team boss Gérald Allégret had their fingers in too many pies at the time. Alongside running the 504 TI and the still new 504 Coupé V6, Peugeot Sport developped and rallied 3 entirely different versions of the 104 at that time! We must note at this point that it was Hannu Mikkola who retired with this silly problem of a non-waterproof distributor – Mikkola was driving a TI saloon on this Safari 77, not at all the new Coupé V6! And this is a simple, easily avoidable problem that has never happened before on the 504 TI saloon car in 8years of competing on the toughest and longest rallies! The Safari 1979 disaster was even sillier and more avoidable, a result of the team playing with carburettor layouts. But find more details on this incident in the “Evo data sheet” section, were I describe the rallied model variation and changes more closely.
I am personally a big fan of this car, so I don’t want to put it into a bad light. I rather mention these 2 events in detail because they were very untypical compared to all the other starts of this car, but stuck in people’s minds for the mentioned reasons, such inviting misjudgement. Now to what was more typical for this rally car:
If there was a typical problem for the 504 Coupé V6, it was the clutch, and nothing at all of what happened in those events mentioned above. The suspension and rear axles were always the strong point of the big Peugeots for African and marathon rallies. Such in retrospect it seems nearly logical that with the severely increased power Peugeot’s weak link in the entire drive train was to be just the clutch. It really was a minor and solvable problem, but somehow kept coming up with this car. On it’s debut event Safari 1976 (where the eventual retirement reasons for the two Coupé V6 were however accident related) the 504 Coupé already had 225BHP, while previous 504 versions always were at 165BHP, maximum 170BHP. But also the big jump to 225BHP was only the start. As soon as the clutch was made stronger, the V6 power increased virtually event by event from 225, 230 to 250BHP, and then the circle with the clutch problem as the only weak link started again. If you have nothing worse to sort than a clutch, it all was never major drama, just an annoying, repeating circle. Therefore the word “slipping clutch” became a synonym for the Coupé V6. In fact Peugeot generally seemed to get on top of it, although as late as Safari 1981 their two leading cars both retired for this very problem.
Though let’s look at the car’s full career from another, much happier synonym: These were the days when the battles David (Peugeot) vs Goliath (Mercedes-Benz) became a big legend of rally history. After German drivers Eugen Böhringer and Walter Schock were active in the 1960s with Mercedes works support, the only event that saw a regular Mercedes appearence was the Safari Rally. This was with older models and on initiative of local dealers. However in the late 1970s Mercedes came as a proper works team, with a name to prove, with wonderful but huge cars, with silly money, but also a bit naive. The game went like that: A typical service vehicle at Peugeot was a 504 Estate, at Mercedes a helicopter! When Peugeot was proud of their new 2.7 liter V6 Coupé, Mercedes soon replaced their 2.8 liter in-line 6-cyl. W123 for a 5.0 liter V8 S-Class coupé! But to everybody’s huge joy, David beat Goliath – not always but often! It was an interesting time, and indeed fills the first rally memories of the author: These were adventure events in picturesque scenery, competition was good with unpredictable outcome, but at the same time fans and media always had the satisfaction that money, even silly money, couldn’t buy wins!
The 504 Coupé V6 first appeared in 1976 and at first was still run alongside the trusted 504 TI. Already on its 3rd start, the Bandama Rallye the same year, the 504 Coupé V6 celebrated its first big victory - actually Peugeot took the first 5 places on that event. In fact the debut of the Coupé V6 seemed well timed. At the end of the 1976 season, counting the main international African rallies, Peugeot won 6 out of their last 7 starts! In 1977 the Safari was the only WRC event on African soil. On this occasion the entire Peugeot team may have been at the bar 10minutes after the start, but when in 1978 the Bandama Rallye was new in the WRC calendar, they made up for it for the 504 Coupé V6 winning both African WRC events! Bandama 78 was even a 1-2 for the 504 Coupé V6. You see, the car was robust, efficient, handled well, it was Pug-purrfect for what it was designed for.
1981 may have been 13 years after the first 504s hit the road and 2 years after its replacement, the 505 was launched, yet when the Talbot pair Guy Fréquelin and Jean Todt had a serious chance to win the 1981 drivers WRChampionship, the 504 Coupé V6 was handed to them for the Safari and the Bandama once more and on both occasions the “old lady” proved that she was still good enough for top6 finishes! 1981 was of course the year the Audi Quattro was launched, it was time for supercars in WRC, Peugeot’s priority changed to the 205 groupB project and the 504 was getting old – yet it died a slow death. As only one example, Alain Ambrosino took the 504 Coupé V6 to 3 wins in a row in the Zaire Rally 1980-1981-1982.
For me the highlight of the 504 Coupé V6’s career was the 1978 Safari. Let’s look closer at this Safari as the perfect proof of this car’s spirit and abilities. It is also a nice example of the typical Peugeot vs Mercedes duels of this era, where not always the richest, supposed to be most prestigious make won:
Since Jean-Pierre Nicolas in the 504 Coupé V6 also won the Bandama Rallye the same year, the surprise was not THAT the 504 Coupé V6 won, but HOW. At the start of the Safari 1978 we had as full works cars amongst others: 2 Martini Porsche 911, 4 Mercedes 280E, 2 504 TI saloon and 3 504 Coupé V6. For Peugeot the rally already started very badly. Rob Collinge (the winner of the East African Safari 2005) crashed out of the rally on the very 1st stage and Bert Shankland was heavily delayed with the very same trick. That’s both 504 TI saloons out of contention already for none of the cars’ fault. And the 504 Coupé V6 driver Simo Lampinen was off form, the case not helped when he was hit on stage by the works Datsun of Tanzania’s Zully Remtulla. At least the 504 Coupé V6 of Timo Mäkinen led in a way that he seemed untouchable. But then he was sidelined by untypical driveshaft and differential problems. Such an extremely exciting battle for 2nd place became a battle for the lead:
Jean-Pierre Nicolas and Jean-Claude Lefèbvre were the last Peugeot left with chances. The team in itself a curiosity, Jean-Claude Lefèbvre usually being a driver, not a navigator. This Peugeot team was all left alone, while their competition could attack with more ease for having backup within the team. Curiosly the lead driver for Porsche after the first stages became surprising fast local Vic Preston, however with Björn Waldegaard not hopelessly far behind. Similar surprise at Mercedes, where Poland's Sobieslav Zasada - he was 2nd already on the Safari 1972 in a works Porsche, 1972 Zasada beating Preston by just 2min! - was in the leading 280E, with their British star drivers Andrew Cowan and Tony Fowkes finding themselves in a back up role. Tony Fowkes retired with a broken suspension at about the same time Peugeot lost Mäkinen, but Cowan remained close behind that big battle. Mercedes had early drama when local Joginder Singh retired in SS6 with a drawned engine. Typical Mercedes: The team simply forgot to fit the typical Safari snorkels, but the error was corrected for the remaining cars.
Like this we had virtually a split seconds fight between 504, 280 & 911, between Nicolas, Zasada & Preston, with another Mercedes and another Porsche closely behind, but – after the retirement of the leading Mäkinen – no other Peugeot left for potential damage limitation. It was a 3-way fight for seconds in often changing order for a whole week from Nairobi, past Mount Kenya, Delamere Ranch, Eldoret, God’s Bridge, Ugandan border, Lake Victoria, a long section through Rift Valley and eventually Masai Mara and Serengeti National Park. Peugeot had big hopes for the penultimate day in Tanzania, past Mount Kilimanjaro. These were classic Black Cotton surface stages, where Peugeot traditionally went extremely well. And indeed, here Nicolas/Lefèbvre could manage to get a somewhat clear lead over Mercedes and Porsche for the first time.
But then the catastrophy: Leaving Mombasa for Nairobi on the last day Nicolas loses control, hits another car, which launches his 504 363 RF 25 into a wall and a roll! Not a single body panel is straight any more, but extremely enthusiastic spectators help the car back on track and pointing into the right direction as well as tie lose panels together with ropes and expanders. To not disappoint these spectators Nicolas tries to carry on and finish the section. And surprise: it works! However the damage was not just cosmetical. The radiator was a sieve, the radiator vents were gone too, and for the extent of the front body damage it was impossible to fit a replacement! There were still hundreds of km to go, it was 35°C and the last stages went through the Taita Hills, classic for being slow, technical stages in high grass, wet conditions not helping = no cooling airstream onto the radiator at all! But since this first section worked, the team decided to carry on. Nicolas and Lefèbvre had the idea to prove one final point: To reach the Nairobi finish seemed unrealistic, but whatever was going to happen, they wanted to retire gracefully - from the lead!
However here was the next problem: They were also the first car on the road! And at every time control, every possible chance, there was no time to wait for the following cars and check their times (radio and areals damaged in the accident too), the clear priority was to fill the radiator and find bottles of spare water. That way they tried stage by stage, 20km, 50km, 100km..., and the car just kept going. Not only going, the team had no idea what the opposition was doing, how their stage times compared, they didn’t even know how much of their lead they lost in the accident. Plus the two main competitors had the comfort of undamaged cars and team mates as back up, while for the broken windows in those hot, muddy conditions Nicolas and Lefèbvre must have felt like mud wrestlers rather than rally driver and map reader! So for their plans of ending gracefully, on the stages there was no option for Nicolas/Lefèbvre but to go crazy with maximum attack!
And so the team somehow reached Nairobi. “Where is the opposition?” – “No time to check!” – “You want car washing water?” – “Yes please, put it into the radiator!” So it came that a totally muddy and dusty 504 Coupé drives onto the finish ramp in front of all the cameras and public. The whole shell is full of dents and somehow strapped together, the side windows are missing, which allowed buckets of mud to get inside, the drivers challenging the car in 2nd hand looks. All this right in front of an immaculately clean and posh looking Martini Porsche. No sign of the Mercedes’, both 280E of Zasada and Cowan experiencing the very engine problems that should have been Nicolas’ by any common sense! Porsche felt to be beaten by a Peugeot in such state, a wreck of a supposed anti-sports car, was a major emberrassment and they were not seen as an official works team ever since! For Mercedes only Zasada reached the finish, down in 6th place, even behind Lampinen’s 504. But that totally muddy and wrecked Peugeot sits on top of that ramp, that supposed to be long dead V6 purrs like a cheaky kitten!
In that incredible situation - not knowing how their times compared in a severely damaged car - the team even extended their lead to an unbelievable 37min!!!!
Model & Evo. (Activity)
|504 Coupé V6 (76-81)||250/7400||256/5000||4360.1700.1348||1350 (5.4)||RWD (2550)|
Sorry, there are no photos.
This is an unofficial Car Results list and may be incomplete.
|6th.||1981 WRC Safari Rally||J. Lefèbvre||C. Delferrier||#15||[UNKNOWN]||8:32:00|
|5th.||1981 WRC Bandama Rallye||G. Fréquelin||J. Todt||#2||[UNKNOWN]||13:15:00|
|6th.||1981 WRC Bandama Rallye||A. Ambrosino||D. le Saux||#5||[UNKNOWN]||13:16:00|
|8th.||1981 WRC Bandama Rallye||J. Durieu||P. Tastet||#14||[UNKNOWN]||17:47:00|
|10th.||1980 WRC Acropolis Rally||T. Mäkinen||J. Todt||#17||[UNKNOWN]||13:39:49|
|5th.||1980 WRC Rally Argentina||J. Lefèbvre||C. Delferrier||#12||[UNKNOWN]||14:33:31|
|3rd.||1980 WRC Bandama Rallye||A. Ambrosino||J. Bureau||#12||[UNKNOWN]||5:17:00|
|8th.||1980 WRC Bandama Rallye||J. Lefèbvre||C. Delferrier||#11||[UNKNOWN]||8:25:00|
|11th.||1980 WRC Bandama Rallye||P. Moreau||F. Giallolacci||#5||[UNKNOWN]||0:00:00|
|12th.||1979 WRC Safari Rally||J. Lefèbvre||C. Delferrier||#18||[UNKNOWN]||0:00:00|
|6th.||1979 WRC Bandama Rallye||A. Ambrosino||B. Schneck||#9||[UNKNOWN]||0:00:00|
|10th.||1979 WRC Bandama Rallye||S. Assef||G. Fourcade||#11||[UNKNOWN]||0:00:00|
|1st.||1978 WRC Safari Rally||J. Nicolas||J. Lefèbvre||#4||[UNKNOWN]||8:18:00|
|5th.||1978 WRC Safari Rally||S. Lampinen||H. Liddon||#3||[UNKNOWN]||13:37:00|
|1st.||1978 WRC Bandama Rallye||J. Nicolas||M. Gamet||#2||[UNKNOWN]||2:28:00|
|2nd.||1978 WRC Bandama Rallye||T. Mäkinen||J. Todt||#1||[UNKNOWN]||2:43:00|
|4th.||1978 WRC Bandama Rallye||S. Lampinen||A. Aho||#3||[UNKNOWN]||5:07:00|
|8th.||1978 WRC Bandama Rallye||S. Assef||J. Burelle||#7||[UNKNOWN]||0:00:00|
This is an unofficial Car Model Retirements list and may be incomplete.
|Ret.||1981 WRC Safari Rally||A. Ambrosino||J. Fauchille||#3||[UNKNOWN]||SS72 disqualified - navigator lost his time card|
|Ret.||1981 WRC Safari Rally||G. Fréquelin||J. Todt||#6||[UNKNOWN]||SS32 clutch|
|Ret.||1981 WRC Safari Rally||T. Mäkinen||A. Aho||#10||[UNKNOWN]||SS29 clutch|
|Ret.||1980 WRC Bandama Rallye||T. Mäkinen||J. Todt||#14||[UNKNOWN]||SS38 engine|
|Ret.||1980 WRC Rally Argentina||C. Garro||J. del Buono||#10||[UNKNOWN]||SS7 engine|
|Ret.||1980 WRC Rally Argentina||T. Mäkinen||J. Todt||#16||[UNKNOWN]||SS6 crash|
|Ret.||1980 WRC Acropolis Rally||J. Lefèbvre||C. Delferrier||#21||[UNKNOWN]||SS24 crash|
|Ret.||1979 WRC Bandama Rallye||J. Lefèbvre||C. Delferrier||#12||[UNKNOWN]||SS24 engine|
|Ret.||1979 WRC Bandama Rallye||J. Nicolas||J. de Alexandris||#1||[UNKNOWN]||SS1 rear axle|
|Ret.||1979 WRC Bandama Rallye||T. Mäkinen||J. Todt||#2||[UNKNOWN]||SS44 electrics|
|Ret.||1979 WRC Bandama Rallye||S. Assef||G. Fourcade||#11||[UNKNOWN]||SS50 withdrawn|
|Ret.||1979 WRC Bandama Rallye||A. Choteau||Y. Taravel||#16||[UNKNOWN]||SS99 crash|
|Ret.||1979 WRC Bandama Rallye||P. Copetti||. UNKNOWN||#28||[UNKNOWN]||SS99 crash|
|Ret.||1979 WRC Safari Rally||J. Nicolas||H. Liddon||#12||[UNKNOWN]||SS22 engine|
|Ret.||1979 WRC Safari Rally||T. Mäkinen||J. Todt||#8||[UNKNOWN]||SS49 engine|
|Ret.||1979 WRC Safari Rally||S. Lampinen||A. Aho||#4||[UNKNOWN]||SS29 engine|
|Ret.||1978 WRC Bandama Rallye||A. Choteau||Y. Taravel||#10||[UNKNOWN]||SS33 crash|
|Ret.||1978 WRC Safari Rally||T. Mäkinen||J. Todt||#1||[UNKNOWN]||SS99 driveshaft|
|Ret.||1977 WRC Safari Rally||J. Nicolas||J. Todt||#11||[UNKNOWN]||SS99 flywheel|
|Ret.||1977 WRC Safari Rally||T. Mäkinen||H. Liddon||#9||[UNKNOWN]||SS99 oil filter|
|Ret.||1976 WRC Rally Morocco||H. Mikkola||J. Todt||#2||[UNKNOWN]||SS99 driveshaft|
|Ret.||1976 WRC Safari Rally||H. Mikkola||J. Todt||#4||[UNKNOWN]||SS99 radiator|
|Ret.||1976 WRC Safari Rally||T. Mäkinen||H. Liddon||#3||[UNKNOWN]||SS99 crash|