Once thought to have been lost to the hands of time, the Peugeot 504 Break Riviera is about to begin its comeback tour.
In 1968 the 504 made its public debut as Peugeot’s flagship saloon car. In 1969 it was elected as European Car of the Year and was praised for its styling, quality, chassis, ride, visibility, strong engine and refinement. The following year, the coupe and cabriolet models were added to the line, featuring the same 79 bhp of output as the fuel-injected saloon.
Given its robust body structure, long suspension travel and torque tube drive shaft, the 504 achieved widespread popularity in rough-terrain areas across South America, Africa and Australia. In 2013, the Los Angeles Times called it “Africa’s workhorse”.
In 1971, the Peugeot 504 Break Riviera made its debut at the Geneva Auto Show. Born into the world of concept cars, it was designed and built by Italian Coachbuilders, Pininfarina who based it on the 504 Coupe. However, despite Peugeot’s initial interest it was considered too expensive compared to the popular 504 estate model and subsequently never made it into production. It has since been shrouded in rumours of multiple prototypes but with only one survivor, keeping the legend alive.
Very little is known about this model and even less about the surviving prototype. Keen members of The Dutch Peugeot Club spent 10 years hunting down the alleged sole survivor which was eventually discovered in the private collection of an elderly man in Spain. It transpired that he was looking to sell it and the rumour mill has churned out the possibility of it now being in the hands of a private collector in Germany. The mystery continues and we may never know the true fate of this auto ghost.
It has now been 50 years since the dawn of the Peugeot 504 Break Riviera and it’s time for a resurrection. HC Classics has revealed a subsequent prototype built for a private collector.
The donor car is based on a series 1 504 cabriolet with the concave bonnet line, twin headlights and chevron tail lights. Whilst the front of the car remains unchanged the differences occur along the length of the roof line changing the window lines and the rear wings have a more prominent curvature to carry (embrace) the shooting break design.
Particular care and attention has been given to every known detail of the car’s design and equipment starting from computer scans of available drawings through to the production of steel panels off computer generated moulds.
As much for authenticity as anything else, much of the interior of the original donor car has been used as a template and, where possible, restored and revived, including the door cards, side panels, front seats, dashboard and centre console. The side panels have been covered in a black vinyl that replicates the original texture while the remaining trim has been treated to a premium porcelain cream leather. The back seats have received bespoke remodelling and can be folded down as shown on the original concept car. Bringing up the rear is varnished wood with aluminium rails. The side windows are uniquely formed in curved glass and the chrome tailgate hinges are subtly incorporated in with the sporting roof rails.
The wheels have been specially replicated to fit tyre size 175 x 14 and milled from solid aluminium rivetted onto steel rims for strength. The original 2 litre 4 cylinder fuel injected engine with manual transmission has been rescued from the donor car and reconditioned. In tandem with a new sound system, superior sound-proofing has been installed to absorb all the age-betraying rattles and squeaks.
The icing on the cake is the original Peugeot ‘blue-vert metallisé’ paintwork.
There is an exuberant risk in building such a prototype as there is only so much that can be authentically replicated without a definitive blueprint. The rest is left to the imagination and historical commitment of the builder.