There was expectation around the booth Peugeot at 1968 Paris Motor Show. The brand featured a long-awaited model, which had had to delay its premiere due to the events of May '68. The curtain revealed the new Leon saloon, the Peugeot 504, a model that was a revolution for its design, the work of Pininfarina, for its exceptional comfort and for its solidity and its great versatility, capable of facing both the cobblestones and the sand of the beach ... or the desert. These characteristics earned it significant commercial success and, in 1969, it was the first Peugeot in a long saga to win the prestigious award for “Car of the Year in Europe”.
The first detail that attracted attention in that model were its headlights. For the first time, Peugeot fled from rounded headlamps to opt for an innovative trapezoidal shape that, according to the bodybuilder Pininfarina himself, reminded the actress's eyes Sophia Loren. A design that was taken up by many later models of the brand and that continues to influence its current range. The boomerang-shaped taillights were no less innovative and became a hallmark for models of the following decades, such as the Peugeot 206, 407 or 607.
Beyond design, the Peugeot 504 established itself, in the late 60s and early 70s, as a luxury saloon. Its standard equipment included items such as a seat belt, leather upholstery, disc brakes, power steering, electric windows, radio-cassette and air conditioning. In addition, this model was ahead of its time by placing the accent on habitability and the use of space to guarantee the greatest amplitude and comfort, thanks to a wide wheelbase, doors that open at a 90º angle and a large trunk volume.
The road behavior and performance of the Peugeot 504 also guaranteed it a place among the high-end vehicles of its time. Its operating silence, the effectiveness of its engines, which exceeded the 160 km/h, the smoothness of its steering, the reliability of its braking system and its innovative suspension, capable of absorbing all kinds of imperfections without problems, did not go unnoticed.
These qualities gave Peugeot a well-deserved reputation, which still survives, as a manufacturer of comfortable, solid and safe vehicles that are also characterized by the driving pleasure they provide.
Its reliability and versatility were key to its commercial success. Between 1968 and 2005, more than 3,7 million Peugeot 504s were produced worldwide. A success to which its chameleonic facet was not unrelated, since it was marketed in a large number of versions and silhouettes: from saloon to coupe through cabrio or even 4 × 4 Pick-Up SUV.
Its ride comfort and suspension made it both a favorite of taxi drivers in many countries and a champion of tough and demanding tests such as the Rally Bandama, the Morocco Rally or Safari Rally, all of them disputed in African lands. His adaptation to the extreme conditions of the roads and paths of that continent made him a reference for many generations of drivers, for whom he has legendary status. Precisely, It was in Nigeria in 2005 that its long commercial and industrial career ended, almost 40 years after its launch.