Peugeot 604

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Peugeot 604 SL

1975 - 1985
V-6 in 90.0° vee
2664 cc
137.9 PS (136.0 bhp) (101.4 kW) @ 5750 rpm
5 spd. man /3 spd. auto
Top Speed:
180 km/h (112 mph)
Number Built:
0 star
Peugeot 604 SL
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 1


In 1975, some five years after the agreement was signed that led to the birth of the Franco-Swedish engine company, comprising Peugeot, Renault and Volvo, the V6 engine appeared. The design of the engine was originally set in motion more than seven years previously, and the first customer for the 2.6-litre V6 was, naturally enough, Peugeot, who chose it for the 604.

The Pininfarina-designed 604 was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1975, with sales beginning in September of that year. It was based on the chassis of the Peugeot 504, using its doors, and represented Peugeot's first entry into the large luxury sedan market for 40 years (the last being the short-lived Peugeot 601 of 1934).

By European standards the 604 was quite a large car, with an overall length of 15.48 ft (4.71 m). Its design features remained in the classic style of the then current Peugeots, the line only broken by the massive bumpers. The 604 had an air of quiet assuurance, uniting a certain distinction usually found in cars of this class, with the tradiitional Peugeot dignity.

Technically, the 604 was a development of the 504, and the rear-wheel drive saloon inherited the same well thought-out suspension. However, an improvement had been made in the damping out of vibration and excessive movement of the rear axle.

The interior of the 604 offered plenty of space, with 4.85 ft width fore (1.48 m) and aft providing a useful space from toeboard to the back of the rear seat of 6.26 ft (1.91 m). The seats, of nylon velour, were luxurious and well-designed, but the mediocre dashboard was unworthy of a car of its class. Although reasonably complete, there were two important gaps: no maximum limit markings on the rev-counter, and no warning light on the petrol gauge.

The four courtesy lights were a sound feature of the general equipment, as was the efficient heater, which could deliver warm air to the back seats. Other features included inertia-reel seatbelts, fitted with energy absorbers (a Peugeot-Renault specialty), and a laminated windscreen. On the other hand, it seemed a pity that on a prestige car the steering wheel was so large and not adjustable for height, nor was the driver's seat, although the runners were curved. It would also have been in keeping with the 604's class if an intermittent switch had been fitted to the wipers, and a central locking device made standard.

The Oversquare Engine, And Crude Solution To Vibration

The engine took a long time to develop, due mainly to the aluminium construction. The V6 engine itself was "oversquare", a 90 degree design chosen with the view of later developing a V8 from it - a project which was subsequently abandoned. The oversquare engine design was bound to introduce unwanted vibration, so Peugeot (and Renault) suppressed the vibrations via the crude solution of introducing a two degree difference in timing between each bank of cylinders.

The engine breathed through carburetters, and not only was its power-output disappointing, but also, which was more serious, torque was best described as modest. In comparison with other six-cylinder engines, the 604 developed 51 hp/litre (38 kW/litre) and 152.53lb ft maximum torque (21.1 mkg) at 3500rpm, which put it last in the category - and by todays standards it would at best be described as lethargic.

Fortunately, the engine torque curve was good, and when accelerating from 1500 rpm, there was an agreeable liveliness. However, pick-up was much too slow, and the petrol consumption too high, being around 14 mpg (20 lit/100 km). In all other departments, the Peugeot merits nothing but praise. The manual gearbox was good, and so was the automatic transmission, the steering was precise, and sufficiently sensitive, thanks to variable-rate power assistance. Roadholding was good, the normal understeer becoming neutral at the limit. Lighting was powerful, road and engine noise very low, braking well-balanced, and above all the ride and passenger comfort were exemplary.

The Peugeot 604 is not particularly collectable, however for the time it was refined and well polished in most areas. Disappointing then that the main feature of the car, the V6 engine, was such a let down. Build quality problems added to the cars woes. Sales, which were never particularly strong, dipped in 1980 following the launch of the 505, and the last 604 rolled off the production line in 1985. Peugeot's next major executive car, the 605, was launched in 1989.

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Posted Recently
I purchased a 604SL in Newcastle NSW in about 1982 and absolutely loved it. Having said that I had big problems with the engine. After an engine bay fire I replaced the dual carb setup (1 x single barrel and 1 x dbl) with a single dual throat Webber. No problems after that until it blew a head gasket. Most people would have junked the car by this but it was just the best car for my needs which included a lot of travel on secondary Australian roads. And this is where the car absolutely shone. That fantastic suspension, beautifully direct steering and armchair seats, made it perfect for me. I have done thousands of k's on these roads over the years in many different cars including Citroen and even the legendary riding Jaguar XJ6. None have matched the big Pug. Sadly it blew a head gasket a second time and by this I had had enough. You may be interested to know that I now live in Indonesia, and am looking at buying one here that has just been advertised. It is immaculate and has a Toyota injected motor. Sounds perfect!
david vuksinic
Posted Recently
in 1998 i owned a 1978 model peugeot 604 reg no aeu 562 i found it hard to get parts for my car and i dont know what happened to due to car accidened in the same year i have my drivers licence back last year in november 2010 i was wondering what happened to these cars and is there enough parts to repair it or is it a disaster.
Posted Recently
In the early 90's, I've owned a 1978 TI automatic version. I can't underwrite the comments about lethargic and thirsty engine for this version. In day to day traffic, it was a fairly quick car, though of course not a really fast car. The injection might make the car more responsive, and certainly makes it less thirsty: I did about 13 l/100km here in the Netherlands.
Posted Recently
thanks. great information for me ,I have one still working
Posted Recently
Just a few extra notes – only the front doors were shared with the 504. The rear doors were different. Australian delivery vehicles did not appear until 1978. All Australian delivery cars had leather interiors, electric sunroofs, hydraulic central locking, and automatic transmission. All were carburetor fed. If a car differs from these specifications, it will be a private import, although that is not necessarily a bad thing. A fuel injected version (604 TI) was available overseas.
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