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V.I.S.I.T. – Peugeot 505 SW8

Jay Ramey December 21, 2012 V.I.S.I.T. - Vehicles I Saw In Traffic 22 Comments

sw8 1

Here’s a car we don’t see a lot these days, a Peugeot 505 SW8 station wagon. This was Peugeot’s largest wagon offering in the North American market, being the long-wheelbase version of the 505 wagon. The SW8 had 3 rows of seats, and boasted (admittedly snug) seating for 8 people.

This one appeared to be in extremely good condition in person, certainly looking less used-up than most daily driver examples that I see today (which kind of sounds like I see a lot of 505 daily drivers, which is far from the case).

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During the last model years these could be had for as low at $16K, which, let’s face it, is a bargain even in 1990 dollars. Lest we forget, $16K today only gets one into a Volvo wagon full of golden retriever fur and baby puke.

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This one is obviously from an area of the country where, at the time, one was never more than 30 minutes away from a Peugeot dealer.

So when was the last time you’ve seen one?

  • Rover1

    From the days when Peugeot were known for mking nice to drive big cars with rear wheel drive instead of cheap little hatchbacks that are' reliability challenged'. Not well made enough to sell in the U.S.

  • The last SW8 I saw was at Concours d'Lemons.

    I do want one. At some point, I'd like to buy a proper station wagon, but I go back and forth on whether it should be one of these or a Roadmaster/Custom Cruiser.

  • Given the success of the contemporaneous and far less appealing Chrysler minivan, what was it about these that sucked ass? Distribution? Quality? Price?

    • Van_Sarockin

      Why, yes. Peugot was pretty much on the ropes in the US by the time these came around. Earlier cars were basically decent, but poorly marketed and not well understood by dealers and service centers. And owners expected to use and maintain them like domestic cars – not so unreasonable. The quality was rather good, but they needed different maintenance from US cars, and parts and labor tended to be pretty expensive, so you had a lot of trouble from deferred maintenance. In places with dedicated dealers and well trained mechanics, they had a very dedicated following. And they were expensive to buy, with long lead times for orders. They competed with Country Squires and Vista Cruisers, which were bigger, more powerful and cheaper, with more options. Still a tough sell.

      • The city I grew up in had two Peugeot dealers and yet these were the choice of weird beards and over-educated snobs. It was one thing to drive a Porsche, BMW or even Volvo but entirely another to have a boxy French wagon.

        • dukeisduke

          Here in Dallas, Peugeots were usually a secondary brand, or one make at a grab bag foreign car dealer like Overseas Motors or Snuffy Smith. The last dealer I remember selling them was Doran Chevrolet, in the era of the 405.

        • JayP2112

          The only Pug dealer I ever saw was in Knoxville in the late 80's. It really wasn't a dealer but a guy who got a franchise to sell a few cars out the back of his bass boat store.

  • Van_Sarockin

    That's in remarkably nice shape. Some one should be commended for keeping that car so well. The owner might be holding on to it, so he's got a chance of finding his car in the sea of Volvo wagons at the mall.

  • Vavon
    • I don't believe their cargo space claim, but they're right about the handling.

      What is it about Peugeot and cargo space claims, anyway? This reminds me of the 604 trunk space controversy.

      • Jay

        I think the 3rd row seat in the SW8 cant be removed, and doesn't quite fold flat. So it's quite useless for hauling large items
        Having said that, I've hauled 12 pieces of white picket fencing inside a 1992 505 DL just this year. I think all those were pretty close to 250lbs if I had to guess, and there was still room left over.

      • Vavon

        I had never heard about this: between 385 litres and 699 litres… That's an enormous difference!

  • Mike N.

    I owed two 505's, a sedan and a wagon. Great cars- excellent seats and suspension. The article states the wagon was "the long wheelbase version" .. I'm sure all 505 wagons were long wheelbase, the sedan had the short wheelbase.

  • Jethrine

    SW8 wasn't any longer than the standard USA wagon, all the wagons did have a longer WB than the sedans.
    I had this exact car, a customer gave it to me in 1998, had burned up the "a" clutch pack in the transmission, perfect otherwise.
    The "a" clutch is a pattern failure in all cars with ZF 4-HP22 gearboxes.
    I kept it a year or two and sold it. The 505 wagons are quite "boomy" and resonant at speed, the sedans are much quieter.

    The basic mechanics of Poojoe were pretty close to as good as other period euro cars.
    Everything the owner saw or touched had a tendency to break though.
    Door handles and pulls broke. Fuel doors fell off. The interior lights fixtures break. Glove box latches broke. Peugeot's response was "only US users break these things"

    The handling dynamics of the 505 are very good.
    Softly sprung with long travel and giant sway bars.
    On real world rough roads handling is great.
    The sedans are even better due to the IRS.

  • Perc

    I grew up in the sticks and my school had kids from a probably a 15-kilometer radius. Some of us were driven to and from school in taxis because there were no suitable bus routes. You see, we don't have actual school buses here. Instead kids get free rides on normal public transport if possible. If not, some local taxi driver gets the contract.

    Anyway, one of the mainstay taxi drivers were "Ville", a guy we kids thought was old even back then, almost 20 years ago. I remember when he showed up in one of these after school one day. A brand new shiny white 505 estate with the third seating row. Power windows, what is this sorcery?

    Anyways, I was used to seeing the 505 parked outside his house. He kept the car for a long time into his retirement, sans the yellow taxi sign of course. I haven't driven past there in years but I just looked it up on street view. The old faithful has now been replaced by a 307 SW. Not really a worthy replacement, IMO.

    • I love the European definition of "the sticks." In North America, there are lots of kids who live 50 km or more from their schools! And we usually send out buses to all of them.

      • Perc

        There's no European definition of "the sticks" really, since it totally depends on where you are. Somehow I get the feeling you think I live in a cobblestone suburb in the Netherlands or something. That's not the case though. This is Finland, sticks is something we have a lot of.

        And yes, I have had some classmates with >50km to school as well. And I bet distances grow the further north you go. Kids from way up north would probably have considered me a city brat with my cable TV and actual pavement on the road that went by my house. 😉

        • Indeed, Finland is one of the few European countries that I would say has a large quantity of "sticks." I meant no offense–I work with a lot of Europeans, and even after living here for a while, they often fail to grasp the scale of things on this side of the pond. I grew up 12 km from my school, and I was a city brat who lived on a paved street in a neighborhood with cable TV.

  • Jethrine

    There was a joke full page Peugeot ad in April issue of Automobile magazine sometime around 2003 or 2004. (After peugeot left in August of 2001) Google has searched up the text for me…

    It is not for us to hold the grudge– not even against ignorant swine. And so we come back to America, where you think your replacement starter should come as fast as your cherished McNuggets. A starter is not a McNugget. It is a creation wrenched from the mind of man. It is a symbol. It is art.
    Sadly, you cannot understand such things. So this time, like the indulgent parent, we add features expressly designed for Americans. Your speed, it is shown by the Heads-Up Mime. Your agnst, it is calmed by five-year / 50,000-mile ennui protection. The Peugeot– she is more than you deserve.

  • m4ff3w
  • Enrique

    again guys need help from anybody, need: cylinder head or engine head same thing for a 1986 Peugeot Sedan 505 GL turbo gas 2155 cc 2.2L 5 speed manual transmission L4 Turbocharged SOHC if any one knows pls quote price this way -isasisclanchief@hotmail.com– this for USA thanks to all of you any reply to Enrique to my e-mail above