V.I.S.I.T. – 1987 Peugeot 505 Liberté

liberte 1

Remember the Liberté edition of the Peugeot 505? That’s okay, most 505 owners don’t either. The Liberté was a one year only trim level for 1987, to commemorate the centenary of France gifting the Statue of Liberty to America. The Liberté edition of the 505 might sound cool and mysterious, but this was in essence just one step above the base-spec model. For no discernible reason the Liberté featured the old pushrod engine (also dating back to 1887, coincidentally), whereas all the other 4-cylinder 505s in the US were overhead valves. Also, for no apparent reason the front windows on the Liberté were power while the rears were manual. This particular example appeared nice and tidy for a daily driver 505, with only some paint fade and some light to moderate rust to show for its age. But as far as remaining 505s go it was in pretty nice shape, even if the color is very predictable.

Speaking of the 505, an acquaintance of mine is currently in possession of a 505 SW8 Turbo with a cracked engine head. The car itself is otherwise fine mechanically, and in ridiculously good condition inside and out, but Peugeot parts are getting harder and harder to source. Peugeot kept an office in New Jersey till 2009 or so, ostensibly to facilitate finding parts for remaining Peugeots in the states, but parts had been tough to find for a long while before that. Most former dealers no longer even have mechanics on staff who know the first thing about servicing these cars, Peugeot having left the US market back in 1991. So sourcing an original Peugeot engine that doesn’t already come with a cracked head may be a tall order.

liberte 2

My solution to an engineless SW8 wagon in great cosmetic condition was of course an engine swap. Not really relishing putting in a PRV V6 from a 505 saloon (reportedly not plug-and-play, somewhat contrary to what one would expect) I had first suggested a 2.9 liter Volvo inline-6 from a salvaged S90 or V90. But then I remembered just how slow and plodding those things were. Maybe it was the five tons of Volvo they had to haul around, who knows. A Yamaha 4.4 liter V8 from the current S80 seemed like another interesting option, as that’s one of the smallest and lightest V8s in production, but they’re encumbered with too many electrics (not to mention a start/stop button) and may be difficult to keep happy in a 25 year old Pug. Obviously, minimal consideration has been given in our engine swap brainstorming to practical issues, like engine mount points and fuel delivery systems, and just where the gearshift would pop through the floor.

liberte 3

My current thinking on this is a Ford 4.0 liter V6 with a 5-speed autobox from a newly-wrecked rental ‘stang. You know, something durable and simple to maintain, not too thirsty, and something that will keep The Pujo on the road as opposed to upside down in a ditch or up a tree. Of course, the battery and some other systems would have to go into the trunk for the sake of weight distribution, and the brakes would have to be upgraded as well. And the wheels. And the tires.

Who bothers with engine replacements on a 25 year old Pew-joe, readers of other automotive sites may ask. To those readers I say the following: I know of 2 recent engine replacements that have been done on 505 wagons within the last three years (out of 2 total in North America probably). One of them was a replacement in kind type of deal, while the other involved the installation of a Peugeot turbodiesel into a 505 wagon that originally had a gas engine. Not particularly adventurous replacements I must admit, but they do happen. Granted, they only happen amongst enthusiasts who actually spend literally hundreds of dollars on Pujo repair and maintenance each year, which is not a huge demographic.

What engine would you swap into a Pug 505 wagon, presuming you were in some kind of parallel universe (called “The Hooniverse”) where you just had to face that scenario?

[Images: Copyright 2013 Hooniverse/Jay Ramey]

30 Comments

    1. That's actually the craigslist listing that motivated this post: my acquaintance has a virtually identical one, a white SW8 also in Connecticut, with the exact same problem. It took me a couple minutes to figure out that it wasn't actually his.

    1. That was judged to be a $900+ job, on a car arguably worth another $900, on a good day. In Alameda. Or Williamsburg.

  1. A Volvo S90 "slow and plodding?" Certainly not compared to a 505 wagon. I would guess right about the same performance in each, stock for stock.
    But really, there's absolutely no sane reason *not* to go with an LS1 if you're doing a swap like that. "Just to be different" is not a sane reason. If he wants a nice, functional vehicle, an LS1 has that in spades.

      1. Yep, somewhere in that range, but is a 505 wagon any faster?
        Edit: It's hard to find authoritative 505 performance info, especially on the wagon. But one site claims the '87 505 GTi goes 0-100kmh (approx 60mph) in 11.9 seconds. I can believe it, that would have been a respectable performer in 1987. Remember that 0-60 times have dropped rapidly only in the last 15 years or so. The S90 was a reasonable performer for its day, not fast but definitely not slow.

          1. Dammit, I got confused and was thinking of the 4-cyl pushrod Liberté model!! Hnnng!
            Well, ignore my 11.9 second comment. So the SW8 turbo is likely faster than the S90. But the Volvo i6 would probably make the SW8 even faster since the SW8 is a good 400 – 600 pounds lighter than the S90. But really the ideal choice is still … LS1. 300hp, 400 pounds, good reliability, decent economy, amazing support for the details of a swap. He should "just do it." 🙂

          2. Heheh, very good point about the Volvo inline six – it definitely had a lot of Volvo to lug around. But I'm kinda scared of what would happen to the weight distribution in the Pujo with that LS1. And the exhaust, I'm afraid, might give it away. It's almost too much of a good thing, and quite thirsty for daily use. Not to mention the fact that traction might be an issue at stoplights.
            As my friend is actually facing this dilemma right now, I suppose it shouldn't be long will we develop a solution, as that SW8 is in his pool of daily drivers.

    1. I have 505 to ( but I'm living in Poland ) and I want in future put in my Pug RB25DET from Nissan Skyline R33, or 2jz/1jz but they are expensive .

    1. Hahah, not quite in the French tradition, but very creative. One of the Mazda units should do nicely, and they're easy to find.

        1. But see, I actually know just how many of those were made. And how much one would cost.
          By the way, the Lane museum has one, doesn't it?

  2. I've mused about swapping a Land Rover engine into a Pug. Not too much torque to rip things apart, enough power to be entertaining.
    Another option would be a 4.0 from a Jeep. The transmission guts are shared between Cherokees and 505 turbos.
    The politically incorrect side of me long for a German engine to swap in for a Vichy-mobile.

  3. I obtained a NIB Zenith NDIX 32 carburetor a month ago; sourcing a Peugeot cylinder head should be an afterthought compared to my feat.
    They're not cheap, but the new generation of crate turbocharged 4-bangers will provide ample power and shouldn't alter the weight distribution. And some Tremec transmissions offer 3 mounting positions for the shift lever, which should provide something that will match up with the stock mounting location.

    1. OEM Pujo 4-bangers? That'd be sweet, but the shipping costs might eclipse the value of the rolling chassis.

  4. "…the front windows on the Liberté were power while the rears were manual."
    That right there is reason enough for me to want this car.

  5. I'm not sure how it would work with the 4 cyl, but I've always wondered about the possibility of some commonality between the V6s of the LH Chrysler and the PRV V6 – the LHs have their engines in the same orientation, and they may or may not be related to the Eagle Premier, which had the PRV V6 available…

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