“My Fathers’s Peugeot 604” (2000) by Dominique Pagnaux. Why would someone whose main interest lies in other areas want to read this book?
Assuming one has a general interest in motor cars, then the Peugeot 604 represents an alternative interpretation of the large saloon. These days the German and Japanese models are the accepted norm. To better understand them one must also think about the alternatives which have been refected and forgotten.
The Peugeot 604 shows how the French preference for lightness, elegance and comfort were used to guide the design of this large saloon. The result was a car which was noticeably less visually heavy than German equivalents, and less ornate than British competitors. It was also far more conservative than the CX from Citroen.
The driving quality was also different: whereas the German large saloons tended to value robustness (which lead to heaviness) the French value for lightness led to a car which had good performance but which was also nimble and more pleasurable to drive.
The book has ample photography on the development of the car, in particular photos of the interior. In contrast to modern cars, the 604 is spacious and airy. The interior design process is shown. The text is in French but it’s not hard to understand even if you don’t have much by way of language skills.
Finally, the book is a nice slice of nostalgia for a time when the roads were clearer and life was simpler and having a comfortable large saloon meant rather more than it does today when a car seems ever more like a consumer durable than an object of aesthetic interest.
Finally, the Citroen CX is often thought of as the archetypal French large saloon: futuristic, sleek and strange. The 604 was for a decade the polar opposite but was as valid an interpretation of French values which deserves to be remembered.
- Publisher: Editions Techniques pour l’Automobile et l’Industrie (2 Oct 2000)
- Language: French