“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
3 thoughts on “Theme : Books – My Father’s Peugeot 604 by Dominique Pagnaux”
As a french journaliste specialized in classic car stuff, I’ve discovered this blog a few days ago, and I fell in love with it. Keep the good work !
But, frankly, I have this “La Peugeot 604 de mon père” in my own library, and I have to say it is certainly one of the worst of this well-known collection. Certainly, it is a good thing that the big Peugeot has at least one dedicated book, but the information is scarce, with a lot of mistakes. Even the chapter about the “development” of the E24 projet (the 604 codename) is pretty disappointing. Strangely enough, the author even invented special projets that did not existed at all, in the last pages of the book : don’t be fooled about the allegedly “convertible prototype”, nor the strech Scaglietti limo. Even the french “604 International” Club confirmed these were absolute bullshit. Why the author did it is beyond my imagination. Anyway, one can hope another book, this time well researched, will be published some time soon…
I have a stalled project on 60s and 70s cars into which a chapter on this car will/might/could go.
Your comments about the book are useful non-corroborations. Most of my data is from period UK reviews and a few German, US and French publications. Alot of what was written was very favourable too, very different from the car’s reputation.
Turning to the engine: can you suggest why Peugeot never installed other engines as Mercedes did with the W-123, for example? I could see they would have sold more cars that way.
There was a very small batch of cars built for administrations and officials only, called the “604 SR”, with the Peugeot 2-liter (not the Douvrin seen on 505 TI/STI). I’ve never seen one with my own eyes though. But, honestly, the true development story of the 604 is somewhat obscure and unclear to me. It seems that it may have been originally a project of a 504 replacement that evolve later in a different, upmarket big car. Anyway, I have hints that it was, as often in car history, quite a lot more complicated than it seems. Someone at the french 604 club has an incredible knowledge of the car history and even slightest details, I have to ask him more on that. And I definitely have to go and meet Gérard Welter soon, who obviously knows a lot on its development.