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1986 505

Overall rating:  Product Rating: 4.0

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The Benchmark for all Wagons

by nahanni_butte:      Jul 27, 2003 - Updated Jul 29, 2003

Product Rating: 4.0 Recommended: Yes 

Pros: Simply one of the best wagons of all time.
Cons: All the risks of being an orphan in North America
The Bottom Line: Although they are now very hard to find, a good 505 wagon of any type will likely give you a lot of motoring pleasure and utility.

This was my second 505 wagon and my third 505. Bought it for $200 USD - on its way to the scrap heap. The turbo engine had been badly abused by hanging too small an exhaust system on the car - it had back-pressured itself to near death. Still, its 505 qualities were still very evident - built like a tank, comfy leather seats, fabulous room, and road manners that set the standard for other cars. Had to replace the engine, exhaust and front struts.
The original 16 year old paint was faded when I got the car (and will be redone). But despite of the neglect and the salty winters, the paint was all there and rust was not an issue.

Let's start on the inside of the car, where we spend most of our time. The 505 has excellent ergonomics, with virtually no blind spots, excellent placement of guages and controls. Wiper swept area front and back is excellent. Air conditioning and heating is very good. Windshield washers are much improved from the 84 model, where they were only adequate. Aerodynamic noise is higher than average due to turbulence caused by the the gutters - the 86 is better than the 84: in 87/88 Peugeot went to a double door seal to improve it further yet.

Handling is remarkable for a car of its size. Turning circle is tight and parking is easy, despite the 6" extension on the wagon. On the highway, with the cruise control engaged, it tracks as if on rails. The only thing that moves, is the turbo boost guage, which goes up when ascending a hill and drops off when descending. The car is totally at ease at speed - mine has seen 110 mph and is solid at that speed. It also handles curves beautifully, remaining flat and fast. The car is currently on Nokia NRH tires - the next set will either be Nokia or Michelin, possibly X-Ones (see my review there) or Pilot A/S.

Styling is classic Pininfarina - never vulgar and always in style.

I haven't had the 86 turbo wagon through a Canadian winter yet, but have had 20 years with both the non-turbo sedan and the wagon. Drove in the worst weather (the kind where you see SUVs upside down in the ditch) without once ever being stuck, and that is with all season Michelins.

The Internet makes finding parts much simpler. Parts are robust and don't need replacing - I went 15 years on shocks, 16 years on my alternator and 17 years on the clutch in my non-turbo 505 wagon. Still on the original starter, and that is after lots of cold starts - and even having to drive on the starter motor twice. Recently my turbo wastegate got stuck - the car was driveable but it did cost a few hours of mechanic's time to free it up. On the whole, this one, like my previous Pugs, has been a reliable daily driver.

You may wonder why so much praise for a car that is so old. The truth is I rent new cars from time to time - a Camry here, an Impala there, a Taurus, and Intrepid, a Honda Accord. They are all very nice, but bland. More to the point, there are always one or two things that really tick me off about these cars - often ergonomics. Whereas with the old Pug, like an old friend, I can drive them for up to 20 hours at a stretch and still smile at them when I get out.

Peugeot really broke the mold with the 505. Their 404 and 504 models were also very good (had a wagon in each). I don't care at all for the 405 (although those with them seem to like them) - for starters, they are just too small for my 6' 3" frame. I prefer rear wheel drive and frequently do power or handbrake turns in the winter. Sadly, we have not had a new Peugeot imported to North America since 1991, when the company left the market, lion's tail between its legs.

I now have a car that could only be outdone (and then only in some areas) by the big Benz wagon, and one for which I paid a tiny fraction of the price of the M-B. This car has enough power to be fun, room for everything I could think of stuffing in it, and is a pleasure on the highway and the winding road.

Given the age and neglect and abuse the car suffered, it is amazing that it has been able to restore it to a safe, reliable daily driver. It's a tribute to the over-engineering that went into the car in the first place.

Compared to my previous '84 505 non-turbo wagon, it obviously has more power. Both the five speed and the ZF 4HP 4 speed auto mate well with the engines. BTW, I change engine oil and filters religiously, and change tranny oil once a year and clean the screen. I have both analyzed by a lab (Wear-Check) The turbo ride is certainly firmer, but not borderline harsh, as the V6 sedans can be around town. Both cars are a tribute to their original design.
Amount Paid (US$): 200
Condition: Used
Model Year: 1986
Model and Options: 505 S Turbo Wagon
Product Rating: 4.0
Recommended: Yes 
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