The aim was to replace the much-loved 504 and assist the respected 604 — but the Peugeot 505 was so darn good that it almost killed off all interest in the latter. If you were buying a midsize saloon in the Eighties, this is what you would have plumped for. It was handsome, practical, durable and when equipped with the V6, it offered spirited performance too.
When it launched in 1979 it had a hard act to follow; the 504 was a firm favourite thanks to its smooth ride and reliability but customers flocked to the forecourts when they caught sight of the successor. It was a tad smaller than the 604 and wasn’t nearly as expensive. Peugeot tried in vain to keep the 604’s popularity in tact by giving the newbie a conservative look (the exterior didn’t have nearly as much tinsel as its bigger brother) but the low-key styling (gone was the kinked boot) coupled with the fact it could do the same thing as the larger model for less was a major pull. It did, however, get the familiar trapezoidal headlight arrangement marking it out as a ‘proper’ Peugeot.
The Ford Granada and Audi 100 competitor handled and rode very well indeed (it had MacPherson struts and coil springs at front and semi-trailing arms with coil springs at rear) and with the top of the line 2.8-litre V6 under the bonnet providing 170bhp, it offered decent performance compared to the frugal petrol four-pots which were plentiful (the diesels were also much loved; 2.3- or 2.5-litre naturally-aspirated and intercooled turbo oil burners could be had) and a three-speed auto or four-speed manual directed the power to the rear (five-speed manuals came much later) but the best thing about all the drivetrains was that they were bullet proof. Aside from the four-door saloon, a five-door estate was also built and this could accommodate eight adults when equipped with a third row! However, it was a pity that the attractive two-door Coupe and Cabriolet prototypes never saw production.
Still, over a million were built in the 13 year run and although the French workhorse is something of a rarity today it’s still easy to see why it was once part of the corporate car-park in the Eighties.