Peugeot 304 1969 – 1980
The 304 was introduced to the public at the Paris Motor Show in September 1969. Production of the saloon/sedan on the Sochaux assembly lines was discontinued during the summer of 1979, while the “Break” (estate) was produced until the spring of 1980.
Peugeot, which had always been a financially prudent company, saw a gap in the midsize car market in France, Italy and the rest of Western Europe. By using the smaller 204‘s midsection, development costs were minimized resulting in a higher profit margin because of the higher pricing structure in the larger, better equipped market. The 304’s main competitors on its home market came from Renault and Simca, with Citroen noticeably absent from this sector at the launch. The 304 was a success for Peugeot and was noted for several advanced features under its Pininfarina styled exterior. With its independent suspended front-wheel-drive drivetrain and disc brakes, it rode and handled better than most of its contemporaries, including some cars in higher price brackets. The chassis served Peugeot well and lasted for approximately 24 years adapted to derivative models. There was a distinct upmarket feel to the 304, its handsome lines were well suited to postwar Europe’s newly affluent middle classes who desired roomy, advanced and stylish cars to park in their driveways. At about this time the Autoroutes were opening up France and car manufacturers around Europe knew that any car launched hence, would need to add an ability to travel at high speeds, in relative comfort with sure-footed handling to its lineup in order to compete. The 304 fulfilled this brief and became one of the best-selling cars in its market segment.
The car was sold until 1980 and was replaced by the Peugeot 305, which had been launched in 1977.
It was based on the Peugeot 204 with which it shared many components, the most obvious difference being the frontal styling.
Book Number: Haynes 0537