Junkyard Gem: 1985 Peugeot 505 Turbo Sedan

Murilee Martin
·3 min read

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Peugeot said adieu to the United States in 1991, a few years after Renault threw in the towel here (Citroën departed after 1973 and Simca after 1971), but one French car managed to make a stand against German and Japanese sport sedans on American roads for a while in the 1980s: the Peugeot 505 Turbo. During the 505 Turbo's reign here, it offered more power at a lower price than nearly all its BMW 3 Series competitors (with the notable exception of the M3), with French styling and comfort to boot. I don't find many of these cars during my junkyard explorations of recent years, but this Canadian-market '85 showed up in a Denver-area yard last week.

While the 505 Turbo was plenty quick for its time, I thought the 240 mph speedometer seemed a trifle optimistic. Then I realized that I was looking at kmh here, which also made the odometer reading seem less impressive.

A gray-market import, brought over by some Peugeot aficionado and converted to US-spec headlights at great expense? A glance at the door jamb proved otherwise; this car was originally sold in Canada, then moved south at some later date. I see the occasional car that started out in Mexico or Canada in Colorado junkyards, including a Chevrolet Chevy and a snowbird Civic. Gray-market French cars do show up here, of course.

The 1985 BMW 325e sedan offered 121 horsepower for $21,105, while your friendly Peugeot dealer offered the 505 Turbo sedan for just $18,150 with this 2.2-liter engine making 150 horses (those prices come to about $52,615 and $45,250, respectively, in 2021 dollars). Mitsubishi would sell you a new Tredia Turbo sedan with 116 horsepower for a mere $9,279 that year, but it had front-wheel-drive and ugly-duckling styling next to the 325e and 505.

The ashtray takes up more real-estate than just about any dash feature, but you need big ash capacity when both front-seaters are chaining unfiltered Gitanes during long road trips.

An automatic transmission was available, but most North American 505s got the correct five-speed manual.

All Peugeots sold in North America were far more comfortable than their competition, even if reliability wasn't so great and replacement parts were hard to obtain. I had a Peugeot 504 daily-driver for a time in the early 1990s, and it was a very pleasant car… when it ran.

This being Colorado, owners of old Subarus are always on the lookout for Peugeot 504s and 505s in junkyards. Why? Because only rear-wheel-drive Peugeots and pre-1990s Subarus use the super-oddball 4x140mm wheel bolt pattern, and the Subaru freaks have a rough time finding good aluminum wheels for their BRATs and XTs.

This lifted mid-1980s Subaru 4WD wagon distinguished itself last summer during the Rocky Mountain Breakdown 24 Hours of Lemons Rally, and its owner hastened over to the LKQ in Aurora to grab those precious wheels, moments after I broadcast their existence to the local Lemons community. Fortunately, they are the 15" diameter type and not the no-tires-available TRX size that went on some 505s.

You'll find one in every car. You'll see.