If you’re a classic car enthusiast, you’ve likely heard of the Peugeot 304. This vintage beauty is a true gem, but finding one in good condition can be quite a challenge.

The Peugeot 304 was manufactured and marketed by the French car manufacturer Peugeot from 1969 to 1980. Introduced at the Paris Motor Show in September 1969, the 304 was a success for Peugeot and was noted for its Pininfarina styled exterior. It was aimed at a gap in the mid-size car market and used parts from the existing 204 to minimise development time and cost.

As is typical for Peugeot, the 304 was moderately advanced for its time, having fully independent suspension, and a four-speed gearbox located directly below the engine, sharing the same oil as the engine. Although most interior parts were taken straight from the 204, the 304 had a floor-mounted gear change in place of the column-mounted control in the smaller car.

The transverse-engine front-wheel-drive configuration conferred enhanced cabin space, although this was no longer such an unusual feature as it had been for the 204 back in 1965. The 304 also incorporated front disc brakes and headlights that could adjust for left/right hand drive.

Initially only one model was available: a four-door saloon with Super-Luxe equipment. The range was later enhanced by many derivatives, including a 4-door saloon, 5-door estate – the Break, 3-door coupé, 2-door convertible and a 3-door van – the Fourgonette. 304 saloon production ended in mid-1979, while the Break went on until early 1980.

The Peugeot 304 Cabriolet is the only 304 variant left in significant numbers in the UK today, as most other versions rusted away. Just under 19,000 cabriolets were produced from 1970-1975, of which 836 were produced in right-hand-drive and imported into the UK. Of these, all but 244 were more powerful 304 S versions, introduced in March 1972.

Buying a RHD Peugeot 304 in the 1990s

While living in London in the late 1990s, I owned a Peugeot 304 S Coupe. Finished in Blue with tan vinyl trim, I bought it in Clapham for £300 and used for a year before moving into Citroen CXs. The car was fun to drive, with light steering and a punchy little 1300cc engine. Despite being relatively compact, it had enough space to move a drum kit around town and was always easy to park. Nowadays the 304 S Coupe is very rare in RHD but the cars are still quite affordable: in March 2021, a very smart RHD 1973 304 S Coupe sold at H&H for £5,625 inc premium, which is value for money in a rare classic car.

Peugeot 304s for sale in the UK

Current Peugeot 304 models for sale in the UK include this 1979 Peugeot 304 van showing 31k miles and up at £13k on Car and Classic. That may be more money than the market will stand for the less characterful van version of an already somewhat obscure French classic but it is quite a rare machine. This particular Peugeot 304 van was previously sold by Bonhams at Beaulieu in September 2023 for £6,325 inc premium.

With its timeless design and reliable performance, the Peugeot 304 is a sought-after collectible. However, due to its rarity, finding a well-preserved model needing no restoration can be like finding a needle in a haystack. If you fancy a 304 of any style and stumble upon an example in good condition, secure it with a deposit (perhaps subject to a deeper inspection) before someone else does. I would buy another one.

Photos courtesy of H&H and Car and Classic