Remember the Peugeot 504? Of course, you do. Long before everyone wanted a Benz or a Bentley, the Peugeot 504 was every young man’s dream and every family’s pride and joy.
When you think about the 80s and 90s, you probably think of soap ads and iconic television shows. You imagine the music of Fela or King Sunny Ade blaring at average levels, a young father with his full-on afro bobbing in front and kids, dressed in colourful shirts, as they cruise through the city.
All these things probably happened in a Peugeot 504.
As the Peugeot 504 turns 50 years old, we look at the iconic vehicle that trailed Nigerian roads and bonded Nigerian families in one of the most memorable eras in Nigerian history.
The 1980s and 1990s were some of the most unstable eras in Nigeria’s history. It was the period when Nigeria’s middle class began to vanish into thin air. Not many families could afford a car at the time.
Nigeria's number one citizen
The Peugeot 504 was a very affordable option at the time and many middle-class families owned one.
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You would see them shining in the afternoon sun after proud owners had washed them clean of their sins and dabbed them with car wax till you couldn't stare at them.
In that era, you weren’t a baby boy if you did not drive a 504.
If you were dropped in the middle of Lagos roads on a Saturday morning, you would swear that the 504 was Nigeria’s number one citizen.
The Peugeot 504 was a mid-size, front-engine automobile manufactured and marketed by Peugeot for between 1968–1983 over a single generation.
The 504 was noted for its robust body structure, with two headlights in segments that looked like eyes. The car was built for rugged roads and durability.
Fond memories and a hard body
Today, you can still see some of the vehicles in car garages or on the roads, driven by car aficionados who want to hold on to a bit of the past. In other places, it is a favorite of taxi drivers who love it for its durability and low cost of maintenance.
The 504 ultimately achieved widespread popularity in far-flung rough-terrain countries — including Brazil, Argentina, Australia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Cameroon, Benin, Kenya and ultimately, Nigeria.
The Peugeot 504 was so affordable because the French manufacturing company set up assembly plants in Nigeria.
425,000 of the cars were assembled in Nigeria, using knock-down kits — with production extending into 2006.
A lot of those cars were bought by the government.
Members of the Nigerian Civil service were given the Peugeot 504 as their official cars.
Your employment as a government official could be called into question if you didn’t drive a 504.
These days, things have changed, there are newer models. Young people have gravitated towards other models.
But if you ask your father, and he doesn'tturn the answer into an episode of Tales by Moonlight, he could well tell you that his favourite car is the Peugeot 504.