Rares Grenouilles – 1969 Peugeot 204 Cabriolet and 1974 Renault R12 Break

Lose track of the classifieds listings for a couple of weeks, and all kinds of rarities pop up. Among others in the last couple of weeks, there are a couple of French cars their sellers would gladly foist upon you. Since it’s a sunny day out, we’ll start with this handsome Peugeot 204 Cabriolet. The seller wastes no time in pointing out this car was styled by Pininfarina, who also designed the “FERRARI TESTAROSSA”. Which is like the seller of a Hyundai Excel saying his car was done by the same guy who did the “ALFA GTV”. Find it in Los Angeles for $1500, which is a total steal for anything designed by a guy who did Ferraris.

1969 Peugeot 204 C front

Tongue-in-cheek snarkiness aside, this is a pretty little car, with a decent little 4-cylinder, 4-speed on the column, and rack-and-pinion steering. With only 53bhp (55bhp if you’re “lucky” and get one of the later-engined models), you won’t win any races, but the 1880-lb. curb weight means it’s no dog either. These cars are rare enough in the US that only one other petit Peugeot has been featured here. The convertible roof should add a little more cross-over appeal, and with these topping the French market, you should be able to easily find the parts (304s shared a common platform with it) and make this into a reliable little weekend runabout.

1969 Peugeot 204 C rear

Next up is a Renault R12 Break, or wagon. These are a hair more common in the US, and I’ve featured one other one. Alas, they were not designed by Pininfarina. As with most French cars in the US, though, they were not terribly popular, and as such as relegated to my favorite group, the orphan cars. Apparently they do have many fans, as the earlier post (also a wagon) generated many responses, highlighting their durability among other things. Today’s car has been spared a ferrous oxide fate by living in New Mexico, and is listed at a confident $3500.

1974 Renault R12 Break front

Not really a pretty sight. I’m not sure what style they were going for – you can’t even fairly call it handsome, quirky, or any other kind of backhanded compliment. The wheel wells really call for larger wheels, but even then, it’s not the only design challenge. Bright yellow only serves to highlight the angles. And is that a black vinyl roof?

1974 Renault R12 Break interior

The interior looks in reasonably good shape. Check out that funky dashboard! It does look like carpets are missing, and the seat has a minor rip. Seller is saying the seats are leather, but in a 1970s econobox, I have to admit some doubt. Don’t count on finding an easy local parts source for trim, unless you have a friend in France (or Romania).

1974 Renault R12 Break rear

So this close-in shot actually tells you more about the car than you’d expect. First, it’s had a bit of a shunt and hasn’t been repaired. Second, the original dealer sticker (really?) shows the car was sold in Billings, MT. They may not salt their roads, but a snowy winter still puts a burden on poorly protected metal, so check for rust.

1974 Renault R12 Break engine

Finally, the engine. I now think I know what non-car people feel like when they look under the hood – all I see is a bunch of hoses and wires. While the car is apparently in decent mechanical shape, the seller admits it needs to be caught up on a lot of regular maintenance, and needs help with such things as carb and exhaust. Apparently it doesn’t leak oil, but cars that don’t run (for any extended period of time), don’t leak. So maybe this one is barking up the wrong tree, but I couldn’t resist sharing what’s on the market.

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