Unexceptional Classics

Unexceptional Classifieds: Peugeot 104 GL

by Antony Ingram
2 April 2021 2 min read
Unexceptional Classifieds: Peugeot 104 GL
Photos: eBay

Price: Auction
Year: 1983
Mileage: 43,000
Condition: Like it’s still 1983
Seller: eBay

Every so often something comes along that is so transformative as to render whatever came before virtually forgotten.

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Did you know for example that before Nintendo’s seminal Game Boy launched in 1989, the Japanese company sold a series of handheld consoles called the Game & Watch? And that it ran for over ten years?

Digital technology has a habit of making its predecessors obsolete but the Game Boy – with its cartridge media allowing for hundreds of different games, its long battery life and the scope of its accessories, buried its predecessor with little trace.

Not long after the Game & Watch was released, Peugeot’s 205 did exactly that to its own predecessor, the Peugeot 104. We’ve come to expect each new car that comes along to improve upon the car it replaces but the 205’s improvements were endless. It was prettier, handled better than anything else in its class, offered a large range of engines and body styles, and topped it all off by becoming a dominant force in motorsport.

It has proved enduring, helped by the success of hot versions and their recent climb in values. Basic versions remain an affordable way of indulging in one of the best small-car chassis around but also enjoying plentiful spares and a package that’s usable in modern traffic. Those opting for the sporting models get the same benefits, but also ownership of an icon, even greater B-road thrills, and a fair chance their Rallye or GTI will be worth a few quid more when they come to sell.

Where does this leave the 205’s forgotten predecessor? As a bit of a left-field choice, and a shoo-in for the Festival of the Unexceptional. A basic 205 will always be welcome at the Festival, but you can bet a car like this incredibly tidy 1983 104 GL up for auction on eBay will attract even more admiring glances.

Particularly when it’s in this condition. The seller states it was fully rebuilt three years ago and it’s not hard to believe when you see the condition of the paintwork, the pristine white wheels, and apparently unmarked seats.

As a 1983 it’s a fairly late model, built as Peugeot was winding down production to make way for the all-conquering 205. GL trim marks it out as a fairly basic model and power comes from a 954cc “XV” carburetted four-cylinder, an engine that later made it into the 205 itself. Highlights of this particular car include service records, old tax discs, and even a photo album containing, among other things, its use as a wedding car in the 1980s.

With a starting bid of £3500 it’s likely to go to a collector rather than a floating bidder – it is, after all, much easier to find a tidy 205 for less money and enjoy that car’s manifold benefits. But like finding an old Nintendo Game & Watch at a flea market, this 104 deserves to transcend its forgotten status.

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  • Trevor says:

    Had an ancient one of these back in the day! A beige basic model, it was very tinny and largely problem free. Got rid of it when the rear suspension seized and would have cost more to repair than the car was worth.

  • Angus Frazer says:

    Hi Antony, good story, as always. I had a ZS back in the day, until a friend wrote it off…

  • Simon says:

    It was a lovely car and the buyer is thrilled too. His joy is on my Instagram @mrcarstagram

  • Jeff says:

    Hi – I bought it and I’m not a collector!….The pug is going to have a small but active life and will see me with an opportunity to look after a car again and my daughter a very cool and unique short distance mode of transport in its new seaside town ..Thank you Simon for being an excellent seller and host @mrcarstagram

  • Jeff says:

    Hi Antony – and finally – wouldnt the Pug being the last road registered 104GL in the UK and it exhibiting a charming and utterly cherished condition make it somewhat “exceptional” ? ;)…

    • Antony Ingram says:

      Fair point! We tend to use the term “unexceptional” in a fairly nebulous way to describe cars that are underappreciated, unloved, forgotten, or back to basics, and the 104 does meet those criteria certainly, though you’re right that one so rare in such good condition is also fairly exceptional!

      Oh, and congratulations on the purchase, glad to hear the car will get some use!

  • Jeff Taylor says:

    Antony – update – took the Pug to Simply French 2023 and to prove your point about attracting attention was thoroughly proven as it won first place in the events only prize award and became “the Peoples Choice – 2023” it didn’t miss a beat on the journey there down the motorway and back and has many a drive along the seafront and further beyond, including Silverstone classic and lap round the track courtesy of the “UK’s Rarest cars “. Its still making many people smile, hopefully for many more years to come !

  • Antony says:

    Jeff, that’s great to hear, glad the car is still going well for you and attracting the right attention!

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