In 1965 Peugeot introduced the 204, the company's first attempt at entering the compact family saloon sector.

Aware that they would need to offer a lot of flexibility regarding model variations, Peugeot offered the 204 as a four-door sedan, convertible, hatchback, estate car, and even a small panel van.

The Peugeot 204 was initially powered by a single overhead cam 1130 cc petrol engine, which was the maximum power allowed by the French Government of the times for vehicles that fell into the six-cylinder category (6CV).

With increasing awareness in Western Europe of the cost-effectiveness of diesel-powered cars, in 1968, Peugeot began to offer the option of a 1255 cc diesel engine, although restricting the choice to the 204 estate and the "Fourgonette" panel van, expected to be the hardest workers in the range.

Even though Peugeot rightly claimed that theirs was the smallest diesel engine on the market at the time, the response was lukewarm after reports began to filter through that the diesel-powered 204s were underpowered, despite being highly economical.

Despite the slow sales, Peugeot persevered with this formula till the early Seventies when they upped the engine power to 1357 cc, which made a diesel engined 204 a much more attractive proposition, with Peugeot eventually releasing a diesel engined saloon.

Thanks to its transversely placed, lightweight engine and full body cabin space, the Peugeot 204 was above what should be expected of a var o its footprint.

That extra space that the 204 provided a high-level passenger comfort, certainly more than most of its rivals in its class and even matched the much larger 404.

Having learned their lessons from the overelaborate designs of the Peugeot 404, Pininfarina did away with the square-cornered look instead of giving the 204 a rounder aspect. This design style was to become a characteristic with Peugeot over the next decade.

As was their regular practice, Peugeot launched the 204 as a four-door saloon only, although rapidly following that up with a five-door estate came just a few months later.

The 204 remained the entry-level range at Peugeot for more than a decade, selling more than a million cars in all of its configurations while making very little in the way of updates and all of these cosmetic.

Peugeot, who always adehered to their policy of "never change a winning team", milked the last centime of profit and goodwill from the 204 before sending it out to stud in the mid-Seventies.

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