BRIEF PRODUCTION HISTORY
The Peugeot 304 was launched in 1969. It was based on the existing Peugeot 204 but borrowed front end styling from the larger Peugeot 504. It's styling is attributed to Pininfarina.
Five versions were made - the saloon, the coupe, the cabriolet (from 1970), the estate and a van. To my eyes the saloon and coupe are rather dull looking cars, but slice the top off and hey presto you have a very dashing looking cabriolet.
There was one small 'revamp' to the original Cabriolet when, in 1972, the 'S' version came along. Styling tweaks for the 'S' version included a new front fascia and dash, the addition of a rev counter, a new plastic front grille with gold lion badge, and slightly restyled steel wheels. However it was the addition of oversized headrests on the two front seats that was the most visible change - and one that would give the 304 Cabriolet significant added character.
The 'S' was also equipped with a new twin carburettor 75bhp 1.3 engine (previous 304 Cabriolets had single carburettor 65bhp engines).
Just under 19,000 Peugeot 304 Cabriolets were produced in a short production run lasting from 1970 until 1975. However, only 836 Cabriolets were made in right hand drive for the UK. Of these, 244 were pre 'S' versions (1970-72) and 592 were 'S' versions (1972-1975).
So this was a rare car in the UK when new, let alone now.
TOP GEAR TRIVIA
Apart from occasional cameos in French films and a handful of You Tube videos, the Peugeot 304 Cabriolet lives largely under the radar of UK car owners, and that simply adds to its uniqueness. However, it does have a small claim to fame thanks to the BBC.
In June 2015, a Peugeot 304S Cabriolet (registration KAD 276N) was featured alongside a Fiat 124 Sport Spider and a 1972 MGB GT in a classic car feature on motoring programme 'Top Gear'. This was a notable edition of the programme, as it was the last one featuring presenters Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond.
The programme (series 22, episode 8) was very nearly never shown - Clarkson had been dismissed by the BBC following reported aggression to a producer in March 2015. For a time it was not at all certain if the show would be screened, but it was eventually aired albeit later than planned. The BBC rather awkwardly top and tailed the programme without the usual studio audience with only May, Hammond and an 'elephant in the room'. In support of Clarkson (reportedly), May and Hammond subsequently choose not to renew their contracts.
In such a staged and scripted show, the 304 Cab was rather predictably put in the hands of James May (aka 'Captain Slow') to drive, and so - no doubt as planned - did not fare well! However, the undeniable charm and attraction of the little pug came across nicely, in front of an estimated 7 million viewers.