Matthias Albert’s pursuit of pleasure and the fun of driving

Matthias Albert’s pursuit of pleasure and the fun of driving
There it is. Right in the middle of the garage, already waiting for us.
And with it, its owner.



It is in excellent condition, with a glossy coat, and immediately dispels any reservations one might have had about getting into a 40-year old car. The sound of the engine is rich, but not obtrusive. “Leave the door open while fastening the seatbelt, it's easier that way,” recommends owner Matthias Albert. And off we go.

“Oh, bother,” we hear him saying, still in the garage. There is a look of shock on all the faces around us. ”Our first trip will be to the petrol station,” adds the owner with a relaxed smile on his face. He is well aware of what everybody was thinking about his 1971 Peugeot 504 convertible.

The principal question is obvious: what is it that makes this car so special to you?

I have always liked that car. Plus, I was looking for a four-seater, for I always wanted to take my family with me. This left me with just two options: this car, or a VW Beetle convertible. The latter was already very popular in my circle, so it had to be the Peugeot. Apart from that, I have always been fascinated by its typical yellow headlights. And, by the way: this Peugeot was not only designed but also produced by Pininfarina. This makes it something very special.

How did you get the car?

When I had decided what kind of car I wanted I started looking for it. Across Europe, only two cars of this type were on the market: one at Lake Como, the other one – quite unexpectedly – right in Vösendorf. So where did I go first?

To Lake Como?

Correct. I combined the pleasurable with the highly pleasurable and first took a look at the car there. When I inspected it, I quickly realised that the vehicle was in very poor condition.

How do you spot that so quickly in a car of that age?

As one of the blessings of the Internet you will find there discussion forums even about things as exotic as such a classic car and, in fact, about any car that has ever been produced. You find postings highlighting common problems and offering tips on where to look to determine whether a car is in good condition. In my specific case, one well-known weak point is the floor area. So I just needed to lift the floor mats.

Someone must already have lavished a lot of money and affection on this car. And this devotion is truly the key to

buying classic cars

As the car is now here, after all, we assume that things went better in Vösendorf?

They did indeed! I had actually not expected that I would stand much of a chance. As a matter of fact, I found the car looking exactly as it looks today. As a special feature, this model from the first series boasts twin headlights and special rear lights that experts sometimes call “adidas tail lamps” because of their distinctive shape. My first thought was that someone must already have lavished lots of money and affection on this car. And this devotion is truly the key to buying a classic car.

The only thing I dislike a little about this car is that it was one of the first to come with power windows and other electrically operated gadgets.

Why?

This makes the problem of procuring spare parts all but insolvable as Peugeot does not look after the owners of older models. German carmakers are quite different in that respect. But at least nobody had tinkered with the car or applied filler to repair dents. The paintwork is not original, though. The original colour was a kind of brick red, but I don’t mind that the previous owner decided in favour of silver blue metallic.

How do you get spare parts for this car?

With a hobby like this you have to place your trust in garages run by car lovers. I found someone in Antwerp who has a semi plus garden full of spare parts – just for the Peugeot 504 convertible and coupé models. This clock here (he taps the centre console) is from Antwerp, for example, but it does not really work. It never did.

Is that bad?

No, not at all.

Every car enthusiast has a lot of anecdotes to tell about their cars. What is your favourite one?

Interestingly, it is directly connected to the location we chose for this photo shoot. It was in fact here that the car broke down (for the last time) when I first drove it. Just in this parking lot. My despair must have been plain for all to see, for I was soon approached by a man.

And what happened then?

He said he was a retired Peugeot mechanic and that he had experience with this model. And he really got it going again. What a happy coincidence!

What kind of response does the Peugeot elicit from passers-by?

There is no doubt about it: there are more spectacular cars and cars with more exciting engines that evoke a lot more emotions and associations. At various classic car events you always see a lot of Alfas, MGs, Jaguars, Porsches, etc., but my 504 is always the only one of its kind. And it is for this reason that it usually stands out and gets special admiration. For me, this car remains one of the finest Pininfarina designs ever.

Is this your only classic car?

The Peugeot is not a sports car, but an elegant cruiser. Those who drive it must know that it is for the long haul rather than the race course! I also have a Porsche whose first owner was formula 1 driver Jochen Mass. The Porsche may have more sex appeal, but the Peugeot is definitely the more exclusive car!

Thank you for the interview and the ride.

The interview was conducted by Brigitte Juchelka and Nikolaus Görg.
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