Historic Car Brands
When Armand Peugeot became interested in automobiles, in the mid-1880s, the Peugeot family had been in the French manufacturing business since 1810, producing saws, grinders, umbrellas and bicycles. The first Peugeot automobile – a three-wheeled, steam-powered car designed by Léon Serpollet – was produced in 1889.
1889 Peugot Serpollet
In 1890, after meeting Gottlieb Daimler and Émile Levassor, Armand Peugeot abandoned steam in favour of a four-wheeled car powered by a petrol-fuelled, internal combustion engine, built by Panhard under Daimler licence. It had three-point suspension and a sliding-gear transmission.
More cars followed, with 29 being built in 1892; 40 in 1894; 72 in 1895 and 78 in 1896.
1894 Paris-Rouen Albert Lemaitre Peugeot 3hp winner
Peugeot was an early pioneer in motor racing, with Albert Lemaître winning the world’s first motor race, the 1894 Paris–Rouen, in a 3hp Peugeot. Five Peugeots qualified for the main event and all finished. In the same year, Lemaître won the Nice-Castellane-Nice Rally in a special 5.9-litre, 20hp racer.
1899 Peugeot Type 19 – Buch T
Armand Peugeot departed the family business in late 1896 and founded the Société des Automobiles Peugeot, where the new company made its own engines. These engines were designed by Rigoulot and the first was an 8hp horizontal twin, fitted to the rear of the Peugeot Type 15. A steering wheel was adopted on the Type 36, replacing previously-used ‘tiller’ steering and the engine moved to the front on the Type 48.
After initial teething troubles the new company prospered, selling 156 cars in 1898 and 323 in 1899. To put that into perspective, total car sales for all of France that year were only 1200.
1901 Peugeot Type 69 Bebe – Arnaud 25.
At the 1901 Paris Salon, Peugeot debuted a tiny, shaft-driven, 652cc, 5hp one-cylinder car, dubbed ‘Bébé’ (baby).
After placing 19th in the 1902 Paris-Vienna Rally with a 50hp, 11.3-litre racer, and failing to finish with two similar cars, Peugeot quit racing – temporarily, as it later tuned out.
By 1903, Peugeot produced half of the cars built in France, offering the 5hp Bébé and a 6.5hp four-seater, plus 8hp and 12hp cars that competed with Mercedes models.
1910 Peugeot Type 125 – Arnaud 25
The parallel Lion-Peugeot company, run by Armand’s cousin, Robert, produced light cars from 1906, powered by single-cylinder, V-twin or V4 engines, until the two companies re-merged in 1910.
The 1907 salon showed Peugeot’s first six-cylinder, and marked Tony Huber’s joining as engine designer.
1911 Peugeot Phaeton 139A – haitham alfalah
By 1910, Peugeot’s product line included a 1.2-litre, two-cylinder and six four-cylinder models, between two and six litres in capacity.
1912 Bebe Peugeot-Design Bugatti beside a ‘baby’ Bugatti – Charles 01
Ettore Bugatti designed a new 850cc, four-cylinder Bébé for Peugeot, in 1912. In the same year, Peugeot returned to racing with a team of three driver-engineers – Jules Goux, Paolo Zuccarelli and Georges Boillot – with 26-year-old Swiss engineer, Ernest Henry.
Peugeot decided that voiturette (light car) racing was not enough and chose grandes épreuves (grand touring). A twin-overhead-camshaft, 7.6-litre, four-cylinder engine, with four valves per cylinder, was developed for the purpose. It proved faster than other cars of its time and Boillot won the 1912 French Grand Prix at an average of 110.2km/h, despite losing third gear and needing a 20-minute pit stop.
1913 Peugeot driven by Jules Goux wins Indianapolis 500
In May 1913, Goux won at the Indianapolis ‘brick yard’, averaging 122.2km/h and recording a top speed of 150.5km/h down the straights. That feat made Peugeot the first non-American-based auto company to win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
1913 Peugeot L45 engine – Bonhams
For the 1913 French Grand Prix, an improved L5 with a 5.7-litre engine featured a built-up crankshaft with ball-bearings, gear-driven camshafts and dry sump lubrication – all of which soon became standard on racing cars. Unfortunately, Zuccarelli was killed during testing on public roads, but Boillot easily won the event.
In 1914, Boillot’s 3-litre L45 set a new Indy lap record of 160.1km/h. Another Peugeot driven by Boillot’s brother, André placed in 1915 and a similar model won in 1916, driven by Dario Resta. In 1919, Howdy Wilcox drove a Premier-Peugeot to victory.
1914 Peugeot L45 – Andrew Basterfield
For the 1914 French GP, Peugeot was beaten by Mercedes, but Peugeot was more fortunate in 1915, winning the French GP and Vanderbilt Cup.
Passenger car production continued at a much lower technological level than for the racing cars. The 1913 1.4-litre 7CV and 2.6-litre 12CV had side-valve engines.
During the World War I, Peugeot became a major manufacturer of arms, military vehicles, armoured cars and shells.
1921 Peugeot Type 163 Torpedo – Arnaud 25
After the War, car production resumed in earnest. Racing continued as well, with Boillot entering the 1919 Targa Florio in a 2.5-litre car that had been built for an event pre-empted by World War I. In the intervening years, the car had driven 200,000km, yet Boillot won in it.
Peugeots in his hands were third in the 1925 Targa, first in the 1922 and 1925 Coppa Florios, first in the 1923 and 1925 Touring Car Grands Prix and first at the 1926 Spa 24 Hours.
1924 Peugeot Type 177 – Arnaud 25
Post-War models were the pre-War 7CV and 12CV, plus a 1.5-litre 10CV and a cuff-valve, six-litre 25CV six. A cuff-valve engine was derived from the sleeve-valve type, but, as the name suggested, ‘cuffs’ were shorter than ‘sleeves’ and operated to open and close inlet and exhaust ports in an inverted cylinder head. Unlike a sleeve-valve engine the pistons didn’t reciprocate inside the cuffs.
In 1920, Peugeot introduced the 667cc Quadrilette that continued until 1923, when it was replaced by the 5CV and that model received a larger, 720cc engine in 1925.
In 1923, the Type 174, 3.8-litre, 85hp four was released and continued until 1926.
1928 Peugeot Type 183 – Arnaud 25
In 1926, Peugeot debuted 10hp and 14hp fours – the larger based on the Type 153 – and a six-litre, 25hp, sleeve-valve six.
Peugeot took over the Bellanger and De Dion Bouton companies in 1927.
In 1928, the two-litre, six-cylinder, 47hp, Type 183 was introduced and continued until 1932.
1929 Peugeot 201 – Flominator
New for 1929 was the Peugeot 201, the cheapest car on the French market and timed perfectly for the imminent Great Depression. The 201 introduced Peugeot’s distinctive central-zero model number system, in which the first digit signified the car’s size and the final digit indicated the generation of vehicle. The 201 scored an independent front suspension upgrade in 1931.
In 1932, Peugeot introduced the 301 that was a 1.5-litre upsize of the 201.
1934 Peugeot 601C Eclipse – Pourtout
In 1933, attempting a revival of fortune, the company unveiled a new, aerodynamically-styled range. In 1934, Peugeot introduced the 402 BL Éclipse Décapotable, the first convertible with a retractable hardtop that then disappeared from car makers’ ranges, until fairly recent revivals of the idea.
The Peugeot 202, 302, and 402 pre-War cars had curvaceous designs, with headlights behind sloping grille bars, evidently inspired by the revolutionary Chrysler Airflow.
1938 Peugeot 202 Cabriolet – Charles 01
The 2.1-litre 402 entered production in 1935 and continued until the end of 1941, despite France’s occupation by the Nazis.
For 1936, the new Airflow-inspired 302, which ran until 1938 and a 402-based large model, designed by Jean Andreau, appeared.
The entry-level 202 was built in series from 1938 until 1942, lifting Peugeot’s sales in 1939, just behind Citroën.
Soon after the fall of France in 1940, the Germans took control of the factory. The Peugeot family still supervised work, but they were forced to churn out tanks and planes for the Nazis.
The Peugeots trod a fine line, keeping their staff employed, while helping the Vichy and German regimes as little as they could. Low-key sabotage efforts saw six out of every 10 vehicles emerge from the factory with faulty clutches.
1941 Peugeot VLV
In 1941, as a sideline, Peugeot produced the electric VLV – the acronym being for Véhicule Léger de Ville (light city vehicle). Designed for use by people whose cars had been commandeered by the occupying German forces, or who couldn’t get fuel due to rationing, the VLV had four wheels, but with a wider track at the front than the back.
A single electric motor was directly connected to the rear axle without a transmission or differential. The VLV had a range of 70-80 kilometres, with a top speed of 33km/h.
Still, the factory was forced to produce large volumes of war material and took over Hotchkiss in 1942.
In the spring of 1943, skilled workers were assigned to build parts for a secret project, the V1 guided, pilotless ‘buzz bomb’. For the British, it was more critical than ever that the plant be taken out of action.
The British made a hash of bombing the plant and then parachuted in a Special Operations saboteur, Harry Ree, (right) who convinced the Peugeots to help him blow the place to smithereens. The sabotage was successful and significantly delayed V1 deployment.
Post-War Peugeot car production began again in mid-1946, with the 202. In 1947, Peugeot introduced the 1.3-litre, Peugeot 203, with coil springs, rack-and-pinion steering and hydraulic brakes. The 203 set new Peugeot sales records and remained in production until 1960.
1953 Peugeot 203 sedan
Several Peugeot models were assembled in Australia, commencing with the 203 in 1953. This was followed by 403, 404 and 504 models, with Australian assembly ending with the 505, in the early 1980s. The 203 scored a 1953 RedexTrial victory in Australia.
1955 Peugeot 403 Cabriolet
Another popular Peugeot model was the 1.5-litre, 403, introduced in 1955 and continued until 1962, by which time more than one million had been sold.
1960 Peugeot 404 Cabriolet
In 1960 came the Peugeot 404, which was powered by a 1.6-litre, slant-four engine. The 404 proved rugged enough to win the East African Safari Rally four times, in 1963, 1966, 1967 and 1968.
1968 Peugeot 504 – Joost Bakker
Peugeot launched the small 204, with transverse, 1.1-litre engine, in 1965.
Pininfarina designed the 1.8-litre 504 for 1968.
1965 Peugeot 204 – Rudolph Stricker
Peugeot worked with Renault from 1966 and Volvo from 1972. The results of this cooperation included the development of the V6 PRV engine, which was first manufactured in 1974. Also, Peugeot bought a 30-percent share of Citroën and took it over completely in 1975, with financial assistance from the French Government.
1975 Peugeot 604 sedan
Citroën got into financial trouble because it developed too many radical new models for its financial resources.
The joint parent company became the PSA Peugeot Citroën group, which aimed to keep separate identities for both the Peugeot and Citroën brands, while sharing engineering and technical resources. Peugeot thus briefly controlled the Italian Maserati marque, but disposed of it in May 1975.
1983 Peugeot 205 four-door hatchback
The group then took over the European division of Chrysler – formerly Rootes and Simca – in 1978. The Chrysler/Simca range was sold under the revived Talbot badge until production of Talbot-branded passenger cars was shelved in 1987.
In 1983, Peugeot launched the Peugeot 205 ‘super mini’ that became a best-seller in France and across Europe. It remained on sale in many markets until 1998, overlapping with the introduction of the 106 in 1991 and ceasing production at the launch of the 206, which also proved hugely popular across Europe.
1987 Peugeot 405 saloon
The 309 was the first Peugeot-badged hatchback of its size and sold well across Europe. The 405 saloon was launched in 1987 to compete with the the Ford Sierra and was voted European Car of the Year.
The 106, Peugeot’s entry-level model from 1991 was produced solely in France.
Peugeot has received many international awards for its vehicles, including six European Car of the Year awards.
Peugeot 205 Turbo 16
Peugeot’s early motor racing successes continued. Peugeot Sport won the World Rally Championship five times -1985, 1986, 2000, 2001 and 2002 – the Dakar Rally seven times – 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 2016, 2017 and 2018 – the 24 Hours of Le Mans three times – 1992, 1993 and 2009 – the World Endurance Championship twice – 1992 and 1993 – the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup twice – 2010 and 2011 – and the Intercontinental Rally Challenge Championship three times.
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Peugeot Sport surpassed this record in 2013 with a Peugeot 208 T16, driven by Sébastien Loeb, who cut the beam at 8min 13.878sec. The record stood until 2018, when Romain Dumas in Volkswagen’s electric race car took just 7 minutes 57.148 for the climb. It’s worth noting that the road was sealed in 2011, so Peugeot’s 405 retains the dirt road record time.
Peugeot 3008 DKR Dakar ‘Buggy’ – The Supermat
Despite Peugeot’s sports car racing program, the company was not prepared to build a pure sports car any more hardcore than the RC Z sports-coupe.
In 2020 it was announced that a merger of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and PSA was expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2021. The combined post-2021 company is called Stellantis, which now owns Peugeot, Citroën, Jeep, Maserati, Chrysler, Fiat, Lancia and Alfa Romeo.