20 interesting facts about Peugeot

Like many other old car brands, Peugeot was started as a family business. The company bears the family name of the Peugeot brothers for more than 200 years. Here is its brief history.

1. Cousins Jean-Pierre Peugeot and Jean-Frédéric Peugeot, had laid the foundation of the famous French automobile brand in distant 1810. Everything started when cousins decided to expand their small family business. They agreed to turn one of the mills into a mini-factory for production of steel springs.

2. This venture had proved to be quite promising, and the product line was extended to include saw blades, umbrella frames, various tools, sewing machines as well as coffee, pepper, and salt grinders. In 1882 the factory set up bicycles production. Having a wheelset of different size (1.86 m for front wheel, 0.40 m for rear wheel), those bicycles were well received by customers. Bicycles production had rapidly gained the momentum.

3. In 1891, one of many Peugeot brothers, Armand, had designed company’s first self-propelled vehicle, using Daimler engine. While lacking in originality, 1891 Peugeot prototype had inspired Armand on creation of an entire line of 10 cars.

4. The Peugeot company had become a vehicle manufacturer in 1896, when Armand Peugeot broke away from the family company and started-off his own venture, focusing his entire business on the car production. The new enterprise, which was destined to become the leader of French and the global automotive industry, was named Société des Automobiles Peugeot (Peugeot Automotive Society).

5. Remarkably, a car was stolen from Baron Julien’s garage, the same year. This event is considered to be the very first car theft in recorded history! Noteworthy, this vehicle was made by Peugeot.

6. At the beginning of the 20th century, Société des Automobiles Peugeot became the major automaker. In 1899 the Peugeot line up included 15 models, ranging from 2-seater to 12-seater vehicles. In 1900, company produced 500 vehicles and 20,000 bicycles. In 1903, Armand Peugeot produced his first motorcycle.

7. At the beginning of the 20th century, in line with the trends of the time, Armand Peugeot was aiming to create an affordable car. For these purpose, the company invited prominent engineer and designer Ettore Bugatti. In order to meet the expectations of his employer, the famous French engineer of Italian descent had focused on creation of the simplest and most reliable model. The end result of his work was a classical “people’s car”, named Peugeot Bébé. This runabout, built in 1905, become the best-selling car in France at the time, giving a solid income stream for the company.

8. In 1905, Lion-Peugeot model had been highly successful in the voiturette (light car) racing. Peugeot factory team become formidable competitor, winning the Targa Florio race in 1908. Peugeot rally drivers Georges Boillot and Jules Goux had reached the third and fourth place in the Grand Prix of the Automobile Club of France. Inspired by those accomplishments, Peugeot become more and more involved in motor sport, which provided an excellent opportunity for demonstration of its technological achievements. Rallying experience would stand the factory in good stead when it moved up to the top tier of Grand Prix racing.

9. In 1910, Peugeot’s leadership had changed dramatically. The newly established company focused exclusively on production of cars and motorcycles. For its emblem Armand Peugeot has chosen the historic family crest, depicting a lion.

10. The year 1913 was particularly successful for Peugeot. Jules Goux, member of Peugeot factory motorsports team had won the Indianapolis 500 race, breaking the World Speed Record and recording a speed of 187 km / h. This outstanding feat had made Goux the first Frenchman, and the first European, to win the Indianapolis 500 and his 7.6-liter Peugeot racing car – the fastest vehicle of its time. The same year Peugeot factory produced half of all French cars, becoming one of the world leaders of automotive industry.

11. Peugeot took up military vehicle and arms manufacturing and production during the time of the First World War. In order to support French war effort, factory switched to production of military equipment, including bikes, tanks, missiles, aircraft engines, and more. At the end of the war, in 1919, the manufacturer introduced a new model – Peugeot Quadrilette, a car which later became the national symbol. Quadrilette was a small two-seater vehicle, fitted with an engine capacity of 667 cm3.

12. In 1929, at the Paris Motor Show new Peugeot 201, model equipped with independent front suspension, was first presented to the public. It was the very first Peugeot car to use three-digit numbers with zero in the middle as a nameplate. From now on, this naming convention become traditional for the French company.

13. In 1935, the Peugeot 402, company’s first luxury car, was presented to the public. This model, produced in the roadster body style, had a significant influence on the aerodynamic design of many future models. In 1936 Peugeot 302, was released on the market. This inexpensive vehicle, marketed towards the general public was used by company as a basis for a sports car, that participated in the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans race.

14. The Second World War and the following occupation of France by the Nazi Germany seriously hindered Peugeot, as well as French automotive industry in general. Harsh occupation and severe fuel restrictions encouraged Peugeot to devote its time and resources into development of the alternative vehicle designs. Peugeot VLV was an electric microcar from Peugeot in 1942. VLV stood for Voiture Légère de Ville (Light City Car). It was powered by four 12V batteries placed under the hood giving it a top speed of 20 mph and a range of 50 miles per charge. Built during the war, the vehicle was designed to provide Parisians with a cheap way to side-step fuel restrictions, imposed by the occupying German forces. Only 377 VLV’s were built before the model was banned by the Germans.

15. After the end of Second World War, Peugeot had recovered quite fast, returning to production of pre-war Peugeot 202 model. In 1947, the new Peugeot 203 had arrived. This model was quite successful, beating few best-selling records and remaining in production until 1960.

16. The 60th had become really successful decade for the French automaker. Early 60th were marked by creation of Peugeot 404. The model was first presented during Paris Motor Show 1961. This sports car had bright history, beating up 40 world records. In 1965, Peugeot 204 – a very compact front wheeled vehicle had arrived. This model was famous for its world’s smallest diesel engine at the time. Built in the late 60th, Peugeot 504, full-sized luxury sedan was given the title of the Best Car of Year 1969.

17. At the first decade of 70th company engaged in strategic partnership with Volvo and Renault. In 1976 Peugeot had bought 90% of French car manufacturing company Citroën. In 1979 Talbot, another automaker, was incorporated into the new holding. Early 80th were quite rough to Peugeot, until the new model – Peugeot 205 had saved the company. Mass-produced from 1983 to 1995, this car is considered one of the most popular vehicles in Europe.

18. Peugeot had significant impact on the motorsports development. From 1987 to 1990, Peugeot motorsport team had won famous Paris – Dakar rally 4 times in a row. High performance variants of both Peugeot 205 and Peugeot 206 supermini models enjoyed tremendous success in the World Rally Championship (WRC). Peugeot 205 Turbo 16’s were the most successful cars to compete in the last two years of the World Rally Championship’s Group B era, winning the 1985 and 1986 constructors’ and drivers’ titles. Peugeot 206 WRC, a World Rally Car based on the Peugeot 206, had won two drivers’ championships, in 2000 and 2002, as well as three constructors’ titles in a row between 2000 and 2002. The Peugeot 206 WRC has been awarded the “Rally Car of the Year” of 2002 by Autosport weekly magazine.
19. The 90th decade of XXth centaury were the high mark of company’s development. It had saw the arrival of few dozens of competitive models.
Peugeot 406, designed in cooperation with Italian studio Pininfarina, was especially well received by customers. It was offered in sedan, station wagon and coupe body styles. The Peugeot Partner panel van, presented to the public at Mondial de l’Automobile (Paris Motor Show) in 1996, become highly sought-after by leisure activity vehicle enthusiasts. It is still favoured by many customers, after 20 years in production. Peugeot 307 model had debuted at Geneva Motor Show in March 2001. It has beed awarded the European Car of the Year title for 2002. Peugeot 307 CC cabriolet, based on the Peugeot 307 model, was recognized as the safest in the world by the EURONCAP crash test.

20. The Peugeot company is represented in 160 countries and has 10 thousand points of sale around the world. It combines a rigorous design with emotion in all of its products. In 2010, the year of company’s 200th anniversary, Peugeot has confirmed its role as the leading French carmaker, ranking 9th among the top vehicle manufacturing groups, selling more than 2 million cars.

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