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History of Peugeot

You might not know it, but Peugeot is actually one of the oldest brands in the car manufacturing, dating back to 1810. However, it wasn't exactly known for automobiles. Back then it was coffee, salt and pepper grinding that attracted business. But hey, everyone has to start out somewhere! Before long, Peugeot expanded into bicycle manufacturing, and from there it was a short hop, skip and a jump into creating cars. They picked their moment in 1882, when personal transportation was just starting to take off.

The company, along with the family’s surname, originate from Sochaux in France and to this day Peugeot run a manufacturing centre and museum there. The Peugeots, however, only became involved in cars when Armand Peugeot developed an interest. His first creation? A three wheel steam-powered model. Snazzy stuff. Unfortunately for Armand, the next year steam was promptly dropped for the much more fashionable petrol. So, like any fledging car entrepreneur, Armand adapted and his two-wheeler became a four-wheeler, run using a proper engine and everything. By 1896, Peugeot was so ahead of the game they were creating their very own engines, and by 1899 of the 1200 cars sold in France 300 of them were Peugeot.

After the First World  War, cars became a thing of necessity, rather than an unaffordable, unattainable dream - and Peugeot cashed in. In 1929 they began selling the 201, their first mass-produced car. This numbering system is now iconic and a distinct part of the Peugeot heritage. The 201 caught on big time, and a range was launched off the back of it. The 301 was introduced in 1932, and by 1934 buyers could choose from the 401 or the 601.

Having survived the depression, Peugeot decided to inject a bit of glamour into the range. Their 1933 car, the 402 BL Éclipse Décapotable, was the first convertible with a retractable hardtop, an idea competing manufacturers soon latched on to.

Then came the Second World War. Peugeot's factories were made to assist Germany by producing cars and weaponry for the German army. Later, the factories were heavily bombed. Understandably, it took the company a while to recover, and it wasn't until 1948 that they were able to start manufacturing the 203 again.

As a car manufacturer, Peugeot has always had a soft spot for mass-market coupés and cabriolets. Despite creating them in earlier years, it wasn't until the swinging sixties that Peugeot really found its coupé groove with the launch of the 404. Something of an icon in the collectors world, the 404 remains a firm favourite and is coveted by many.

The 70s saw Peugeot bicycles shoot to fame, when it smashed the Tour De France record, winning it for the 10th time; a record yet to be broken. To honour its epic biking history, Peugeot created the Legend range in 2011, featuring modern versions of the winning bicycles. A few years later in 1975, Peugeot took over Citroen. Together they became the PSA, which kept separate brand and design identities, but benefited from pooling their technical knowledge.

The supremely popular Peugeot 205 was released in 1983, and saw the company’s fortune increase dramatically. A more luxurious direction was taken in the 90s, whilst increased focus on motorsport paid off with victory in the racing industry, most notably at Formula 1.

The bicentenary anniversary of Peugeot in 2010, saw the launch of a new logo. The simple, modern design is to demonstrate 'a new stance and a new sense of movement'. They also marked the occasion by launching some very sleek new cars including the EX1,  an electric concept car, along with the very strange but ultimately cool 'double bubble' roofed RCZ coupé. Perhaps not in line with the simple new logo, but very suave nonetheless.

It's been quite a century for Peugeot! Just what will the next one bring we wonder?


published: 18/11/2014 09:36:20

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