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1894 PEUGEOT VIS-A-VIS 2 hp
1894 Peugeot vis-a-vis 2 hp Type 3

1900 PEUGEOT TYPE 33 5 hp
1900 Peugeot Type 33 5 hp

PEUGEOT

As workers in metal the Peugeot business dates back to about 1810 when it began making saws, springs, and the flexible metal strips which were sewn into corsets to give ladies the essential 'hour-glass' figure of the period. The works were located in Eastern France, close to the Swiss and German borders, initially in Montbeliard, but further factories were soon set up in other small towns nearby. The huge Peugeot manufacturing concern of today now dominates this area. Throughout the 19th century the business prospered and the range of products diversified enormously, ranging from pepper-mills to bicycles.

The first mechanically powered vehicles made by the firm were large steam tricycles bulit to the design of Leon Serpollet. One was shown at the 1889 Grande Exposition (for which the Eiffel Tower was erected as the centrepiece) but the vehicle attracted little intertest. However, late in 1888 an important meeting had taken place between Gottlieb Daimler (the German inventor of a reliable petrol engine), Emile Levassor (whose Parisian firm - Panhard-Levassor - held the French licence to make Daimler engines) and Armand Peugeot. The latter was persuaded that the future of mechanically propelled vehicles lay with those powered by petrol engines.

By 1890 Peugeot had made a small four-wheeled car using a tubular chassis with wire wheels running on ball bearings (reflecting the firm's experience of the bicycle trade), a v-twin Panhard-Levassor / Daimler engine was fitted at the rear and it drove through gears and then by chains to the rear wheels. To demonstrate the practicality of the design and the quality of its engineering, a similar vehicle accompanied the 1891 Paris-Brest-Paris bicycle race (a 2045km round trip), and averaged 14.7mph. Slightly larger cars were introduced in the next few years with 40 being made in 1894 and by the end of 1900 Peugeot had made 1298 motor vehicles.

Peugeot introduced its own two-cylinder horizontal engines in 1896. These were mounted in the middle of the chassis (through which the cooling water flowed, just like the Auto-Union racing cars of the 1930s). The firm took part in all the major competition events of the period with many outstanding results, but rarely made special racing cars - this was to come in the years immediately prior to the Great War when Peugeot dominated Voiturette and Grand Prix racing.

Peugeot absorbed Citroen in 1975 in the same way that the latter had taken over Panhard-Levassor a decade earlier. There are still Peugeot family members on the board of Automobiles Peugeot, perhaps a somewhat unusual situation for any firm after nearly two-hundred years of engineering manufacturing.


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