In 1810 the Peugeot family started a manufacturing business focusing on coffee mills and bicycles. However it wasn’t until 1889 that Peugeot built its first automobile, a three wheeled steam car.
Production of Peugeot automobiles was halted during WW1 when along with most manufacturers, Peugeot began building military vehicles and ammunition to help with the war effort.
Once the war was over however, Peugeot got straight back to it and in 1919 entered the Targa Florio, promptly winning the gruelling 45 mile road rally.
Peugeot launched the 201 at the 1929 Paris Motor Show. Equipped with modern independent front suspension, the 201 is often seen as Peugeot’s first volume model.
Peugeot did their best to continue innovating and manufacturing vehicles despite the Nazi occupation of France, and launched the 202 and 402 models. In 1947 after WWII had ended, Peugeot launched the 203, equipped with Rack and Pinion steering and Hydraulic Brakes.
Peugeot by this point was making strides in the automotive industry: the new 403, launched in 1955, was being driven by TV Detective Columbo and Peugeot were about to start selling cars to the US market in 1958.
The 404 was launched at the same time, and with Pininfarina looks it was very pretty! But it wasn’t just about the looks, it was rugged too, winning the East African Safari Rally four times between 1963 and 1968.
The following models followed in the Tyre tracks of the 404, with the 504 launched in 1968 and produced until 1983, whilst production continued under licence all the way to 2006. Renowned for its tough body and dependable reliability the 504 was dubbed ‘Africa’s Workhorse’ by the LA Times in 2013. The 504 was built in several body styles, from pick-up to coupe.
It wasn’t just Africa Peugeot were conquering though. In 1983, they launched the 205 and a year later, the GTI. The hot hatch all new hot hatches are bench-marked against, equipped with a 1.6 litre engine and later a 1.9, the 205 GTI became one of the most popular drivers cars of the 1980s and 1990s.
Peugeot took the 205 and went rallying, and with the fire breathing 205 T16, won 16 WRC rounds and went on to dominate in Rally Cross.
Peugeot really made the most of their Motorsport experience, entering a 405 T16 into the Pikes Peak International Hill climb in 1988, driven by Ari Vatanen. It won setting a 10:47.77 time on the 12.42 mile course. The 405 T16 also won the Paris Dakar rally in both 1989 and 1990.
Peugeot continued their success in and out of Motorsport throughout the 1990s, launching the 106, 206, 306 and 406 models. Peugeot’s Motorsport heritage was supported by the release of the homologation special 106 Rallye and later 106 GTI, along with the 306 GTI-6 and 306 Rallye models.
Peugeot today is one of the biggest automotive manufacturers in the world, receiving critical acclaim for many of its models, winning European Car of the Year, Drive Power Car of the Year, What Car? Car of the Year and the Auto Express new car award just to name a few.
Peugeot continues to innovate and develop its vehicles on and off the track, catering for everything from vans to racing cars.