Peugeot is a major French car brand which is today part of PSA Peugeot Citroën. Peugeot’s roots go back to bicycle manufacturing at the end of the 19th century. The first Peugeot automobile (a three-wheeled steam-powered car) was produced in 1889. However, steam power was quickly abandoned in favour of the internal combustion engine run on petrol. In 1890, the first such vehicle was made by Peugeot, with four wheels instead of three.
Peugeot became the first manufacturer to use rubber tyres on the petrol driven cars. The cars at this stage were still very much horseless carriages in appearance and were steered by a tiller like a boat’s. But in 1896, Peugeot designed and built their own engines and quickly changed their design from the “horse carriage” look to a more conventional design where the engine was at the front of the vehicle and the tiller was also replaced by the more user friendly steering wheel (just imagine what driving would be like without a steering wheel and using the old metal-bound cartwheels. Ouch.) Peugeot also began building motorbikes.
In 1913 a Peugeot driven by Jules Goux won the Indianapolis 500. This car was powered by a Straight-4 engine designed by Ernest Henry, which had been successful in Grand Prix racing. This design was very significant for racing car engines as it featured the first DOHC and 4 valves per cylinder. This arrangement meant that the engine could rev higher. The years 1916 and 1919 saw repeat wins at the Indianapolis 500.
After World War II, the company stopped producing military related products and restarted in the car business with the Peugeot 203. More models followed, many elegantly styled by Pininfarina. The company began selling cars to the United States car market in 1958 and, like many European manufacturers, co-operation with other firms increased. Peugeot worked with Renault from 1966 and with Volvo from 1972. In 1974, Peugeot bought a 30% share of Citroën, taking this company over completely two years later.
Over the years, the company has had much success in international rallying and track racing. The durable Peugeot 504, highly developed four-wheel-drive turbo-charged versions of the Peugeot 205 and the Peugeot 206 are some of the highly successful racing Peugeots. The Peugeot 206 rally car had a dramatic impact on the world rally championship. It very quickly was flicking dust in the face of the Subaru Impreza, Ford Focus and Mitsubishi Lancer.
In Australia, the 50th Anniversary of the 1956 Ampol Trial was celebrated albeit at a more sedate pace than in years gone by. Although Peugeots of all shapes and sizes had been rolling onto the docks in Sydney and Melbourne and into the dealers’ yards prior to 1953, it was then that Peugeot became a household name in this country with a stunning victory in the very first Redex Trial. Ken Tubman and John Marshall came home ahead of far bigger and more powerful cars. Then, in 1956, Wilf Murrell and Alan Taylor won the incredibly tough Ampol Trial in the newly released 403, a model that carried on the 203’s tradition of rugged reliability.
The ‘Peugeot Round Australia Re-Run’ started from Sydney on April 23rd 2006, featuring about 80 competitors who drove over 12,000 kilometres. In the celebrations, cars over 50 years old were still driven over the 12,000 kilometres. This indicated just how strong and reliable Peugeot engines are.
The current Peugeot models which are available at dealers throughout Australia are strikingly good looking. Peugeots are comfortable cars that provide long distant transport in an efficient, swift and economical fashion – particularly in the larger guises, namely the 407 and 607.
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