Museums & Collections

Eight of Our Favorite Cars from the L’Aventure Peugeot Collection

Peugeots in Sochaux

Most are aware that the first viable gasoline powered vehicle was produced by Carl Benz in 1886, making Mercedes-Benz the brand with the longest running heritage in the business. For every gold medal, there’s a silver, and this one goes to Peugeot, a marque that has played a major role in the business of self-propelled wheeled vehicles since 1889.

Its roots actually go back to 1810. Before the Peugeot name was applied to cars and trucks, it was seen on salt, pepper, and coffee grinders, bicycles, chisels, saw blades, and starting in the 1850s, metal strips to keep ladies’ crinolines in order—not to mention steel corset stays. Hey, it’s a French company!

Just 56 kilometers southwest of Mulhouse lies Sochaux (“So-show”), where Peugeot has been building vehicles—upwards of 20 million of them so far—for the past 106 years. Right across from that factory is L’Aventure Peugeot, a beautifully presented and organized collection of Peugeot products, mostly cars, that date back to the start of the Belle Époque.

At top is the 1937 Peugeot 302 Darl’Mat as raced at Le Mans that year. Darl’Mat placed #7, #8 and #10. First place went to Bugatti, of course.

“Just one more thing..’ Yes, it’s a 403 Cabriolet just like the one Lieutenant Columbo used. When the show debuted, Peugeot asked that the car’s emblems be obscured as they were loathe to associate the marque with such a trashed out ethos. As the series grew in popularity, things changed and the company was only too happy to associate itself with the character and his idiosyncratic car. Raincoat optional at extra cost.
Pretty Bèbè: designed by Bugatti and produced under license, it has a 855 cc 4 cylinder motor and could go as fast as 60km/hr if you were brave. Built over the course of three model years (1913 – 1916) it was Peugeot’s first mass produced success with over 3,000 unites built.
In recent years, the Peugeot brand has had a strong association with World Rally Championship competition but the roots of the marque’s involvement in big league rallying dates back many decades. This right hand drive 404, piloted by Bert Shankland and Chris Rothwell, won the East Africa Safari in 1967.
Peugeot was the first to have it both ways. Folding steel tops are common these days and remarkable when Ford introduced the concept in 1957 but the original debut in 1934 with the Peugeot 601 Coupé Transforable a/k/a Eclipse. When Mercedes launched the SLK in 1996, touting the fact that its steel top automatically folded into the trunk at the touch of a button, Peugeot politely pointed out that it had pulled off that same trick 62 years earlier.
As introduced at the 1935 Paris Motor Show, the 402 Roadster with folding windscreen and concealed headlights.
Not the first but pretty darn close. This is an 1892 Type 2 Vis a Vis features steering from the rear seat with the front seat passengers facing backwards. Seemed like a good idea at the time. The coachwork is decorated with a daisy motif as requested by the French military governor of Tunis. Early bling.
When the Pope Paul II visited Lyon in 1981, he rode in a Peugeot 504 pick up truck that had been transformed into a Popemobile.
Peugeot’s success pre-dates the automobile. It still makes salt, pepper, and coffee mills to this very day.