Peugeot celebrates two centuries in existence this year. Whilst there may be much for the French firm to review – from the economy to the environment, we take a moment to plunder their image archive and just take a few excerpts from their own retrospective on their design heritage..
“Clearly bearing the imprint of Peugeot genes, this quest for emotion in style finds expression in models that have made their mark such as the 402, the 404, the 504, the 205, the 607, or the 406 Coupé, considered as a benchmark in terms of classic elegance, and more recently the RCZ.
This desire makes emotion an integral part of the motoring experience led to the beginnings of a styling department from the 1930s with Henri Thomas at its head. After the classic good looks of the 201, the new Director of Style gave the 2 series an aerodynamic style, the Sochaux streamlined profile. The 402, presented at the 1935 Paris Motor Show, appealed with its inclined front grille depicting a coat of arms and its streamlined wings.
“The “look” of a Peugeot is fundamental to the personality of the Marque’s models. It was at the initiative of Paul Bouvot, then Stylistic Director, and Gérard Welter, that the shape of the front headlamps of the 504 would evoke the feline look now characteristic of Peugeots.
“This visual signature is an essential feature of the Peugeot style, as is the dynamism that Gérard Welter gave to each of the models designed while he was in charge. This dynamism found echoes in the 205, marketed with the famous slogan “a manufacturer draws its claws”, and in the most prestigious saloons such as the 607 or the 5 by Peugeot concept car, presented at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show and the forerunner of a forthcoming production car.
“Veritable image creators that fire the enthusiasm of visitors to motor shows, concept cars offer stylists once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to express themselves technically and aesthetically.
By exploring new technological territory (Oxia), introducing new concepts (20coeur), or revealing the lines of a future model ‘5 by Peugeot’, concept cars are never far removed from a future reality.
“Developed at the initiative of Jean-Pierre Ploué and Gilles Vidal, the BB1 and SR1 convey strong messages for the future. The BB1 opens up new avenues in terms of urban mobility, (2.5 m, four seats, zero emissions), emphasising Peugeot’s unique innovative abilities. The SR1 for its part lifts the veil on the Peugeots of tomorrow, with an emblematic and inspiring body shape, the roadster.
“Peugeot has initiated successful styling collaborations that gave rise in the 1930s to superb 302 roadsters and coupés, highly regarded by discerning car lovers. The Peugeot style also drew inspiration from the Turin based coachbuilder Pininfarina. The arrival of the 403 in 1955 marked the beginning of collaboration with Pininfarina. This collaboration proved particularly prolific and gave rise to several of the Marque’s finest designs: the 504 coupé, 306 cabriolet and 406 coupé.
“Concept cars pave the way for future production models. For example the 20coeur, a stylistic blueprint for the future 206, immediately won admirers at the 1998 Geneva Motor Show and gave rise to the 206 CC. In Geneva in 2010, the ‘5 by Peugeot’ concept car with its pure and elegant lines prefigures the Marque’s ambitions in the segment of prestigious large saloons.
“Peugeot’s ability to propose an integral mobility offer with cars, scooters and bicycles is unique in the world. This strength gives Peugeot a head start.
Peugeot is diversifying its response to the challenge of the environment. As well as continuous improvements to the efficiency of naturally aspirated engines, supporting Peugeot’s leadership in low emission vehicles (50 % of cars sold in Europe emit less than 130 g of CO2/km), the Marque is exploring new avenues for the future.”