'The Peugeot is the French car that still maintains its excellence and is the only firm of long-standing repute still manufacturing two-cylinder engined cars and with a range of models from 8 hp to 50 hp ... it is made apparent that the Peugeot cars are fully worthy of the high place they have taken in the motor world.' - Max Pemberton. 'The Amateur Motorist', 1907.
Formerly producers of tools, coffee mills, umbrella spikes and corsetry, Peugeot commenced its long-standing connection with transport in 1885 when it added cycle manufacture to its portfolio. Amongst the world's oldest surviving motor manufacturers, the company commenced car production in 1889 with a steam-powered tri-car but soon abandoned steam in favour of the internal combustion engine, building a succession of ever larger automobiles before introducing the first of its famous Bébé light cars in 1900. Step by step Peugeot modernised its designs, adopting the steering wheel in 1901 on the Type 36 and front-mounted engines on all its new models in 1902. From that time forward Peugeot unashamedly copied the Mercedes style in miniature, adopting square-cut honeycomb radiators and reinforced timber chassis; even the twin-cylinder 9hp had mechanically-operated inlet valves in a pair-cast 'T-head' engine. Other advanced features of this particular model were shaft drive (new in mid-1904) and an unusual overhung crankshaft to give maximum spacing between the cylinders, while the Le Rhone carburettor incorporated an ingenious precursor of the automatic choke, in which a spring-loaded slotted choke tube richened the mixture at low speeds. Peugeot produced singles, twins and four-cylinder cars at this time, some with chain and others with shaft drive, the latter becoming universal after 1909.
In 1905 Eugène Peugeot persuaded his brother Armand, the company founder, to permit the production of economy cars under the 'Lion-Peugeot' name, the lion being the company's emblem. Eugène's sons, Jules, Pierre and Robert, were already producing motorcycles under the Peugeot name and were impatient to diversify into cars. They paid Armand a levy of one million Francs annually for the privilege. In 1912 the automobile branch of the brothers' company, Les Fils de Peugeot Frères merged with the Société des Automobiles et Cycles Peugeot and within a few years the Lion-Peugeot marque had been phased out. Before their demise, Lion-Peugeot had been highly successful in voiturette (light car) racing with drivers such as Georges Boillot and Jules Goux, and this experience would stand the factory in good stead when it moved up to the top tier of Grand Prix racing, at that time dominated by FIAT.
This Lion-Peugeot was discovered in rolling chassis form in a vineyard in France circa 2000 and then stripped and restored to racing voiturette specification by the owner over the next two years. It is a replica of the 1909 Brooklands car and is fitted with a 2.7-litre single-cylinder De Dion engine featuring a four-valve cylinder head. Racing regulations of that time limited the bore but not the stroke, leading to some excessively 'under-square' engines, with Lion-Peugeot at the forefront of their development. A race-winner in the VSCC's Edwardian class at Mallory Park, with Mike New at the wheel, this car has also toured France and is said to be great fun to drive. This unique Lion-Peugeot racer is offered with sundry restoration invoices and a V5C registration document.