From 1802, the first written trace of Jean-Frédéric Peugeot’s activity in tanning-milling, to today, 40,000 boxes of paper documents, 3,000,000 photographs, 20,000 videos, 15,000 posters, more than 3,500,000 plans and nearly 500 objects remind us that the company, now known for its automobile brands, also manufactured coffee grinders, sewing machines, tools, bicycles… all while expanding its activity beyond industry, notably into services.
From handwritten to printed texts, from glass-plate photography to digital snapshots, from silver film to DVDs, from traced plans to computer-assisted design, by way of microfiches, every item retraces the history of people, factories, techniques, and products, but also the organization and functioning of a Group which has grown over the course of the centuries.
The collections at the Terre-Blanche Archive Center are constantly enriched through the intermediary of an active collection policy but also thanks to an approach favoring the collection of oral accounts from players who made the Group’s history, with more than 80 interviews with leaders or employees having been completed to date.
Embarking on the industrial adventure means designing, manufacturing, and selling, but also managing a company.
The long tradition of innovation at PSA Peugeot Citroën began in 1818, with the development of a new process for cold rolling which made it easier to manufacture saw blades while also improving their quality.
The end of the XIXth century saw the arrival of the first cars created by mechanical geniuses. These automobile pioneers collaborated: Gottlieb Daimler and Emile Levassor corresponded regularly; Panhard supplied Armand Peugeot with the P2C and P2D engines, developed by Daimler.
The diversification of the commercial offer between the wars led André Citroën to propose a product that resulted from an original and factual set of specifications, a project which became the legendary 2CV.
The Second World War also forced automobile manufacturers to develop new technologies suitable for the context: an electric vehicle like the VLV (light city car) at Peugeot and the spread of the gasifier.
During the Trente Glorieuses (30-year post-war boom), manufacturers outdid each other in ingenuity to offer innovations then reserved for a minority: the French automobile industry was then renowned worldwide for its creativity and originality, particularly Peugeot for the dieselization of the 403 and Citroën for its hydropneumatic suspension.
Letter from Emile Levassor to Gottlieb Daimler – August 7, 1891
With Armand Peugeot, Gottlieb Daimler, René Panhard, and Emile Levassor, it was the very start of the global automobile saga.
This correspondence follows the constant exchanges between the members of a brotherhood of engineers passionate about this new product, the combustion engine.
Simca-Chrysler Horizon crash test – 1976
Many crash tests must be done before a vehicle can be approved for commercialization.
At first, these tests were subcontracted out, but in the 1970s, the Group decided to build a catapult for this kind of test on the Belchamp site.
Microfiche of a machine for drilling water jackets – 1976
Mass production requires suitable tools. The general public is less aware of the design and manufacture of tools, and yet they are an integral part of the Group’s activity. There’s a special “tool and die” department which produces designs for sectors like steel milling, forging, and stamping.
Peugeot 403 style design – 1956
A complement to the models, pencil style designs allow designers to make decisions about auto-body shapes, but also car interiors. Here you’ll note the cut-away of the convertible roof and the ¾ front view which showcases the stylistic choice of grill.
Citroën DS style design – 1967
Style drawings are the first step in the design of a vehicle. Designers must take into account environmental, economic, social, and cultural factors when developing an automobile.
The avant-garde line of the DS, designed by Flaminio Bertoni, underwent additional re-design, mainly for aerodynamics, during the 1967 restyling led by Robert Opron, then in charge of Style at Citroën.
Cutaway view of the engine of the Peugeot 500M2 motorcycle (changes) – 1927
Starting in 1882, with the arrival of the Grand Bi, the Beaulieu-Mandeure site specialized in designing and manufacturing motorcycles. This 500-cc sports motorcycle engine underwent many changes, particularly as regards timing.