History of The Automobile in France

 A great adventure that has been going on for more than 120 years now.

what first? without Tyres, a car is not going anywhere… right?
Early 1736, discovery of “Cahutchu” ; a natural rubber which is a renewable raw material extracted from the sap of the tropical rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis), has been making automobile history a century later, introducing Tyres.
Charles Goodyear was an American self-taught chemist and manufacturing engineer who developed vulcanized rubber. Final manufacturing process was under control in 1839.
After several tests, tyres were mounted the first time on a vehicle in 1895.
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Citroen DS was produced since 1955 until 1975, also French Presidents De Gaulle and Pompidou ultimate driver's car.
In France, Edouard and André MICHELIN who are tyre specialist built their first car called "l’éclair";"flash lightning". They also participated to Paris to Bordeaux and back to Paris
Car Racing, and they Did a successful car race.
History of The Automobile in France. A great Adventure that has been going on for more than 120 years
What about the first automobile in France?
"L'Obéissante"; "the Obedient" an impressive automobile would be considered as
precursor of the first automobile regarding its whole structure and built by an Industrial named Amédée Bollée (1844–1917). It was also the first vehicule to obtain a driving license.
What about internal combustion engine?
First engineered by Belgium Étienne Lenoir, then improved in theory though, with French Beau de Rochas. But, the German Nikolaus Otto was able to design the first 4-stroke engine in 1876.
Another German Gottlieb Daimler did invest in industrial solutions that enabled motorization
of a new generation of automobiles. Principle of design was French and developed by Messieurs Panhard and Levassor. Daimler is an awesome pioneer of internal-combustion engines and automobile development.
Diesel engine was designed in 1893 By German Rudolph Diesel as engineer, mainly used in industrial diesel engines since 1920s, and adapted to automobiles from 1936.
Quite noisy, smelly and polluting cars though, But :) thanks to the injection pump designed
by Robert Bosch, it became a powerful engine, consuming less fuel.
Anyway, it is still about polluting cars nowadays, even if they improved diesel engine...
The Front-wheel drive cars : The Famous Traction Avant
Since 1934, the elegant, powerful and performing sedan fascinated French people.
Designed by Talented Flaminio Bertoni, this model included significant innovations ; as a lower vehicule, lighter weight car body, giving better grip on roads…
The type 15 was gangsters and policemen Favorite cars too.

Flaminio Bertoni designed also fabulous Cars as 2 cv and DS. He was simply considered as a prodigious designer. 

To me, he remains the best auto designer ever.
The Front-wheel drive cars; Famous Traction Avant.Since 1934, the elegant, powerful and performing sedan fascinated French people. Designed by talented Flaminio Bertoni; the best auto designer of the period.
Between 1934 and 1957, 760 000 cars named “Reines de la route” ; "King-of-the-Road models" were manufactured thanks to Michelin brothers.

For reminder, in 1919, André Citroën produced a car called Type A 10 HP. 

This one was equipped with electric lights, starter, one spare tyre! manufactured and based on a mass production initially developed by Henry Ford in Detroit USA.
About 27 millions of Ford T were produced between 1908 and 1927 while Citroën factory did assembly 30 Type A per day.
who was considered as the first car manufacturer?
In France, Armand PEUGEOT was considered as the oldest car manufacturer as he built the company's first car in 1889, with also the Great Panhard and Levassor manufacturers though.
Late 19th, Peugeot was especialized in household equipment, they manufactured coffee mills
and their well-known Velocipedes!
By 1890, started the era of a four-wheeled car with a petrol-fuelled internal combustion engine built by Panhard under Daimler licence.
Did you know ? the word "chauffeur"-driven car came from the need to heat up engine spark plugs when the car is started! It was quite a long process though
Louis Renault was Passionate and exceptional mechanic. Throughout The History of The
Automobile in France, in 1898, he built his first Renault type A.
Then, he set up a company with his brothers.
Did you know ? There were several hundred car manufacturers in France by the early 1900s, but just Three car manufacturers in France nowadays: Uh-oh! :)
Car racing only made it possible to develop automobile, to democratize autos access to a large public! But Car racings also meant Danger. Too many accidents, high risks and many dead people on the road as Marcel Renault  killed when he crashed near Angouleme on the Paris-Madrid race in 1903… That is the reason why they finally built racing tracks, like at Indianapolis with the businessman Carl G. Fisher early 1910s.

The Golden Age of automobile in France ran from the start of the 1920s to late 1940s. 

Indeed, it was about the Culmination of French Chic cars period. Several renowned designers as Delage or Bugatti built amazing Luxury cars.
Did you know ? Citroën Logotype was designed by André Citroën, depicting an herringbone gear teeth.
What is fantastic with Andre Citroën is about his clever marketing strategy! He invented cars advertising, as Toy cars, Publicity caravans… he also managed to get his emblematic logo; illuminated letters of thirty-metre high, placed on Eiffel Tower since 1925 until 1934.
What a major achievement for Citroën!

Since early 1950s until 1960s, Renault company launched his fabulous 4 CV

Later, the great Renault 4 (4L for limousine) was launched early 1960s, simple and robust car, easy
to repair. A great success! 8 millions 4L in several versions sold! produced since 1961 until 1992. Another nice car Renault 5 (R5) was launched in 1972 until 1985.
Classic cars, Louis Renault was Passionate and an exceptional mechanic.He built his first Renault type A in 1898.

Back to Citroën. The adorable and Famous 2 CV was launched. This simple but robust car was manufactured since 1948 until 1990, during nearly 52 years. Wow.
Very popular and very much appreciated by Frenchies and European people.
Easily identified due to its particular engine sound, its bigger sister, so the first one and similar was produced with a single light and named TPV (very small car) early 1930s.

Peugeot company launched also marvelous cars as the 203 and 403 Cars early 1950s. 

404 Peugeot early 1960s… The fabulous 205 peugeot was produced since 1982 until 1998, an average of 6 millions 205 sold. 205 Peugeot came in several and amazing versions over this period.
Classic cars, Armand Peugeot considered as the oldest car manufacturer. He built the company's first car in 1889.

A revolutionary car model was conceived for Citroën company named DS.

Citroën DS (Déesse) was launched in 1955. Oh well my favorite classic car ever. hmm to tell the truth, I’m also crazy about the Unique Bellissima Jaguar Mark II/Daimler V8/250 in Willow Green from 1960s… Anyone? 😇
DS car is a pure Beauty ; Aerodynamic design combining pure lines. DS was produced since 1955 until 1975. "She" was also French Presidents De Gaulle and Pompidou ultimate driver's car. Then, another great Citroën Luxury car named Citroën SM was about to make a hit, but unfortunately, the first 1973 oil crisis among other causes for sure participated to ruin its great destiny.
Citroen DS car launched in 1955 is a pure Beauty with Aerodynamic design combining pure lines
Michel my late uncle ever told me:
"when about automotive mechanics or Electricity, there are no stupid questions!” [...]
Nowadays, many frenchies are really fed up with those recent cars which no longer working as they used to... like during the Good Old days mentioned above and lasting until early 1990s, so before "full" electronic era… when we could easily repair engine and parts…
Note: I read various FR documents, watched two main French TV reports, translated informations above about "History of The Automobile" that came from serious documents, TV Reports which Sources were verified. However note that might be subject to some relative impartiality and objectivity from the Source writers.
Last but not least, article is dedicated to my Dear uncle Michel. Love you Dude!