Welcome to our classic car guides! We've tried to cover as much ground as possible and make all our guides as extensive as possible. Simply click on a marque's logo to reveal a potted history and timeline.
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The History of Peugeot
Peugeot is a major French car brand, part of PSA Peugeot Citroen, the second largest carmaker based in Europe.
The family business that precedes the current Peugeot company was founded in 1810. On 20 November 1858, Emile Peugeot applied for the lion trademark. The company produced its first car in 1891. Due to family discord, Armand Peugeot in 1896 founded the Société des Automobiles Peugeot.
Peugeot's roots go back to 19th-century coffee mill and bicycle manufacturing. The Peugeot company and family is originally from Sochaux, France. Peugeot retains a large manufacturing plant and Peugeot Museum there. It also sponsors the Sochaux football club, founded in 1928 by a member of the Peugeot family.
The Peugeot family of Valentigney, Montbéliard, Franche-Comté, France, began in the manufacturing business in the 1700s. In 1842 they added production of coffee, pepper and salt grinders. The company's entry into the vehicle market was by means of crinoline dresses, which used steel rods, leading to umbrella frames, saw blades, wire wheels, and ultimately bicycles. Armand Peugeot introduced his "Le Grand Bi" penny-farthing in 1882, along with a range of other bicycles. Peugeot bicycles continued to be built until very recently, although the car company and bike company parted ways in 1926.
Armand Peugeot became interested in the car early on, and after meeting with Gottlieb Daimler and others, was convinced of its viability. The first Peugeot car (a three-wheeled steam-powered car designed by Léon Serpollet) was produced in 1889; only four examples were made. Steam power was heavy and bulky and required lengthy warmup times. In 1890, after meeting Gottlieb Daimler and Émile Levassor, steam was abandoned in favour of a four-wheeled car with a petrol-fuelled internal combustion engine built by Panhard under Daimler licence. The car was more sophisticated than many of its contemporaries, with a three-point suspension and a sliding-gear transmission.
More cars followed, twenty-nine being built in 1892, forty in 1894, seventy-two in 1895, 156 in 1898, and fully three hundred in 1899. These early models were given "Type" numbers with the Type 12, for example, dating from 1895. Peugeot was also an early pioneer in motor racing, entering the 1894 Paris-Rouen Rally with five cars (placing second, third and fifth). The vehicles were very much horseless carriages in appearance and were steered by a tiller.
1896 saw the first Peugeot engines built; no longer were they reliant on Daimler. Designed by Rigoulot, the first engine was an 8 hp (6.0 kW) horizontal twin fitted to the back of the Type 15. Further improvements followed: the engine moved to the front on the Type 48 and was soon under a bonnet at the front of the car, instead of hidden underneath; the steering wheel was adopted on the Type 36; and they began to look more like the modern car.
In 1896 Armand Peugeot broke away from Les Fils de Peugeot Frres to form his own company, Société Anonyme des Automobiles Peugeot, building a new factory at Audincourt to focus entirely on cars.
Peugeot added a motorcycle to its range in 1903, and motorcycles have been built under the Peugeot name ever since. By 1903, Peugeot produced half of the cars built in France, and they offered the 5 hp (4 kW) Bébé, a 6.5 hp (4.8 kW) four-seater, and an 8 hp (6.0 kW) and 12 hp (8.9 kW) resembling contemporary Mercedes models.
By 1910, Peugeot's product line included a 1,149 cc (70 cu in) two-cylinder and six four-cylinders, of between 2 litres and 6 litres. In addition, a new factory opened the same year at Sochaux, which became the main plant in 1928.
During the 1920s, Peugeot expanded, in 1926 splitting the cycle (pedal and motor) business off to form Cycles Peugeot, the consistently profitable cycle division seeking to free itself from the rather more cyclical auto business, and taking over the defunct Bellanger and De Dion companies in 1927. 1928 saw the introduction of the Type 183.
New for 1929 was the Peugeot 201, the cheapest car on the French market, and the first to use the later Peugeot trademark (and registered as such) three digits with a central zero. The 201 would get independent front suspension in 1931. Soon afterwards the Depression hit; Peugeot sales decreased but the company survived.
In 1933, attempting a revival of fortune, the company unveiled a new, aerodynamically styled range. In 1934 Peugeot introduced the 402 BL Éclipse Décapotable, the first convertible with a retractable hardtop.
Three interesting models of the thirties were the Peugeot 202, Peugeot 302 and Peugeot 402. These cars had curvaceous bodies with headlights behind sloping grille bars.
Post-war in 1946, the company restarted car production with the 202, delivering 14000 cars. In 1947, Peugeot introduced the Peugeot 203, with coil springs, rack-and-pinion steering, and hydraulic brakes. The 203 set new Peugeot sales records, remaining in production until 1960.
Peugeot took over Chenard-Walcker and bought a part of Hotchkiss in 1950.
More models followed and like many European manufacturers, collaboration with other firms increased; Peugeot worked with Renault from 1966 and Volvo from 1972.
In 1974 Peugeot bought a 30% share of Citroen, and took it over completely in 1975 after the French government gave large sums of money to the new company. Citroen was in financial trouble because it developed too many radical new models for its financial resources.
The joint parent company became the PSA (Peugeot Société Anonyme) group, which aimed to keep separate identities for both the Peugeot and Citroen brands, while sharing engineering and technical resources.
The group then took over the European division of Chrysler (which were formerly Rootes and Simca), in 1978 as the American auto manufacturer struggled to survive. Further investment was required because PSA decided to create a new brand for the entity, based on the Talbot sports car last seen in the 1950s. From then on, the whole Chrysler/Simca range was sold under the Talbot badge until production of Talbot-branded passenger cars was shelved in 1986.
All of this investment caused serious financial problems for the entire PSA group; PSA lost money from 1980 to 1985.
In 1983 Peugeot launched the popular and successful Peugeot 205, which is largely credited for turning the company's fortunes around.
In 1984 PSA developed its first contacts with The People's Republic of China, resulting in the successful Dongfeng Peugeot-Citroen Automobile venture in Wuhan.
In 1986, the company dropped the Talbot brand for passenger cars when it ceased production of the Simca-based Horizon/Alpine/Solara models. What was to be called the Talbot Arizona became the 309, with the former Rootes plant in Ryton and Simca plant in Poissy being turned over for Peugeot assembly. Producing Peugeots in Ryton was significant, as it signalled the very first time Peugeots would be built in Britain. The Talbot name survived for a little longer on commercial vehicles until 1992 before being shelved completely.
In the early nineties, poor and declining sales caused the company to cease U.S. and Canada operations after 33 years. There are currently no known plans to return to the American market.
Beginning in the late 1990s, the Peugeot-Citroen combination seems to have found a better balance. Savings in costs are no longer made to the detriment of style.
Plans for expansion that had been drawn have now been replaced with plans for 'increases in efficiency and pioneering technology'.
Peugeot is also planning on pursuing new markets, namely in China, Russia and South America.
The History of Datsun
Datsun was a car marque. The name was created in 1931 by the DAT Motorcar Co. for a new car model, spelling it as "Datson" to indicate its smaller size when compared to the existing, larger DAT car. Later, in 1933 after Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. took control of DAT Motorcar Co., the last syllable of Datson was changed to "sun". Nissan phased out the Datsun brand in March 1986. The Datsun name is most famous for the sports cars referred to as the Fairlady roadsters and later the Fairlady (240Z) coupes.
The firm was renamed Kaishinsha Motorcar Co. in 1918, seven years after their establishment and again, in 1925, to DAT Motorcar Co. DAT Motors constructed trucks in addition to the DAT passenger cars. In fact, their output focused on trucks since there was almost no consumer market for passenger cars at the time. Beginning in 1918, the first DAT trucks were assembled for the military market. The low demand from the military market during the 1920s forced DAT to consider merging with other automotive industries. In 1926 the Tokyo-based DAT Motors merged with the Osaka-based Jitsuyo Motors .
The first prototype Datson was completed in the summer of 1931. The production vehicle was called the Datson Type 10, and "approximately ten" of these cars were sold in 1931. They sold around 150 cars in 1932, now calling the model the Datson Type 11. In 1933 the government rules were revised to permit 750 cc engines, and Datsun increased the size of their microcar engine to the maximum size allowed. These larger displacement cars were called the Datsun Type 12.
Ultimately, the decision was made in 1981 to stop using the brand name Datsun worldwide, in order to strengthen the company name Nissan.
Ultimately, the name change campaign lasted for a three year period from 1982 to 1984 (Datsun badged vehicles had been progressively fitted with small "Nissan" and "Datsun by Nissan" badges from the late 1970s onward) until the Nissan name was given prominence in 1983 - although in some export markets vehicles continued to wear both the Datsun and Nissan badges until 1986.
In 2001, Nissan marketed its D22 pick-up model in Japan with the name Datsun, this time however the use of the brand name was wholly restricted to this one specific model name. Production of this model was between May 2001 and October 2002.
The History of Alvis
Alvis cars were produced by the manufacturer Alvis Car and Engineering Company Ltd of Coventry, United Kingdom from 1919 to 1967. The company also produced aero-engines and military vehicles, the latter continuing long after car production ceased.
The original company, TG John and Co. Ltd., was founded in 1919. Its first products were stationary engines, carburettor bodies and motorscooters. The company's founder T.G. John was approached by Geoffrey de Freville with designs for a 4-cylinder engine with aluminium pistons and pressure lubrication, unusual for the period. Some have suggested that de Freville proposed the name Alvis as a compound of the words "aluminium" and "vis" (meaning "strength" in Latin) although de Freville himself vigorously denied this theory. Perhaps the name was derived from the Norse mythological weaponsmith, Alviss, but the true origin is unknown.
The first car model, the 10/30, using de Freville's design was an instant success and set the reputation for quality and performance for which the company became famous. Following complaints from the Avro aviation company whose logo bore similarities to the original winged green triangle, the more familiar inverted red triangle incorporating the word 'Alvis' evolved. In 1921, the company changed its name and became the Alvis Car and Engineering Company Ltd. and moved production to Holyhead Road, Coventry where from 1922 to 1923 they also made the Buckingham car.
The original 10/30 side-valve engine was developed progressively becoming by 1923 the famous overhead-valve 12/50, produced until 1932 and one of the most successful vintage sports cars of all time. Exhilarating performance and rugged reliability meant that around 350 of these 12/50hp cars and 60 of the later (and latterly concurrent) 12/60hp survive today representing some 10 percent of total production.
1927 saw the introduction of the six-cylinder 14.75 h.p. and this engine became the basis for the long line of luxurious six-cylinder Alvis cars produced up to the outbreak of war. Not only were these cars extremely elegant but they were full of technical innovations. Independent front suspension and the world's first all-synchromesh gearbox came in 1933 followed by servo assisted brakes. A front wheel drive model was introduced (from 1928 to 1930), a model bristling with innovation with front wheel drive, in-board brakes, overhead camshaft and, as an option, a Roots type supercharger.
In 1936, the company name was changed to Alvis Ltd and by the beginning of the war, aero-engine and armoured vehicle divisions had been added to the company.
In September 1939 following the outbreak of war car production was suspended, but was later allowed to resume and production of the 12/70, Silver Crest, Speed 25, and 4.3 Litre continued well into 1940. During World War II the car factory was severely damaged in the German Luftwaffe raid on Coventry in 1940 though strangely the armaments factory emerged fairly unscathed. Much valuable gear cutting and other equipment was lost and car production was suspended for the duration of the war only resuming during the latter part of 1946. Despite this, Alvis carried out war production on aero engines (as sub-contractor of Rolls-Royce) and other aeroplane equipment.
In 1950 a new chassis and six-cylinder 3 litre engine was announced and this highly successful engine became the basis of all Alvis models until production ceased in 1967. Saloon bodies for the TA21, as the new model was called, again came from Mulliners of Birmingham as they had for the TA14, with Tickford producing the dropheads. But with the first of these becoming part of Standard Triumph and the second being acquired by Aston Martin Lagonda it was clear by 1954 that new arrangements would have to be made. By this time some of the most original and beautiful designs on the three litre chassis were being produced by master coachbuilder Hermann Graber of Switzerland and indeed these one-off designed cars are highly sought after today. With a licence in place, from 1955 all Alvis bodies became based on Graber designs. Early examples, the TC108/G, were built by Willowbrook of Loughborough but at such a high price that very few were made. Only after 1958 with the launch of the TD21 did something resembling full scale production resume as Park Ward, coachbuilders for Rolls-Royce and Bentley, contracted to build the bodies at a much lower price. These cars, the TD21 and its later variants, the TE21 and finally the TF21 are well built, attractive and fast cars. However it was clear by the mid sixties that with a price tag of nearly double that of the mass produced Jaguar the end could not be far off.
Rover took a controlling interest in Alvis in 1965 and a Rover-designed mid-engined V8 coupé prototype named the P6BS was rumoured to be the new Alvis model but with the takeover by British Leyland this too was shelved. By the time the TF21 was launched in 1966, (available, like its predecessors in both saloon and drophead form and with either manual or automatic gearbox), the model was beginning to show its age despite a top speed of 127mph - the fastest Alvis ever produced. With only 109 sold and with political troubles aplenty in the UK car manufacturing business at that time, production finally ceased in 1967. The Alvis name lived on with armoured fighting vehicle production.
As part of Rover, Alvis Limited was incorporated into British Leyland but was bought by United Scientific Holdings plc in 1981. Subsequently the company's name changed to Alvis plc. In 1998, the armoured vehicle business of GKN plc was taken on and the main UK manufacturing operation moved from Coventry to Telford.
In 2002 Alvis group purchased Vickers to form the subsidiary Alvis Vickers Ltd which was subsequently purchased by BAE Systems in 2004. BAE Systems have ended the use of the Alvis distinctive 'red triangle' trademark.
AC Cars Group Ltd. formerly known as Auto Carriers Ltd. is a British specialist car manufacturer and one of the oldest independent car marques founded in Britain. The most recent manufacturing location of AC is Hal Far, Malta but this has now closed.
The first car from what would eventually become AC was presented at the Crystal Palace motor show in 1903; it was a 20HP touring car and was displayed under the Weller name. The Weller Brothers of West Norwood, London, planned to produce an advanced 20 hp (15 kW) car. However, Portwine (their financial backer) thought the car would be too expensive to produce and encouraged Weller to design and produce a little delivery three wheeler. Weller did so, called it the Auto-Carrier, and a new company was founded and named Autocars and Accessories; production started in 1904. The vehicle caught on quickly and was a financial success. In 1907 a passenger version appeared, called the A.C. Sociable. It had a seat in place of the cargo box.
The company became Auto Carriers Ltd in 1911 and moved to Ferry Works, Thames Ditton, Surrey - at this time they also began using the famed "AC" roundel logo. Their first four-wheeled car was produced in 1913; it was a sporty little two seater with a gearbox on the rear axle. Only a few were built before production was interrupted by the first World War.
During the Great War, the Ferry Works factory produced shells and fuses for the war effort, although at least one vehicle was designed and built for the War Office. At the end of the First World War, AC Cars started making motor vehicles again, designing and building many successful cars at Ferry Works, as well as expanding into an old balloon factory on Thames Ditton High Street.
After the war, John Weller started on the design of a new overhead cam 6 cylinder engine. The first versions of this design were running by 1919. The Weller engine would be produced until 1963; it is possibly the second-longest-lived production motor in history after the Volkswagen boxer. In 1921, Selwyn Edge (who had been with Napier & Son) bought shares in the company and was appointed governing director. He did not get along with Weller or Portwine, who resigned less than a year later. In 1922, the name changed again to AC Cars Ltd.
Selwyn Edge bought the company outright for £135,000 in 1927 and re-registered it as AC (Acedes) Ltd but sales, which had been falling, continued to decline. The company was caught by the crash of 1929 and went into voluntary liquidation. Production ceased for a time, and the company was sold to the Hurlock family who ran a successful haulage business. They wanted the High Street factory only as a warehouse (Ferry Works was not acquired), but allowed the service side of AC to continue.
A single car was made for William Hurlock in 1930. He liked it and agreed to restart very limited production, mainly using components left over from previous models. An agreement was reached with Standard to supply new chassis, the ancient three speed transaxle was replaced by a modern four speed gearbox (built in unit with the engine), and by 1932 a new range of cars was finally launched. Production continued on this small scale, averaging less than 100 vehicles per year, until the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939. The final pre-war car was delivered in June 1940, after which the factory was fully involved with war production.
In 1953 the firm began production of the AC Ace, a lightweight chassis designed by John Tojeiro with the venerable Weller-designed 2-Litre engine. Soon after, car dealer and racing driver Ken Rudd fitted his own competition Ace with a pre-war BMW-designed, Bristol-produced 135 bhp (101 kW) six-cylinder engine. This combination was put into production as the AC Ace-Bristol in 1957. In this form, the car raced at Le Mans in 1957 and 1958.
For 1954, a new aluminum-bodied closed coupe was unveiled at Earls Court, the AC Aceca. It was only slightly heavier than the convertible Ace, and because of better aerodynamics was actually slightly faster (128 mph top speed). Only 328 Acecas were produced, and they were equipped with either of the Ace's engines. There was a demand from some customers for a larger four-seater car, for whom AC produced the Greyhound. This was built on a stretched Ace chassis with coil suspension all around and a 2.2-litre Bristol engine.
In 1962 AC was approached by Carroll Shelby to use a small block Ford V8 engine in the Ace chassis, producing the AC Cobra. Shelby needed a car that could compete with the Chevrolet Corvette in US sports car racing. The resulting Cobra was a very powerful roadster, and it is commonly blamed for the introduction of the 70 mph (113 km/h) limit on British motorways after a coupe version was caught doing 196 mph (315 km/h) during a test run.
The 1970s were not a good period for luxury car manufacturers and Derek Hurlock went searching for a totally new smaller car. Mid-engined designs were in fashion at the time and in 1972 the Diablo, a prototype with an Austin Maxi engine and transaxle was built by privateers Peter Bohanna and Robin Stables. In much the same way as they had taken up the Tojeiro prototype and turned it into the Ace, AC acquired the rights and at the 1973 London Motor Show showed their own version, the mid-engined ME3000 with the 3.0-litre Ford Essex V6 engine installed transversely over a bespoke AC-designed gearbox. Development was virtually complete in 1976 when new Type Approval regulations were introduced. A prototype failed the 30 mph (48 km/h) crash test, and the chassis had to be redesigned. On the second attempt, the car passed with flying colours. This was a huge achievement for a tiny firm - Vauxhall had to make several attempts before the contemporary Chevette passed. For AC, such delays meant that the first production cars (now renamed 3000ME) were not delivered until 1979, by which time they were in direct competition with the Lotus Esprit. Although comfortable, brisk, nicely built and practical, AC's ambitions of selling 250 cars per year were a distant memory. After just 71 cars were sold, Hurlock called a halt to production as his health was suffering and the company was struggling in the teeth of a recession. In 1984 production stopped at Thames Ditton and the car and the AC name were licenced to a new company registered as AC (Scotland) plc run by David McDonald in a new factory in Hillington, Glasgow. Here, 30 cars were built, including a development car tested with Alfa Romeo's 2.5-litre V6 engine and a nearly-complete Mark 2 prototype of the same. Regardless (or possibly because) of these developments, AC Scotland called in the receivers in 1985. After selling the historic High Street works for redevelopment, AC themselves soldiered on as a service operation in the '21st Century' works on Summer Road until the Hurlock family finally sold their holdings in 1986 to William West. After some complex machinations the company was split between property interests and the car brand; the former was renamed and the latter was acquired by Brian Angliss.
Early cars were sold as the Autokraft MKIV but eventually Angliss acquired the rights to use the AC name. Derek Hurlock had been strongly protective of the name, but Angliss' high standards of craftsmanship won him over. When the Hurlock family finally sold up in 1986 Angliss fully acquired the AC trademark rights and set up a new AC company as a joint venture with Ford, who had also recently bought Aston Martin. A big conflict followed over the future direction for AC, but Angliss eventually won his independence as well as Ford's continuing and essential cooperation as an engine and parts supplier.
Angliss looked for a new car to complement and perhaps replace the MKIV. At the 1993 London Motor Show, he introduced a new vehicle that he named the AC Ace. It was a modern automobile with a stainless steel chassis and an aluminum body, but was expensive to develop and build. The costs hit Angliss hard and he sold his large motor bike collection, vintage Bentley and other assets to try to make ends meet. The receivers were called in by 1996 after approximately 50 "new" Aces had been built.
In March 1996, largely due to the cost of developing the new Ace, Angliss' company went into receivership and was eventually sold to Alan Lubinsky's Pride Automotive in December 1996, who continued car production in Weybridge, Surrey under the name of AC Car Group Ltd. Lubinsky transferred AC trademarks and intellectual property to a Delaware, USA holding company, Acedes Holdings LLC, at some point. Both the Cobra Mk IV and the Ace were made, and soon a 'CRS' version of the Mk IV was announced with a carbon fibre body shell as well as the Superblower with a supercharged Ford V8. Two or three closed Aceca coupe versions of the Ace were also made. However, the company soon fell into receivership again, and was saved by Jimmy Price, who owns Superformance in the US and South Africa. After a bitter fight, Jimmy Price walked away and left Lubinsky in control again.
In 2003, Carroll Shelby International and AC Motor Holdings, Ltd. announced production of authentic Shelby/AC Cobra, with the production vehicle arriving at dealers in July 2004. Initially, available models included Shelby AC 427 S/C Cobra and Shelby AC 289 FIA Cobra, which would be branded as the CSX 1000 and CSX 7500 Series, respectively. In February 2004 the first handcrafted aluminum body shell was built. However, AC Motor Holdings, Ltd. failed to perform under the terms of its license agreement with Carroll Shelby, and a lawsuit was filed by Shelby against AC Motor Holdings, Ltd. and its proprietor, Alan Lubinsky, in May 2006.
In 2005, AC relocated to Malta and started production of the carbon-fibre bodied AC MkV.