150 Years of the Lion

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Fri, 21/11/2008 - 11:00
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Today, PEUGEOT vehicles are distributed in more than 150 countries and are universally recognised by their Lion emblem.



It was on 20 November 1858 that Emile PEUGEOT first registered the use of a Lion with or without an arrow as the brand’s emblem.

The origin of the Lion

Jules and Emile PEUGEOT, who founded the company Peugeot Frères, asked Julien BLAZER, a goldsmith and engraver in the Franche-Comté region of France, to produce this logo for identifying all PEUGEOT products. The Lion emblem then quickly found its place on saws and laminated edge tools; this animal was chosen for its easy comparison with PEUGEOT saws, as they were then - and still are - famous for:
- strong teeth like those of the lion.
- suppleness of the blade like the lion’s spine.
- swiftness of cut like the swiftness of a bounding lion

Over time the appearance of the Lion has, however, evolved; from a majestic profile walking on an arrow to the start of it beginning to face to the left. Today it is more commonly found without the arrow or more rarely facing to the right. In 1882 the top of the lion’s mane was changed and the body given more substance. Having quickly become Peugeot’s sole registered mark, the Lion could be found not only on tools and saw blades, but also on coffee grinders in 1881 (the production of which began in 1840), on bicycles from 1882 and, from 1898, on motorcycles.

The Lion becomes a part of automotive history

Although the first production car (type 3) built by Armand PEUGEOT dates from 1891, it was only in 1906 that production cars were first decorated with the “Lion walking on an arrow” emblem. Therefore, the Lion has accompanied one of the first three car manufacturers in the world from its very beginnings. In 1910, the two entities (PEUGEOT Frères and Armand PEUGEOT) merged to become La Sté des automobiles et cycles PEUGEOT; the two product ranges, however, co-existed until the First World War and the last car from this period to display the Lion was, the BéBé Lion (designed by Ettore Bugatti), presented at the Paris Motor Show in October 1912.

Subsequent models made do with old-style lettering on the top of the radiator grille contained inside a double "ellipse", combined in some instances with lettering on the radiator either unaccompanied or in a coat of arms (from the 201). In the 1920s the Lion became a rallying call for “Peugeotistes” who used it as a decoration on their radiator caps. Two types of radiator Lions were distributed in the network, a roaring version by the sculptor Marx and one ready to pounce by Baudichon.

For their part, bicycles and motorcycles first used the Lion walking on an arrow emblem set against the background of a spoked wheel; later a fighting Lion facing to the right was introduced in the 1920s, and lastly the same design but with upright lettering in 1960. Tools and domestic appliances opted for the Lion walking on an arrow in a coat of arms or on an oval plaque for coffee grinders.


The Lion leaps once and for all onto the front of Peugeot cars

From October 1933, with the launch of the "aerodynamic" range of vehicles 201, 301, 601 with the first six cylinder engine, a Lion’s head appeared on the top of the radiator grille for the first time.  The 401 arrived in October 1934 at the Paris Motor Show.  The idea was used again with a tapered head on the 402 (1935) then the 302 a year later and 202 in 1938. In 1948 the 203 adopted as its figurehead a Lion on the bonnet in a more prominent style
A new Lion was also used on the bonnet of the 403 which was first shown in 1955 and went on to pass the symbolic threshold of 1 million vehicles. These two designs were, however, deemed too dangerous in the event of a collision and disappeared in September 1958.

The Lion adopts its heraldic pose!

The launch of the 203 marked the first appearance of the heraldic Lion of Franche-Comté and the Duchy of Montbéliard.
It was attached to the boot lid until October 1952 and migrated to the front of the bonnet from September 1958 until the end of the series in February 1960. During this period the heraldic Lion also appeared on PEUGEOT motorcycles.

The same Lion was placed in a small coat of arms in the centre of the radiator grille on 403s from April 1955 to 1966 before being replaced by a larger version, first featured in May 1960 on the 404, which had the Pininfarina signature. In the 1960s all models adopted this format.
It was replaced by a Lion (gilt or chrome-plated) leaping from its background, which first appeared in September 1968 on the 504, then was adopted by the 404, 204, 304 and 104.

Another generation, the Lion "in outline" appeared on the 604 marketed in September 1975, and then extended to the 305 (November 1977) and 505 (May 1979) before being presented on a black background in 1982 on the 205, through to 1993 on the 306.

The Lion successfully makes its mark

At its launch in October 1995, the 406 stood out with its large Lion emblem which rapidly migrated across the entire generation of "6" models.  This led in 1998 to the Lion of today, with its stylised, angular appearance that decorates the front and rear of PEUGEOT cars and scooters. In 2000 the Adventure Peugeot association, evoking its mission to protect the company’s heritage, placed the Lion in a coat of arms bordered by a yellow frame and filled with blue, which in bygone years identified the company.

Peugeot Sport and the concept cars which have come out of the Design Centre, have also used the profile of the lion on the 403 to highlight the dynamism and stylish looks of the cars they produce.

The renown of the Lion is, therefore, now universal and its image remains closely associated with the name PEUGEOT.


November 2008

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